“The DiGiCo SD7 has been my companion for the last 18 months and I wouldn’t change it for anything,” says Chris Marsh, Front of House engineer for Ed Sheeran.
A pretty strong statement, but with Ed just completing a short, but hugely successful, run of gigs at London’s Wembley Stadium and Croke Park in Dublin, selling out every date and playing to a total audience of over 400,000, Chris hads to be sure he was working with the very best tools for the job. For him, an essential element is his SD7.
Chris has been a DiGiCo advocate for many years, but the SD7, used in conjunction with an SD-Mini Rack on stage, is now his favourite. “The pre amps are incredibly natural, they really sound musical,” he says. “There’s so much you can do with Dynamic EQ and Compression; the need for additional outboard is negated by the power within the console itself. As long as I have my SD7, I have everything I need. The SD-Mini Rack sits on the stage end. The cool thing about that is that I can have a small amount of I/O within the rack..”
Which begs the question, why does Chris need a console with the incredible headroom of the SD7?
“People used to laugh at me when I mixed Ed on an SD11,” he smiles. “They said it wasn’t possible to do it on something so small, but of course it was. Now, they’re laughing at me because I’ve got the most powerful console available for one man and a guitar!”
Despite the fact that there are so few inputs – 13 in total from Ed – most of them are duplicated many times over within the songs. “And I do all the monitoring from within the SD7 from FOH, as well as all media feeds and the audio feeds to video world, which are mainly for tempo related stuff,” explains Chris. “We also have a lot of effects for looping that get fed into the looper to go back out to Ed. So there may be only 13 inputs, but there are also 42 output busses and 39 input related busses.”
Handling FOH and monitors at the same time may appear to be a cost saving exercise, but the reasoning behind it couldn’t be more diametrically opposed to that.
“Ed had a monitor engineer a while ago, but it didn’t really work for him,” says Chris, “He wanted to have everything that came out of the console to be consistent. He’s all about consistency because of the way he builds his loops; he needs to know that no one is effecting or changing the sound. If a monitor engineer is changing something, then Ed will change the way he’s playing and that could significantly alter the way things sound for the audience. Even if it’s not sounding exactly as he’d want it to at the start, he’d rather stick with that than change it part way through a set.”
To aid this, Chris has changed the way he handles delays. “Ed and I can play off each other in terms of FOH and monitors, and that’s something that can only be derived from FOH. And it’s working really well,” he says.
Chris has been using a combination of DiGiCo, Meyer Sound and Sennheiser equipment throughout, all serviced by Major Tom. It has all travelled the world faultlessly, standing up to anything and everything they’ve thrown at it from several metres of snow to the baking sun of Dubai.
“The SD7 is rock solid everywhere,” Chris concludes. “Oh, and it’s really pretty…!”