AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – When in late 2009 leading Amsterdam music and arts centre, Melkweg (Milky Way), purchased a multipurpose Soundcraft Vi4™ from Dutch distributors Audio XL it was just the beginning of a relationship with the UK company’s digital platform.
They have now doubled inventory by adding a Vi6, using the same operating platform and Vistonics™ II interface, but packing a greater number of inputs and busses.
It has taken up the FOH position in the venue’s 700-capacity Oude Zaal (Old Room), while the Vi4 has been redeployed as a dedicated monitor desk, replacing the previous long-serving console which was becoming increasingly unreliable.
Needing a minimum of 72 channels, the decision was again taken by head of the technical department, Richard Balk (and his team), providing the Melkweg with an intuitive means of mixing the many disciplines it hosts — including music, theatre, dance and cinema.
“We wanted to keep continuity with Soundcraft,” he explained. “We were debating whether to take another Vi4 but we had a demo of the Vi6 — and the extra fader bay won!” Other compelling reasons for buying the desk, he said, included quality of the sound, the quality of the built-in Lexicon FX and the user-friendly set-up of the desk.
The sale was arranged by Audio XL, Soundcraft’s Benelux distributors, who were also responsible for the demo.
The desk is configured with 72 inputs, 16 outputs, and supplied with two DSP expansion cards. “If necessary we can upgrade the channel count by adding further cards to the Stage Rack,” said Balk.
Another of the venue’s freelance sound engineers, Ard Boot, added that the Melkweg’s pool of technicians had all backed the decision. “What we like is the flexibility of the desk and its size. The fact that we already owned the Vi4 made it a logical step to buy the Vi6.” The venue also has the facility to relocate the console between the Oude Zaal and the venue’s main ‘Max’ room.
Back in 2009 Richard Balk and his team had thoroughly researched the market before voting in favour of Soundcraft, noting that other desks they reviewed at the time had often been too complicated. He was already familiar with the Soundcraft digital topology and knew that the Vi platform would provide a fast-track learning curve for uninitiated engineers, boosted by the library of Lexicon FX and BSS EQ’s.
At the same time the FOH station was specially modified; since Dutch sound engineers tend to be tall a clever custom feature was to have special brackets made to elevate the mixing desk, which travelled up and down over a distance of 20cm. This ensured that their hands were always at the right angle to the desk for maximum comfort.
The senior technician confirms that the decision to standardise on Soundcraft has met with the full approval of his team. He also confirms that the Melkweg simultaneouslychanged the set-up in monitor world, adding a new 72-channel input box and 48-channel broadcast output, along with the rest of the infra-structure.
Caption: Melkweg sound engineers, Ard Boot (left) and Richard Balk with their new Soundcraft Vi6
The Melkweg is operated as a multi-room, non-profit making venue by the Stichting Foundation and funded by the local government. Originally built as a sugar factory it later became a milk depot (hence the name). By the late 1960’s it had been abandoned until local hippies asked the council if they could stage a couple of “happenings” there — and this revived interest. The venue thrived during the punk era of the mid-to-late 80’s so that by 1995 they were able to take space from the adjoining City Theatre to develop “The MAX”. However, the original “Old Room” remains. Aside from its two band/dance rooms Melkweg also operates a 150-seat theatre and a cinema and is available for private hire. Recently a new 800-seat venue has been constructed on the roof in a joint venture with the City Theatre, and co-funded by the local government and sponsors.
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