DiGiCo Desks Move With Madonna

Madonna’s world tour in support of her recent MDNA album has been grabbing attention everywhere it goes. While it provides audiences with plenty of music and spectacle, it also is sporting a trio of DiGiCo consoles at the front of house and monitor positions.
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Matt Napier with his DiGiCo SD7 at the monitor position of Madonna's MDNA tour
New York, NY (September 26, 2012)—Madonna’s world tour in support of her recent MDNA album has been grabbing attention everywhere it goes. While it provides audiences with plenty of music and spectacle, it also is sporting a trio of DiGiCo consoles at the front of house and monitor positions.

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The production features 11 musicians, 22 dancers, multiple costume changes, ground breaking graphics and an audio system that includes two DiGiCo SD7s at Front of House and another on monitors. The SD7 is a change 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 explains. “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 is using 30-plus more.

“I think the SD7 is the only desk that can handle the amount of inputs and outputs we’ve got,” says 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 led to a similar setup an obvious choice for this tour. The two SD7s are networked and mirrored, giving 100 percent digital redundancy.

“MDNA runs through December this year, finishing in South America,” concludes 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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