The 19th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards Show, held on November 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and broadcast live on Univision, brought together Latin music’s future and past, presenting a broad array of genre options, from the mainstream pop of Korol G and J Balvin to the cerebral lyricism of Jorge Drexler, who garnered this year’s Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
What they all had in common was amazing audio, thanks to the deployment of four DiGiCo consoles for the show: two SD7 desks for front-of-house music and production, and two SD10 consoles for monitors, along with a total of eight SD-Racks, all supplied by Firehouse Productions, whose VP Mark Dittmar and system technician David Crawford designed the event’s sound system, with Luis Espinal also serving as a system tech. Front-of-house music mixer Ron Reaves and production mixer Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher both used SD7 consoles, while monitor mixers Mike Parker and Mike Bove used the SD10 desks.
“The DiGiCo consoles are a very powerful platform to work from on shows like this, where the engineers are potentially confronted with complex workflows,” explains Dittmar, who also assigns DiGiCo desks for Firehouse Productions’ support of the GRAMMY Awards and the Video Music Awards shows, among other broadcast events. “The SD consoles have so many features that make workflows simpler and let the engineers focus on the sound. For instance, we used the remote iPad feature on the SD10s at monitors, which really let the engineers focus on what each artist on stage needed, and let them and their teams get things like in-ears set up properly and quickly. The SD consoles also let you work in the domains you want: we traditionally do analog splits between consoles, and each desk has its own set of SD-Racks, and there’s never an issue there. They’re just rock solid no matter how you use them.”
Ron Reaves, the veteran FOH music mixer for the GRAMMY Awards and the Latin GRAMMY Awards shows, says the SD7 equipped with the WAVES plug-in package he helmed for the house music mix is the perfect choice for award-show gigs. “The Latin GRAMMYs are a little different from the regular GRAMMY Awards shows in that most of the artists use tracks to some extent, and the challenge is always to match the live vocals to those tracks, which tend to be highly compressed, loud, and with few dynamics left in them,” he explains. “When you put a live vocal through a great microphone up against them, the sonic differences are often jarring. That’s where the DiGiCo console really shines, though. I really get into using the onboard compression and the dynamic EQ features. Between those, I don’t have to use any plug-ins at all, which also helps keep the workflow nice and simple, which is important on a live show. This is a lively, fast-paced, and upbeat show, and you really have to pay close attention as it moves along. I couldn’t imagine using anything but a DiGiCo for it.”
Production Mixer Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher used an SD7 to bring 56 inputs of introductions, acceptance speeches, stage patter, and music bumpers into the house. These came everywhere from the four podiums on stage (two wireless and two pop-ups, the last a backup podium) for the event hosts Carlos Rivera and Ana de la Reguera, four handheld microphones, and a full music backup of Reaves’ console. “That’s one more thing that you always want DiGiCo for—the redundancy,” says Fletcher. “The SD7 has two complete engines, and I know that if there’s ever a problem, it will be a seamless transition from one to another. It lets you focus all your attention on the show, which is where it should be.”