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DirectOut PRODIGY Series on tour with Coldplay

24th March 2023 2:14 pm

Coldplay performing live on stage

DirectOut PRODIGY Series chosen for Coldplay’s “Music of the Spheres” World Tour

Pop phenomenon Coldplay have just embarked on the next phase of their massively successful “Music of the Spheres” tour, with multiple sold out dates set to fill stadiums around the world – from Rio de Janeiro’s Estádio Nilton Santos and the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles; to Manchester’s Etihad Stadium and Amsterdam’s Johan Cruijff Arena.

Ensuring maximum flexibility for the audio and front of house teams, cutting-edge solutions from DirectOut have been instrumental in providing a modern and efficient FOH playback system, in keeping with the band’s well-publicised goals of sustainable touring.

Specified as part of the build’s initial design back in February 2021, and employed extensively throughout the tour’s early promotional stages and the 2022 live season, four DirectOut PRODIGY.MPs (and one PRODIGY.MC) were selected for their “reduced footprint” and “versatility”, as well as innovative features like DirectOut’s FastSRC.

Alex ‘Hadji’ Hadjigeorgiou (Digital Audio Specialist at Hadji Audio), Tony Smith (Head of Audio, FOH-Tech and Sound Designer for Coldplay), Dan Green (FOH Engineer) and Dom Thorne (System Technician) discuss the team’s choice of DirectOut for the Coldplay tour, with additional comments from Jan Ehrlich (Managing Director at DirectOut).


“Reduced footprint and weight”

Computer screens behind the front of house console at a Coldplay concert

“We have enjoyed a close working relationship with Alex Hadji and his colleagues for many years now,” says DirectOut’s Managing Director Jan Ehrlich. “Almost all of our products have already been used on previous Coldplay tours.

“For us as a manufacturer, it is always special to see the tour push the envelope together with their technical crew.

“There are only a few setups as complex and sophisticated as Coldplay’s, who continue to thrill fans worldwide, tour after tour, and are constantly taking things up a notch.”

From the production’s outset, Tony Smith (Head of Audio) and Alex Hadji (Digital Audio Specialist) had been actively seeking the latest developments in live audio playback, with a particular focus on system EQ, audio distribution and control.

At FOH, both Tony and Dan Green (FOH Engineer) felt they’d outgrown their current EQ and A-D options, and were on the lookout for improvements.

The PRODIGY Series was determined to offer the complete package, identified as having the required functionality – with superior tonality/EQ curves and better all-round usability – and propelling the production to the forefront of currently available live sound technologies.

The PRODIGY.MC was added for additional I/O and A-D conversion, providing a route for the production’s analogue gear to be brought onto a MADI stream, as well as the DiGiCo Optocore loop.

“Both devices do exactly what I need, and do it very well,” states Tony. “They have also reduced our footprint and weight, and added functionality with great tech support, which is also key.”

Racks of equipment backstage at a Coldplay concert, including two DirectOut Prodigys

A second PRODIGY.MP was chosen for the PA system drive rack (managed by System Technician Dom Thorne), kitted out with 16 x AES3 I/O and 16 x analogue I/O from DirectOut’s selection of modular cards.

Inputs from FOH are taken as a Left, Right, Sub, Fill configuration, as well as two support band inputs via AES with an analogue backup for each input, in any configuration required.

Signals are then distributed to a d&b audiotechnik SL Series sound system as a Left, Right, Sub, Fill and Delay 1-4 output, taking advantage of the extensive matrixing features of the PRODIGY.MP.

Additional outputs for Ring delays are also utilized whenever Ring delay systems are deployed. These outputs are via AES, which is then distributed via fibre through the Optocore backbone, with an analogue backup of those same outputs running simultaneously.

Several local I/O sources for Rational Acoustics’ Smaart software, local playback and a Voice of God microphone give Dom complete control over the entire stadium’s d&b PA system.

The PRODIGY.MP also acts as the PA system clock master, using DirectOut’s FastSRC’s on each input to allow independent sample rates for each console.


“Versatility and ease of control”

“We were originally clocking off the AES input from the DiGiCo FOH console,” says Dom. “But for security and the continued possibility of isolation, we made the decision to use the PRODIGY’s internal clock, due to its reliability.”

“Throughout the tour, the versatility of the PRODIGY has meant that whenever an issue or variation in requirements has become apparent, I have been able to reprogram my original file easily and quickly to make it work.

“Whether it’s been needing to find or repurpose extra inputs or outputs, or needing to distribute, time align and EQ the PA system completely differently. This is still whilst only using the PRODIGY in my drive rack to a fraction of its potential capability.”

Stadium crowd at a Coldplay concert

Luca Giaroli, Strategy and Audio Solutions Manager at DirectOut, made sure the immense capabilities of the PRODIGYs were thoroughly demonstrated to the team ahead of rehearsals for the large-scale production.

In-person training sessions at Solotech/Wigwam were complimented by a series of online meetings, with Luca also responsive to any of the team’s ongoing support needs, ensuring everyone was well-equipped for the upcoming tour.

“Due to its power and the potential complexity within the PRODIGY, it can at first be overwhelming,” adds Dom. “But Luca was brilliant in ensuring that, despite these options, the right knowledge and understanding turns the possibility for confusion into versatility and control.”

Alex Hadji sums it all up: “From my early dealings with Stephan Flock (Co-Founder and Director of Engineering at DirectOut) in the development of the EXBOX.BLDS; through years of using the M1K2 devices on Coldplay to provide MADI splitting and format conversion; all the way through to our latest setup using EXBOX.MDs, multiple PRODIGYs, SPLIT.CONVERTERs and ANDIAMOs; the experience has remained the same – well-made equipment with good technical support, and a feeling that the people behind the design of the products value our opinions, and respond to our requests for new features.”

“Synergies like these fertilize both sides,” concludes Jan Ehrlich (DirectOut’s Managing Director).

“As a manufacturer, we receive valuable input and feedback from creative minds who want to retain the maximum flexibility and performance from our solutions.

“At the same time, our customers should always know that we are with them, take their suggestions seriously and always want to implement them within the scope of feasibility.

“This basis of trust drives everything we do – from designing new audio solutions to supporting our customers.”


This article originally appeared on DirectOut.eu .

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