After a ten-year hiatus, the renowned English indie rock band, Hard-Fi, made a triumphant return this October with a 13-day nationwide tour. The West London four-piece, celebrated for chart-topping singles like ‘Cash Machine’ and ‘Hard To Beat’, surged back on a wave of genre-defining beats, gracing stages at venues such as the Junction in Cambridge, O2 Academy in Liverpool, Rock City in Nottingham, and the iconic Troxy in London. Front of House Engineer, Sam Parker, and Monitor Engineer, Bertie Hunter, deployed a DiGiCo Quantum 225 and SD12 digital mixing console respectively, supplied by CS Audio, ensuring that each show delivered a brilliant auditory experience.
Reflecting on his induction into the band, Parker recalls being recruited by Hard-Fi’s management before their debut album release in 2005. “I remember receiving a demo CD of songs, and then I was formally introduced to the band,” he says. “During those early days, the touring setup was limited to a two-person crew – myself handling FOH duties alongside a tour manager/driver. Within the first year, the band upgraded to a tour bus and an expanded crew, which included Paul [Hatt, CS Audio] managing monitors, Jason [Hyde] as LD, and additional backline support.”
Having known Hatt for over 20 years during their time working with Hard-Fi and Groove Armada, Parker highlights that when Hatt moved from his role as a monitoring engineer to assuming control of his family’s PA and rental company business, CS Audio, they continued to actively seek opportunities to collaborate.
“My father was an incredibly talented sound engineer who worked with some of the world’s most renowned musical stars, including Tina Turner, Cliff Richard, and The Shadows,” explains Hatt. “He retired while I was still freelancing for Hard-Fi and other bands and artists. I made the decision to take over the company at a pivotal moment, when digital consoles were gaining momentum and stepping up a gear in their functionality. I began renting consoles to the bands I worked with, integrating them into their setups by taking them on the trailer alongside the backline. From that point, the business has organically expanded.”
Initially owned a DiGiCo SD8, Hatt expanded his inventory by purchasing an SD12 when it first came out.
“The SD12 was a game-changer,” he shares. “It swiftly established itself as the go-to console in its class, outshining competitors with its enhanced capabilities, especially as DiGiCo had introduced a second screen to such a compact desk. It seamlessly integrated into trailer tours and support tours, and quickly became an industry standard.”
The success of the first purchase led to acquiring a second, then a third SD12. This progression culminated in the addition of Quantum consoles, with Hatt adding a Quantum 338 and Quantum 225 to the company’s roster, which he purchased through Core Pro.. He hasn’t looked back since and has just acquired a “shiny new SD Rack”, which has already gone out on tour with another famous UK singer the company works with.
As Hatt took a step back from mixing to concentrate fully on his company’s business, Parker enlisted skilled Monitor Engeer, Hunter. The Hard-Fi tour marked Hunter’s first time working with both the band and CS Audio.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure!” he says.“The CS Audio package was of the highest standardThe SD12 is a fantastic console and a perfect choice power and size-wise for this type of academy tour where things sometimes have to squeeze into smaller spaces. Paul’s support has also been first-class.
”We had around 30 inputs and output-wise there were four band mixes and two tech mixes. One of my favourite functions on the SD12 is the Processing Matrix, which is instrumental for building an efficient talk system between the band and crew.
Parker echoes Hunter’s assertions, reiterating their preference for DiGiCo consoles, and noting that the Quantum 225 and SD12 were perfectly suited for the Hard-Fi tour. “We gravitated towards DiGiCo due to our longstanding familiarity with the brand,” he explains. “The Quantum 225 and SD12 were ideal for us, particularly because of the need for smaller footprint consoles.” The two consoles were connected via Madi to independent MQ Racks, ensuring complete autonomy within a condensed setup.
Additionally, Parker found the All-Pass filters within the Mustard EQ section incredibly useful. “The DiGiCo consoles proved invaluable in seamlessly blending guitar mics and Radial JDX sources, as well as harmonising the drum close mics with Austrian Audio OC818 overheads,” he adds. “The All-Pass filters were brilliant at tackling these tasks.”
CS Audio has been incredibly busy post-Covid, “It’s been pretty non-stop,” says Hatt, “especially here in the UK where we’ve been busier than ever before. There definitely hasn’t been a lack of shows. Quite the opposite, and our DiGiCo consoles have been working incredibly hard.” Hatt emphasises that their investment in DiGiCo is not solely due to market demand, but also because it represented a “safer investment” due to the consoles’ future-proof nature. He highlights their longevity, excellent functionality, the new Quantum 225’scompact size, and the reliable support that DiGiCo is known for.
“One of the big differences with DiGiCo is that there’s always someone at the end of the phone, and they’re totally geared towards you as a live sound operator,” he concludes. “They understand the immediacy of something going wrong in the field needing to be resolved. And there’s always a solution. It’s reassuring to know that the company understands what you are trying to do. I think that’s the key difference and the reason why they’ve gained such popularity in the industry.”
Maria Fiorellino at DiGiCo
Tel: +44 1372 845600
Sarah James at Gasoline Media
Tel: +44 1483 223333
One of the big differences with DiGiCo is that there's always someone at the end of the phone
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