Working from home? Switch to the DIGITAL edition of FRONT of HOUSE. CLICK HERE to signup now!
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

Big Chill Festival Chills Out with DiGiCo

FOH Staff • International News • November 15, 2007

LEDBURY, ENGLAND — With over 200 acts playing on 12 stages over three days, Big Chill is rapidly becoming one of the must-visit events of the UK summer festival season. Held at Eastnor Castle Deer Park, near Worcester, from Aug. 3–5, this year was the first that Dobson Sound Productions had supplied the audio infrastructure for all the festival stages. So the company took the opportunity to also make Big Chill ‘all digital’ for the first time.

Five DiGiCo consoles were deployed, a D5 at Front of House on the Open Air stage, D5s at both FOH and monitors on the Castle Stage and D1s at FOH on the Sanctuary Stage and in the Big Chill Nights tent.

“As we were providing sound for all the stages, it made sense to follow our instincts and go digital throughout,” says Dobson Sound managing director Paul Dobson. “It was a bit of a step, but it went very well.

“We chose to use the DiGiCo consoles for several reasons, not least of which is that they sound really good!” he continues. “They are also very flexible — we already use them on a wide variety of projects and Big Chill was further proof to us that here was another environment which they excel in. Another important thing was that they are very user friendly. The way they are laid out is fairly conventional in a lot of ways, so they don’t tend to phase band engineers who come into a festival situation and have never used one before.”

The consoles were controlling flown d&b PA systems on all stages — J series on the Open Air Stage and a combination of other types, mainly Q series, on the others. The DiGiCo consoles also minimized the amount of outboard that was carried.

“Apart from a few channels of valve compression and Lexicon reverb on the two biggest stages, all processing was done using the onboard effects, which saved both space and time,” says Paul. “We really got the most of what we could from them.”

Several engineers brought session files with them, but the consoles were mainly run with a generic channel list. “We ran them in a very conventional manner, but the fact that we could load session files for the engineers that had brought them and then recall the generic settings after their sets was extremely useful,” says Paul.

“But no matter how many requests you make or specs you see beforehand, something will always crop up. So the flexibility and available capacity made those high pressure moments a lot easier to handle.”

Paul is also very appreciative of DiGiCo’s technical backup. DiGiCo’s Technical Sales Manager Tim Shaxson was on site for the whole weekend and he also brought along an ADK MADIcorder, which demonstrated even further the versatility of the consoles.

“I took it along at the behest of Jerry Damas and the Spatial AKA orchestra,” says Shaxson. “But once people realized it was there, I recorded a number of other acts including Red Snapper and Ted Barnes. Their engineer, Darius Kedros, loved the concept of recording 56 channels with one BNC cable.”

Shaxson adds, “Alongside the D5, Dobson also had an alternative digital console at FoH on the Open Air Stage. I was very pleased to see that the D5 was the preferred choice a number of band engineers who hadn’t used either before, due to its ease of use and a familiar analogue-style layout. One visiting engineer who only had very limited previous experience of DiGiCo consoles was New Young Pony Club’s Jim Carmichael. Jim had used a D5 at the 02 Wireless festival (Leeds) his year and a D1 on a 2005 tour, but otherwise his experience of DiGiCo was negligible.

“Knowing the DiGiCos were there, I was pretty confident I wouldn't have any problems at The Big Chill,” he says. “Tim had the D5 offline editor software on his PC laptop, so we were able to program some basics into the board before the band changeover.
“My mix came together very quickly and I had plenty of headroom in the preamps to cope with the dynamics of NYPC's drummer. I’m looking forward to working with either board again.”

Paul Dobson also pronounced himself very pleased with the performance of the DiGiCo consoles and expects next year’s Big Chill to feature a similar high DiGiCo profile.

“Weatherwise we had a bit of everything throughout the weekend and they were absolutely fine,” he says. “I’d have absolutely no qualms about using them as festival consoles again. I can’t see any reason why we would want to do anything different next year.”


For information, please visit

The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!