The recent installation of a Yamaha digital mixing system at The Hawth Theatre in Crawley is said to have brought ‘new levels of sophistication’ to the venue’s productions.
The theatre’s facilities include an 855-seat main space, a smaller 146-seat studio space, exhibition space, eight meeting rooms, coffee shop and bistro, two bars and an outdoor marquee and amphitheatre which are used for performances throughout the summer.
A recent technical upgrade has seen a Yamaha M7CL-48ES digital mixing console, together with three SB168-ES stage boxes, purchased for the main theatre. The system was supplied by AC Lighting and specified as a result of the experiences of the venue’s in-house technical crew, led by technical manager Chris Wilcox.
“We noticed a lot of people touring with Yamaha consoles, which not only indicated that they are worth having, but also gave us an opportunity to ask engineers what they thought of the desks,” says John Kenrick, who provides most of the audio support in the main theatre alongside Quentin Whitaker. “Not all touring engineers get the gear they want and many had horror stories about digital desks they’d used in the past!”
Multiple chances to get ‘hands-on’ with the M7CLs used by touring engineers highlighted the intuitive operation and flexibility of the console.
“The onboard racks have also proved particularly useful, with the compressors and gates easy to set at effective but unobtrusive levels,” remarked The Hawth’s assistant technical manager, Jim Simon. “The software is well thought-out and we now have a default, stored, arrangement that suits the venue’s operation. There is rarely any need to do more than switch it on and go.”
The default input patch, with all three ES boxes on stage, includes 12 radio receivers, with the desk’s Omni ports used for two dedicated sound computers, CD, MiniDisc and any other required sources. Default sends from the desk include monitor sends to the stage, relay feeds to the prompt corner, backstage and the control room, with the option of audio for recording purposes, to a signer and an audio describe room. Meanwhile, a wireless link allows the console to be controlled from around the auditorium and onstage, while an additionally-purchased Aviom card is said to have been embraced by both pro and amateur performers.
“We‘ve also had great technical backup from Yamaha,” said Kenrick. “Not only can I speak to someone who has intimate knowledge of the console, but I was particularly impressed at Yamaha’s approach to support. The engineer gave me his own mobile number and made it clear that I can call him at any time.”