DiGiCo dominates at Milwaukee Summerfest
Friday, 26 July 2019
summerfestMore than 800 top artists and bands perform on a dozen stages
USA - Wisconsin’s Summerfest runs over 11 days in late June and early July each year. Over 700,000 people flock to Milwaukee’s Lake Michigan shoreline to watch more than 800 top artists and bands perform on a dozen stages, earning Summerfest its double-decade-running Guinness World Record title as The World’s Largest Music Festival.
The technical challenges behind providing sound reinforcement for such a massive event are numerous, but locally based Clearwing Productions - Summerfest’s long-time primary production partner - keeps the festival roaring like a well-tuned Harley-Davidson engine.
According to Clearwing Audio operations and logistics manager Jeff Schauer, a big part of that success has been the company’s now-five-year standardisation on DiGiCo FOH and monitor mixing consoles for all of Henry W. Maier Festival Park’s stages, including this year’s recent adoption of new 4REA4 systems for three of those venues.
“We had a DiGiCo 4REA4 set up at the BMO Harris Pavilion, U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, and Harley-Davison Roadhouse, and they were the essential system matrix and production hub at each site,” Schauer describes.
“Although we supply rider-friendly DiGiCo desks for every stage except the American Family Insurance Amphitheater, where touring artists have to carry in all of their own production elements, we regularly have bands and engineers show up with the desks that they’re used to touring with, many of which are also DiGiCo.
“With the new 4REA4, we were able to not only take MADI from our desks, but also allow guests with their own consoles to bring in various platforms - whether it be Dante, MADI, analogue, or AES, and at any clock rate - and we could quickly and seamlessly integrate them into the PA. House music was also run through the 4REA4s, so any file changes could be done on the house desk without any interruptions in the PA system.”
With no less than 17 DiGiCo mixing consoles - a combination of SD12, SD10, SD9, SD8, SD5 and S21 - supplied by Clearwing for nearly all of Summerfest’s stages, Schauer notes that he values DiGiCo’s exemplary support as much as he appreciates the quality and reliability of the products.
“DiGiCo and its US distributor, Group One Limited, are big proponents of education and held a pre-festival training at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard for all of the union operators for the stages, which was fantastic,” he says. “It was perfect for quickly bringing some of the younger engineers better up to speed on the functionality of the desks, while also providing a nice refresher for the ones who have been using them a while, but maybe not as regularly, as is life for a union operator.”
(Jim Evans)

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