‘Atypical’ Spanish pop star Rosalia Vila Tobella (Rosalía) wears multiple hats as a singer/songwriter, producer, actress and musician. With 11 No.1 singles in her home country, 12 Latin Grammy Awards, plus a host of other prestigious accolades earned in the course of her career, Rosalía is widely considered one of the most successful and influential Spanish vocalists of all time.

FOH Engineer Ricky Ashford, who has been working with the singer for almost two years, chose a DiGiCo Quantum 338 and Quantum 225 digital mixing console for her latest Motomami world tour, which took in 68 dates at stadiums and arenas in Europe, Latin America, and North America, with Rosalía also gracing stages at world-renowned events such as Lollapalooza.

Rosalía‘I’ve been using the Quantum 338 since the console’s release three years ago,’ says Ashford. ‘For the second phase of the Motomami tour, we used the Q338 alongside its slimmed down version Quantum 225, with the Q225 also offering us as much channel count and robustness as we need for Rosalía.’

As a seasoned user of DiGiCo consoles with nearly a decade of hands-on experience, Ashford explains that his preference for the brand arises from the fact that the company’s products offer him the freedom to paint the audio picture without any limitations.

‘I also appreciate the transparency that their consoles provide,’ he says. ‘Whatever you put in comes out exactly as intended. Other mixing consoles often have coloration or are tailored to a specific sound. If that’s what you want, it’s perfectly fine, especially if you’re seeking a particular type of pre-amp sound, for instance. However, I prefer to work with a clean canvas, free from any colouration or external influence. That’s one of the things I genuinely love about DiGiCo desks.’

Ashford also enjoys the speed of the Quantum engine. ‘I like the SD Series, but Quantum is just so much faster,’ he says. ‘The desk offers a vast dynamic range. Input-wise, as soon as you introduce something into it, it feels much more refined and crystal clear, almost like upgrading from a 1080p image to 4K resolution, which is incredibly helpful for fidelity and ensuring the sound is exceptionally clear and precise.’

Regarding the choice of the console for Rosalía, Ashford says that the decision was largely his own, and was supported by the management and production teams. ‘After getting the gig, I spent a week with Rosalía’s studio engineer to get a sense of her sound,’ he says. ‘After that, I had the free reign to do what I wanted. Since there were no rehearsals for me to coordinate with the singer, I had to plan everything very carefully.’

The audio setup for the tour includes 60 inputs, 24 channels of playback, eight talkbacks, and four microphones, including the main microphone and two guest microphones, along with six audience microphones. In addition, Rosalía uses 12 channels for keyboards, and there is also a grand piano in the middle of the stage for her solos, plus a guitar, and a keyboard player who incorporates an organ and other keyboards.

FOH Engineer Ricky AshfordWith a varied selection of instruments and a multitude of performances, including sold-out stadia and arenas, among them the packed-out Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Primavera Sound Barcelona, Ashford say that he ‘got goosebumps’ at some of the shows due to the incredible energy in the room. ‘We didn’t have an audience of fewer than 50 or 60 thousand people,’ he says.

Among Ashford’s favourite Quantum attributes are the Mustard and Spice Racks and the EQs. ‘On other desks, I’ve had to make extensive adjustments to get the result I needed,’ he explains. ‘With the Quantums, I only have to do a fraction of the work to achieve the outcome I need. They provide me with greater dynamic range and more room to work. One feature I prioritise is Snapshots – I use multiple Snapshots in some songs. I also synchronise everything with time code as I don’t like to freehand my shows. I’ve made it a point to be as precise with my sound as the lighting team is with the lights. If the show has SMPTE, I like to time code the entire performance, allowing me to stay in sync with everyone.’

The Notes section on the Quantum console is another feature Ashford finds useful. When he creates a session or starts working with an artist, he utilises the Notes section on the desk, along with the Midi section, which allows him to automate Midi changes to external devices on the desk. ‘I don’t always want just one small preset. This way, as the Snapshots change, it changes the entire desk, along with other outboard units.’

Having known Matt Larson and Taidus Villandi from the DiGiCo US team since his days at the Full Sail University, Ashford notes that he has consistently received top-tier support from them and the rest of the DiGiCo team and knows he can reach out to them at any time.

The tour saw Rosalía reach more than two million fans across three continents. At her final show at Lollapalooza Paris 2023, she delivered an emotional speech to her fans. It was also a significant moment for Ashford and validated his commitment to using DiGiCo consoles.

‘The Quantum allows me to do everything I want with it. It’s all about creative freedom and being able to “paint” with sound. It’s a fantastic console, and the only one I want to work on,’ he concludes, confirming that they will be using DiGiCo consoles for the Latin Grammys in Spain in November.

More: https://digico.biz

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