Leading Amsterdam music and arts centre Melkweg (Milky Way) has added to its inventory of Harman Soundcraft audio consoles by buying a Vi6 from Dutch distributor Audio XL. This uses the same operating platform and Vistonics II interface as the Vi4 bought by the venue in 2009, but packs a greater number of inputs and busses.
The new Vi6 has taken up the FOH position in the venue’s 700-capacity Oude Zaal (Old Room), while the Vi4 has been redeployed as a dedicated monitor desk, replacing a long-serving console that was becoming increasingly unreliable.
With a minimum of 72 channels required, the purchasing decision was again taken by technical department head Richard Balk (pictured right) and his team, providing the Melkweg with an intuitive means of mixing the many disciplines it hosts – including music, theatre, dance and cinema.
“We wanted to keep continuity with Soundcraft,” he explained. “We were debating whether to take another Vi4 but we had a demo of the Vi6 — and the extra fader bay won!” Other compelling reasons for buying the desk, he said, included quality of the sound, the quality of the built-in Lexicon FX and the user-friendly set-up of the desk.
The desk is configured with 72 inputs, 16 outputs, and supplied with two DSP expansion cards. “If necessary we can upgrade the channel count by adding further cards to the stage rack,” said Balk.
One of the venue’s freelance sound engineers, Ard Boot (pictured left), added that the Melkweg’s pool of technicians had all backed the decision. “What we like is the flexibility of the desk and its size. The fact that we already owned the Vi4 made it a logical step to buy the Vi6.” The venue also has the facility to relocate the console between the Oude Zaal and the venue’s main ‘Max’ room.
The original choice of Soundcraft in 2009 followed detailed research by Balk and his team, who noted that other desks they reviewed at the time had often been too complicated. He was already familiar with the Soundcraft digital topology and knew that the Vi platform would provide a fast learning curve for uninitiated engineers, boosted by the library of Lexicon FX and BSS EQs.
At the same time the FOH station was specially modified; to suit what is reportedly the world’s tallest nation, special brackets were made to elevate the mixing desk, which travelled up and down over a distance of 20cm. This ensured that sound engineers’ hands were always at the right angle to the desk for maximum comfort.
The senior technician confirms that the decision to standardise on Soundcraft has met with the full approval of his team. He also confirms that the Melkweg simultaneously changed the set-up in monitor world, adding a new 72-channel input box and 48-channel broadcast output, along with the rest of the infrastructure.