SSE Helps to provide a Sound Education at Aberystwyth University
SSE Audio Group was approached to supply a permanent theatre installation together with a mobile PA system, which would enable technical theatre students to work on state of the art sound systems.
Pictured with the new equipment (LtoR): Sound design student Dan Philpin, TV technician Russell Basford, technical manager David Mitchell, Aberystwyth Arts Centre technician Dyfan Rhys, Aberystwyth Arts Centre technical manager Nick Bache, theatre technician Becky Mitchell and SSE Audio's Alex Penn
The installed equipment comprises of Yamaha M7CL-48ES and LS9-32 digital mixing consoles, Yamaha MY16-ES64 Ethersound interface cards for the latter, three Yamaha SB168-ES stage boxes and two Nexo PA systems.
“When I moved here just over a year ago, it was obvious that the equipment needed updating,” says the Theatre Film and Television department's technical manager David Mitchell. “Having never worked in education before, it surprised me that the technical theatre students were still using rather dated methods to run live shows.”
Yamaha SB168-ES Stagebox with Ethersound
He continues, "I knew that this was going to be a one-off opportunity to get the university to buy a system that would bring the learning experience of the students up to date. It was very important that we had something that will still be commonplace in the industry five years from now. I visited SSE earlier in the year and was blown away by just how versatile the LS9 and M7CL are."
University students stage productions in a variety of spaces, from the university's Studio 1 - an 'in the round' studio theatre - to a range of venues throughout the town, some of which are geared up for regular live performance and some which are not.
SSE Sales Manager Alex Penn (coincidentally an Aberystwyth University alumnus) made a site visit and suggested a permanent installation of eight Nexo PS10R2 with flexible sub locations (for either two RS15 or two RS18 speakers) for Studio 1.
Nexo PS15 R2 Speaker
Nexo RS18 Sub
consoles were supplied with flightcases, so they can be used with either the permanent system or a mobile one comprising Nexo PS15R2
s with RS15/8
s. The latter can be used anywhere on campus or in external venues.
The inclusion of the Yamaha MY16ES64
interface cards meant that the SB168-ES digital stagebox system could be used with either the LS932, or the Arts centre's existing standard M7CL48, as well as the department's new M7CL48-ES, therefore providing full flexibility of all Yamaha consoles.
The LS932 and M7CL48-ES or M7CL48 and M7CL-ES can run simultaneously from the SB168-ES stagebox system. The SB168-ES system can also be used alone with either the M7CL-ES or LS932 and there is also an analogue multi provided for use with the LS932 as a standalone system.
amplifiers are used to power the speaker systems, presenting very high power with low load drive. These are also Ethersound compatible, so both PA systems are fully digital.
The sheer ubiquity of Yamaha consoles in the pro audio market means that student sound engineers trained on the M7CL and LS9 have a definite head start when they graduate.
“It was important to me that the students could get to grips with the console in Studio 1 in a ‘safe’ environment”, continues David Mitchell. “ Aberystwyth Arts Centre is next door, where they also have an M7CL. I wanted students to have the opportunity of transferring the knowledge learned in Studio 1 directly to the more demanding venue next door, working closely with touring shows and feeling confident in their abilities. Having the same console definitely helps with that.”
“The previous PA system was bigger and also ground-stacked on large square blocks. SSE flew the new system, which has given us a lot more floor space to work with.”
“The new system is ideal for running shows in venues that are not necessarily designed to handle the demands of a live show.”
“It was also important to have a system which we can hire out,” he continues. “Hotels, conferencing and open mic nights are avenues we are looking at to generate more income for the university’s Theatre, Film and Television department. As part of that, being able to act professionally, to walk into a venue and be up and running quickly, with low impact on the client, is all a part of my developing the department’s technical standards.”
As with all their installed systems, SSE uses a variety of innovative packaging solutions to help make their operation and use as easy and convenient as possible. All flight cases and racks are custom built by Sigma Fabrications (SSE’s in-house manufacturing operation) and include features for easy signal and power distribution and they are finished with the University’s logo custom engraved.
Both SSE Sales and Yamaha are committed to a high standard of after sales service. Alex Penn and Karl Christmas, (Yamaha Deputy General Manager Commercial Audio UK), paid the university a recent visit to ensure that everything was up and running smoothly. Karl also took the opportunity to provide training on the consoles.
“Karl was super cool. He explained the desks and Studio Manager software brilliantly, dealing superbly with technicians who are largely from a lighting or television background, but who also need to know how to use the desks, with the patience of a saint.” smiles David.
“And it wasn’t just us. Thanks to the training, I know that Technical Manager Nick Bache and Technician Dyfan Rhys from Aberystwyth Arts Centre have already reconfigured their desk, by copying up the channels to control varying levels and requirements between FOH and monitor mixes.”
All-in-all, the new systems have received the university’s universal thumbs up, from the students and staff through to that most critical of faculties - the finance department.
“In terms of quality sound and precise delivery, the Yamaha / Nexo combination at the price we paid is incredible. We have a high quality mobile system that we will be able to hire out and there is also the fact that they hold their value, all of which was a great help in persuading the finance department to make the investment,” says David.
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