The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival has established itself as a landmark in Mexico’s music circles, having featured some of the world’s most popular artists over its thirteen year run. This year was no different, with 11 artists performing over three days on the beach in beautiful Playa del Carmen, including Sheila E., Zappa Plays Zappa, Gino Vannelli, and Alan Holdsworth. Avid has been fortunate to be a part of this free event for more than 6 years now, and this year marked the appearance of the new VENUE | S6L system at front of house.
Holding a three-day festival right on the beach is a challenge, especially given the meteorological implications, such as rain, sea mist, temperatures well above 27°C (80°F), and humidity well above 80%–certainly a great test for the new S6L system. Avid’s Omar Martinez and Ricardo “Rocoto” Mantini worked with Antonio Méndez, the festival’s technical lead, and Salvador Castañeda, who was in charge of the FOH position, to set up the VENUE | S6L system as well as an SC48. The S6L system used for the festival consisted of a VENUE | S6L-24D control surface (24 faders and three touchscreens), a VENUE | E6L-192 engine, and a Stage 64 I/O rack configured with 48 inputs and 8 outputs. Oscar Gamas handled calibrating the festival’s Meyer Lyon PA system.
The first band to carry out their sound check was Sheila E., with her sound engineer Jaymes Silver at the controls. Silver was excited to mix on VENUE | S6L for the first time, and being a VENUE user, quickly loaded his existing VENUE show file and made the necessary adjustments within 10 minutes, including changing the plug-ins used to their newer, AAX versions, as well as assigning the effects returns. Getting oriented on the S6L didn’t take long—he found the console’s layout extremely friendly and intuitive—and he was up and running the sound check within 15 minutes.
One by one, the rest of the sound engineers passed through FOH to get acquainted with the new system. Only one engineer chose to use the SC48 backup because of his familiarity with that system and the limited time available during changeover. Salvador Castañeda, being in charge of the festival’s FOH, deserves special mention, as he mixed FOH for all bands that didn’t carry their own engineer and spent more time on the S6L than anyone. He was especially impressed with the system’s sound quality, ease of management, and operation over three days of mixing. In addition to mixing the performances, the festival organizers requested that all of the Mexican bands’ performances be recorded, which the team handled using S6L’s Ethernet AVB recording capabilities (64 channels over a single Cat5 cable).
We are happy to report that S6L’s first outing as festival system was a great success and the feedback from the engineers was gratifying—their transition to mixing on the new system was painless and they quickly felt at home using the new control surface. We also want to thank the festival team—Antonio Méndez, Salvador Castañeda, Oscar Gamas, Erik Moreno, and Álvaro Acosta—who helped us inaugurate VENUE | S6L at its first festival and look forward to next year!