9:30 Club FOH audio technician Shawn “Gus” Vitale manning the mix on the venue’s new DiGiCo SD8 desk. Photo: Nalinee Darmrong
Washington, D.C. (February 5, 2015)—A DiGiCo SD8 digital mixing console with an SD Rack, outfitted with a Waves SoundGrid Server and SG Essential plug-in bundle, has taken over the FOH position at the venerable 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., a 1,200-capacity live music venue and a favorite stop for mid-level tours since it first opened in 1980.
he new DiGiCo SD8 system was purchased to replace the house console, which has been moved to the house monitor position. “The main determining factor [for chosing the new desk] was how good I thought it sounded; it’s a nice, warm-sounding console,” says front of house audio technician Shawn “Gus” Vitale, who has been working at the 9:30 Club for 20 years. “There’s also something about the stereo separation; when I hear my stereo digital delays coming back, the returns sound like they’re coming not from the left/right PA but off of the side walls. It’s an awesome effect.”
The new SD8 was initially operated at 48 kHz due to limitations in the available cabling at the club. “We had extra cables run and I also got the Waves plug-ins working between the first and second day of a two-day show. The artist’s engineer could really hear the difference when we went to 96k. Plus, he was familiar with Waves plug-ins from the studio, so it was a double bonus for him. He had a fun show the first day, but he felt like it was really good the second day.”
Brian Grant, account executive for audio systems at Washington Professional Systems, oversaw the purchase, also liaising between the club’s staff and the manufacturer to organize an in-house demonstration. “I talked to Brian about which way to go and he thought that DiGiCo offered the best audio quality,” says Vitale. “Brian is a great guy; he’s sold us a lot of equipment over the years.”
Vitale had his first hands-on experience with a DiGiCo digital desk when They Might Be Giants played at the 9:30 Club and the band’s FOH engineer brought in his console. “I mixed the support solo acoustic guy, and when I brought up the faders I said, ‘wow, what’s he done with the PA, this sounds great’ – and we’ve got a good PA: a d&b audiotechnik J Series with B2-Subs. I liked the way the DiGiCo sounded.” He adds, “I think this is a good venue in which to break folks into a new desk, because the PA is great and the room has been treated, so you’re not at a disadvantage; everything is there.”
There was another factor in DiGiCo’s favor, Vitale continues. “We book live shows into a smaller venue just down the street from us, the U Street Music Hall, and they bought an SD9 some years ago. So I knew the audio quality was good, and to get us all in the DiGiCo mindspace doesn’t hurt, because if I need to send another guy down there, at least he knows the desk.”
The 9:30 Club