Kristinn Gauti Einarsson is the head of sound at the National Theater in Reykjavik, Iceland. He started at the Theater in 2007 and fills his current role since 2012.
He has wide range of sound related responsibilities from sound design for the theatre’s productions, PA system design, making purchasing decisions and he also shares the duties of mixing all the shows at the theatre with two colleagues.
Recently The National Theatre purchased an Avid VENUE | S6L console to replace a Yamaha DM2000 that broke down. In between, the theatre tried an iLive T112 but decided to move on quickly and with the help of Avid Partners Nyja Umbodid installed the S6L.
What can you say about your experiences with the S6L now that you have used it for a while?
To go with the S6L was the right decision, absolutely. It is capable of doing everything we need here at the theatre and it just sounds great. We are a small repertoire theatre with around 500 seats and we normally have about 3 different shows running each week. This means we have to do complete change-overs over night to serve a show on a Thursday night and a completely different show on a Friday night and another completely different show on a Saturday night. Even as we are a rather small theatre we do think big, as Icelanders do (grins), and do also musicals with full live bands and up to 30 actors equipped with wireless mics. Additionally we also do straight theatre plays and children’s plays. We really do it all: concerts, special events and sometimes conferences – the whole package.
Which S6L setup do you use?
We run the 144 Engine and the desk has 32 faders. We also have two 64 Input stage racks providing 128 inputs to the desk. This allows us for keeping everything patched in for the various shows, so we do not have to change too much and this leaves us also a number of available inputs available.
We use also a lot of outputs that are routed to different speakers. It is really convenient to have a lot of I/O available here.
Of course the most important thing is the sound quality and I must say in this regard the S6L is outstanding as well.
When it comes to mixing, do you add outboard gear, do you use some special plugins, or are you completely “in the box”?
I mix completely in the box and usually with the onboard EQ and Dynamics. On top of this of course I take advantage of all the plugins available for the S6L, so nothing seems impossible, not for creative sound design or in basic mixing. Some Plug-ins also give me more control over a difficult signal for example.
What would a difficult signal be for example?
Usually “difficult” signals result from compromises we have to do in terms of not so perfect mic placements. When things aren’t the way we would like them to be I might add an additional specialized EQ. It is really convenient that you can simply stack EQs or other processors, as you like, without having to think about processing power at all. On the group busses I use multiband compression – that helps a lot, we couldn’t do this before in such a convenient way.
Do you work a lot with show files for the various shows? I understand that you have a great variety of shows that are returning frequently as well?
In combination with the big amount of Inputs we have available and keeping them patched it is possible to conveniently program for various shows. And it makes life so much easier. If we for example go from a concert with 48 channels back to a straight theatre play with only a couple of mics and a couple of sound FX, I just have to call up the show file and we’re up and running.
What is your “mic-ing approach”? Do you use lavaliers for actors and singers or do you rely on shotgun mics for the stage?
For straight theatre plays we usually do not use mics for the actors. But for everything else we use lavalier mics placed on the performers and add some shotguns as extras.
What do you use for sound FX playback?
For the playback we use QLab by Figure 53 and we use Pro Tools for virtual sound checks. This is another important thing by the way. As time is always an issue we can save a lot of time by doing virtual sound checks. This is also very welcome by the musicians as they can save their energy actually for the show performance.
Let’s talk about the speaker system. You mentioned that you send signals to different speakers. What kind of setup do you use?
We do have a kind of “half” surround system. We have the main PA left and right and center and also speakers in the back of the room. It is not fully surround but we use the back speakers often for FX. Additionally we have speakers in a fly rig in the back of the stage. We can use these for the straight plays when the actors are not mic-ed. So the sound comes from the same sources just as the natural voices of the actors do. Occasionally we use wireless speakers on stage for some spot cues if we want to place them very accurately.
On the console we use the left/ center/ right set up. We couldn’t do that before and we love it.
Are there some features that you are missing still or are you completely happy with the system?
Missing something? Not really. All the updates of the VENUE software go in the right direction. With every update it gets better and better and there is nothing, from other manufacturers for example, that is strong enough or that I can even think of that could compete with what I have now, especially not in this price range.
Now, when it comes to broadcast companies or record companies who want to record and broadcast a show. Do you usually provide the recording? Or do you provide feeds for recording trucks etc.?
Not long ago we did a recording of a concert and for this we did split the signals to the recording truck as they did not have MADI set up in a usable manner for us. This will be the favorite format for providing signals to 3rd parties in the future. But we recorded this show with Pro Tools on our own as well which came in handy as we later found out that the recording engineer did not hit record on time (grins).