When sound engineer Chris DiCorpo made the switch to Allen & Heath’s dLive platform, he already understood the concept of mixing without a full-fledged dLive control surface. “I had a CDM32 MixRack and an IP-8 controller for a while,” he explained. “I was mixing with just the IP-8 for faders, and a laptop running dLive Director to make deeper configuration changes.”
Compact dLive ‘Wings’ rigs like DiCorpo’s allow for lightweight systems that can easily be transported without sacrificing processing power – since all 128 channels and 64 busses of 96kHz FPGA processing are handled in the MixRack. “I actually did take that system out to the UK for a few shows, which was a cool experience,” he recalled. “I knew this compact setup was the way to go, but I wanted something more robust.”
With some inspiration from custom rigs he had seen on dLive forums, DiCorpo started to brainstorm a new setup that would incorporate a second IP-8 controller for more faders, as well as a Waves DSPRO 1000 he owned to handle audio monitoring. “The plan was to use the Waves card in my CDM32 MixRack to send audio to front of house,” he explained. “I also use a Waves server for some PA processing, but the DEEP plugins in the dLive mean that I generally don’t need to insert Waves on any of my channel strips.”
DiCorpo chose a Mac Mini for his new front of house rig, which runs dLive Director, manages the Waves SoundGrid network, and allows multitrack recording and virtual soundcheck with his DAW. “I just started building from there,” he recalled. “I found a company in Canada that allows you to easily design and order one-off custom aluminum enclosures, so I added the connectors I needed, vents and cooling fans, and two spaces at the top where my IP-8 controllers would sit.”
The two IP-8 controllers are powered using a PoE switch, which also acts as a network interface with the dLive MixRack, computer, and Waves server. A wireless router is also connected to the MixRack, which sits at the stage for performers to control their monitor mixes using mobile devices.
For screens, DiCorpo mounted two 12″ touchscreen monitors on arms that can be removed when the rig is transported. “When I want to disassemble, I just remove the threaded thumb screws and I can lay the monitors on top of the IP-8s,” he explained. “When everything is folded up inside the Pelican case, it weighs about 56 pounds.”
Since IP-8 controllers don’t have as many buttons as a full dLive surface, DiCorpo uses scene changes to alter the functions of the buttons. “The channel buttons default to PAFL and Mute,” he explained. “I reconfigured the buttons in two scenes. In one, they are Select and Mute, in the other they are PAFL and Mix Select. Those two scenes are filtered so they don’t impact any of the other settings on the console, and I can easily flip back and forth with a single button.”
A common question DiCorpo hears when it comes to the IP-8 is how to achieve “sends on faders” for monitor mixes. “Many people assume it’s not possible, but it is,” he confirmed. “You can create a scene for each monitor mix, and assign the faders as Aux sends, rather than Main bus faders. In my layer containing the Aux masters, the 8 buttons across the top select my monitor mix scenes.”
DiCorpo affectionately refers to his custom rig as the “CJD Al2000,” combining his initials, the chemical symbol for Aluminum, and “2000” – to maintain consistency with the official Allen & Heath dLive product naming scheme. “I figured it’s kind of halfway between a dLive C1500 and a C2500,” he clarified. He even added a custom decal for the side of the enclosure.
The completed CJD Al2000 is now getting some mileage, as DiCorpo tours with Boston-based pop-funk band Couch. “Engineers who are familiar with dLive see the IP-8 controllers and can figure out what I’m mixing on,” said DiCorpo, “but still a lot of people ask questions about it and give compliments. It’s a great conversation piece.”