Commanding Console

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Potawatomi Bingo Casino Embarks On A Digital Console Upgrade

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When the staff of Milwaukee, WI’s Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Bingo Casino decided to embark on a console upgrade in the 500-seat venue, production manager Jamie Cobb called upon the integration team at Clearwing Productions to help. Wanting to upgrade the sound and make the move to digital, the group collaborated on selecting a DiGiCo SD10 and SD Rack at FOH for handling the basic room feeds, with a second SD10 at monitor world. The payoff was an amazing-sounding system that better showcased the room’s intimate acoustics.

“We wanted a console that was forward-thinking as far as digital technology,” explained Hobb, “with better A-to-D converters and the best overall sound available at our price point. For that reason, we thought it was the best choice for us, offering a substantially better system than other theaters in this area.”

Once in place, the theater’s sound technicians found the SD10s userfriendly interface and unequivocal sound quality among the console’s most impressive features. “A musical equalizer is a must, but ease-ofuse is really the big one,” said Cobb. “If a visiting engineer is frustrated by the work surface, then all the features serve no good purpose. The SD10’s control surface has the flexibility to be laid out exactly the way a visiting engineer would want, so they’ll be able to get up and running quickly for their show.”

The first major production to employ the new system was Cheap Trick, who reprised their “Dream Police” show for a second time in 2011 at the venue—the first in January/February and more recently in October/November. The multimedia opus featured a performance of the platinum-selling Dream Police album in its entirety, followed by hits from their extensive catalog—accompanied by the 18-piece Rhythmic Noise Philharmonic Orchestra, the four-piece men’s Mind Choir, and state-of-the-art video.

The theater’s sound technicians operated FOH production alongside the band’s analog-driven production team—longtime engineer Bill Kozy and A2 Mark Gustafson—who teamed a Midas 3000 at FOH for mixing the band along with the new DiGiCo SD10 to handle orchestra and additional playback feeds. With a very short setup/rehearsal schedule of only a few days—and a massive number of inputs to coordinate for the band, an 18-piece orchestra, four-man choir, guest artists, and multimedia sources—the guys were able to get in sync quickly.

“I was able to use the local I/O to handle the numerous inputs, which was very handy,” explained Gustafson. “The onboard effects were quite nice, and although we had the option to use outboard gear, we didn’t need to because everything was right there. My favorite feature was the digital trim, which seems silly, but working with two consoles and an 18-piece orchestra… it was hairy! Bill and I were able to work together on the main gain structure and then do our own separate thing without restricting each other’s boundaries. DiGiCo’s flexibility enabled us to cut down our setup time considerably compared to the earlier production. Even the string players, many of whom were on the previous show, were astounded at how fast we got them up and running.”

After the close of “Dream Police,” the theater seamlessly moved on to host productions with Kenny Loggins, Air Supply, Lee Greenwood, Smokey Robinson, Jon Anderson/Rick Wakeman, and the Tubes, with great reviews.

“The Cheap Trick engineers loved the new DiGiCo consoles and the increased detail to the room,” summed Cobb. “I have to also say that the consoles—coupled with the L-Acoustics DV -Dosc four-way stereo array system—offered a sound quality that was simply amazing in our intimate theater.”

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