"NMR uses Ethersound in all of our sound systems," explained Lou Castellucci, FOH Engineer and Director of Audio Services. "Ethersound, being an open third-party network, allows us to integrate Ethersound with many of our other audio partners. This is especially important with our partnership with NEXO. All of our NEXO audio systems are equipped with ES4-NXtension cards in our NX242 processors and NX104 cards in our NEXO 4x1 and 4x4 NXAmplifiers. This is also true with our DiGiCo DiGiRacks. Each DiGiRack has an 8x8 Ethersound module, so no matter what size show it might be—whether it's two speakers on pole mounts for a few dozen people or a full-blown line array system for thousands—the audio snake and drive system is fully digital using the DiGiCo MADI BNC snake system and the Ethersound network to drive the amps and processors over Cat5E. Ethersound also allows us to have monitoring, routing and control of the DiGiCo Ethersound modules and all of the NEXO amps and processors at front of house."
NMR recently finished two large, and very different, shows utilizing both consoles in different roles. "The Ethersound capability of the DiGiCo consoles was a significant part of each production," said Castellucci, "and with the simple change of a few cards in the DiGiRack, we were able to handle each of these events seamlessly."
For the first production, a large, distinguished service award event, Castellucci specified the D5 at FOH paired with a MADIbridge interface and DiGiRack, along with the SD8 at monitor world manned by engineer Eric Dodson. "We paired the D5 with a 56-channel DiGiCo MADI recording computer. Using an RME MADIBridge, we were able to take the MADI split in the shared DigiRack to feed the MADIBridge and then split it to the SD8 and to the recording computer. The Ethersound capability of the DiGiCo consoles became the most important part of the system. With multiple DiGiRacks and multiple Ethersound Cards, we were able to network eight mixes of monitors and eight sends from FOH on the Ethersound network the NEXO amp racks, and we were able to monitor the entire audio system at either FOH or monitors and control and route each send from either console on the network. It was very impressive to have that much control over the entire network, not to mention how simple the setup was with only having to use CAT5E for the entire drive system. The system worked flawlessly."
The second show was a national meeting in Las Vegas. For this production, the SD8 served as FOH console. "With the simple change of a few cards in the DiGiRack, we were able to handle multiple AES inputs and outputs for video inputs and recording, as well as the analog and Ethersound channels we had for the monitor system the week before. Again the console performed as well as expected."
With its newest addition already assimilated into NMR's busy schedule, Castellucci was nothing short of blown away. "There is no question what sets the SD8 apart from the competition is overall sound quality and streamlined console packaging for the cost. To be able to have a floating point console with this many inputs and mix busses at this price point is outstanding, and the multiband compressors were a nice addition to the SD line, as well. For most productions, the SD8 is all you will ever need. You still have the availability of two full-size DiGiRacks and 60 mono or stereo input channels, and with up to 67 output busses, the SD8 can handle a serious show."
Another important factor in choosing the SD8 was ease of use. "All of the engineers that used this console found it extremely easy to use and have had no issues moving from an analog console or another digital board to the SD8, or the D5 for that matter—and that is critical that a guest engineer can walk up to the SD8 console and feel comfortable mixing right out the gate. DiGiCo has made scalability and sound quality seamless between all frame sizes of consoles. I can use the same DiGiRacks for my D series consoles as my SD series consoles and can expect the equivalent sound quality between the SD7, 8, or 9. Whereas with other manufacturers you lose pre-amp quality or other major software or hardware differences in the console line, DiGiCo consoles stay the same."
Castellucci says customers really do hear the DiGiCo difference. "We hear it all the time, how natural the system sounds when DiGiCo's are on the show instead of other consoles. And as a company, DiGiCo has been unbelievably supportive of their products, which is why we enjoy working with them. No matter how small the question might be they are always there to speak with engineers, and the DiGiCo training seminars are very helpful when we first purchased our consoles. Hopefully in the near future, we will be replacing the smaller consoles we have from other manufacturers with SD9's—which are perfect for smaller shows that need an even smaller footprint than the SD8."