Savannah, Georgia-based live sound and production consultancy Michael Gaster and Associates, led by its namesake, has carved out a unique niche among audio professionals. Beyond the wide breadth of services the firm offers – everything from design and build to front-of-house mixing and other support – Gaster has some unique specialties, most notably live sound for orchestras and large ensembles with high channel counts. “I’ve done touring with rock bands and all sorts of gigs like that, but as early as the mid-90s, I was finding success mixing large orchestral events,” recalls Gaster. He and his firm now work with such ensembles as Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus & Orchestra, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and others. On a recent performance with the Savannah Philharmonic, Gaster employed the Roland M-5000 OHRCA Live Mixing Console for a high-stakes public outdoor event (“Picnic in the Park”) with no sound check. To Gaster’s delight, the M-5000 helped him do his job flawlessly, and he has been raving about the console ever since and is planning on using the M-5000 for many more events in the future – both in the worlds of orchestral music and with more mainstream pop and rock acts.
“I literally had the M-5000 for one day [before the event],” notes Gaster. “Because the show was outdoors, we had to deal with weather, which in this case involved a hurricane! We cancelled the rehearsal and sound check, but the show proceeded as planned. I went in to a show where I was using 71 channels (59 in-orchestra mics) with no sound check, and to an audience of 10,000 or more. Right out of the gate, we had an excellent mix. The customization of the M-5000’s control surface – with the very clear menus, ease of patching, routing, moving and labeling – made what would normally be considered a disastrous scenario one of my biggest success stories in mixing sound.”
Gaster continues, “Probably the coolest thing that I like about this board is the total openness of the console. In the digital mixer world the biggest thing is not just feature sets, but the accessibility of the feature sets. The cool thing with the M-5000 is everything’s as accessible as you make it, and that’s why I was comfortable going into such a blind situation and was able to get great results. Most people would not necessarily go into any show, whether it’s rock & roll or jazz or symphonic, without a sound check, especially with a new console and that high of a channel count. But I felt fairly confident that the time I spent with the board was used to get it set up in a way where I can move around freely and quickly while having what I needed at my fingertips. And then the sound quality and on-board effects – it was impeccable.”
Gaster has big plans for the M-5000 in the future, including a large multi-act rock festival: “I’ve got an arts festival coming up that will have everything from rock & roll to folk music and more, and this console is perfect for these types of situations. You are able to create a console layout, condense things down and open them up within the user layers, and even get back to the basics. It’s ideal for this application, where your layouts from one act to another can vary widely. Pure and simple, this console is a game-changer.”