Scandinavian hire companies invest in 112 channels of Allen & Heath’s PRIME preamp technology for demanding classical-crossover tours.
Swedish composer, arranger and conductor Hans Ek has carved out a unique niche in Scandinavian music, operating at the intersection where classical meets jazz, pop, electronica and folk music.
Bringing Ek’s ambitious arrangements to life is no mean feat - especially as most performances involve a symphony orchestra, multiple vocalists, a 3-5 piece band and, on occasion, a choir - so engineers Peter Fredriksson (MON) from PFL Nordic AB and Hans “Surte” Norin (FOH) from Taking Care of Audio AB work closely with Ek to handle the technically demanding live shows throughout Scandinavia. “We tour around and take our gear to the top-class orchestras here in the Nordics, and we use local PA on-site” explains Fredriksson. “Over the years we have built up a very neat and specialized dLive setup for projects like this.”
At the heart of the touring rig is a pair of lightweight dLive CTi1500 control surfaces, carefully designed to come in under the critical 23kg airline weight limit when flightcased, partnered with a pair of compact 128-channel / 64-bus DM0 MixRacks. The digital split between systems is handled via Allen & Heath’s proprietary gigaACE protocol, a plug-and-play solution offering ultra-low 52μs latency, with MADI and Waves cards installed for virtual soundcheck and external recording.
With so many channels devoted to vocals and classical instruments, where reproducing every nuance across a wide dynamic range is critical, the duo were naturally intrigued by Allen & Heath’s PRIME input and output technology, an ultra-linear circuit design with leading-edge 32-bit/96kHz converters and extended dynamic range. “When the PRIME preamp modules were released, we had some in for testing” Fredriksson says. “We instantly realised that this would be a real game-changer, especially with high channel counts.”
After the successful evaluation, facilitated by Swedish A&H distributor Benum, PFL Nordic AB and Taking Care of Audio AB invested in fourteen PRIME input cards and two PRIME output cards for their four DX32 modular expanders, delivering a total of 112 PRIME input channels and 16 PRIME output channels for the system. In addition to the PRIME outputs, four portable DX012 output expanders are deployed with a mixture of AES and analogue outputs feeding IEMs and stage monitors for Ek and the multitude of performers.
“I added the ability, via an IP6 remote controller connected to the MON system, for the conductor [Ek] to mix his own monitors with two separate mixes, one for wedges and one for in-ears” adds Fredriksson. “Using the scene recall filter functions to change between two scenes, he can easily switch between the mixes with one button press, and I can take control of his mix if required.”
However, it is the sound quality of the system that has made the biggest impression on Fredriksson. “Having switched over to PRIME on over 100 channels, all I can say is wow!” he smiles. “There’s so much clarity and resolution, the mix almost handles itself”.