One of Melbourne’s most esteemed schools, Scotch College has been a pivotal institution which has shaped some of Australia’s most successful individuals since it was established in 1851. Reported as the school to have produced more honoured and influential citizens in Australia than any other educational institute across the nation, Scotch College is considered an exceptional place of learning by any standard.
Above: The Iconic Scotch College Institution
Taking a rounded and holistic approach to education, the school places a lot of emphasis on not only academia, but also on sports and the arts. Scotch College’s performing arts building, the James Forbes Academy, is a dedicated music and drama facility which cost over $26 million dollars to build. The Academy includes a full featured, 400+ capacity music auditorium designed by Arup Acoustics known as the Ian Roach Hall, a complete 400+ capacity drama space named the Geoffrey McComas Theatre, numerous rehearsal and classrooms as well as a completely sound proofed floating room for bands to practice in.
Glenn Bardwell, one of Scotch Colleges team of 60 music professionals also finds himself as the head of sound for the school, managing and technically directing the audio technology throughout. With an impressive background as a classically trained professional musician in his own right; Glenn still tours internationally playing Trombone for numerous orchestras and classical groups. Glenn recently decided it was time to visit Soundcorp in order to look at upgrading the existing audio consoles at Scotch and DiGiCo quickly surfaced as the best choice.
Above: The Dedicated Performing Arts Centre at Scotch College – The James Forbes Academy
“I assessed a lot of consoles in the market. They all seemed to be very specific to a particular application and none were as powerful, logical or flexible as the DiGiCo. Sonic quality was also a big one and the DiGiCo won there too. We could have gone for two or three smaller consoles but instead we opted for the SD9 which negated the need for anything else.”
With the SD9’s extremely popular combination of power, flexibility and modest footprint, Glenn wasn’t short of reasons behind his decision.
“The SD9 has such a small footprint. We don’t lose any seats in either room now when the console is setup in the middle of the room for front of house. There are no more sight line issues either, it’s just great.” As many users find, the onboard power of the SD9’s DSP effects processing along with the extremely detailed effects algorithms quickly reveals a better quality and far simpler solution than using traditional, more antiquated outboard gear.
Above: Glen Bardwell, very happy with the DiGiCo SD9 for all of the schools theatre and concert productions
“We have loads of really high quality outboard FX gear in our inventory but we don’t need them anymore. Warm reverb and compression on every channel is a dream. Working with students, amateur and semi-professional actors means that their microphone technique is generally pretty poor. Having compression for every channel has made my job so much easier.”
The D-Rack also spoke to Glenn in terms of its immediacy and simple connection over Cat 5e.
“Our D-Rack is rack mounted on the side of stage in the music hall. We run everything off the stage directly into it. We had Cat 5e already run so we were able to use the existing cabling which was just brilliant. I can’t wait to get a second rack so that we can move it around the stage and patch microphones into it directly to suit the event we’re working on.”
With both the auditorium and theatre producing over 50 concertsshows per year, Glenn has found himself using the SD9 for both theatre and live music events. Ian Roach hall is so well designed in fact, that the ABC uses the space for recording some of its own projects. The vast array of features built into the SD Series continues to unravel as Glenn becomes more familiar the system’s flexibility and power.
Above: The impressive Geoffrey McComas Theatre
“I never have time for sound checks so being able to pull up session settings with things like instant reply is awesome. Gone are the days of documenting each setting for a console manually. It’s easy to use as well. Then there are other things like setting up a bunch of radio mics for theatre productions, which is now so simple to do. The old boys of the college will put on semi-professional theatre productions like Les Miserables or Cats; and I’ve got to set the audio up for the whole production. We used to do it with several analogue desks linked together and a bunch of paperwork; not anymore. I got a quick run down from the guys at Soundcorp on how to use the console and I was ready to go; even without the manual. I keep finding new things I can do with it and it keeps impressing me.”
Glenn found that DiGiCo was the clear winner out of any offerings on the market when he assessed all of the additional components sometimes neglected when considering a console investment too. “It’s great, I believe in buying the best around; especially for our school. When you assess the cost of the console, the racks, cabling, processing and effects, the DiGiCo is real value for money and beats everything else out there hands down.”
Above: The Ian Roache Hall, an exceptional concert hall