Beyoncé and JAY-Z Go On The Run Again With DiGiCo

James Berry and monitor tech Chris Bellamy at the tour’s two DiGiCo SD7 monitor desks for the artists, with Jimmy Corbin in the background at his two band SD7s

On The Run II (OTRII) marked the first world tour together in 4 years for music’s power couple, Beyoncé and JAY-Z. To support such a big tour the two stars were backed with DiGiCo consoles.

All of the various elements including; In-ear monitors, wireless microphones and backing bands are connected via an Optocore HMA fiber loop between 2 DiGiCo SD7 consoles for the FOH mix (one primary console and a second for use by supporting acts on the tour) feeding a d&b audiotechnik J-Series PA system, while 4 more SD7 desks are assigned to the monitor mixes. A DiGiCo SD12 console is also on hand to mix vocal rehearsals in dressing rooms. The 5 primary consoles on the tour use 5 DiGiCo SD-Racks, with a sixth used as a support rack.

“The DiGiCos are the only consoles that can do this show,” observed Jason Kirschnick, International Operations Officer and Global Project Manager at Eighth Day Sound, the sound-reinforcement provider for OTRII. “The wireless and in-ear counts are enormous. Stephen [Curtin, FOH engineer] uses a lot of subgroups to keep and manage all of the stage inputs on a single SD7, with the second SD7 on the same fiber loop and with the sessions loaded and ready there as a spare. No other desk could touch what the SD7s are doing here.”

“Everyone is sharing fibre on this tour,” Kirschnick continued. “That’s one of the reasons that it’s the preferred console for the FOH and monitor mixers: its work-surface flexibility makes it the only console that lets them set up the exact custom workflows they need. It just has more options than any other console. That’s why it’s number-one on all the riders.”

Even with such a massive number of sources coming in, versatile expansion options allow DiGiCo’s flagship console to comfortably stay on top of everything. “With the SD7 we were able to utilize a second HMA Optical Loop doubling the available I/O in the fiber network allowing us to add not one, but two additional record systems capable of handling all 160 channels plus an additional 16 audience mics,” said Curtin.

“More important to us was the additional 504 inputs or outputs along with the 504 on Loop #1 to the system, which on this show is critical. That’s enabled me to be able to keep everything on just one primary console, which streamlines the workflow considerably.”

“We’ve been using the SD7 with Beyoncé since the desk came out; plus we were on DiGiCo’s D5 before that,” said artist monitor engineer James “Cowboy” Berry, who has been with Beyoncé for a dozen years now (Curtin joined Beyoncé’s crew in 2011 as the band monitor engineer, then transitioned to FOH when Corbin came onboard in 2013 for the Mrs. Carter Show world tour). “Even the monitor guy before me was on a DiGiCo; it’s the only desk that can handle the size and scope of her shows.”

Currently, the Eighth Day Sound crew is running just over a hundred channels of wireless units, including comms, he noted: “I’m only driving 16 stereo outputs from my desk for vocals—plus a sidefill and wedge mix downstage just as a safety—but I think that Jimmy only has two outputs left on his desk, which means he’s well into 30 stereo mixes.”

Berry concluded: “What really adds to this setup—the way that I’m linking my two desks together—I’m using the Merge Input on the auxiliaries and groups, and we’re linking on MADI, so the second desk is actually feeding my first desk through the Merge feature. I haven’t done that in the past, and it’s making my setup so much easier—it’s just two MADI cables and we’re done, plus it gives redundancy. The desks are also MIDI-triggered to each other so that they all switch snapshots at the same time, so it’s all very seamless to operate.”