Allen & Heath’s SQ series has stepped into broadcast with TV sound supervisor, Rob Ashard, working on a number of shows such as ‘Comedians With Friends Watching Football’, ‘Al Murray’s Great British Pub Quiz’ and ‘Race To The Numbers’, all of which have vastly different requirements.
Ashard, who has previously worked on shows including Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and The Graham Norton Show, chose an SQ-5 – along with a Dante card and DX168 Expander for remote I/O – specifically for his work on smaller-scaled productions, where space can often be at a premium.
“Every now and then a TV show comes along where you can’t park a big TV Outside Broadcast (OB) unit and the technical team build the facilities into a smaller room, or rooms, at the location and assemble a load of flight-cased gear on tables, so I needed something powerful but with a small footprint,” Ashard explains.
“A year ago, the SQ series caught my eye, and I found myself watching every YouTube clip and finding out everything I could online. The SQ mixer itself has been even better than I imagined. It feels like a much bigger and more expensive console just scaled down.”
The real game-changer for Ashard however, was the addition of SQ’s Dante card – used in conjunction with Ashard’s Ferrofish A32 Dante – which allows for synchronised multitrack-recording. He explains, “The technical requirements for TV audio can sometimes be quite complex and not every mixer is capable of doing what you need, particularly recording 48kHz WAV files that are locked to video. Many people don’t get the importance of this, but what it means is that if you place a 48k BWAV file onto the timeline at the video edit, that the audio will stay phase-accurately locked for hours. Many of our recordings are over two hours, so this is very important.”
Making full use of the built-in tools for both broadcast and PA needs, Ashard uses custom fader layouts, which become essential on a compact surface and the DEEP Automatic Mic Mixer (AMM), which uses gain sharing to reduce background noise and PA spill. Despite mostly concentrating on broadcast, Ashard employs the DEEP Graphic EQs to tame the PA feed in a lively studio.
“Another groovy feature that comes in handy is when the video techs give us presenter talkback feeds, I can plug them into spare inputs on the SQ’s back panel and using the Tie Line facility in the Patch Matrix, I can patch them straight to outputs on the DX168, which is near the Amp/IEM TX/Radio receiver rack without using any of my 48 desk channels,” adds Ashard.
Ashard continues, “I’m absolutely delighted with the SQ in this role and truly believe there’s nothing that comes close to the money, and the power for its footprint is pretty amazing. A lot of people are aware of my set-up and they’re always impressed. The kit has certainly paid for itself since October!”