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Studer Vista X mixes the sound of Eurovision

Both semi-finals and the grand final were mixed in Conrad Fletcher's Mixbus by Andy Tapley

All of the music for last week’s Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals and grand final was mixed in outside broadcasting facility, the Mixbus.

Owned by BAFTA-winner Conrad Fletcher’s SounDesign company, the Mixbus is kitted out with high-end equipment, including a Studer Vista X console that has the ability to handle complex and technically challenging live music shows. He took the decision to install the Vista X just three months before Eurovision.

“The Vista 8 had always done a sterling job, but I’d been wanting to upgrade to a Vista X for some time in order to carry my business forward for the next 10 years,” said Fletcher. “Winning the Eurovision project vindicated my decision to invest. The type of projects we do, especially live to cinema that makes up 50 per cent of our workload, are complex and I honestly believe Studer is the only console manufacturer that can handle them. Nothing else comes close.”

Andy Tapley at work at the Vista X

Fletcher worked with Evertz to make sure the console was built and installed in the Mixbus in time for Eurovision. “It went flawlessly,” added Fletcher. “BAFTA-winner Andy Tapley, sound supervisor and sound and technology manager at BBC Studioworks was calling me every day to check on progress because he knew he’d be mixing the contest on it. We were all very relieved when it arrived on schedule and was installed on the truck.”

The Mixbus’s Vista X has 52 faders and a control surface that weighs 150 kilos. It is also 7cm higher than his old Vista 8, which meant the back end of the bus had to be rebuilt to raise the speakers and video monitors above the meter bridge. 

Like its predecessor, the console retains Studer’s patented Vistonics user interface and added FaderGlow, along with a new Infinity Core, that provides control of 1,000 or more audio DSP channels and more than 5,000 inputs and outputs. To ensure system redundancy, Vista X has four processor Quad Star technology and CPU-based DSP that allows two completely independent DSP cores to run in parallel with ‘instant’ changeover, said Evertz.

Throughout Eurovision week, the Mixbus team were responsible for mixing 45 songs live to air, including guest artists such as Sam Ryder, Rita Ora and Rebecca Ferguson, as well as the contestants. Once the stereo mixes were completed, they were handed over to another BAFTA-winner, sound supervisor Richard Sillitto, who added presentation and audience on board NEP’s UHD1 scanner. He also provided the 5.1 surround mix. For the BBC, Graham Norton’s presentation was added separately, and an international feed was provided to each country so that they could add their own commentary. 

“The Vista X was absolutely the right choice for this event.,” said Tapley. Its ability to completely reconfigure every parameter on the fly at the touch of a button meant it was the perfect choice. It is simply the best console for entertainment and music mixing.”

Conrad Fletcher added: “We are told that the EBU was extremely happy with the quality of the output from the Mixbus, and this is both gratifying and a relief. Some colleagues questioned the wisdom of putting a new desk in just before one of the biggest shows we have ever undertaken. All I can say is the Evertz Studer Vista X console gave us complete and total reliability, from first delivery to completion of a four-hour epic broadcast, and everything in between.”