Miami, FL (May 5, 2014)—When it comes to managing the audio at an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) show, a specific flexibility is required for the sound system, which consists of triple the usual number of subs. At Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, one of the largest annual EDM events, Miami-based Beachsound relies on a series of DiGiCo consoles to man the audio.
“We are managing a lot of audio,” says Beachsound crew chief Neil Rosenstock who has headed up the company’s audio team at Ultra for five years. “If you are on a show with 96 inputs and you lose a channel, there are still 95 channels of audio to listen to. If you lose a channel on an EDM show, you just lost half of the PA. The productions look cool, but without the music they’re just blinking lights.”
Beachsound has DiGiCo SD5, SD8, SD9 and SD11 desks in its inventory, and during Ultra every console in the shop goes out on the gig.
“For Ultra 2014, we had an SD5 at the Main Stage feeding an SD11 as the production console,” Rosenstock said. “We have been all-digital from the time the signal hits the SD-Rack for about four years now. Everything from the console to the amps is run AES and the connection from the SD-Rack to the SD5 is all fiber. We are taking S/PDIF outputs from the DJs to feed the PA along with an analog feed as a backup.”
Lorin White was the house mix engineer on the festival’s primary stage this year and his role is a little different at Ultra than on the typical rock gig. “About two-thirds of the acts travel with their own engineer, but that term in EDM can mean a lot of things,” he said. “Some of them are more like a producer. They’ll show up and check out the PA, and during the show may actually be onstage with their client while I mix. Some will stand with me and supervise, and some are hands-on with the faders. For that last group of guys, it is crucial that the console offers the ability to have every control they need during the set immediately at hand and not buried in another layer. The DiGiCo desks give us that ability.”
“DJs have EQ and that can be a challenge,” continued Rosenstock. “The DiGiCo EQ and compression allow us to keep an overall consistency in the sound despite every DJ providing us with very different EQ. The onboard dynamics processing is crucial in managing overall volume no matter how hard the act is pushing the inputs. Ultra is shoehorned into a relatively small area for a music festival and we have to keep it down to 106 dB A-weighted, which can be a challenge.”