Midas’ new Pro2C live console made its debut at the Lake of Stars Festival on the shores of Lake Malawi.
Given temperatures of up to 42°C, an abundance of sand and grit plus a fuel shortage (which meant power was only available 30 minutes before the festival opened) it made easy work of FOH duties in the hands of engineer Craig Williams.
‘It was very easy to get to grips with; after just 30 minutes I could start the show confidently,’ he says. ‘I’m more accustomed to the Midas Heritage series and the classic XL3, which I will always love, but the tiny footprint and low weight for a festival like this is perfect.
'Not needing a rack of outboard saves a huge amount in shipping costs to somewhere like Africa, and even more in sweat when you have to handball the kit across a beach in the sun.’
Williams was using the Pro2C for artists including Beverley Knight, Foals, Africa’s Freshlyground, Malawian music from Black Missionaries and Lucius Banda and a host of international acts. The new Midas MCA groups made a big impression on him: ‘The MCA groups are fantastic and make mix navigation much easier on such a small footprint console, especially with the ‘hide unassigned channels’ in flip mode engaged,’ he says. ‘My favourite feature of the desk is probably the daylight visible screen; even in the midday African sunshine I could clearly see the screen, something that not a single other digital desk can boast. The channel control panel is great and easy to use without having to hit button after button to get where you want, and the gain/trim feature is really good, giving the chance for example to drive a guitar, bass or kick drum the way I like to with an XL3 or H3000 then allowing some attenuation without digital clipping.
‘I had multiple camera feeds and audio recordings to deal with, so the matrix system was used a lot, it was quite simple to route and patch when the recipients turned up two minutes before they needed the feed that they had forgotten to ask for.’
Despite this being the first sighting of a Pro2C at a live event, visiting engineers took to it with ease: ‘The engineers for Foals and Freshlyground both used the desk and both loved it, Keith from Freshlyground being a Pro6 user,’ says Williams. ‘In fact, one of the band’s engineers liked it so much he’s interested in purchasing one for touring. The colour coding system for selected channels in the VCA groups is also invaluable in a festival situation on a small desk, and my Malawian ‘students’ were particularly fond of red, gold and green…
‘What I really like most about it is the way it sounds; it doesn’t sound cheap and grainy like many other digital desks, and the depth of field is beautiful,’ he adds. ‘This console wipes the floor with its competitors. It’s easier to use on the fly, sounds better, seems more stable and is generally more pleasant and straightforward to use, plus of course it’s a Midas and is laid out in the same familiar style as their classic analogue consoles.’
‘The festival was borne from a desire to raise money for a developing economy, promote Malawi as a top travel destination and expose Malawian artists to international crowds, as well as putting on an amazing event that now forms part of the global festival circuit,’ says Lake of Stars founder, Will Jameson.
Midas was one of the festival’s many technical partners to provide free audio visual equipment, helping raise a profit for the local economy. Last year the festival generated $1,000,000 of local spend, employing more than 100 Malawian people and providing a major boost to local families and businesses. The festival, which attracted 3,500 people this year from across the globe, also ran an outreach programme with ballgames, acoustic performances and an HIV screening clinic.
‘We are so happy to welcome Midas to our family of technical partners,’ continues Jameson. ‘We have always used Venice desks but to have use of the Pro2C is incredible. All the bands loved it and it coped well with the heat and sand of Malawi – it is also a good size and weight when it comes to being air freighted all the way from the UK. The high production standards set Lake of Stars apart from other events in the region, and having the world’s leading console manufacturer involved in the project is a massive boost for us and for Malawi’s music industry.’