NMK, GCC | Why Marc Urselli Chose Avid Venue S6l For Grammys

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  • Why Marc Urselli Chose Avid VENUE | S6L for GRAMMYs - News

Why Marc Urselli Chose Avid VENUE | S6L for GRAMMYs

on April 7, 2024 | Marketing Team

On the 4th of February 2024, the 66th GRAMMYs unfolded in Los Angeles, and live sound played a crucial role in delivering a memorable experience. We sat down with Marc Urselli, a GRAMMY Award-winning mixer and front-of-house engineer for the GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony for an exclusive interview and explored why Marc chose the Avid VENUE | S6L as his go-to console for this show, uncovering just how reliable the S6L proved to be throughout the entirety of the show, ensuring the best sound possible for the audience.

Grammy show

Front of house at the GRAMMYs 2024 show

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while you were mixing front of house at the GRAMMYs using the Avid VENUE | S6L?

Well, the biggest challenge of them all is the fast-moving pace of the show and the fact that you must be completely focused on what's going on and anticipate your every move. I have a PDF script on my computer (and a paper copy as a backup) and I use the PDF annotation feature to circle the most important mutes, un-mutes, or other changes in the show that I need perform manually. I don’t use snapshots except for major stage changes (from one artist to the next). The most important thing for me is to know which mic or microphones are up next and where because at these award shows, it will jump around from podium mic to handheld mic, from artist on main stage to artist on side stage, and so on and so forth, and you basically must anticipate those movements so that somebody doesn't start talking into a mic that's muted, which is really bad. It's one of the worst things that can happen in that kind of live setting where there are a lot of people in the audience that understand what's going on. Plus it's also going out to the internet, and although it’s a different mix, what happens in the room still affects the broadcast to a degree. These are some of the challenges...

Why would you choose an S6L for FOH?

Why wouldn’t I? 😉 It’s an obvious choice for me. First, I love the way it works and sounds, but most importantly I know it really well and I can get around very quickly. Maybe it's because I've been using Pro Tools for over 20 years. It's a very familiar desk, and when you're mixing a live show, especially one where so much is at stake, you must really be comfortable. I've mixed on a lot of consoles, but I keep coming back to the S6L and I always request the S6L for any big show that I do, whether it's a GRAMMY ceremony or a White House concert or a tour. In fact, my relationship with that desk started back when I was mixing on a [VENUE] Profile while touring with Lou Reed, more than ten years ago, around 2011 or 2012. I have worked with Lou Reed for over seven years as his FOH engineer and every tour I ever did with him had a Profile at FOH. So the step from Profile to S6L was small and obvious and I just love the desk. I'm very fast getting around on it. The layout feature is one of the things I use the most on those big award shows, or any kind of big show. On a show like the GRAMMY Awards, you end up having over 150 channels and you can't be paging around. I want to always have everything in front of me. I have my specific tricks and methods for how to use layouts, so it's just a desk I can customize to my needs and desires, and it’s the desk I'm most comfortable with. It sounds great, the interface is great, it's easy to use for me, and that's why I keep using it.

Grammy rehearsal thumbnail

Sound check with the band at the GRAMMYs

Which features on the S6L stand out to you?

I just mentioned my favorite one: the layouts. The layouts are, to me, the most important thing because when you have a lot of channels, being able to access the ones you need the most at any given time is the most important thing in order not to get lost in sub-menus or in a sea of input and output channels or whatnot. You don't want to get lost in banks, so the layouts are my most adored feature.

Marcs layout
Marc’s layout

Other things I like are the fact that it can feel like an analog desk, but it can also be used like a digital desk. So, in other words, the fact that you can have your channel strip reacting like it's a channel strip on an analog desk is great for quick soundchecks. I love having the two video monitors so I can always look at one for certain things and look at the other one on the side for things, such as more channel-specific things. I love having the A & B monitoring paths for nearfields and headphones. And VCAs!!! Did I mention VCAs? I live on VCAs!!! I mix the whole show on VCAs and rarely even go to a channel to ride a fader (and when I do I usually get to it quickly by spilling the VCA). I love the fact that on the S6L, you're not limited to just having eight VCAs, like on many other consoles. On the S6L you can make as many as you want, and I use VCAs a lot when mixing a show, especially a GRAMMY-type of award show where you know you are going to mix multiple bands and artists, you are going from acceptance speeches to the incredibly amazing and super tight 18-piece house band lead by Cheche Alara, to a host mic. I can put the whole house band on a VCA and a guest band on another VCA, etc. I’ll have a band VCA so that I can fade the band in or out between or after speeches.

How do you see the future of live sound technology evolving?

Well, I think it's going to continue to improve and I'm very excited about the future of live sound because it's going to be the only aspect I think where AI cannot ruin our jobs and our lives in the way it's probably going to happen in the recording industry. So, I'm looking forward to humans doing live sound and the improvements that will keep coming to the S6L. The new updates to the software have been great and I've loved those. The stability of the desk is great. I've never had an Avid desk crash on me, whereas I've had other consoles crash on me. So, all of that, all the technology improvements that give you the peace of mind that you need to run a big show and know that the equipment will have your back and is not going to fail—that's the most important thing! And then, of course, there are the improvements in sound which are important too! But I think that the desk already sounds great. Then there are a lot of improvements that are coming from various PA companies, which is a whole other conversation. But there's always better sounding PAs, better sounding room adjustment tools, and so on and so forth.

at Grammy thumbnail

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