Few internationally renowned artists begin holding regular concerts at over 70 years of age but, since 2001, legendary soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone, who began his career over fifty years ago, has directed his music before spellbound audiences in venues such as Radio City Music Hall, Verona Arena, Royal Albert Hall, the Kremlin, the Vatican’s Nervi Hall, the UN General Assembly and St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
For one of the ‘maestro’s’ most recent concerts, staged on Rimini promenade, in a square named after Federico Fellini, Morricone’s long-time FOH and recording engineer Fabio Venturi and monitor engineer Andrea Tesini helmed DiGiCo SD7 consoles, mixing genre-crossing music performed by an orchestra, rock band, chorus and solo soprano.
Venturi explains, “My aim is to get as close to the sound audiences heard when they saw the films (which include Sergio Leone’s Dollar Trilogy, Sacco and Vanzetti, Cinema Paradiso, The Untouchables, Once Upon a Time in America and The Mission), as Morricone uses the original orchestrations.
“I receive 110 channels from the stage. Advantages offered by the SD7 include recall facilities that enable sessions already prepared offline, or recorded at previous shows, to be used for virtual sound checks (a great help), as we only have an hour with the orchestra. Plus the console’s great flexibility and small footprint greatly facilitate use and transport.”
Venturi had already used the SD7 for a convention and a musical but adds, “I’ve used the D5 for years, so my experience with its software stood me in good stead. The features I appreciate most on the SD7 include the large number of inputs and the amount of layers that have been implemented, enabling really practical organization of the various orchestra sections. Plus, the top-grade multiband compression and the EQ section, which is outstanding and extremely intuitive to use.”
To accomplish the unenviable task of ensuring good monitor facilities for the impressive line-up of performers, Tesini uses a “hybrid” system: “For years, I’ve used a large number of small loudspeaker enclosures among the orchestra musicians, headphones for band members and wireless IEM for the rhythm section. The Maestro, soprano and pianist use monitors and the chorus, normally 100-strong, has four enclosures per side.”
The challenge of such a complex set-up is in the numbers: 112 channels for orchestra microphones, plus 13 service channels and reverb returns. Tesini uses 35 sends, 24 groups and eight matrices.
“The SD7 allows me to organize the work using all the desk’s internal resources – I use 24 groups for the premixes and reassign them to the inputs to accelerate mixing, then use 35 auxiliary sends with the possibility of equalizing and aligning them with FOH… not to mention the on-board effects – the Hall effects are really nice.”
This wasn’t Tesini’s first outing with an SD7, as he concluded, “I used it at the Kremlin and found my way around it immediately, as I’d used the D5 for ages. It’s very versatile and intuitive and enables me to rapidly reorganize, move, add or remove anything coming in or going out - the audio processing is top-grade, the filters precise and the dynamics are really effective.”
Audio contractor for the show was Agorà of L’Aquila, one of Italy’s leading rental firms. Wolfango DeAmicis, who runs the firm with his brother Vittorio, considers the stock of consoles bought during their long-standing relationship with DiGiCo sufficient proof of their opinion of the products.
“We have six SD7s, six D5s, two D1s, four SD8s and two SD9s and are about to purchase four more SD7s. We host regular hands-on training sessions for sound engineers at our HQ, with DiGiCo experts, and are also ably supported by Italy’s distributor, Audio Link.”
Vittorio adds, “When we’re involved in orchestral, operatic or classical music events, we use systems able to ensure amplified sound is as natural as possible, and we also have a lengthy experience in ‘mixed’ genres, dating back to the ‘Pavarotti & Friends’ shows, where we fielded our DiGiCo desks for the first time.”