Cambridge, MA (January 27, 2017)—British Multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier was recently part of Imagination off the Charts, an experimental music event at MIT that incorporated an 85-piece orchestra, a 60-voice choir, and a full big band along with Collier himself. Ben Bloomberg, a PhD student and part of the Opera of the Future research group at MIT, tackled Front of House mixing duties with a SSL L300 live console.
In total, the system had 96 channels of SSL pre-amps configured, plus an additional AES/EBU Digital Stagebox that fed the PA. The L300 itself has a maximum I/O count of 600 channels and 192 available paths (1008 I/O and 256 paths for the L500), and Collier came very close to maxing out the L300's path count. Bloomberg noted, "To be able to find a desk with that amount of resource able to fit into the space we had was fantastic. I'm not sure anything else could have done it. It's shocking how flexible you can be with that number of inputs and only 26 faders on the surface."
Seven different schools contributed performers to the ensemble, including MIT, Berkeley, and the New England Conservatoire. "We couldn't absolutely predict how many instrumentalists we would get," continues Bloomberg. "Even on the day of the show, we had to add two violas. Also, we didn't actually rent anything for the show; we used some mics from different recording systems, mics from the music department... We ended up with 84 inputs from the stage made up from instrument sections, choir mics, and soloists...The idea was to let the acoustic sound of the strings be the base and then fill in around that. Thanks to the flexibility of the SSL we could run all those mics, plus more recording mics and a recording feed from the console. We actually recorded 85 tracks at 96 kHz on a redundant pair of laptops."
Aside from the sheer number of inputs, there were plenty of other challenges for Bloomberg in the run up to the show, ranging from only having two full rehearsals and two hours with the full ensemble, to the issue of hanging a d&b Y-Series PA in a hall that had never hung a PA before (involving the building's original architects and two structural engineering companies).
Solid State Logic