The unprecedented challenges that 2020 presented the live music industry has in turn led to the creative use of technology - by venues and other arts organisations - to continue to deliver performances on-line. Among those adopting a forward-thinking approach to the current situation is Wiltshire Music Centre, located in Bradford-on-Avon, which has been running a series of live streamed concerts from its newly-installed broadcast suite - including a recent performance by artist-in-residence Tom Poster and the renowned Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective.
In adapting the venue’s impressive concert hall for streaming, an Allen & Heath Avantis digital mixing system was recently supplied by Plymouth-based Nubsound, to integrate with an existing DANTE network and a new camera package for broadcast.
“The venue had been running an Allen & Heath GLD for the past six or seven years in the main auditorium,” explained Joshua Small from the company’s Systems And Special Projects division, “and when it came to designing the new broadcast facility they were keen to retain it to take care of the mix for livestreaming. This left a space to be filled in the auditorium and the Avantis was their first choice. We supplied the Avantis console fitted out with two DANTE networking cards and it’s harnessed to GX4816 and DT168 stageboxes, which allow for a huge input count from the stage and amazing flexibility gathering sounds from around the entire building, as the DT168 works perfectly over the pre-existing CAT6 tie lines already had in place.”
“I knew that DANTE would be the answer to a lot of the hurdles we faced in creating our livestreaming broadcast facility,” said WMC’s Technical Manager Daniel Thomason. “The fact that the Avantis is capable of running two DANTE option cards simultaneously opened real possibilities for us. We clock each card at different sample rates over the same DANTE network - using a 96k feed for our auditorium live PA feed and a 48k stream which supplies the GLD for the separate broadcast mix. This meant that for the cost of an extra DANTE card we could save the GLD from redundancy and avoid the additional cost of buying a completely new desk for the broadcast studio.
“The integration of the Avantis into our DANTE network has been really powerful and it’s been an absolute pleasure to use.”
Commenting on the positive impact the recent investment in the Avantis system - and venue-wide network - has had during the challenges of the last few months, WMC’s Director of Development and Communications says that, “the new digital infrastructure is a gamechanger for WMC in enabling us to reach new and diverse audiences, support high quality engagement opportunities for our community and increase revenue to support the charity.
“Crucially, throughout the pandemic, it has enabled us to continue to share performances by world class artists live from the WMC Auditorium with audiences around the world. In additional to continuing with our own Autumn Winter season events, during the second national lockdown, we were able to collaborate with a local festival organiser to livestream eight concerts over four days, something that Classic FM described as “a blueprint for festival organisers facing similar difficulties”. We are just scratching the surface of the potential of this new technology and are excited to see what else we can achieve.”