Soundcraft, and UK distributors Sound Technology, capped a glorious summer on the festival circuit when two Vi6 digital consoles appeared at the recent V Festival — courtesy of the SSE Audio Group.
The consoles had established themselves as speciality festival desks throughout the summer — with their fast patching attributes and rapid/easy access for analogue engineers. As a result they have been regularly specified by leading rental companies such as SSE Audio Group and Adlib Audio.
With both companies providing expert babysitters, not only could show files be created offline (within a generic desk architecture) but thanks to the intuitive Vistonic II interface, sound engineers could be initiated onto the board with just ten minutes of tuition.
Vi6’s again took up prime position on the second, 4 Music Stage at the V Festival sites of Hylands Park, Chemsford and Weston Park, Stafford.
One confirmed devotee of the Vi6 is Alan ‘Doof’ McCann, the Lostprophets’ long-standing FOH engineer, who was babysitting the system on the 4 Music Stage (along with SSE’s Detlev ‘Willi’ Klein). Doof is part of a growing Soundcraft community of engineers, who praises the company for listening to feedback from sound engineers such as himself, and for constantly updating their operating software accordingly.
Doof had originally been recommended to Soundcraft’s digital platform by SSE Audio Group’s PeteRussell,whoisalso FOHengineerforThunder.
“One of the first things I noticed abouttheV6— andprobablythemostimportant — was how easyit was to walkuptothedesk,havingneverusedonebefore, and be able to get a show going in a very short amount of time,” he says.
“It's clear that the desk was designed for analogue users who require some of the advantages of a digital console — and this is what sets it apart from other digital consoles. The soft patch for instance is visually very easy to understand.
“In fact at V Festival one of my main jobs was to turn around files for engineers who brought monitor files or oddly patched files to FOH — everyone was impressed at how quick and easy it was.”
Any engineer looks for speed and an easily-comprehensible mixing surface — especially at a Festival. “Personally I needed to spend no more than 10 minutes with a nervous engineer who had never used a Vi 6 before to have him confidently mixing as if he were on an analogue desk,” says Doof.
And the sound produced by the desk he describes as awesome. “The gates/comps are very good and the on board FX are exactly what you would expect at any venue — plus patching additional outboard to the Local rack takes no longer than plugging cables into any other desk.”
The limitations of other digital desks were exposed recently when he was forced to mix Lostprophets on an alternative console. “One huge problem with digital consoles generally is the fact most engineers have o spend more time worrying about hitting the wrong button than actually mixing. “I can’t wait to get back to the Vi6 on the next tour.”
His feelings were matched by Bryony October, who was mixing the Noisettes on V Fest’s second stage.
Like several sound engineers she first first came across the original prototype when it was on demo at the Mean Fiddler several years ago — and she acknowledes that it has moved on light years since then (particularly with the premium onboard Lexicon and BSS FX).
“Returning to this desk three years later — to mix much higher-pressured, high profile shows with the Noisettes — it has really come into its own,” she says. “With those industry standard FX — and the help of the Studer preamps — Soundcraft really has created something special, with a fantastic sound.”
Bryony adds, “What I like most about the desk is the fact that you can see every aspect of every channel simultaneously. Everything is right in front of you without scrolling through pages and menus, and you can see the outboard and aux sends on each channel — all the time.”
The Vi6’s versatility and simplicity are the key, whether Bryony is doing club shows — mixing monitors from FOH — or big shows like V Fest, “where the PA is of the quality that would quickly erxpose any weak link in the signal chain.”
Walking up to a digital board at a festival like V — when an engineer has to line check and organise channels, FX and outboard within minutes — the Vi6 is ideal. “At V, although I was able to load a previously-saved show into the console, I would have felt just as confident walking up to the VI6 and starting from scratch.”
In fact V was the first time she had been able to successfully load a saved show from a digital board into a new environment — despite having a Noisettes file for virtually every digital desk on the market.
V Festival ticked all the boxes for the sound engineer. “While the band were having their biggest festival experience to date, I was enjoying the best sounding festival show of my career, from the very first note — as being able to load the show straight up meant I could concentrate on refining the sound to suit the festival, rather than chasing after gates, comps and FX settings.”