A philanthropically funded project, Sydney’s Phoenix Central Park aims to bring art to the public free of charge, and has taken flight as one of the most extraordinary cultural institutions to grace the city in recent years. The Nest, the venue’s intimate performance space, is equipped with an immersive PA system, accommodating a wide variety of performance scenarios, including those incorporating a multitude of sound sources. At the heart of the system is a DiGiCo Quantum 338 mixing desk.

One of Phoenix’s core tenets is the free presentation of art and performance to people from all walks of life. It seeks to provide a curated set of works relevant to different backgrounds and fields of interest. ‘In the course of accommodating these performances, we’ve been presented with a plethora of different technical requirements,’ explains Phoenix Head of Digital, Joshua Milch.

DiGiCo Quantum mixing chosen for Sydney%u2019s Nest‘Before acquiring the Quantum 338, we were hiring-in hardware based on whatever particular requirements were needed for each artist. We’re delighted to have something permanent now, which will be able to handle whatever mixing requirements may come up. It’s the console’s ability to handle such a range of scenarios that made it the right choice for Phoenix.

‘In the short time we’ve been up and running, we’ve had acts like Sampa the Great, Genesis Owusu, The Australian Chamber Orchestra, Jon Hopkins and Kelly Lee Owens. Phoenix has hosted piano recitals, traditional chamber music, pop, opera, electronica, experimental noise, Korean hip-hop, funk, neo-soul, progressive jazz… you name it. And for each, we have a commitment to a high-quality of presentation, and to making sure we respect our artists with the best sound available. That’s why audio quality was another huge consideration for us, and the Quantum 338 excels in this area.’

The Quantum 338’s comprehensive platform with 128 input channel count, highly dynamic routing capabilities and a FX feature set has seen the console adopted by many top production companies throughout Australia. Felix Abrahams, Head of Audio & Technical Production at Phoenix, holds a substantial background in live audio production and knew early on that a Quantum 338 would be the optimal solution to the venue’s ever-changing technical requirements.

‘Phoenix is both an intricate and intimate space, with flexibility very much a recurring theme across our day-to-day work,’ he says. ‘We’re very glad to have acquired the 338, as it fills a critical role very well, helping us achieve the finesse and adaptability required here. We essentially need to have a console that has capabilities that we haven’t even thought of yet,’ notes Abrahams, going on to detail his standard routing setup with praise for some of the Quantum 338’s forward-thinking features. ‘Having a desk with a high channel count enables me to designate the first 36 channels as inputs, with the next 36 as monitor channels, the next 12 as stereo FX returns, and 12 for system inputs like background music.

‘We also make use of eight outputs feeding IEMs and eight outputs go to foldback wedges. The 36 monitor channels share the same inputs as the initial 36, but are routed differently, with entirely separate processing and effects. The ability to have individual dynamic EQs on any channel is a flexible piece of power that is truly unrivalled. I find the EQ on the Quantum more responsive than on previous DiGiCo consoles, and I am really liking the Mustard Tube amp modelling. Mustard Processing has a sonic signature all of its own, and it’s a good one.’

DiGiCo Quantum mixing chosen for Sydney’s NestThe wealth of the Quantum 338’s onboard features mean much of the mixing is done in-the-box, with the processing and effects suitable in meeting the needs of more technically demanding acts. In fact, it has allowed them to handle the requirements for orchestra, choir, and the sideshows of major artists. But they have also already used it on more esoteric set-ups. One such was a performance called Sound Touch with composer Damien Ricketson, incorporating a DIY sound devices, with a zoned PA and some channels feeding spot speakers.

‘Another big advantage when working with modern digital consoles like the Quantum is the ability to have ‘save and recall’ on routing and channel set-ups,’ Abrahams continues. ‘The 338 is a significant investment for the venue, but the proprietors may also need it to be used outside of Phoenix. Another likely venue would be Dangrove, which is Judith Neilson’s Art Storage Facility, that also serves as an exhibition and performance space. Being able to programme separate Session files for Dangrove and then go straight back into Phoenix with full recall is useful.’

Opening in early 2022, Phoenix has already hosted more than 20,000 attendees, embodying crucible and canvas for a myriad of national and international artists. Averaging four shows a week across a plethora of live expression, the team behind Phoenix maintain a delineated approach to production.

‘It’s important to us that the character of audio is in line with the quality of audience experience that the venue strives for,’ Abrahams concludes. ‘Thankfully, the artists coming through love the set-up. They often tell me they feel comfortable in what they are hearing and that helps facilitate a strong performance. Part of that is thanks to the wisdom of the team, but another very real part of it comes down to the quality and control we get with tools like the Quantum 338.’

More: https://digico.biz

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