A unique system of ‘media hydrants’ connected by fibre optic cable and a Harman Soundcraft Vi1 digital live sound console is enabling performances to be held in Grand Park under the auspices of The Music Center. Opened in 2012, the 12-acre park is an oasis of multi-use stages, spaces and lawns located in the heart of Los Angeles County.
The entire park is wired with fibre optic cable, buried underground and running to media hydrants located throughout the park that are linked to the main control room. The media hydrants provide digital audio and video connections via a Riedel light pipe data network and are terminated with Cat 5e for audio, video and control. The media hydrants are embedded in concrete and the connectors face outward horizontally for durability and waterproofing. The units are locked with a steel gate when not in use.
“In planning the A/V system for Grand Park, the County wanted to ensure live music and entertainment would be accessible in the widest variety of areas throughout the park,” said Matt Saltzman, Grand Park’s Event Manager. “They devised the underground fibre optic system to enable us to do this, rather than have to restrict performances to the stage area. However, to make this idea work we needed to be able to move the mixing console to each area. The Soundcraft Vi1’s digital connectivity enables us to do that.”
With its compact footprint, the Vi1 is relatively easy to move from place to place – and it’s easy to connect the Vi1 to the audio system using a Soundcraft Compact Stagebox. The Vi1 connects to the Compact Stagebox using a single Cat 5e cable, and the output from the Stagebox is then plugged into a media hydrant via Cat 5e. This arrangement eliminates the need for anywhere from 15 to 30 XLR cables. In some instances, Saltzman doesn’t even have to move the board – he or one of his staff will use an iPad to control front of house mixing from a remote location.
The Vi1’s built-in processing, reverb, compression and comprehensive EQ and effects eliminate the need for outboard effects racks, further adding to the mobility of the setup. All the Vi1 draws very little power, as much as a laptop. “All we need at front of house is literally a single power strip,” said Saltzman.
The Soundcraft Vi1’s comprehensive control and configuration flexibility make it comfortable for both the in-house staff and visiting sound engineers to use. “It can be set up to ‘feel’ like a traditional analogue console, or you can use its tremendous amount of processing and flexibility to take advantage of all of its digital features, like assigning input groups and saving cues on the console’s cue/snapshot system,” Saltzman pointed out. “Ten minutes before show time I accidentally pulled the AC power to the console at the end of sound check – without bothering to save my settings. Luckily for me the Vi1 had backed everything up and recalled all my settings. The show went off without a hitch.”
Photo: Javier Guillen