Last year’s ProLight+Sound saw UK digital solutions manufacturer DiGiCo announce the SD9 Supercharged software and firmware upgrades, freeing up more of the FPGA’s processing power and adding 100% more on many of its features. This year, DiGiCo takes the SD9 further for both the broadcast and theatre markets, with stand 8.0 F60 at ProLight+Sound and stand C1344 at the NAB show in the US seeing the SD9B making its worldwide debut, along with the European launch of the SD9T, which follows hot on the heals of its US debut at USITT in Milwaukee.
The SD9T gives all the advanced theatre features of the flagship SD7T to the smaller SD9.
For over a decade, DiGiCo has been working with world-class sound designers, including Andrew Bruce (Les Misérables, Chess, Miss Saigon, Mamma Mia, Mary Poppins), to develop a software package that provides the tools needed to address the highly demanding discipline of live theatre sound reinforcement. The results have made the SD7T a standard on the majority of large budget shows on Broadway and in the West End. This feature set is now available to an even wider selection of live theatre users around the world, thanks to the impressive specs of the smaller, more cost conscious, SD9T.
“Some of the biggest problems in live theatre sound are those of ‘imaging’ as performers move around the stage whilst occasionally donning hats which profoundly affect their sound due to the proximity of the head-worn microphones” says Dan Page, DiGiCo Sales Application Specialist. “As a result, a designer will build a show file with a long cue list and use our theatre specific programming tools, including the Auto Update system and Aliases for cue to cue changes, and Matrix nodal delays for precise sound positioning.
“The theatre variant of the Auto Update function instantly updates the channel parameters to all cues, and by using Aliases, affect only those cues where that parameter is the same. For example, if you wanted to make an EQ change to character ‘Bob’, but not in the cues where Bob is wearing a hat, I would create an Alias ‘Bob Hat,’ and any changes I made to ‘Bob’ would track through the cues without updating the Alias ‘Bob Hat’ and vice versa.
“Additionally, as theatre shows make much more use of Control Groups (CGs – also known as VCAs) than traditional live programming, we provide a visual CG programming interface. This, along with the SD9T’s 12 CG channels, allows the engineer to maintain control of the constantly changing cast on stage, by quickly assigning and un-assigning CG members with reference to the cue list.”
One of the newest slick tools in the collection is the Players function. This allows the engineer to quickly deal with cast changes on stage. What was once a process of recalling the proper preset for each Alias is now simply a mater of selecting the actor performing that role. The show is then automatically updated with all the settings for that actor.
The new SD9T software builds on an already impressive array of features onboard the SD9 Supercharged, which has a significant expansion in channel count, dynamic EQs, multiband compressors and matrix, plus the addition of DiGiTuBes, Reorder of Busses and Multichannel inputs (formerly only available on SD7).
Further new features include an expanded aux panel, increased dynamic functions such as a Duck option and expander for the Gate, a De-esser and three types of Knee for the Compressor. There are also new FX types with multitap, and a ping-pong stereo delay. A warmth button is provided on each channel for analogue emulation and two types of EQ have been added (Classic and Precision).
Additional features include template sessions and Sets (previously only available on SD7T), which has been enhanced to allow for ‘Set Spill’. This allows the user to create Sets and, with a simple button press, change the console layout to display members of that Set.
The SD9 is a complete, integrated system powered by Stealth Digital Processing, which includes the mixing surface, a D-Rack digital stage interface and CAT5E digital multicore, with the additional ability to simultaneously record 56 channels direct to your favorite multitrack software or DAW.
DiGiCo has already had great feedback on its broadcast specific SD10B console, which world-class broadcasters such as NEP and Sure Shot Transmissions have found to be a powerful solution.
“A lot of our events are setup, shoot and strike in a single, 10-hour day,” says Kory Long, Engineer in Charge at Sure Shot Transmissions. “I’ve got to give individuals that have never operated the console before a generic overview in less than and hour. I believe I’m able to do that rather well because the SD10B is very easy to use and DiGiCo’s training and customer service in that area is exceptional.”
NEP Hawaii General Manager, Rodney Kobayakawa, adds, “The console is the most powerful, problem-free device in the whole truck.”
With such success under its belt, DiGiCo has applied the same set of parameters to the more compact SD9.
The new SD9B upgrade adds surround capabilities to the standard SD9 ‘live’ system, providing 48 stereo channels, allowing up to 5.1 bussing, plus a full studio style Monitor Matrix, multiple Mix Minus busses, and Backstop PFL functionality.
The addition of these new features means that the broadcast market now has a supplementary console option available to it that is placed squarely between the DiGiCo SD11 and SD10, from a price-point and features perspective.
The SD9 comes at a price that make it the perfect solution for touring bands, schools, conference centers, smaller theatres, houses of worship and a host of other applications where exceptional performance and flexibility need to be realized on a tight budget.