Italy's production sound company, Soundfish, relies on Sound Devices gear to serve a wide range of popular productions, such as X Factor, Top Chef, Italia's Got Talent, and more.
Milan, Italy – The co-founders of Soundfish consider themselves brothers who share the same “passion for life”—being Sound Recordists, but each one got his start because of a common love for music.
“I made my first step in the sound business while playing in a band,” says Daniele Turi, who has set a rhythm for almost two decades as a punk rock drummer. “When I was just 16, I was watching a documentary titled ‘A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica’. When I saw technicians building up the stage, fixing instruments, pushing big black flight cases around, I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”
He landed a job with the largest sound rental equipment company in Turin, and eventually worked his way up to joining bands in European tours with various behind-the-scenes roles, but there was one problem.
“Touring with bands was fun, but it meant I could not play with mine!” So, to dedicate more time to his own music projects, Turi found work as a boom operator for a television series. “That’s how my passion for sound recording was sparked.”
Like Turi, Giacomo “Jimmy” Avanza has been creating music since his teenage years, playing a variety of instruments in different bands, but he says, “I focused both on the work in the studio, electronic music production, audio post-production, and live concerts.”
In the late nineties while pursuing a degree in sound engineering, Avanza met fellow musician and sound enthusiast, Matteo Olivari. “We decided to produce music together,” Olivari says. “In 2001, we founded our first company, Studio Q. I began working as a sound engineer in live gig services.”
Avanza adds, “We worked together first in short movies, working on every step of the soundtrack creation—from production sound to audio-post and scoring.”
Three years later, having developed a stable sound mixing niche in the independent film market of Bologna, the duo founded Suite Sound Design. In 2012, the pair met Turi, which led to the start of Soundfish, a location sound service based in Milan, Italy.
“We all shared a common view and a will to build something really cool in this business,” Avanza says, “so to become partners was a natural step.”
Today, in addition to the co-founding trio, the company boasts a strong team of 20 freelancers, all sound professionals, with a diversified and complementary background ranging from sound recording and mixing to audio post-production. They provide full end-to-end audio services for challenging productions, from large live concerts to reality TV shows, documentaries, and films.
Their portfolio is an impressive list of credits that includes: Top Gear, Master Chef and Bake Off, Italia’s Got Talent and X Factor, The Comedians, Lucky Ladies, and To Rome for Love.
“Our sound recordists are extremely skilled—gentle but tough when needed,” Turi says. “Our key strength is that our team is busy working on different productions every single day. We developed a unique methodology to share knowledge, challenges and solutions. This allows us to operate smoothly for any situation, which has created a company culture around technical excellence.”
With such diverse demands in the ever-changing audio industry, Olivari admits flexibility is crucial. “We always try to be as portable and independent as possible,” he says. “We always try to build the setup with consideration for the smoothness of the workflow and the mindset of ‘Yes, we can’ rather than ‘this is not possible.’”
To achieve success as a professional audio company, the Soundfish co-founders “take pride in the high quality sound kits” that their team uses.
Turi says, “Our equipment is selected based on quality, versatility, and easiness to setup. Sound Devices recorders represent these three requirements.”
“As we spend more time on vans or planes than on set,” Avanza adds, “we like Sound Devices because they are small, rugged and portable.”
Soundfish currently has 15 Sound Devices recorders in their audio arsenal, including the 633, 788T-SSD, 744T and even the PIX-260i, plus accessories like the CL-6, CL8, and the Wingman app.
Turi announces, “Our latest (acquisitions) were a 970 and two 688s. We had to manage lots of tracks on set for a new production, and after comprehensive research, we identified them as the best studio and ENG recording solutions. The sound quality is extremely good, and we love the fact that Sound Devices are really plug and play and easy to set up.”
That production was BakeOff, where the Soundfish team leveraged the Dante protocol and high track count features of the Sound Devices 970. They paired the 970 with a Yamaha QL5, and used 36 channels of Wisycom wireless, which didn’t even come close to maxing out the 970’s 64 tracks of recording capabilities.
“Definitely the 64 tracks and the reliability,” Avanza says, when asked what makes the 970 a standout production recorder. “We’ve used it for reality shows, recording 24-hours a day for three weeks straight without a crash or any overheating problems.”
“We love the Dante protocol,” Turi chimes in.
The 970 is Sound Devices’ top-of-the-line, rack-mountable, multi-track audio recorder. It features simultaneous (or sequential) multi-drive recording of monophonic or polyphonic WAV files from any of its 144 available input connections. These include 64 channels of Ethernet-based Dante or 64 channels of optical/coaxial MADI, eight line-level analog, and eight AES digital.
High track count and reliability is just as important, however, when working from a bag.
Turi says, “The Sound Devices 688 is great! It has got a great sound. It is light and very easy to use with 12 recording tracks. The software is also very fast.”
The 688 is the flagship of the Sound Devices 6-Series of production field mixer/recorders. With 12 inputs, it is capable of recording up to 16 tracks of audio and has both MixAssist and Dugan automixing functionality.
“Big talent shows always demand more and more tracks when they switch from the studio to the outside world,” Avanza explains. “It is common to have more than 24 wireless mics and three booms divided on three recorders in the bags. In reality situations, as contestants split in different groups and chat separately, the story producers are always very happy and surprised that they can follow separate speeches at the same time; Dugan works really well for this kind of situations.”
Avanza adds, “Sound Devices FileSafe™ technology and the switch power source function, when external power is lost, make us feel safe even when we need to record for several hours without any cut.”
FileSafe is a 970 feature that automatically detects and recovers files that did not finalize properly due to unintended drive removal or power loss during recording. Both the 970 and 688 have PowerSafe™ circuitry, which provides a 10-second reserve to enable a safe clean shutdown in the event of complete power loss. The 970 also has redundant powering options for added peace of mind. Likewise, the versatile 688 may be powered in a variety of ways, and the device can seamlessly switch from one to another if necessary.
Paired with their recorders in Orca bags, Soundfish utilizes a host of gear from other leading manufacturers, such as Wisycom receivers, Sennheiser IFB, and Betso timecode. They also use K-Tek coiled boom poles with Schoeps or Sennheiser shotgun mics. But when it comes to their trusted mixer/recorders, consistency is paramount.
“Sound Devices represents our standard feature for recording sound in all the productions that we are working on,” Turi says.
Avanza agrees. “As a service, working with the most commonly used and renown recorders in the market makes our freelancers feel comfortable with our gear.”
Olivari wraps up that thought with, “Soundfish is not only an Italian company, but also a worldwide one. With the spreading of social media and new communication technology, country boundaries are getting thinner. We are putting a huge effort into creating a workflow that is best suitable for productions all over the world.”
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For more info on Soundfish and their latest projects, visit their website, www.soundfish.it, or follow them on Instagram, @soundfishsrl.
Soundfish also produces accessories for location sound, like Viviana Straps. Learn more at www.vivianastraps.com.