DiGiCo

DiGiCo Quantum Consoles featured at The Grammy Awards

While the 65th Grammy Awards may not have had as many individual song performances as past Grammy Awards events, it more than made up for it with more complex productions, most notably the 35 rappers and four DJs who turned the stage into a 15-minute-long history of rap, including Missy Elliott, Big Boi, Run-D.M.C., Queen Latifah, Method Man, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and the Grandmasters Flash and Melle Mel, backed by a combination of tracks and the Roots playing live. Getting and keeping all of that audio together fell to a cohort of veteran mixers of the show and a cast of DiGiCo mix consoles, provided through ATK Audiotek/Clair Global, the event’s sound-reinforcement vendor.

Two Quantum7 consoles were located at front of house, manned by Ron Reaves and Michael Parker, who alternated mixing live performances by the evening’s artists, including Harry Styles, Bonnie Raitt, Lizzo, and Adele, all of whom were also category winners that night. A Quantum338 desk also shared the FOH platform with them, through which production mixer Jeff Peterson combinedthe two alternating FOH feeds with production-audio elements such as introductions, announcements, and acceptance speeches from the podium.

Two more Quantum7 in monitor world, manned by Tom Pesa and Andres Arango, reflected a similar split of the bifurcated stage, on which one performance would take place while the next was setting up behind the “close-down” screens that kept the focus on the show. All the Quantum consoles were connected on an Optocore network loop, each with a complement of SD-Racks and SD-MiNi Racks. Everywhere you looked, everywhere you listened, you saw and heard DiGiCo Quantum.

Ron Reaves, who was mixing his 20th Grammy Awards show, said of the Quantum7: “It presents a very good, very powerful platform”.

He continued “My template is 168 open faders so I have to be ready for anything, and I am with that console, because it has the horsepower I need for that kind of wide-ranging array of performances.”

DiGiCo

With over two dozen individual artists performing at the show, he spent time on every song during rehearsals and sound-checks consulting with their FOH mixers, and the Quantum’s SD-Range heritage greatly facilitated that. The hectic nature of Grammy Awards rehearsal days—they sprawl across the three days ahead of the Sunday evening event—makes that familiarity critical. “All the guest engineers know it and are familiar with it,” he says. “It gives us a common language, and that makes keeping a hugely complex production like the Grammy Awards moving and on schedule.”

Similarly, the Quantum7’s innate power helped keep the workflow steady. For instance, Reaves notes that while front of house and monitors share the same preamps, the latter tends to drive them hotter. “My gain structure and way of working will put less pressure on the preamps, but if they start to almost clip upstairs, I’ve still got a ton of headroom on the same preamps,” he explains.

Reaves’ counterpart on the FOH platform, Michael Parker, agrees. During the Grammy Awards, he applied the Spice Rack’s Chilli 6 multi-band compressor on many of the vocals he mixed, including during Stevie Wonder’s performance.

“It’s great for softening up the vocals in a certain range, between about 2k and 5k,” he explains. The Quantum7’s ultra-flexible worksurface was a boon during the show’s acclaimed 50th anniversary of hip-hop segment, when he and Reaves changed their workflow: instead of mixing performances on one side or the other of the split stage,  Parker handled all of the vocals for the entire stage while Reaves mixed the music tracks, live band, and three DJs.

“On the network, we all had access to all of the inputs, and the Quantum7 lets us easily configure each console for each production,” says Parker, who was also recently using a Quantum338 on Fox’s The Masked Singer. “And the Stadius 32-bit mic pre’s were also great to have on that show.”

Over in monitor world, Pesa covered IEMs for stage right and Arango for stage left, and both on DiGiCo Quantum7 consoles, the third Grammy Awards show for the desks. Pesa, who was on his 23rd Grammy Awards turn, says the basic currency of monitors for the Grammy Awards is a foundation channel template built on the Quantum7’s worksurface. That then gets copied and customized for each artist, for quick recall as the show progresses. However, both mixers have to be alert for last-minute changes.

Pesa recalls on the 2014 edition of the show Paul McCartney’s performance was moved from one side of the stage to the other, 30 minutes before he soundchecked. “We had to quickly create a new template for that,” he says. “You want to have every parameter at your fingertips at all times because  you never know when you’re going to have to make a quick adjustment. The biggest challenge is keeping as many options on the table as possible, even as you’re trying to pare each template down for each artist to keep it manageable. The Quantum7 is a big help for that.”

Welcome to issue 7 of Audio Media International