Quantum shift for engineers on Andrea Bocelli’s latest tour

Andrea Bocelli’s audio team upgrades to DiGiCo’s flagship premium Quantum 7 console.

Andrea Bocelli’s audio team has relied on DiGiCo’s professional touring consoles during the star’s career, starting in 2006 with the original D5 Live. After a brief move to an analogue solution, the production migrated back to digital with the SD7, but recently upgraded to DiGiCo’s flagship premium Quantum 7 console and its advanced processing suite to cater for the high I/O count typical of the classical genre and the grand venues in which it is hosted.

With an average of 45 concerts a year, the renowned tenor maintains a busy touring schedule. Reportedly the biggest selling solo classical artist of all time with 85 million worldwide album sales, Bocelli sustains an ongoing tour programme for his legions of international fans, selling out arenas across the globe.

“My colleague Francesco and I started working with Bocelli in September 2006,” comments Senior FOH Engineer, Andrea Taglia. “We started with a DiGiCo D5, but digital technology was still in its infancy, and we moved back to analogue when Bocelli decided to hire local orchestras and choirs, as, at the time, analogue desks were faster and more familiar to set up on a channel-by-channel basis than digital. However, it was not long before digital technology was advancing rapidly and the SD7 became our mixer of choice. By this stage, the number of channels on the production was too large for analogue to manage. Thanks to DiGiCo’s Italian distributor, Audio Link, the transition was effortless.”

The latest world tour series called Believe showcases songs from Bocelli’s latest album ‘Si’ as well as a wide repertoire from across his 15 studio albums. The show format comprises a classical program of his most well-known operatic arias during the first part, with the second part containing his most popular hits. Supporting Bocelli are soprano and pop special guest vocalists including his son, Matteo, additional instrumental soloists, and a supporting pop band. They are accompanied by a full orchestra and choir, often some of the world’s finest orchestras, resulting in an input list totaling 116 channels.

The decision to upgrade the system came during planning for an autumn tour of the UK. Working with leading rental house, Britannia Row Productions, the team specified two of DiGiCo’s flagship Quantum touring systems, comprising two mirrored Quantum 7 consoles, plus accompanying SD Racks, all connected on a fibre optic loop.

The two engineers divide mixing duties, with FOH engineer, Francesco La Camera, mixing the orchestra on one Quantum 7, whilst Taglia manages all other FOH requirements from the second Quantum 7, comprising the pop band, solo artists and instrumentalists, choir, Pro Tools tracks and additional services, such as audio from video footage and playback music, as well as stage monitoring.

“My console set-up is very simple; I have 68 Input channels, which is all orchestra microphones, two mono outputs for reverb, and two stereo comms outputs to send to my colleague’s console plus, for broadcast shows, I set up 10 stereo comms outputs with a partial mix for monitoring for the OB trucks,” explains La Camera. “We were very excited to upgrade the system as it offers lots of new opportunities and advantages. Quantum’s new Mustard Processing suite is a game changer. The EQ helps me get the sound I want very easily, and I love the new Macro, Global Mute and Snapshot features.”

“We had already dispensed with the outboard compressors on instruments using the standard SD7 processing but, thanks to the quality of the Mustard processing, we have now replaced the analogue outboard I was using on vocals,” adds Taglia. “I also love the possibility to configure aux sends in many different ways to accomplish almost every need, from the easy pre/post fader to pre-EQ and pre-dynamic.”

The production team will be specifying the same Quantum 7 system for the next stage of the tour, as Bocelli will embark on a North American run in December 2022.

“One of the many reasons we love the Quantum 7 is the redundancy capacity via the dual engines, PSU, and fibre link protecting the console and stage racks as well,” concludes Taglia. “This level of redundancy is not available on any other console, which makes a huge difference to our mindset when we are touring so rigorously and with such a large production. Classical audio engineers are always wary of digital technology and how it might alter the music, but we are really impressed with Quantum’s sonic qualities, which are warm and natural.”