Classical trained musicians turned live rockers? Sure, it wouldn’t be the first time, and for Mark Bollenberg at Sound Farm, it was just what the doctor ordered; DiGiCo and all.
After earning his Musicology PHD back in 1998, Mark and some colleagues wanted to create a sound, production and crew service with organic fundamentals based around logic, fun and most importantly, their love of music.
A dimly lit Mark Bollenberg working his magic on his SD11i
Amidst Sound Farm’s first big gigs were for the Backstreet Boys and Ringo Starr toward the end of the 90’s. Theatre was also in the works for Sound Farm, heading into the European scene working on musicals such as Jekyll and Hyde, Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line and Hair the Musical.
Mark’s passion for all things audio has driven him to gain expertise across as many audio disciplines as possible.
“I personally don’t believe in specialising in one genre.” As Mark shared. “This limits you in your versatility and it pretty much narrows your horizon. At the end of the day, we move air, so I make it as good as I can and try to stay inside the boundaries of physics.”
With his roots traditionally in analogue gear, Mark has been a long-term DiGiCo fan since his first experience with a D1 in 2003. Prior to that, he was dealing with hundreds of kilo’s of analogue mixers occupying massive amounts of truck space. When Mark heard the D1 for himself though, he was transformed instantly.
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“I was blown away with its sonic capabilities, not to mention the small footprint, enormous power of I/O and the versatility. I think from that moment on we knew and decided that this will be a game changer for what we wanted to archive and to be honest, I never looked back since then.”
More recently, Sound Farm decided to invest in an SD11, and even with its tiny footprint, the power of the SD11 was still enough to really satisfy the varied requirements of Sound Farms gigs.
“I don’t think I could have made a better choice than what we did with this little beast. It is just spot on for the big variety of gigs that we do with it. For example, in March we did a small vocal gig for a long term Melbourne Client with 4 -12 channels of audio from stage at the Melbourne Town Hall, driven by a beautiful NEXO rig. Then 8 hours later, we travelled down the coast for a music festival and mixed four days straight (with a bit of sleep). We did everything from duos up to 11 piece Bands with 28 channel inputs on the same console including the ever changing configurations from Riders vs. Reality in the line up.”
Mark also finds the SD11 really well laid out for its size, ensuring fast access to critical controls no matter how big the gig.
“The fact that you can layout on-screen information in a way where you don’t feel like you’re mixing on a small desk. You can just shift the channel strip wherever you want it and get on with the fun or use the spill function and don’t change your basic layout at all.”
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MADI connectivity also ranked highly for Sound Farm and with the entire SD series featuring MADI as well as the UB-MADI provided an impressive 56 channels of MADI I\O over USB 2.0, it was another big drawcard for Mark.
“We needed a console that had MADI onboard as standard. The main reason for this is the integration of our recording racks which are solely build on DiGiCo UB-MADI and RME MADI-Face connectivity.”
Ease of use impressed Mark also, making his life much easier when operators who were unfamiliar with DiGiCo were employed to work.
“I have been using DiGiCo and Soundtracs consoles for well over 15 years. The logical process behind every DiGiCo was spot on from the early beginning of the D4 all the way to the SD5. My introduction to the desk with every new operator or audio engineers that are not familiar with DiGiCo is always the same. Look at the screen, everything is laid out in front of you, like if you were using an analogue desk. Nothing is pushed to the side or hidden in an awkward to find layer, it’s all at your finger tips so go and enjoy it. The fully scalable working HPF\LPF filters and master bus just sound awesome. Once you’re comfortable, you can then start discovering all the “hidden” gems of the desk. It’s pure logic how the desk is laid out and how it behaves.”
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The SD11i also gave Mark additional power, particularly with the DiGi-Tubes emulation.
“What gave me a big smile the last time where the Digi-Tubes. The emulation is so spot on and I really like to use them predominately on every vocal channel or vocal bus.”
Sound quality, as many report, always impresses and Mark was no exception here either.
“The SD11 just continues the tradition for DIGICO in every aspect of the game. It is sonically the best sounding desk on the market for the type of work that we do. I don’t think that will change anytime soon. The features are remarkable, it has so many it would take another article to give it justice. They just go on and on (Spill Channel, Multi Channel, Tubes, Multi-Band etc.)”