LAs winner for the second consecutive year of the Festival Supplier Award for Best Sound, leading UK sound company SSE Hire knows exactly what artists and audiences will be demanding in the fields, parks and showgrounds of the UK this summer. As the company returned from a weekend of hard rock and heavy metal at the Download festival, project manager Dan Bennett confirmed that the Yamaha CL5 is now SSE’s console of choice for main stage monitors at all the festivals it services.
SSE is servicing many festivals this year, including Download, Nocturne Live, T in the Park, Wireless, Latitude, Lovebox, Ramblin’ Man, MTV Crashes Plymouth, Wilderness, Cropredy, the V Festivals, Reading/Leeds, Bestival and east London’s Community Festival. At all of them the company is providing a pair of CL5s for monitors on the main stage, each with a pair of Rio3224-D i/o units.
The Yamaha PM5D was SSE’s long-running ‘go-to’ festival monitor console, but with the CL5 now a popular request on riders throughout the world, it’s the PM5D’s natural replacement that SSE now relies on.
“We used the PM5D because everybody knew it. Even if it wasn’t the first choice for some engineers, they had a show file for it and it was very straightforward to get a mix together on,” says Dan. “Critically, it was also bulletproof. Something that everybody knows and also doesn’t break is the perfect festival mixer.”
A feature of the PM5D which was adequate at the time, but had become a shortcoming at modern festivals, was its output channel count. “Output requirements have steadily increased over the years,” says Dan. “24 used to be fine, but as festival monitor systems have increasingly had to feature wedges, sidefills and stereo in-ear monitors, nowadays it isn’t enough. We were having to get quite inventive with the PM5Ds.”
The answer has been the CL5, which has all the virtues and reliability of the PM5D, but its Dante networking and cutting-edge facilities make it not only the ideal festival console, but one which can earn its keep for SSE all year round.
“As well as having great-sounding preamps and being a popular choice amongst engineers, the flexibility of the CL5 means its rental potential is significantly better for us as a company,” says Dan. “The options provided by the various R-series i/o units mean the CL5s can be used to earn their keep on any kind of event. They really fill a gap for corporate dry hires throughout the year.”
Meanwhile, on festival stages the required speed of changeovers means SSE flip-flop between the two CL5s, their inherent flexibility making it a quick and painless process.
“As well as the technical aspect, for some bands further down the bills these can be the biggest shows they’ve ever played,” says Dan. Having a console familiar to as many engineers as possible is essential, but we also have experienced engineers continually manning the desk, mixing the bands who may not have their own monitor engineer and helping out those who do.”
He continues, “Engineers for the top three bands usually bring their own monitor console, although some will choose to use our CL5s. But, whoever the artist is, the CL5s and our full monitor system will be operating throughout, just in case they have a problem. As a company we have one overriding purpose – to make sure that the show happens.”
With SSE depending on the CL5, artists can be assured that, as they rock the masses, their monitors will be rock steady too.