Both the Royal Theatre and McPherson Playhouse in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, have upgraded to a range of DiGiCo consoles.
“In 2002, we decided that we were going to have some of the most technologically equipped theatres in Canada,” states Warren Busby, head of audio and assistant technical director for both venues. “We undertook a multi-million dollar renovation of the 1,416-seat Royal Theatre.and with that, purchased new technical equipment. We continued to be state-of-the-art for many years and then, in 2012, we decided it was time to replace the existing console.”
This started Busby’s console search. He had already seen the SD8 and SD10 a few years prior, but wanted a console that offered multiple screens, ahd he wasn’t going to use his entire budget.
“As we host a large number of operators, having multiple screens to work on while they are busy mixing was rather important to me,” he explains. “I demoed a number of different manufacturers’ consoles, and when it comes down to spending this kind of money, any of them would have worked and sounded ok. However, after speaking to people that own (and service) them, I began to lean away from most of them due to parts and servicing issues not to mention lack of software updates.”
When DiGiCo launched the SD5, Busby had his solution, acquired via Gerr Audio, DiGiCo’s Canadian distributor, with support from Shawn Heines.
“Shawn and Gerr president Bob Snelgrove knew this and invited me to be their guest at a small trade show Gerr was hosting in Toronto, where the SD5 was going to make its Canadian debut,” he continues. “DiGiCo’s Tim Shaxson was kind enough to join us from the UK and spent time with me one-on-one explaining the features of the console. He also provided information on the DiGiCo console ‘trade up’ program that was being offered with the SD5 by Gerr. It turned out that we would be the first to have an SD5 in Canada.
After Busby returned from Toronto, the theatre’s technical director Blair Morris and he decided it made sense to take advantage of the trade in incentive. He started working with a couple of local dealers to finalize price quotes, with the final bid awarded to long time Vancouver Island audio production and supply company Pacific Audio Works (PAW).
“Rob Mayor from PAW was able to work with Gerr Audio and fit not only the SD5 into our budget, but also an SD10 to replace our aging analog monitor console,” says Busby. “The final system consists of the SD5 and an SD-Mini Rack at FOH, an SD-Rack stage right and a D-Rack with optical stage left. All pieces are on an optical loop with patch points for the SD10 monitor console either stage left or right. The two consoles gain share the SD-Rack.
“After all this planning for the Royal Theatre, and to stick with our mandate of providing cutting edge technology, we decided to purchase an SD9 for the smaller 772-seat McPherson Playhouse,” he continues. “We decided it was important to have continuity of equipment between our two theatres as there are multiple operators and the SD9 Rack Pack was too good of a deal to pass up on.”
The Royal hosts everything from high school graduations, to symphony, opera, and rock and roll and the only shows the console is not used for are the touring acts that bring their own. “But, if they don’t have a DiGiCo themselves, they are always curious to check it out when I turn it on,” Busby notes. “I have hosted many front of house engineers that started the day not liking the fact they had to use my console. After a quick lesson and a soundcheck they tell me they can’t believe how good it sounds and how easy it is to get around. They always seem to leave with their show file and a smile on their face. The SD10 is only deployed when we have an act that requires multiple monitor mixes and is a breeze to set up – just two optical cables and one AC line.”
The McPherson Playhouse is more community oriented, with a large number of amateur theatre and dance performances. It also hosts a number of musical acts from Elvis impersonators to Bryan Adams acoustic shows, most of which take advantage of in-house production.
“I personally love the SD9 and only wish it had a couple of small features I’ve become accustomed to on the SD5,” he concludes. “I mix a large number of theatre shows on it with up to 30 wireless mics and enjoy the ease of use and flexibility of the snapshots section of the console.