Hello! I’m Tony Cottrill, Director of the Live Sound program at The Blackbird Academy. Welcome to my first live sound blog, where I will be discussing, evaluating and testing live audio gear and giving my best assessment based on my experiences in the trenches.

At The Blackbird Academy, we will be learning large to small footprint digital and analog consoles. Our classroom will be across the street from the Clair Global complex, which will give us access to all the industry standard live mixing consoles currently on tour and in use in medium and small venues – Yamaha 5D’s and CL Series, Avid Venue, Digico, and Midas to name a few.

Soundcraft Si Digital Consoles:
Besides being Director of The Blackbird Academy, I am also FOH, Production Manager, and Tour Manager for the group Exile. Being in the business for 30+ years you would think I would be an analog purist, but I have embraced the digital world for well over the past 10 years and that it fits perfectly around my workflow.

For touring as FOH for EXILE my plan was to carry everything but stacks & racks (you’ll learn ALL about this lingo in our program, so hang in with me for now).

When putting my system together I had several considerations that would need to be met:

  1. The gear is fitted around Exile’s needs: to avoid sound checks and keep our sound consistent from show to show.
  2. The gear has to fit under the bus in the bays or in the back of my SUV for small shows around town when I’m not on the road
  3. I wanted the system to be flexible enough to cover rental requirements for other touring acts. (We’ll learn to “double dip” at The Blackbird Academy’s live sound program. In other words, gear you buy can be used by you, or rented by others!)
  4. Since Exile carries a crew of two, a backline guy and me, the equipment had to be portable and lightweight enough that I could unload, set-up, tear-down the entire system by myself.
  5. There had to be a digital IO box for splitting all of my mics to FOH (more lingo!) and Monitor World with a minimum of 32 splits, I didn’t want to have long cable runs of copper.
  6. There needs to be a quality recording option with at least 32 tracks in/out – something compatible with Pro Tools.

So that’s part 1! Thanks for reading. The next installment will cover wireless gear, mics and more! Stay tuned….