Björk Utopia Live Shows
Front of House engineer John Gale, playback engineer Chris Elms and Musical Director Matt Robertson choose Ferrofish.
We chose [the Ferrofish A32] because of the excellent sound quality, MADI redundancy, dual power supplies, and the small footprint – the audio side of this playback system only takes up 3U
In support of the latest album, Björk and her production team are currently out on a European tour, with dates including Iceland, UK, Spain, France, Denmark, Italy, Belgium and Sweden, with more likely to follow.
Musical Director Matt Robertson, alongside his colleagues Chris Elms and John Gale, was tasked with putting together a new playback rig for the show, deciding upon a selection of hardware from RME and Ferrofish. Matt was kind enough to speak to us about how the system operates, and why he prefers to use MADI for live audio setups.
Ferrofish A32 – Redundant MADI streams, power supplies and MIDI over MADI
The MADI feeds are sent to a Ferrofish A32, a cost-effective 1U AD/DA Converter with 32 analogue inputs and 32 analogue outputs on D-Subs, plus ADAT and MADI I/O, and with both coaxial and optical MADI streams providing redundancy (a backup stream). The Ferrofish A32 also features comprehensive displays on its front panel, with level metering for all 64 channels visible at any time from the 4x colour TFT displays. Dual-redundant power supplies provide an additional level of security for recording, live and broadcast.
The switcher then feeds a Ferrofish A32, which we chose because of the excellent sound quality, MADI redundancy, dual power supplies, and the small footprint – the audio side of this playback system only takes up 3U!” says Matt. “This setup allows us the option to run analogue out of the A32, or digital directly from the switcher.
Both RME and Ferrofish also feature MIDI over MADI, which allows for MIDI data to also be transmitted via the MADI cable.
“We’re also using MIDI over MADI, to get a redundant switching MIDI output from the playback machines. MIDI comes in from the playback laptops, through the RME Madiface USB, through the switcher and then to the A32, where it is converted to 5pin MIDI. From there the MIDI goes to a splitter, and to two iConnectivity USB Host units. This means that in the event of a playback laptop failing, not only does the audio switch to the backup machine, but the MIDI does as well!”
“There’s 96 channels being sent to the FoH in total. Roughly 20 I/O for the FX sends and returns to the ProTools FX rack, along with around 24 outs from the playback rig. These are mainly different timecodes and clicks, along with MIDI info sent via MIDI over MADI.”