Conan, the TBS talk show created and hosted by comedian Conan O’Brien, has garnered four EMMY Award nominations and one EMMY win, for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media in 2012, since the show launched in 2010.
The show’s music has always been a major factor in its success, starting with its core group the Basic Cable Band featuring guitarist/leader Jimmy Vivino, with hundreds of featured guest music artists.
Now, the technical team has taken the music production to the next level, with the installation of a new Roland (booth SU10124) M-5000 OHRCA live mixing console, which is being used to drive the Roland M-48 live personal mixer units that the show has used for the house band over the last several years. The new M-5000 was installed and commissioned by live sound provider ATK Audiotek and has been in use throughout the current season.
ATK system designer Jeff Peterson says the M-5000 was the perfect match for the existing M-48 units, which have been extremely reliable.
“We chose the M-5000 for Conan because it was a logical move to use it to drive the show’s M-48s,” he explains. “We needed to replace an aging existing console, and rather than continue to use the M-48 system as a standalone network, we decided on integrating the house-band console into the system with the M-5000, which greatly increases the monitor system’s overall efficiency and effectiveness.”
The system is currently configured simply using two Roland S-4000 modular digital snakes for house band and production inputs, one Roland XI-REAC expansion interface and the REAC S-4000D splitter and power distributor to the seven M-48s being used by the house band.
Elizabeth Cabral, who worked on the installation of the console and recently became the show’s staff monitor mixer, says the two Roland platforms are a perfect fit, and a perfect match for the house band’s needs.
“The console works as essentially an expansion of the M-48s,” says Cabral. “What I really like is the three banks of eight user-defined buttons and four user-defined knobs, as well as the three user layers for faders. I’m able to customize the console for quick access to inputs and outputs without having to dig through many sub-menus. I isolate the first bank of eight faders for the ability to make changes to any inputs and outputs without losing my ‘show’ layer, which lives on its own user layer. The assignable faders are where I keep my most important microphones, like Conan’s lavalier and Jimmy Vivino’s vocal mic, on hand at all times.
“Lastly, the user assignable buttons and faders are loaded with bookmarks for quick access to the M-48 Manager and aux sends, as well as level controls and dynamics for various applications.”
Until recently, the group’s M-48’s were managed via a PC. With the installation of the Roland M-5000 console, the M-48s are even more flexible.
“I came in on the tail-end of when users were setting up and managing the M-48s on their PCs, and having easy access to tangible faders and encoders as opposed to a click of a mouse or a swipe of a touch pad makes mixing cleaner and simpler,” Cabral explains. “The M-48s allow for a more efficient mixing experience. The musicians get exactly what they want in an instant without having to go through monitor world. They are able to make a change on their M-48 mixers while performing during the show and without the distraction of trying to communicate with me at monitors and wait for me to make a change.”
With the addition of the M-5000, monitoring is even more flexible. The M-5000 has 62 channels programmed; the number of inputs used each night varies from episode to episode. In the past, the house band has accompanied guest bands while using two autonomous monitor systems: the house band would remain using their Roland M-48 mixers while the guest artists utilized separate wedge and in-ear mixes via a Yamaha PM5D console.
Now, in order to ensure all the musicians can hear one another, the Roland M-5000 and PM5D are interfaced with each other to send mixes bi-directionally where they need to go.
“Channel navigation on the M-5000 feels very intuitive, and the ability to customize your work surface makes mixing a more efficient experience. It’s a far more advanced system than its counterparts,” she says.
And then there’s the sound: “The M5000 is running at 96 kHz and the entire Roland system sonically is very precise,” she confirms. “It manages transitory elements simply and unaffectedly and stays true to the source. The whole system has taken monitoring on Conan to a new level.”