High Pressure? With Yamaha RIVAGE PM7, It’s Only In The Weather

As much of western Europe has basked in high summer temperatures, many thousands of happy revellers have been enjoying the annual crop of outdoor festivals. Sound engineers lucky enough to be using Yamaha’s RIVAGE PM7 digital mixing system at these events have been very happy too. Leading German front of house engineer Olli Voges explains how the new system ensured that the only high pressure he’s experienced has been in the weather!

Olli has worked with Yamaha digital consoles since the early 2000s. As well as his work at live concerts, he is an experienced engineer on the biggest live television shows. This summer he is out on the European festival circuit, mixing a number of well-known German rap and electronica acts, including Casper, Sido, Kool Savas and 187 Strassenbande.

Casper is on a full festival tour, mainly playing as headliner / co-headliner, which started with the twin Rock Am Ring/Rock Im Park festivals in early June. “Major festivals are always a challenge and, when you are performing at such showtimes, there are some really good bands out there. You have to be sure that your artist sounds exceptionally good!” says Olli.

Like many other sound engineers, Olli was very positive about Yamaha’s RIVAGE PM10 system. However, with RIVAGE PM7 and the system’s latest firmware updates, he now has a console that he describes as “the most analogue-sounding” available.

“Yamaha consoles have always been known as the most reliable choice and I really liked the layout of RIVAGE PM10 from the beginning,” he says. “The latest version of the RIVAGE firmware has added all the minor tweaks and updates that we were asking for. In terms of reliability, the classic ‘analogue’ sound and it’s sheer versatility, RIVAGE PM7 is fantastic. Mix engineers of other artists we are playing with have been openly admiring it.”

One of many features that Olli loves is the Portico 5045 Primary Source Enhancer plug-in. Although sharing some similarities with a conventional noise gate, the plugin works in a different way to effectively suppress background noise at microphone inputs. This delivers enhanced clarity, while significantly increasing the feedback margin.

“When you punch it into a primary source channel it makes a huge difference in reducing bleed and other surrounding noise,” says Olli. “It is really useful on these shows. Used together with the onboard Dan Dugan automixing, it will open up a whole new area, especially in the live TV market.”

The customisability of RIVAGE PM7’s control surface is another feature that is invaluable in the time-constrained environment of summer festivals.

“On these shows I’ve got around 67 input channels, as well as effects returns from Waves SoundGrid and internal plug-ins. But there are enough faders for everything to be on the surface, making it a very quick console to work on,” he says.

“The ability to pre-patch I/O on the console means that my system engineer has his own layout on the desk. We recall his complete layout by touching just one control. And then, with another touch, I can instantly recall mine. It really speeds the workflow.”

Another way of making system set up easier is virtual soundchecks.

“With RIVAGE PM7 you can record up to 128 channels and I record every show via Dante, using a bespoke, Recorder.1 workstation from Xi-Machines with four hot-swappable SSDs, formatted to work in either Mac or Windows machines,” Olli continues.

“The PM7’s virtual soundcheck connection switching is super fast and has saved us a lot of time. When you are doing system checks at 7am, the artist is not going to want to be there, so being able to do virtual soundchecks quickly and easily is invaluable.”

Crucially, however, the Stem recordings that Olli makes are also used for broadcast feeds.

“The really cool thing about the recording capacity is that you can record stems as well as inputs, which makes a huge difference” he says. “No broadcast company is getting input channels to work with, but premixed Stems that are confirmed by the artist and by myself. Broadcast companies have been really positive, saying ‘This is exactly how it should be done’.”

Further advantages are the ability to use the recordings with timecode at production rehearsals, for example when lights and video are being programmed. This means that the artist can be brought in at the end of the programming period and be shown exactly what the production will look like.

“It’s a whole new way of working which we have wanted for so long, but now it’s happening. We can even use the recordings so the singer can rehearse with a full virtual band, I can record it and play it back to him,” says Olli.

“With RIVAGE PM7, you have complete control. It gives you a lot of ways to save time and money. The possibilities are unlimited.”