Upgrades reflect an increase in processing demands for live performances, as venue improves sonic performance of sound system

Trois-Rivières, QC, Canada — The Cogeco Amphitheatre, an award-winning outdoor auditorium located midway between Montreal and Québec City in Canada, integrated a pair of Solid State Logic Live 550 Plus mixing consoles into its existing Dante network infrastructure in February 2024. The two SSL Live desks were installed to future-proof against the ever-growing processing demands of shows coming through the venue and to improve the sonic performance of the house sound system while occupying only a small physical footprint.

“The SSL consoles combine all the features we need for our future development,” Daniel Savoie, Technical Director, confirms. “The integrated Dante protocol and management was a critical aspect for us because our network is already built for Dante, and we want to build on this flexible network system for the efficiency and proven stability. We also needed to double our mixing capabilities because production requests are always growing.”

Fully networked SSL Live system

The two L550 Plus consoles are integrated into the venue and its network via a pair of SSL X-Light Bridge Dante interfaces and three SSL SB32.24 Dante stage boxes. The Cogeco Amphitheatre operates in two configurations, depending on the season. During the winter, the 600-capacity Le Cabaret venue is created on the main stage, where a single L550 Plus handles both FOH and monitor duties. In the summertime, the amphitheatre can accommodate 8,500 people, and the two consoles are typically used for front-of-house and monitors, respectively, subject to each production’s requirements.

“Of course, SSL’s reputation for sound quality and legendary precise audio reproduction were a given,” adds Nicolas Ouimet, Sound Manager. “The L550 has a small footprint, with enough faders to comfortably handle any show. The terrific amount of processing capabilities included with the ‘Plus’ license was a huge upgrade that enables us to handle any kind of production, including live orchestral events.”

SSL L550: Unparalleled processing and routing flexibility

The features and functionality of the L550 Plus are already proving beneficial, according to Patrice Gagnon, Sound Manager. “The Query function is a nice and simple way to quickly access to members feeding an audio bus, assign to VCA and doing it without using the touchscreen. Stems are, for us, a game changer about the flexibility and a true contemporary innovation to reach more complex mixing needs compared to traditional bus path logic. The surface and its knobs are highly customizable to meet the needs of both monitor and front-of-house engineers, and the fader layers are highly effective. The full processing path signal chain is really flexible and the feed points to the bus give you a lot of control over how and where sources are filtered and processed. Plus, there are always four ways to accomplish any task.”

As for the sonic performance, Gagnon says, ““Everything seems to be more transparent and dynamic, and timbres are way more alive. The reproduction of the bass lines and every high-end harmonic contribute a more detailed and precise mix. It’s not about what’s in the brochure; when you feel it, you know that the audience will feel it too.”

Out with the old, in with the new

The two L550 Plus desks, procured to replace an older mixing system, offered benefits beyond the onboard capabilities of the consoles, Savoie says. “We quickly realized that all our Dante devices could benefit from this acquisition and that we could multiply the mixing and routing capacity of the entire Dante audio network and amplify the mixing and routing capacity of the Amphithéâtre Cogeco’s audio possibilities. We could argue that the combined value of the networked devices exceeds the sum of their individual contributions.”

Flexibility and easy integration with the venue’s Dante network and switches were crucial, Savoie says, to transport inputs from the Shure wireless mic receivers, send monitor feeds to the amps or send the main mix to the Lake LM44 processors feeding the P.A. amps. “The L550 combined with the X-Light Bridge Dante interface provides an additional 256 I/O channels at 96 kHz. But with the integrated Dante expander card built into the console, it provides 32 sample rate converter I/O channels from 96 kHz to 48 kHz. This allows us to continue to benefit from our devices limited to 48 kHz. And now we are 96 kHz from preamps to final D/A conversion at the P.A. amps.”

The new system also offers enhanced capabilities when combined with the older mix system, limited to 48 kHz, which can accept audio from the L550 or work in parallel. “The SSL SB32.24 stage boxes can output two different sample rate networks simultaneously. Network A is used to share 96 kHz Dante inputs. Network B is used as a sample rate converter digital split from the same preamps at 48 kHz. In this way, all sources from SB32.24 are routable with the needed sample rate simultaneously directly from the SB32.24 on the Dante network, without requiring additional devices. That gives us the choice to record directly from the stage racks at 48 kHz or 96 kHz and/or playback from DVS at 48 kHz or 96 kHz,” Savoie explains.

“We had excellent service and collaboration with everybody involved in the SSL acquisition, from the manufacturers, the distributors and the sellers,” he says. “Specifically, our seller, François Jomphe and Serge Lachance from LSM ambiocréateurs, in partnership with distributor SC Media Canada, where Arif Nathu, Brad Fox and Noah Daoust were a great team researching the best options for us and the project. Everyone we talked to or asked questions about the project and network planning was kind, competent and patient. It makes a huge difference about how we feel about a product, as does the pleasure we experience while using it.”

Savoie concludes, “And not forgetting the outstanding support and service from SSL in England — thanks to Jim Motley, Edward Arnold, Bob Beeton, Richard Wand and Dom Stevens. We are very proud of making this project happen with all of them.”


Solid State Logic is the world’s leading manufacturer of analogue and digital audio consoles and provider of creative tools for music, broadcast, live and post production professionals. For more information about our award-winning products, please visit: www.solidstatelogic.com.