Photo: Jake Owen FOH engineer Greg Huffman (left) and monitor engineer Andrew Sullivan with one of Morris Light and Sound’s new DiGiCo SD9 desks

With four albums, nearly a dozen top 20 tunes and a fist full of number one country singles, Jake Owen has achieved a popularity that many in Nashville only dream of. And, while he stays busy all year with his own tour dates, he is also spending a good deal of this summer opening for Kenny Chesney on arena and stadium dates through the US. That kind of mixed schedule can be tricky when putting together an audio rig, but Nashville-based Morris Light and Sound recently purchased a pair of DiGiCo SD9 consoles to deftly answer the challenge.

“We have a pair of SD10s that we purchased last year for Jake’s headlining tour of mid-level arenas and Jake’s team uses those for the dates with Kenny Chesney. But we needed something physically smaller for when he breaks off from the tour to do his own dates,” said Morris GM John Schirmer. “The SD9s were the perfect solution to the logistical issue of an artist who is both opening stadium and arena shows and doing his own dates in between.”

Schirmer points to the ease of moving between various frame sizes and systems in the DiGiCo family as a big part of the appeal of the SD9. “The engineers are already very comfortable with the DiGiCo work flow, and with the SD9, we get a reduced footprint surface with all of the same SD capability. They can load the same show files as they use on the SD10. It makes a smoother changeover between opening for the Chesney tour and being able to provide their own production without compromise for Jake’s performances outside of the Chesney tour.”

The audio quality of the entire DiGiCo family is beyond doubt at this point and is consistent from the biggest console down to the SD9 and even the SD11, which will fit in a DJ rack. “We don’t give up anything to get the size down,” Schirmer said. The SD9s travel with the system to Owen’s solo gigs so the only things the engineers have to take out of the Chesney truck pack are a pair of Waves servers, making the SD9s extremely convenient in addition to sounding great.

While engineers will often cite specific features or abilities when explaining why they chose a specific audio console, as GM of a large sound company that is doing an increasing amount of business in the rental of gear for tours, Schirmer looks at thing a bit differently.

“DiGiCo has done a really good job of keeping the infrastructure of their products consistent from one console to another,” he says. “If you have used an SD10, or a 9 or a 7, they are all familiar with a few tactile differences. This makes them ideal for a company like Morris that has acts of various sizes doing all kinds of gigs. The people at DiGiCo are really in tune with the live sound industry and the specialized needs there. That is really important and it shows in their products.”

Once known as a company that serviced only the artists of its sister company, Morris Higham Management, Morris Light and Sound has moved aggressively into a more traditional rental company role in the past few years. “The model of the company has changed. Two years ago, they pulled me off the road and we began to transition into being more of a full concert production company. And now it is not just Chesney. We work with Eli Young, Grace Potter, Chris Isaak, Chevelle, Old Dominion, Florida Georgia Line, Keb’ Mo’, and the list goes on and on.”

“As we move in this direction it is crucial that we have the great gear available that tours are asking for. It needs to be gear that makes the phone ring. Increasingly, DiGiCo is at the top of that list.”

“When Jake’s solo arena tour came around last year, we were looking for a system that was a little smaller, sounded great, provided a 96 kHz solution and was priced at a point we were comfortable with in order to get that tour out the door. The SD10 really fit our needs. And when we needed a smaller solution for these solo dates during the Chesney tour, the SD9 with the same great sound quality, stellar service DiGiCo provides, and interoperability of the entire SD line made it the obvious choice.”