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DiGiCo controls PA at heart of Rady Shell concert venue

DiGiCo’s Quantum7 is the FOH desk of choice for San Diego’s stunning new outdoor concert venue

The San Diego Symphony has chosen three DiGiCo consoles as the “powerful and sophisticated” mix platforms to control the large, integrated PA system at the heart of the $85 million Rady Shell at Jacobs Park – the symphony’s brand new outdoor home.

An architectural wonder on the edge of San Diego Bay in the heart of the city’s downtown, ‘The Shell’ has been designed to complement the sails of the nearby San Diego Convention Center. Wrapped in a translucent flexible material that covers a generous 13,000-square-foot of performance space, the Rady Shell can accommodate standing crowds of up to 10,000.

A DiGiCo Quantum7 is installed as the front-of-house mix desk, with a DiGiCo SD10 for monitor mixing, and an SD12 on hand for any auxiliary mix and processing needs. The three consoles, three SD-Racks located on stage, and a Mini-Rack in the amp room are all on a dual Optocore network, and the entire system was designed and integrated by Solotech.

“There are several reasons why we chose the DiGiCo consoles, and they are all areas that the brand excels in,” explained Aaron Beck, business development manager and senior engineer at Solotech. “First, there’s capacity – the Quantum7 can run 200-plus inputs. Then there’s the Quantum processing power. Plus, there’s the overall quality of the sound, which is exceptional.”

The Rady Shell will see scores of visiting touring groups each year, many of whom will bring their own audio engineers and all of whom will be familiar with DiGiCo console architecture and operation. That familiarity will be important for more than just operational reasons. Jacobs Park is located within a major metropolitan area that, like many, has stringent noise regulations. San Diego has deployed NTi Audio noise measurement devices nearby that automatically issue reports via cellular data to key elements of the city’s environmental control, as well as directly to the house engineer at Rady Shell. “The venue’s engineer can adjust the overall volume of the entire system from the FOH console when necessary to keep every show within compliance,” said Beck.

Joel Watts, the Symphony’s audio director, says the way the three DiGiCo consoles are networked on their own Optocore loop, along with a BroaMan Route66 Optocore AutoRouter, makes the entire console infrastructure effectively modular. “A single orchestral show here is 90 inputs, so being able to use all of the consoles, if necessary, as a single system is extremely helpful and efficient,” he said. “And console features like Snapshot really add to that. It lets us manage a large number of inputs easily.”

Watts further notes that the 32-bit ‘Ultimate Stadius’ microphone pre-amps on the SD-Racks are the next best thing to the kinds of high-end mic pre’s he’d choose in the studio for recording classical orchestras. “My background is in studio production, and we’re recording most of the performances here for later postproduction, and the DiGiCo mic pre’s sound fantastic,” he enthused. “We’re also doing all of our television streaming of concerts through them, too. No coloration, fully transparent – that’s what you want for classical music. It makes it sound like a CD. You couldn’t ask for more from a console in this kind of situation.”