Madonna takes MDNA on the road with Digico

Madonna’s current MDNA tour, which is taking in a host of sold out stadiums and arenas across the globe, is incorporating two Digico SD7 consoles at FOH with another handling monitors.

The SD7 represents a step up for monitor engineers Matt Napier and Sean Speuhler, who were using a D5T on Madonna’s previous Sticky & Sweet Tour.

“There are two of us because Sean exclusively mixes Madonna’s vocals and her vocal effects, all of which she insists be done live,” Napier explained. “We effectively share the console – I use the SD7’s control surface and Sean uses an EX-007 expander unit to mix on.”

In total the SD7 has 114 inputs coming in from the stage rack, including effects. Napier is using 100 channels, with Speuhler using over 30 more.

“I think the SD7 is the only desk that can handle the amount of inputs and outputs we’ve got,” said Napier. “In terms of surface channels on the desk we’ve got about 160 while, in terms of outputs, I know there are over 50 mono sends by the time we take into account the musicians, dancers, side fills, subs, speakers for the MD, feeds for the video and recording. I don’t think there is anything else available that could do it.

“Because Madonna is running on the left right buss, I’m using VCAs and groups to control and mix various elements for her. All of the music is routed through a group, which is delayed as she walks down the catwalk. When she uses the catwalk, everything other than her vocals is incrementally delayed up to a maximum of 30 milliseconds. It’s a 60 foot catwalk, but doing this acoustically reduces the length of the catwalk by about 30 feet, which helps her significantly.”

Tim Colvard is mixing the house sound alongside Mark Brnich (of the tour’s sound company Eighth Day Sound). A Digico user since 2003, Colvard’s use of dual SD7s on Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour made a similar setup an obvious choice for this tour. The two SD7s are networked and mirrored, designed to provide 100 per cent digital redundancy.

“MDNA runs through December this year, finishing in South America,” concluded Napier. “Everything is working really well so far – and that’s exactly what you need on such a long running tour.”

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