Digital Consoles at MerleFest 2017
SE Systems has been the audio provider for MerleFest since the beginning over 30 years ago. Our owner Cliff Miller was working with Doc Watson and out of that relationship was the start of a MerleFest/SE Systems audio partnership. Since 1987, audio technology has taken many turns and SE Systems has continued to bring the best in sound, lighting and staging to the festival. We provide production for 11 stages; all but one used a digital console.
For this year’s festival, Yamaha Commercial Audio wanted to showcase some of its top audio gear. Yamaha has partnered with SE and MerleFest in the past, so it is always a joy to have them onboard. This year they really stepped up and brought out their top-of-the-line Digital console, the Rivage PM10. The Hillside stage was chosen for this console’s MerleFest debut with a main and monitor desk. This console was a treat for our techs and all the guest techs. FOH engineer Slobodan ‘Boban’ Peteovic and monitor engineer Ray Stanley had 2 days of training on the desk. Their experience with our Yamaha PM5D’s help them to get up and running easily and confidently. “I used many of the new plug-ins like SILK on all channels according to the real needs of the source, and very often, it did eliminate the extensive use of filters. It turned out to be an amazing, clean sound from any digital console that I’ve ever experienced.” states Boban. The Hillside Album Hour featured the Waybacks and friends playing the Beatles “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”. It never sounded so good.
On the Watson Main Stage we used our favorite Digico SD10-36 for mains and monitors. We’ve used this desk at this location for the past 5 years. Our engineers have past scenes saved and they know how to work this in a festival situation. It always sounds great and guest techs seem to enjoy having Digico at Front-of-House on the main stage.
Our other Digico SD10-24’s were used at the Dance Stage. Yamaha and Digico have been at this stage in the past so this was not an issue for guest techs. That stage rocks until midnight with a packed tent enjoying the late night shows
Our Digico SD9 was used on the Traditional stage for the first time this year. Mains and monitors were run from FOH with mainly acoustic acts onstage. Our small footprint Digico SD11 ran the Cabin stage, which is located beside the Watson Stage. This is a side stage that runs acts between the main stage sets. It helps to have a console dedicated to this stage and the SD11 is a perfect match. The recording booth was outfitted with a new Digico S21. Perfect for archiving all the MerleFest sets.
For the Creekside stage Yamaha brought in their new QL5 for mains and monitors. The Americana stage also had a new pair of Yamaha CL5 digital consoles. Both of these consoles have the Yamaha features and sound that their digital consoles are know for. The Walker Center and Austin stage used our go-to favorite Yamaha PM5D’s for FOH and monitors. An in-house Yamaha LS-9 powers the Mayes Pitt stage and we use an analog Midas Venice at Little Pickers.
The Digital Console count is exactly eighteen desks spread out across the festival site. Each stage gets a high quality audio speaker system and stage monitors. Add in a few hundred microphones, stage boxes, splitters, snakes, a couple miles of cable and you have the foundation for a festival.
When the first notes flow from the Watson stage the MerleFest Experience begins. SE Systems is proud to be a major partner for this festival.
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