Photo: Clearwing deployed the S21 at a recent Wisconsin stop by Donald Trump

US Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump might not agree on much when it comes to political issues, but one thing they all have in common is DiGiCo’s new S21 digital audio console. Over the past few months, Milwaukee-based SR provider Clearwing Productions has been using the compact desk to mix sound for the three candidates’ rallies and other political events throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana.

According to Clearwing’s Bryan Baumgardner, the S21’s comprehensive onboard processing has eliminated the need to carry much more than the desk, amps and loudspeakers. “The only ‘outboard’ items we typically utilize are L-Acoustics’ LA-Network Manager, for system EQ when using Kara or ARCS WiFo loudspeakers, and Radial’s mPress press distribution system,” he says. “Political events are pretty straightforward processing-wise, utilizing the desk’s parametric EQs on the inputs and outputs, as well as graphic EQs inserted wherever needed. Of course, we are also making use of the S21’s sonically excellent dynamics section to keep the inputs and outputs nice, level and broadcast-friendly.”

In addition to providing the house and monitor mixes, the S21 supplies press mults for all events notes Clearwing’s Chris Adler who has done numerous Wisconsin stops for Senator Ted Cruz. “We typically assign the left and right main outs to matrix out one and two, then assign those to separate output ports for more control to each press mult, which works great,” he describes.

“Aside from being priced very nicely, the S21’s compact size makes it ‘just right’ for many events like this,” Baumgardner adds. “All of our technicians are extremely familiar with DiGiCo’s SD series, so moving to the S21 is very easy. For political events like these, there is no standard FOH position… it’s simply wherever the console can best fit and be out of camera shot. Thankfully, the compact footprint of the S21 means that we can squeeze in just about anywhere; plus we utilize DiGiCo’s D-Racks for remote I/O, which makes the snake runs extremely simple.”

Beyond the DiGiCo S21 and L-Acoustics loudspeakers and amplified controllers, Clearwing is only carrying Shure RF handheld microphones and lavs, as well as an Apple iPad containing the requisite walk-in/out music. “Despite being in less than stellar acoustic environments for these stops, the S21’s amazing EQ capabilities combined with our L-Acoustics loudspeakers has made producing each event a no-stress affair,” sums Adler. “Again, the console’s compact size, great processing, ease of use on the fly and ability to use a D-Rack, or local I/O, have made the very competent S21 a perfect fit for each of these small yet high-profile productions.”