Jose Dalama and VENUE: An enduring relationship

Jose Dalama is one of the most renowned FOH engineers in Spain, as well as in the entire Latin American music scene. During the course of his career, he has worked as a sound designer, head of sound, and FOH mixing engineer on tours for such high-profile artists as Presuntos Implicados, La Unión, Revolver, Pancho Céspedes, Ana Torroja, Joaquín Sabina, David Bisbal, and many others. He also owns his own recording and mixing studio—Dalamix—where he’s produced songs for these and other artists using a Pro Tools|HD system and ICON console, which have been in his studio from the start.

He is a man who’s known to take meticulous care over the smallest details. He’s also one of the first engineers to adopt a VENUE system back in 2005, the year in which Avid launched that very first live mixing solution. And he’s been using his VENUE D-Show System ever since, obtaining the perfect workflow with his Pro Tools system.

More recently, he purchased a VENUE SC48 console, enabling him to carry out his work as a mixing engineer in complete comfort, including in auditoriums and theatres where the size of the control space is limited.

A story begins

So how did his VENUE relationship begin? Back in 2005, when Dalama was working on a tour for the popular Spanish TV talent show “Operation Triumph,” he was considering buying one of the best mixing desks available at the time—an analogue model by a world-famous brand. Loyal to the sound of previous preamps and high-quality analogue electronics, Dalama refused to be ensnared by the convenience of digital consoles, which, at that time, had yet to gain the market share or popularity they enjoy today.

But then something unexpected happened. One day, Dalama had the opportunity to hear a VENUE D-Show System and was pleasantly surprised by the sound.

“A good console reveals itself pretty quickly,” he starts. “All you have to do is position the microphones correctly, connect the lines, and raise the faders. A console with a good sound will immediately show its capabilities. Naturally, some post adjustments are necessary—for example, the EQ, the mix, and many other things besides. But right from the start, we know that the channels of this console are capable of giving us a defined sound—and one that is both full and complete.

“This is exactly what happened with the D-Show. I raised the faders and straight away I heard a clear and consistent sound. Later on, I found that the sum of the channels was clean, while still preserving the sound quality of each line. And I discovered that I felt very comfortable working with all of the plug-in processors installed onboard. I remember being very pleasantly surprised by some processors such as the Drawmer TourBuss—in particular, the DL241 and DS201. It was at this point that my opinion started to change and I realised that I could have the convenience of a digital console while preserving the flavour and warm timbre of the best analogue consoles. It wasn’t long before I bought my own D-Show System.”

Since then, Dalama and his D-Show have travelled to numerous cities, and he’s put it to use in a wide variety of stadiums, sports arenas, theatres, and auditoriums. Its reliability and Pro Tools integration have proved to be indispensable, enabling him to create new opportunities for his clients.

"I soon discovered how convenient it was to bring my own Pro Tools system with me on tour and finish each concert with all the tracks recorded in one session. These tracks were later used to produce CDs or DVDs directly for the artists I work with or for Virtual Soundchecks."

Arrival of the VENUE SC48

Over the years, Dalama got used to the convenience of his D-Show System, easily programming shows, saving them for editing, and using the show files in other VENUE systems. His appreciation for the internal processing tools has also grown in the form of plug-ins, which he’s able to easily automate, saving him from having to transport and set up a large number of outboard processors, as was previously the case.

But the world moves on and the nature of production changes with it. There are many smaller, more intimate shows taking place in small theatres and auditoriums all over the world—spaces where it is not always easy to position the larger D-Show System in the right place to mix front of house. And this is where the much more compact VENUE SC48 console fits in nicely, as it offers built-in Pro Tools integration and compatibility with all other VENUE systems.

Avid launched the VENUE SC48 as Dalama was making preparations for David Bisbal’s 2011–2012 acoustic tour, playing to venues in Spain, Latin America, and the USA. Bisbal, accustomed to playing to huge crowds in stadiums, bull-fighting arenas, and similarly large venues, had decided to take a new step in his career and give his fans something exceptional: a series of acoustic concerts to be held mainly in theatres.

Dalama and his technical team had no doubt that the ideal solution was to get a VENUE SC48.

“In those venues with sufficient space, I still use my VENUE D-Show System, which has delivered such great results,” Dalama explains. “However, in smaller spaces, I use my VENUE SC48. An important factor is that I have a sense of complete continuity because I continue to work, virtually, in the same environment that I’m used to.

“I can also record the tracks of the concerts that I mix using the VENUE SC48 system. Although at first only 18 tracks could be recorded, with the new version of the [VENUE 3] software, we can now record up to 32. If these same tracks are used for post production, this makes for a very natural workflow. I simply take the sessions to my Dalamix studio where I have a Pro Tools system and ICON.”

VENUE 3 software offers other new features that got Dalama excited too. “This new version has 32 Aux outputs instead of the previous 16, making the SC48 a great option for mixing monitors in small or medium environments,” he notes. “Another attractive feature of [version] 3 is the option to copy parameters between channels using drag and drop. You can even copy an entire EQ, including the high-frequency and low-frequency filters.”

As a final note, Dalama says that the SC48 console’s size has other unique benefits: “There are other advantages when a system is so small and easy to transport. As with so many engineers in this job, I’m often away from home for long periods of time. Now, with the VENUE SC48, I can program the shows in my own studio, or even at home, and do so using real hardware. As a result, I can take time before the start of tours, or between a series of concerts, to be closer to my family and friends.”