The Benedum Center, a project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and a renowned performing arts venue in the heart of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s cultural district, recently added a Harman Studer Vista 5 digital audio mixing console with 42 faders to support a variety of theatrical productions and live music performances.
The console was purchased through New York-based Sound Associates.
Chris Evans, House Sound Engineer for the Benedum Center, first saw the Vista series of consoles at the AES Convention in San Francisco in 2010. Evans, who has been with the Center since its renovation and re-branding in 1987, ultimately chose the Vista 5 because he believed no other board felt closest to analog.
“The relationship I have with Harman also helped,” Evans said. “After a valuable discussion with Studer, who were very helpful in navigating the system, it felt like the right choice.”
During the summer, the Benedum Center hosts at least one performance per day—a very busy schedule with little time to adjust to a new console. “The Vista 5 was easy to install and is even easier to use.
More importantly, it sounds great,” Evans noted. “The transition to the Vista 5 has been seamless and it’s given me greater flexibility with far less hassle than our previous analog board.”
With a variety of performances and acts hosted by the Center including Blue Man Group, Fiddler on the Roof, A Chorus Line and more (including a recent performance by The Beach Boys), the ability to move audio around the building is something that Evans relies on constantly.
“I can patch something downstage right to FOH and go through the system without having to touch the console,” Evans stated. “It can operate as a mixing console and routing matrix. The Vistonics surface is so easy to navigate. I also use all the built-in features, from compressors to EQ to delay.”
Evans also noted the console’s Snapshot function as a key asset during live events.
“I’ve done a number of shows where there are two or three different bands, so I am able to save a snapshot of each band’s settings and be ready to go with my input list,” he said. “It’s always set up as either I or the touring engineer left it.”
During the Center’s own theater and opera productions, the Vista 5’s cue list has been another great asset for Evans.
“It’s easy to program and I use it extensively,” Evans noted. “We included two racks of 48 channels of DSP which I can put anywhere with additional fibers if needed. This is a real flexible solution for what we are doing.”
Since the purchase of the Vista 5, everyone at the Benedum Center has been pleased with the console. “Studer’s support is on a whole other level, it’s easy for me to do my work and count on the performance of their products,” Evans concluded. “The value of the Vista 5 was apparent immediately and the whole team here adapted to it right away.”