The Junior Eurovision Song Content (JESC) has been providing a unique platform for young artists across Europe since 2003. Now in its 14th edition, the JESC was held in Malta for the second time and was once again organized by the European Broadcasting Union in conjunction with local production teams led by the national broadcaster and EBU member, Public Broadcasting Services.
Sound engineer Arturo Pellegrini was flown in from Italy to manage all audio production requirements with BESTEAM Audio, a Malta-based audio services company. Arturo and his local colleagues opted to use Avid’s VENUE | S6L System in a special configuration. This is not the first collaboration between these two respected teams. In July 2016, they successfully produced the Joseph Calleja Concert in Malta using Avid’s VENUE | S6L, S3L-X and Profile consoles. In this JESC there were two Avid VENUE | S6L consoles and Avid VENUE | Profile systems working seamlessly, ensuring exceptional sound quality as well as full redundancy.
Arturo is no novice to the music industry, having already garnered considerable experience working with music for television, touring with big artists, and working with large orchestras and bands. We sat down for a quick chat with Arturo about his preparation for JESC 2016 and his experience of the Avid VENUE | S6L console.
The S6L consoles used at JESC 2016 in Malta were supplied by DAB Electronica, approved resellers and system integrators of Avid in Malta.
When did you first use Avid Live Systems?
I first came in contact with Avid Live Systems some years ago at the Arena di Verona where I used it for a large-scale concert. This was a particularly tricky production as it involved a high degree of specificity that resulted from the diversity of having a big symphony orchestra, a choir and light music arrangements. That time I worked with two Avid consoles that had a profile of 97 channels.
I clearly remember how I learnt to use the console in a span of a couple of hours. Someone came to explain the basics to me but the second that he had finished I had to immediately proceed on to the soundcheck! On the whole, I found Avid live systems to be quite efficient and user friendly, so it worked out extremely well
Why did you choose the Avid VENUE | S6L for JESC 2016?
Switching to the S6L was a completely natural step. After years of using several different digital consoles of considerable sizes, I knew what I wanted to obtain from the S6L the moment I saw it. In addition, the distributor for Avid was very helpful in teaching me how to employ the S6L, and I can even say that he made me fall in love with the product! Avid even sent over a specialist to help us out for the JESC 2016, and they followed our progress till the last minute, so I couldn’t be happier.
Can you describe the S6L system configuration used for JESC 2016?
We decided to take a different approach for this production. We created a hub beneath the main stage that received all the different signals from each piece of equipment. All the input and output signals from every single console passed through this hub, where someone was managing the patching process. Therefore, where one normally would expect the FOH to be the core of any live show, we have pivoted the core process onto this hub.
Two parallel Avid VENUE | S6L consoles, each connected to a Stage 64 I/O rack loaded with 64 input channels and a Waves SoundGrid server over MADI, were set up in an identical configuration and synced together via timecode because we wanted them to be completely identical to each other in order to facilitate immediate file transfer between the two S6L for instant backup.
One of the S6L consoles was used to mix the music transmission being sent to the OB truck, which also managed the presenter radios, microphones and video inserts. The second S6L system provided full redundancy as well as the ability to switch snapshots, effects and other elements according to timecode position. The VENUE | Profile console was used as the FOH and monitor system within the event venue.
How did S6L impact mixing on the production?
The S6L console made my life easier mixing every performance. Firstly, the S6L console surface can be fully personalised, so I can literally have an eye on everything that I need and remove anything else that is not required at that time. This means that my workspace is customized and simplified. I also commend the S6L faders—they offer incredible precision. When you want to follow a particular voice in the mix, you need to make very precise movements, sometimes down to the finest millimetre, and with the S6L you get the feeling that you’re in total control.
For the JESC 2016, our pre-production consisted mainly of a collection of multitracked songs of each participating nation. Multitracks enable us to achieve more accurate control when compared to the general playback used in other live shows. This is especially significant in this production because of the very young age of the competing singers, where certain high notes might be weaker in relation to the instrumentals. The S6L gives us the necessary tools to work comfortably within these parameters.
Did you use Virtual Soundcheck for this production?
Virtual Soundcheck was one of the features that I loved in the Profile series and which was made even better in S6L. It has become even simpler! With the S6L there is no need to close the work you are doing in order to wait for the console to restart. This used to be mandatory with Profile, but all that you need to do now is push a button.
I can honestly say that S6L’s Virtual Soundcheck feature is more effective and faster because you can immediately work on it as soon as a song finishes, and then go on to the next one without stopping. It gives us full control of the rehearsal immediately after it is completed.
What is your impression about the S6L’s sound quality?
There is definitely a higher dynamic to it and there is also more space for stereo imaging. S6L allows me to fix any sound in the mix with extreme simplicity. Other consoles that have multiple instruments playing in the background do not allow this, as the mix then starts becoming a bit crowded. With S6L you always have enough space to fit everything you need.
How does S6L compares to other consoles on the market?
I think the S6L System is the most versatile console from a routing perspective and it is definitely the one that sounds infinitely better. You can very easily integrate it with other hardware. This is my opinion and a question of personal tastes and acoustics: we have achieved a high audio quality with the S6L that is certainly not comparable to other digital consoles.
Avid Live Systems are known for their great products and reliability. The market offers several other computer-based products that might have good sound features but are less dependable. The VENUE | Profile had managed to give everyone the feeling that the products are robust, with minimal software and hardware issues.
As such, I can only say that the S6L is the evolution, or next step, that follows the same Avid live systems philosophy. Although it has only been on the market for a limited time, my experience of it thus far is showing it to be very powerful and stable. Anyone looking for a great investment should definitely choose the S6L, as it offers a lot of forward-looking capabilities not found in other systems.
Finally, what is your single favourite feature of the S6L?
I insist that it is the audio quality of the S6L that makes it unique in the market. It is the single most important feature that struck me as soon as I laid hands on the system. The sound produced by the S6L is simply exceptional.
About DAB Electronica
DAB Electronica was incorporated in 1998 to serve as a one-stop shop for broadcasting and AV production equipment in the Mediterranean. Under the sole ownership of Mr. Joseph Vella since August 2006, DAB Electronica has continued to gain market share through representation and distributorship agreements for several global brands. DAB Electronica is the AVID approved reseller and system integrator in Malta.
About BESTeam Audio
BESTeam Audio is a privately held company providing high quality services to the broadcast and entertainment industry in Malta through the provision of exceptionally professional sound systems. Over the years, the BESTeam have serviced concert tour stops in Malta by many renowned international artists.