Gearforce Pro Audio recently invested in a DiGiCo Quantum 225 for Jann Arden’s Canadian tour, citing its small footprint and ground-breaking technology as crucial factors in its decision-making process.
Rob Nevalainen, founder of the company and engineer in his own right, purchased the Q225 to add to Gearforce’s existing DiGiCo inventory in mid-April, ready for the start of a busy season. “After two years away,” he said, “it’s different getting back out. The landscape has changed, for sure.”
Some things, however, have not, including Nevalainen’s reliance on DiGiCo consoles, GerrAudio, who supplied the console, as a distributor and Gearforce’s emphasis on adapting and moving forward.
Gearforce bought the Q225 in mid-April 2022, Nevalainen explained, adding that it is currently out on the road for Jann Arden’s summer tour in support of Descendant, Arden’s 15th studio album. The tour began on May 20 with a show at MTELUS Montréal, a local concert venue formerly known as Montreal Métropolis and located in the heart of the city’s Quartier des Spectacles.
“The console wasn’t purchased specifically for Jann,” he said. “I’ve been looking at the Quantum for the last year. Obviously, during the pandemic wasn’t a great time to purchase anything, but I was keeping my eye on the technology because we own a bunch of other DiGiCo consoles.”
Given the increase in touring activity following the most stringent lockdown conditions, he decided the time was right to purchase another DiGiCo board: “I’ve got quite a few tours out right now, which depleted our DiGiCo supply, so I started looking at what new options were out there. I’ve got DiGiCo SD12s already, and they were still on the table, but I figured it might be a good time to dip into the Quantum market.
“One of the reasons I went with the Q225 is its compact footprint. It’s got a lot of power in a small form factor, which is always appealing because there are quite a few tours where that really does matter.” Nevalainen also cited the Quantum’s new features, specifically Nodal Processing, as a driver for the purchase. “I think that’s really a forward-thinking advancement in terms of what we can do with digital processing.”
Nevalainen highlighted DiGiCo consoles’ workflow and the fact that the company does not dramatically alter that with each and every new offering as key factors in his purchasing process.
“I don’t think they’ve really changed that with the Quantum,” he noted. “They enhanced it. So, that’s another reason; DiGiCo’s always looking to move forward without leaving people behind. People that have grown to love DiGiCo enjoy the workflow. They don’t want to alienate that user-base, so, as they open up new features, they always seem to find a way to make their product better but retain what people have come to love.”
This was part of the decision to deploy the new DiGiCo Q225 on Arden’s tour, with FOH engineer, Chris Hibbins, and monitor engineer, Dakota Poncilius (mixing on an SD12), both DiGiCo fans.
“Dakota and I wanted to stay on the same platform for redundancy,” Hibbins explained. “We do carry separate preamp racks and an analogue splitter, so if any one part of our audio core fails, we have some quick options to get the show back up and running. We both like the workflow of the DiGiCo SD line. The dynamic EQ is particularly powerful.”
Hibbins also noted that shifting from the SD to Quantum was seamless. “Everything I like from the SD range is still available, and now there are additional processing choices. At FOH, I rely a lot on the Mustard compressor choices. I’m generally reluctant to complicate my setup with third-party plug-in servers. Adding compressor choices on board allows me to keep almost everything in the Quantum software environment. The user interface for the Chili 6 is great too; mapping to faders allows for quick changes when in pre-production. And I also appreciate that Q225 matrix; I use every in and out of the 12x12 matrix. It's a nice bump up from the SD12 12x8.”
The last part of the equation for Gearforce was availability. Given the recent disruption in the supply chain, Nevalainen explained that his relationship with GerrAudio was beneficial. “That goes back some 25 years,” he said. “They’ve always offered fantastic support and really stepped up to deliver the console in a timely way. There are shortages of equipment and chips everywhere in the world, but they were able to come through.”
That is a point of pride for the company, added Peter Snelgrove, Gerr’s VP of operations and marketing, adding that the company does everything possible to deliver any product they represent quickly: “Generally speaking, even before the recent supply chain interruptions, we benefit from the fact that all of our suppliers manufacture products locally in their respective regions and have very good control over their supply chains. DiGiCo is a case in point, and it’s helped us immensely that they’ve continued to be able to continue to meet our needs.”
“We did a lot of forward planning when we saw issues arising in the supply chain,” concluded DiGiCo managing director, Austin Freshwater. “That’s meant that, whilst we are not free of issues, we’ve been able to continue manufacturing where others have struggled. We’re delighted that we’ve been able to supply Gerr with consoles so they can deliver to valued clients like Gearforce.”