Photo: (L-R) Kenny Check, The Sound Co-Op Owner; CSO Stagehands Todd Snick and Patrick Reynolds; and Tim "Buzz" Shust, The Sound Co-Op Mixer at Symphony Center's DiGiCo SD9 console (credit: Sara Bill)
Symphony Center, in Chicago's Loop district, is home to the GRAMMY Award-winning Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and historic Orchestra Hall. Although the CSO traditionally performs acoustically, when visiting jazz and pop artists stop by for shows using amplified music, the venue now has a new secret weapon - DiGiCo's SD9 - a super-flexible, completely integrated digital mixing system powered by Stealth Digital Processing and floating-point Super FPGA technology.
Installed by The Sound Co-Op LLC, the same sound reinforcement company that also provides Symphony Center's sound system for amplified performances, the SD9 is called into service when visiting artists perform both with and without the CSO, such as on a recent show by Washington, D.C.-based a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Symphony Center's new SD9 console includes the Rack Pack Tour (RPT) package. This combination boasts 72 mic/line inputs (64 being on stage), digital snakes, redundant power supplies (in both console and stage racks), 48 Flexi-channels (equivalent to 96 channels of DSP), dynamic EQs, multiband compressors and matrix, and the addition of DiGiTuBes, reorder of busses and multichannel inputs.
But when The Sound Co-Op owner Kenny Check isn't helping the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he's on the road mixing monitors for Billboard Music Awards Rock Artist of the Year-winner Godsmack through a DiGiCo SD10 console. "Both consoles sound excellent for these applications," says Check. "The SD9 in Symphony Center is perfect for the CSO and visiting artists because of its versatility - the number of inputs and outputs and the enormous number of useful features. It's a real step up from what was in Symphony Center before and offers the same pristine audio quality as the SD10. Occasionally, Symphony Center presents shows by outside artists, but the range of genres is pretty wide, so the SD9's flexibility is what they needed. Plus it simply sounds great."
Check first encountered DiGiCo desks on the road with George Benson in 2005 with the original D Series. He says he watched the company mature into a digital leader and has specified an SD10 for his work with Godsmack on its most recent tour, as well as an SD9 for his tour work with teen-idol Austin Mahone in 2013 and 2014, while Godsmack was in the studio making its most recent album.
"The SD10 is a fantastic touring console, robust and great-sounding, while the SD9's feature set and small footprint (that lets it fit into a box in the balcony at Symphony Center) makes it the perfect choice there," he explains. "And the service we get from DiGiCo is exceptional. When we bought the SD9 through Clair Global, Group One came out and did a full day of training for my staff and the crew at Symphony Center. If we have a question or a head scratch, we don't get same-day service - we get a next-hour response by phone or email. Great sound, great features, great service - we like that in the symphony hall and on the road."