From its roots as Virgin Radio in the mid-1990s to its rebranding in 2008, Absolute Radio has been a beacon of light for lovers of guitar-based rock. One of the UK’s three Independent National Radio stations, Absolute Radio has spawned a network of modern contemporary spinoff stations and has become a mainstay in the UK rock community, sponsoring concerts and events and airing recordings of live shows as part of its regular on-air repertoire.
Recently the station added a PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 digital console to its mobile setup. As Dean Woodcock, the station’s Head of Broadcast Technology and IT, explains, the StudioLive filled a number of needs for both functionality and portability.
“Absolute Radio are recording more and more sessions outside our main Soho studios, often in more unique venues where a PA isn’t necessarily part of the setup,” says Woodcock. “We needed a solution that was compact, portable, fully featured, and that could multitask as a FOH unit, as well as take care of our recording for broadcast. The StudioLive appealed straight away. From a live perspective it can handle both FOH and monitors and offers up a range of I/O options and onboard processing, while handling the multitrack recording, as well, with a single click, via Capture – all from the same unit.”
Woodcock cites a wide cross-section of remote gigs recorded since adding the StudioLive, including last year’s Absolute Radio Christmas Sessions from St Barnabus’ Chapel, featuring Tori Amos, Doves, and Mumford & Sons, as well as the recent Absolute Radio Presents Biffy Clyro at the Houses Of Parliament. “For both of those, we used [the StudioLive] to deliver both FOH and monitors, as well as to multitrack the events,” he says. “We’ve also used it as a straightforward multitrack unit to record Scouting For Girls at the Hard Rock Café, and it even stepped in as monitor console for 30 Seconds To Mars here at Absolute Radio after their own monitor board failed to fit through our front door.”
The StudioLive 16.0.2 has also been an asset to Absolute Radio’s outside broadcasting setup, Woodcock adds. “We broadcast live from a number of summer festivals, including Isle Of Wight, Hard Rock Calling, Latitude, and many others. We used to bring an entire remote-station setup in the back of two tail-lift vans, but the StudioLive has enabled us to dramatically streamline the setup, while giving us even more flexibility. For example, we soundchecked and mixed Squeeze through the board while it was being used to broadcast the breakfast show live from Isle Of Wight, then put the band to air to close the show.”
Woodcock points to the StudioLive’s sound and feature set as some of the major reasons it has fit the bill. “The XMAX preamps and the channel strip sound great, and the clarity of sound is impressive, especially for a mixer in this price range,” he observes. “One feature I find particularly useful is the ability to route the multitrack back to the inputs so easily and accessibly. One hit of the FireWire button at the top of the channel routes the multitrack instantly back to the channel. Before the show, it gives me access to a virtual soundcheck, allowing me to carry on tweaking the mix even after the band’s done. And post show, I can get straight on to mixing the tracks for broadcast within seconds of the band leaving the stage – literally at the press of a button.”