One of London’s landmark theatres has installed a new Soundcraft Vi3000 digital mixing console as the first phase in a planned sound system upgrade.
The Grade II-listed Hackney Empire is one of the few surviving Frank Matcham designed music halls, built around the turn of the 20th century, and according to technical manager, Othman Read, with the new desk the venue has made its first excursion into digital en route to replacing the entire technical infrastructure.
The Empire had previously maintained the same control set-up since the theatre reopened following major refurbishment in 2004 – and that included a 48-channel Soundcraft MH4 analogue desk.
“This had been an absolute pleasure to own, a brilliant workhorse,” Read confirmed. “But it only had 48 channels and looking at modern day production requirements, you need to provide at least 90 channels.” But since the MH4 had proved such a brilliant house desk over a 15-year period, they instinctively turned to Soundcraft. “We wanted to see where they were going digitally and how they would meet our channel count requirement.”
Despite having a wide knowledge of industry standard consoles from other incoming productions Othman Read was soon on the phone to Sound Technology, Soundcraft’s UK and Ireland distributors, setting out his needs within the available budget.
As a result, he opted for the Vi3000 and fibre multicore. The addition of a new Compact Stagebox would ordinarily give him 32 analogue in/ 8 analogue and 8 AES out – but this has been custom configured to provide 48 / 16. This has been carried out by replacing the standard 8 + 8 output panel with an extra 16-XLR input module. By using the two Studer D21m expansion slots, two D-Subs on the desk each carry 8 channels to a Studer 16 output analogue XLR panel racked to the rear of the Stagebox.
“This modification has made it perfect for our needs,” confirms the technical manager, “since with the additional 48 channels from the Stagebox the Vi3000 now provides us with 96 mix channels – which is ideal.”