Hello! I’m Tony Cottrill 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. This 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 it fits perfectly around my workflow.

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 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, the 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, and 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.