DigiDesign's Venue D-Show leads legendary rock venue into new era.
In 2006, the technical team at Amsterdam’s legendary Paradiso Club decided to upgrade the facility’s sound reinforcement system by embracing Martin Audio’s line array technology. This was the first step in a series of upgrades designed to better address the technical demands of touring productions.
In the early stages of the process, the Paradiso’s technical manager Milan Jelicics and senior sound man Patrick Boonstra temporarily overhauled the club’s existing analogue desk. After careful consideration, however, they eventually decided to research the digital world for a more long-term solution and specified a system designed around the Digidesign Venue live sound environment.
The facility’s new system features a Venue D-Show control surface at the FOH position, and a compact D-Show Profile for monitor mixing.
The complete Digidesign package, which also includes system racks, expansion cards, cabling, and a Pro Tools HD system — a package worth 150,000 Euros — was supplied by Ampco Belgium, Digidesign’s Benelux Venue distributor.
Ampco Belgium’s MD, Stef de Pooter, commented: “This is a highly prestigious location for our first D-Show installation in Holland. The Paradiso is an excellent showcase for our product, and other live venues will take note of the system’s full recording and playback potential — particularly the Pro Tools TDM plug-ins and Pro Tools HD integration.”
For de Pooter, the installation marked the conclusion of a 12-month collaboration with the Paradiso. “I organised demos and invited sound engineers to work with the desk over a period. Flexibility and accessibility were important factors, since the Paradiso’s programme varies widely from DJs to spoken word to heavy metal. It was important that they had the opportunity to operate the system under all circumstances to see how easy it is to learn.”
This hands-on experience made the decision easier for Jelicics, who admitted that a recording facility was also a key issue, especially as many ‘Live at the Paradiso’ sessions appear on Fabchannel.com.
“We had heard good things about Venue and bought these systems because they sound better than the other desks we listened to,” Jelicics explained. “We knew that going from analogue to digital was a major step, but we could hear the difference straight away. Some of our technicians already loved it because of the Pro Tools support.”
With the 24-fader D-Show and D-Show sidecar expander at FOH, the Paradiso has the capacity for 64 inputs via two Stage Racks (48 inputs in the first and 16 in the second), plus 16 local inputs and outputs in the FOH Rack. The FOH Rack also includes an HDx interface card, which provides up to 64 tracks of Pro Tools recording and playback via direct connection to the club’s new ProTools HD 2 Accel system.
“We had a 48-channel analogue desk, but the 64-input Stage Rack gives us huge advantages,” Jelicics continued. “Bands today require 40 channels or more, and they don’t want to share any channels, even with the support band.”
Using the Venue system, sound engineers can send their patch list ahead as an exported HTML document, and have their show file prepared in advance on a USB stick. “With 800 programmes a year, and with three bands often playing one or more nights, this is a huge bonus,” said Jelicics.
The club’s FOH setup also includes the Venue All-Access Pack, a core collection of TDM plug-ins, while a standard VenuePack is in use in the monitor position.
Boonstra is also delighted that Ampco Belgium included Digidesign’s Personal Q (PQ) monitor system in the package. “This will enable us to send left/right stereo mixes with 40 outputs instead of the 16 we had before, with all our dynamics on all channels.”
Ampco Belgium supplied the complete racking and coax/BNC cabling package, as well as a Glyph back-up hard drive system so that engineers can simply plug in their drives. For broadcast applications, the company facilitated a separate breakout on XLR using Socapex 337 — a transformer-balanced multi-connector, which is [Dutch broadcaster] NOB broadcast standard.
The final word comes from Boonstra: “This is just a beautiful new toy with a lot of logical things happening. The first moment I stood behind the Venue system it felt good. It has allowed us to change from being a hall where bands were afraid to come without production, to one where they can be totally confident.”