Oxfordshire, UK – June 2017… One of the most gratifying aspects of working in the studio or out on the road is when a piece of equipment suddenly reveals its ability to satisfy other needs. Sound engineer Jamie Mckivitt can certainly attest to this, having found his JoeCo BLACKBOX BBP1B Players to be invaluable in more ways than one.
Based in Oxfordshire, Mckivitt (known simply as Mck) is not only a studio engineer, but also a road warrior of repute – most recently touring as a tech with Bring Me the Horizon. The Sheffield quintet (often referred to simply as BMTH) have built a solid following over the course of 13 years and five albums, thanks in no small part to their fiery live act.
Mck began using the BLACKBOX BBP1B Player two years ago, and has increasingly relied upon them since. The BBP1B delivers replay of 24 channels (64 when using MADI or Dante™ versions) of high quality broadcast WAV audio at up to 24-bit/96kHZ from a compact 1U rack-mounted package. Initially, says Mck, the players were intended “just as a reliable and redundant playback system for basic track reinforcement: click tracks, intros, interludes and so on.”
But as the band continued around the globe on tours taking in Europe, North and South America, Russia, Asia and Australia, the BBP1B began to provide a vital function in supporting BMTH’s use of video walls. Specifically, the BLACKBOX Player’s ability to be triggered in multiple ways – using timecode, footswitch, QWERTY keyboard, or MIDI commands – started to come into its own.
“We began to sync the video walls to the JoeCo unit by using analogue LTC timecode, which was aligned with each song and sent to FOH, where the ‘super video and sound man combined’, Oliver Hutchinson, would plug into Resolume Arena Media Server for video playback,” recalls Mckivitt. “It worked so well and reliably that the lighting designer, Ben Inskip, decided he would begin using his show to timecode so he could pay more attention each night without having to fire off every queue and deliver a better, more exciting look and add to it each day.”
Henceforth, the stability of the JoeCo BLACKBOX Player has allowed the team to “run the show” with a complete absence of fuss. “And I’m happy to report that it has never ever stopped,” says Mckivitt, who has also used the JoeCo to provide some vocal cues and pitches.
The support of Simon Lowther from JoeCo’s UK distributor, MSL Professional, and SSE Audio (which devised a bespoke multipin to enable rapid patching and unpatching at festivals) is also acknowledged as Mckivitt praises the robustness and reliability of the BLACKBOX Player. “It really is a very well-built product,” he says. “On the road they have gone in and out of a truck, been carried onto aeroplanes, generally freighted about, and always turned on with no complaints whatsoever.”