Nearing the end of a billion dollar transformation, The Star in Sydney’s Pyrmont has morphed from a large-scale casino into a full-blown leisure and entertainment complex. With its panoramic views of Sydney’s harbour and skyline, the venue has been designed to entice and host international headliners and A-list celebrities from around the globe. Situated within The Star is The Event Centre, a world-class entertainment space suited to intimate concert settings as well as domestic and international conferences, exhibitions and awards functions, which boasts a combination of DiGiCo SD10s and SD11s at the heart of its audio system.
The Event Centre is a huge 2400 square metre column-free space, the biggest of its kind in Sydney. The room caters for 4000 patrons in concert mode, 3000 guests with half seated, 1200 in a banquet ballroom setting and 1300 in a conference space.
Head of Audio at the Event Centre, Ian Brown, made his assessments of what audio solution The Event Centre would need early on in the process. DiGiCo quickly surfaced as the best choice and Ian was quite vocal in his reasons behind going with an SD10 and SD11 in particular.
“This was the first major purchase of audio equipment since the initial fit out of the Casino. From the beginning of this project we set a very high standard for all systems to be installed into the Event Centre, with special emphasis on the audio system. We had a huge list of special requirements the system had to meet: it had to deliver the best sound available today; and be able to mix up to four independent events on one core system while integrating with our HD vision, conferencing systems and broadcast trucks, as well as be able to link to the existing audio system within the casino. Ultimately, my brief was simple. It had to be the best in the world. Nothing else would do.”
The flexibility of the console was paramount as Ian also notes: “We required a system that could easily switch from doing a concert for major International artists to a conference with the main room operating as two spaces, then go back to broadcast with MADI consoles from the truck linked to the system; and all with minimal time and minimal fuss. It also had to be a system that any sound guy (or girl) would be happy to use – and we can be a very fussy bunch. Above all, it had to be reliable. The SD series consoles were the only system that could meet all of the scenarios we could throw at them and they have exceeded all of our expectations.”
With such a varied cross section of events being held at the Event Centre year round, the ability to re-locate consoles and re-configure them in various locations easily via optics proved very appealing to Ian at the onset and has since proven extremely practical.
“We’ve had the consoles working hard since we opened. They have been used on the AACTA awards, the launch of the 2013 NRL season, a constant string of corporate events including product launches for Blackberry, HP, and Gala events with artists such as David Campbell, Dragon, Mark Seymour and a stream of major Chinese artists over Chinese New Year.
“The ability to put a console anywhere in or out of the venue and have it link to the rest of the system with a simple optical patch is a god send especially when sub mixing for vision and / or links to breakout rooms are required. Many events require some unusual operating locations and complex routing is the norm here. Optics makes this a breeze, also saving us a lot of cable and head scratching. Hum and unwanted noise are a thing of the past. We are able to mix vision on one SD11 in the control room while sub mixing additional vision and playback from the main operating position on the other SD11 while mixing a band and additional mics on the SD10s. We can then bounce a mix to one of the SD11s for a live conference link, then bounce a total mix out for broadcast or streaming from any of the consoles. The possibilities are endless.”
The ultra-low latency of the SD consoles has also ensured that syncing and streaming to HD video is easily achievable.
“The SD system has met all of these challenges with ease. We are not only able to access the hundreds of inputs and outputs across the entire Star Casino property via our extensive Dante network, but we can also link to the other properties in the Echo Entertainment Group or any site worldwide via a secure DVN service. We can also stream live over the Internet, and all in HD. The almost complete lack of latency in the system makes broadcast and syncing to vision a snap.”
After steady use for several months, the SD consoles have met every requirement for Ian, his crew and any major act who has used the Event Centre, proving further the undisputed power and flexibility of DiGiCo.
“Everyone at the Star is blown away by the SD consoles. The layout and features are done just right. The mic preamps are stunning, tonnes of gain and clean – they don’t add any unwanted noise or tone to the input. The EQ is as good as any I have ever heard. There is no difference in sound quality between the SD10 and the SD11,this is unheard of in any of the other mixers I have used when you go from a large to small format console from the same manufacturer. The routing capabilities of the system are extremely powerful while being easy to get your head around; it has made most of the cable infrastructure we installed redundant. The FX and dynamics are fantastic. The snapshots and pre-sets are powerful yet functional – easy to use and update on the fly. They are clearly designed by people who operate sound systems for people who operate sound systems. The learning curve is very shallow for such a powerful system. Every time someone asks ‘can I …?’ that is as far as they get. I just say ‘yep’. They are a pure joy to use and there are constant fights over who gets to mix. Fortunately I usually win.”
There is no shortage of professionals remarking on the consoles in action, with Ian happily reporting some great feedback from some of Australia’s leading engineers.
“Everyone who has used the consoles has been blown away by the clarity, abundance of features and the ease of operation of such a feature packed system. David (Strawberry) Quinn said after his first show on the SD10 ‘it’s like driving a F1 car’. Will King, FOH on the AACTA Awards said after getting rave reviews ‘It’s not me, I didn’t do anything. All I did was push up some faders’. Matt (Dickie) Debien, monitors for AACTA Awards said ‘I love the console. I am going to spec it on all my shows’. I had to put a guard on the console because he wanted to take it with him.”
Ian also had a big list of ‘thank you’s’ for the team at GT and DiGiCo for their advice and support.
“There are many people I would like to thank, above all Drew Menard, Peter Thoms and the team at Group Technologies. Legends, they have been so helpful throughout the whole process and their support has been Incredible. Also David ‘Webby’ Webster and all the boys and girls at DiGiCo in the UK. Their products are just superb and I cannot thank them enough for making a system that has exceeded our demanding specifications. The addition of the optical system to the SD11 has given us a level of flexibility and performance we could not achieve with any other system.”