US entertainment leviathan 'Late Show with David Letterman' on CBS is soon to be the proud owner of a 96-fader frame Solid State Logic C296 digital production console. The new console, which will handle all of the music production requirements for the show, replaces the SSL analogue SL 4000 G Series console that has served the show for 15 years.
"With our new format of shooting in HD and mixing in 5.1 surround, the clear choice for a new console was the SSL C296," said Harvey Goldberg, who has been music mixer for the show for the last eight years. "Another reason why we purchased the console was that it delivers the resources necessary for us to mix different music acts during the show; or if not multiple acts, the different songs performed by one act. Working on an analogue console isn't the fastest way to switch between different kinds of set-ups. When we start working with the C296, switching between set-ups will be a push of a button."
The key to understanding the 96-fader frame console purchase lies in Goldberg's work style. According to Goldberg, where many other manufacturers have made the leap to digital by redesigning how a console operates, Goldberg prefers the ergonomic consistency of SSL consoles.
"SSL has always presented consoles with an industry-standard work surface familiar to the top engineers in the world and the C200 Series carries on that tradition," Goldberg explained. "Right now I am training on the C200 and I have developed a plan to take advantage of its power. I will use 40 of the input channels right off the top for Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra. The average guest band comes in using between 30 and 40 inputs. Perhaps a rock band will only take up 24. Sometimes we are talking about shooting two or three shows in a day and that represents a lot of set-up. The advantage of the C200 is that I can work in the traditional analogue mode of one channel strip per instrument or vocal, but when I need to see a channel at the other end of the board, I can push a button and it is in front of me. This feature will make mixing easier, better, faster.
"The most important feature of all is, of course, the sound of the console. SSL has built its great sound into the C200. Having the power to recall set-ups, mix in surround, flip-flop fader banks and the like may improve workflow, but the C200 offers a sound that is comfortable with any type of music. This gives me a strong sonic foundation for any style of music and from there I can use the fantastic EQ and dynamics on the console to further shape the best sound for each group.
"Keep in mind that the variety of music that goes on this show is wider than any other show on TV," continued Goldberg. "For instance, we can do John Fogerty on Monday, The Metropolitan Opera on Tuesday, Snoop Dogg on Wednesday, Dolly Parton on Thursday and then the Foo Fighters on Friday. That's how dramatically different the music can be. It really goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. We are anxiously awaiting the installation of the C200."