Yamaha CL5 treble success at Royal Albert Hall
SFL is the Albert Hall's AV partner and one of the first UK rental companies to invest in the CL series. The three back-to-back events - a schools choir concert, church leadership conference and ballet on ice - provided the opportunity to give the company's new CL5 a real test.
The first event was the annual Hertfordshire Music Service gala, which saw over 2500 children from schools all over Hertfordshire perform in two separate shows on the same day. The second - the following day - was the leadership conference for the Holy Trinity Church, Brompton (HTB), featuring a mix of contemporary worship music and motivational speaking.
"The music gala saw a junior orchestra and bands playing as well as choirs made up from schools across the county," says SFL Group managing and technical director Mark Payne, who was FOH engineer for the production.
"Teachers had been rehearsing 'mini' choirs (of 10-50 children) each separately then, when they got to the venue, all the choirs came together, had a quick rehearsal with the junior orchestra and sang as one. For the second show, different choirs sang with the same orchestra. They had an amazing degree of capability."
The production needed around 60 channels, including around 25 microphones on the massed choirs, a number on the orchestra and some DIs for the bands which were the warm-up acts for the choral performance
"Time was very tight and we didn't have a great deal of pre-programming time. It was a case of quick rehearsal, show, quick rehearsal, show," says Payne. "But the CL5 is brilliant for that situation, it's flexible enough to allow us to use a lot of techniques which speed up the process."
For the HTB conference, the event's FOH engineer Mark Sunderland took full advantage of the CL5's Dante recording facility, doing a multitrack recording at prior rehearsals with the HTB conference band.
"On arrival at the Albert Hall, he plugged a Mac into the Dante split and soundchecked the band even before they arrived. It was his first show in the Albert Hall and being able to do a virtual soundcheck gave him a lot of confidence," says Payne. "We were also able to do Dante splits to the PM5D / DSP5D monitor board. I like to run a system digital all the way to the amplifiers and it allowed us to have no analogue splits on what was a very complex show. It worked absolutely faultlessly and the sound quality was excellent."
The third event was completely different again, three performances of Swan Lake on Ice featuring a 25 piece orchestra. "We had virtually zero soundcheck time because the ice rink takes time to put in and occupies 2/3 of the Albert Hall floor area," says Payne. "We ended up rehearsing Act 1 of the orchestral piece down in the foyer bar, then Act 2 in the hall. The ability to move the console very quickly was extremely useful."