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Holding Out For A Zero: The Incremental Quest Towards A Perfect Zero Scene

Managing the flexibility of digital consoles effectively requires an efficient setup process to achieve a show-ready state.

By Michael Lawrence and Samantha Potter February 13, 2019

An overview of the author’s Midas Pro1 console showing channel order and colors.

Shifting Gears

Samantha Potter: It’s not often I start a DiGiCo SD scene from zero, but there will come a day when this will give me a huge head start. I work heavily in church sound and do varied events with the SD9, from large services to lecture series and movie nights, so I set the board up to handle bands, discussion panels, and forums. All the events I support fall into one of those categories.

I start with 1:1 patching, beginning with the console’s local I/O and then continuing to the stage racks. Next up are the inputs with EQ placed before dynamics, which I tend to prefer, and a HPF enabled at 100 Hz, since any channels that may go below it will have my attention at the beginning of the mix build.

The Pro1’s dynamic EQ screen.

Moving down the channel strip to dynamics, I default to the standard compressor on all channels, bypassed and set to a 3:1 ratio and a soft knee, with a ducker or multi-band compressor a button push away if I need it.

Continuing to the buses, I keep all my auxes pre-fade because I use them as monitor sends simultaneously with FOH more than anything else, and I don’t want my FOH mix to change the monitor levels. Further down the line, I use matrices to feed the FOH mix to a recording/media unit and a cry room.

My workflow is set up with the inputs on the left side and the outputs on the right. The left fader bay has drums and bass on the top layer, with the rest of the instruments below that. On the right, the four layers are for Control Groups (DiGiCo’s version of a VCA), Aux masters, FX and Matrices. This gives each arm independent control of what I’m trying to adjust. It can be a bit like playing the piano.

For musical events, I prefer to keep the rhythm section on top, with another layer dedicated to the vocal and speech inputs regardless of the type of event. I only use a few user-assignable keys – “Save File” and a tap delay for the FX rack. Finally, I like to keep the console lighting dim. This configuration serves as a solid base, easy to customize for a specific event.

Gradual Process

The important part, for both of us, is that these customizations and workflows are descriptive, not prescriptive. There’s no rule or policy set down someplace that we’re urging people to follow – rather, these are ideas that gradually came into being on their own over the course of hundreds of gigs.

Any time you find yourself repeating the same tasks while working with the console, it’s worth asking whether it’s worth saving the time and addressing those changes in your initial showfile. The variety of workflow preferences in audio mixing is endlessly interesting, and you are encouraged to get in touch if you’d like a copy of Michael’s showfile or to share your own customization preferences.

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About Michael Lawrence and Samantha Potter

Michael Lawrence and Samantha Potter
Michael Lawrence and Samantha Potter

Michael Lawrence is an independent front of house engineer and system tech. He is also the technical editor of various pro audio publications. Send him your thoughts at [email protected] Samantha Potter is an IT media supervisor and system design consultant in the house of worship sector. She is also production manager for Funk Syndicate in Kansas City. Get in touch at [email protected]

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