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THE

BROADCAST  INTERNET AUDIO  MULTIMEDIA  POST PRODUCTION  RECORDING

GUIDE TO
A Special Promotional Publication From Intent Media

Theatre

Sound 2014

Produced By:

In association with:

INTERNA TIONAL EDITION

CONTENTS

Sign up for your digital AM at www.audiomedia.com

>>> CONTENTS

May Issue 2014

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Welcome to the first ever International Guide


to Theatre Sound. A new addition to our series
of informational and promotional Guides, this
publication will help you navigate through the
growing market for theatre-specific pro-audio kit.

Theatre Control: Digital Consoles


Case Studies: National Theatre &
Kammerspiele Vienna

8
Case Studies:
Tonights The Night & I Cant Sing

9
Sennheiser

10
PreSonus

14
Critical Characteristics for
Theatre Microphones

16
Case Studies: The BodyGuard &
The Commitments

For more details visit www.audiomedia.com


Jory MacKay, Audio Media

18
Theatre Loudspeakers:
Consistency and Flexibility

22

>>> MEET THE TEAM


> Commercial Director

Manufacturer Directory

Darrell Carter
darrell.carter@intentmedia.co.uk

>ADVERTISER INDEX
Advertiser

Page

Allen & Heath

19

Cadac

DiGiCo

5, 12-13,23

DPA

Waves

15

PreSonus

24

Radial Engineering

17

www.audiomedia.com

Unlike their counterparts in other sectors of the live performance industry,


the motto of the theatre sound engineer is to be heard and not seen.
While productions traditionally relied on the vocal strength of the actors
and singers, the demand for bigger shows has led to advancements
across the entire theatre sound workflow from sound reinforcement to
microphones, to consoles.
The theatre community has embraced digital technologies
wholeheartedly, relying heavily on the advancements in digital consoles
to allow for quick recall of settings, playback of sound effects and music,
and control of the sound from any number of actors on stage. But what
do you need for your production? What about microphone choices,
wireless spectrum issues, or even the choice of loudspeaker to best suit
your production?
Thats where this guide comes in. Within the pages of the 2014
Theatre Sound Guide youll find informative and promotional articles
on the current offering of all of the components needed to pull off a
successful production, from consoles, to microphones, to loudspeakers.
Alongside promotional articles from the top brands in theatre sound,
weve put together a number of articles showing how kit is being used in
the real world at some of the worlds largest theatres, from The Theater
at Madison Square Garden to the National Theatre in London. Lastly,
weve also included a manufacturer index at the back for your reference.
Whether youre a sound designer or operator, this guide will help you find
the kit thats right for you.
This guide, along with the others in the series (DAWS & Plug-ins,
Microphones, Monitors & Headphones, Broadcast Audio, and Consoles)
are Audio Media projects and are designed to help you navigate your way
through the swaths of products currently available.

> Editor
Jory MacKay
jory.mackay@intentmedia.co.uk

> Group Head of Design & Production


Adam Butler
adam.butler@intentmedia.co.uk

> Production Executive


Jason Dowie
jason.dowie@intentmedia.co.uk

AUDIO MEDIA (UK)


Audio Media is published by
Intent Media London,
1st Floor, Suncourt House,
18-26 Essex Road,
London N1 8LN, England.
www.audiomedia.com
Telephone: 020 7354 6001
www.nbmedia.com

> Designer
Jat Garcha
jat.garcha@intentmedia.co.uk
The contents of this publication are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or in part, whether
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accuracy in the preparation of this publication but neither NewBay Media nor the Editor can be held responsible for its contents or
any omissions. The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the Publishers or Editor.
The Publishers accept no responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, or artwork.
2014 NewBay Media. All rights reserved.

May 2014 03

THEATRE CONSOLES

Source Control Central


Steve Harvey talks to four theatre sound engineers about the flexibility provided by digital consoles.

igital audio consoles, with their nearinstant reset capabilities and powerful
DSP, are ideally suited to theatre
environments, where quick changes between
events or between scenes in a performance are
commonplace. Use a digital desk in such an
application and you will likely wonder how you
ever managed with an analogue board.
I used to do the Grand Ole Opry with a
pair of Paragons! laughs Kyle OConnor, an
engineer at the Country Music Hall of Fame
and Museum. Were spoiled now.
According to OConnor, flexibility and the
ability to quickly reset the entire console were
important criteria for the selection of an Avid
Venue SC48 for the institutions new 800-seat
CMA Theater. Our theatre has been open
for six months now, and weve done everything
from R&B bands, orchestras, and corporate
shows to solo acoustic artists, he says.
In fact, the venue acquired three SC48s plus
a Profile from Avid, allowing the audio crew
to provide whatever system is required at any
of the three performance spaces, which also
includes the 1,200-capacity Event Hall and the
compact Ford Theater.
On shows where Ive got a band
performance followed by video playback
followed by audio playback followed by an
orchestra, the faders can be where I want them
and everything can be on pages, he elaborates.
I do a lot of shows where record labels or
management groups will showcase six, seven,
eight acts. A band will play, then someone will
talk at the podium while the next band is setting
up. I can use recall saves and keep the channels
I need hot while editing other scenes for other
bands, bouncing back and forth, all without
losing time or having to stop the show.
In late 2013, New Jersey-based proaudio sales, rental, and installation company
Boulevard Professional installed a pair of
compact Yamaha CL5 digital audio consoles
one at FOH, the other at monitors at the
Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC)
in Englewood, NJ. In a theatre like
bergenPAC, or any roadhouse where there
are multiple acts of every possible genre going
through on a regular basis, the thought was to
get the most flexible audio console possible to
be able to handle as many inputs as possible,
says James Cioffi, co-owner, Boulevard Pro.
Yamahas CL5 is scalable, meaning you
can always add-on inputs with stage boxes,

4 May 2014

Keeping tabs on the Yamaha CL5 installed at bergenPAC are (l-r): Ralph Grasso, monitor tech;
James Cioffi, Boulevard Pro; Joe Feola, tech director; Paul Denise, audio department head

he continues. The bergenPAC system is


configured with 64 inputs and 32 outputs, not
including AES outputs, he says. It could be 48
out; thats very powerful in that footprint.
The ability to fire off scene changes was
also a major attraction for Marc Waithe, audio
supervisor at The Juilliard School at Lincoln
Center for the Performing Arts in New York.
Waithe oversaw the addition of a DiGiCo
SD10T and SD10-24T at the schools Peter
Jay Sharp Theater. With the changeover
between the different shows and sometimes
different days, I can have the set-up change
by the push of a button, rather than having
to physically move everything around on the
console. Thats huge, he says.
Being able to save cues in the board is the
best thing for live theatres. Then I dont have to
mute and unmute everyone individually; I can
just hit one button, says Paul Deutsch, house
sound technician at the Paramount Theater in
St Cloud, MN, which installed a Soundcraft Si3
as part of an all-Harman rig that includes VRX
line arrays and Soundweb system processing.
At bergenPAC, another point in favour of
Yamaha was its Audinate Dante networking
capabilities, according to Cioffi, noting that
bergenPAC controls its Lake processing from
the CL5. In a theatre, there are multiple
zones, and it seemed to be an easy way to have
complete control at somebodys fingertips. Its
embedded in the console with a MY card.
We have a recording department that
records all of the performances in the school,
says Waithe. I run off Optocore for the racks,
but to send to recording, Ill run off the MADI

split. The fact that the new V6 software allows


me to change the MADI stream, so I can send
any input to any MADI outputs, was huge, too.
Well send a feed of whatever mics we have with
the MADI split through an RME interface.
Waithe also uses the Dante Virtual Sound
Card for playback, via two DiGiCo Dante
cards in the stage racks, but has another reason
for utilising the Audinate network: Im
interfacing with the console using MADI-toDante and then coming off the computers back
into the console through a Focusrite RedNet 6
interface; thats a futureproof thing. I have the
Lake LM44 processors, so Im running AES
now, but might move to Dante in the future.
OConnor found the Pro Tools system
integrated into the SC48 to be of use when
initially setting up the theatres PA rig. We
could listen to individual inputs and band
mixes in the room before the first show and see
how the room reacted, and get it dialed in as
we needed before even getting any musicians
involved, he adds.
The Pro Tools system can also host plugins, of course. We use the standard plug-in
package. I also have the C6 from Waves.
Ive had that for years; its my go-to, saveeverything plug-in, says OConnor.
Paramount Theaters Si3 came standard with
four Lexicon effects engines, while bergenPACs
CL5 includes an Effect Rack with VCM
analogue circuitry modeling and a Premium
Rack that includes Rupert Neve Designs Portico
plug-ins; at The Julliard School, Waithe is
running a SoundGrid server with the SD10T
system to host Waves plug-ins.
The International Guide To Theatre Sound 2014

CASE STUDIES

Londons National Theatre


Goes Digital with Sennheiser
Just over 50 years on from its first ever performance, the
National Theatre is still going strong helped in part by the recent
addition of Sennheisers Digital 9000 Series microphones.
Theres a real energy in our department and
creating relationships with suppliers is part
of that, says the National Theatres head of
sound and video Jonathan Suffolk, who has
been instrumental in continuing the facilitys
history of technical knowhow and foresight.
The NT has a long-standing relationship
with Sennheiser, going back to the early 90s
when we migrated from Micron microphones
to Sennheiser, he says. The Olivier Theatre
is full of Sennheiser equipment and we use
them for many of the Oliviers shows.
However, last year, when work started
on the production of The Light Princess in the
Lyttelton Theatre, we considered whether to
hire or buy additional radio mics, he adds.
We felt that working at the cutting edge
of technology was very much in the spirit
of what the NT is about not always using
equipment wed relied on previously.
To that end, and with the encouragement
of theatre sound designer and NT sound
department member Mike Walker, Suffolk
and his team felt they should fully embrace

the digital audio domain.


Having Mike on the team is really
important, says Suffolk. Hes a purist when
it comes to sound. When the 9000 Series was
produced, his report to us was glowing and he
brought it to the theatre for us to consider.
There were concerns about potential
latency with a digital system, concerns which
were more instinctive than scientific. We
decided the best way to allay that fear was
to have a shoot out, which we did between
Sennheiser and another microphone brand.
Both systems were great, but the audio quality
of the Sennheiser 9000 was astonishing, it
was fully digital and compander-less.
Sennheiser is quite technical in
its approach to the development of its
equipment, he continues. But where they
focus their efforts is on the quality of the
audio and that is absolutely apparent in the
9000 Series. There were moments on The
Light Princess [the first production on which
it was used] where 18 mics were being used at
the same time. The quality of the sound was

The production of The Light Princess


featured 18 of Sennheisers 9000 Series mics

extraordinary. (Sound designer Simon Baker


has received an Olivier Award nomination for
his sound design.)
To date, Sennheisers 9000 Series has
been used on The Light Princess and From
Morning to Midnight, and is currently
being used simultaneously on Home in The
Shed (fittingly, a temporary venue slated as
celebrating new theatre that is adventurous,
ambitious, and unexpected) and Silver Tassie
in the Lyttelton Theatre.
www.sennheiser.co.uk

Stagetec Polaris touch Moves Into Kammerspiele Vienna


During the summer break of the touring season last year Kammerspiele Vienna underwent a full
refurbishment including additional loudspeakers and an updated audio control room.
As part of the refurbishments of the 471-seat
Kammerspiele Vienna theatre, Salzbrenner
Stagetec Mediagroup was commissioned to
install the audio technology and parts of the
video technology. The company chose to equip
the theatre with a portable Polaris touch audio
console, which is operating in combination with
a CAS Mix, the predecessor to the Polaris touch
(which has been in operation at the Viennese
theatre for the past 10 years and was recently
upgraded from four to six DSP boards).
The Polaris touch takes over as the main
console responsible for mixing the wireless
microphones and orchestra, while the CAS
Mix, permanently installed in the sound control
room, handles all playbacks. A unique factor
of the install is that the CAS Mix and Polaris
touch use the same DSP unit, which is possible
as the CAS Mix DSP unit can be accessed in
parallel by up to four control surfaces.
6 May 2014

Opening night of Catch Me If You Can


Credit: Rita Newman

The theatres sound reinforcement system


was partly revised and complemented by new
components with the Nexus audio router now
distributing all signals to the power amplifiers
with connection to the DAWs, SFXs, wall
panels, as well as the entire sound control room.
New Alcons Audio QR36/QR18 line-source
systems have been installed along with Kling &
Freitag loudspeakers.

The first show to take advantage of the


set-up at Kammerspiele Vienna was the
European premiere of the Scott Wittman/Marc
Shaiman/Terrence McNally show Catch Me
If You Can. The show was directed by Werner
Sobotka and featured Martin Berger as FBI
agent Carl Hanrattat, and Rasmus Borkowski
as Frank Abagnale Jr.
www.stagetec.com
The International Guide To Theatre Sound 2014

CASE STUDIES

Sound Innovation on I Cant Sing


The irreverent new musical based on the X Factor recently opened at The London Palladium,
featuring an innovative sound design by Gareth Owen, with kit supplied by Orbital Sound.
For the new musical I Cant Sing, sound
designer Gareth Owen specified d&b
audiotechniks J-Series speakers for the first
time on a West End production, as well as
building a one-of-a-kind 256-channel mixer
and a proprietary surround sound system.
The FOH system is configured with seven
J8s with two J12s aside, complemented by
V-Series cabinets in the gallery and T-Series for
the centre cluster. Describing it as a challenging
show, Owen explains why he chose the J-Series:
There is no other theatrical venue in London
quite like the Palladium, and we wanted a
system that would deliver the power we needed
without sounding loud. The major advantage
with a box the size of the J-Series is that it
lets you do this it combines extremely high
output and headroom with d&bs customary
transparent and detailed audio performance.
The mixer is based on two Avid Profiles, a

MADI matrix system, and custom software,


as Owen explains: There quite simply wasnt
anything else available that would give us the
channel count, the native handling of plug-ins
and the programming flexibility. This show
features so many different styles of music with
very quick changes between numbers. Using the
plug-in racks, we can change mode really fast.
Owen and his team are intent on pushing
the boundaries of what is considered to be

best theatrical sound practice. In the case of


I Cant Sing, this involved coming up with
some unconventional new techniques. Another
unique feature involves the surround sound
system, with the objective of giving every seat
in the house the full surround mix. Using a
proprietary MaxDSP-based control system, it
involved a lot of cunning speaker placement,
and custom-designed software to get the result.
The show also included a technical first, in
connection with the communications specified
for The London Palladium Orbital Sound
supplied a Clear-Com FreeSpeak digital radio
comms system, configured with 12 fully duplex
multichannel beltpacks and six antennas. The
system, which uses multiple linked reception
cells, has enabled coverage around the theatre
connecting the venues communications
comprehensively for the first time.
www.orbitalsound.com

Tonights the Night for Yamaha


Ben Eltons Tonights The Night The Rod Stewart Musical is currently on a major UK tour
with a Yamaha CL5 at the helm.
Originally staged in London a decade ago,
Tonights The Night is currently on its second
UK tour. After the success of the Yamaha
PM1D that was specified by sound designer
Rory Madden of RM Sound Design for the
2006 tour, the CL5 was the obvious choice for
this outing.
The CL5, a Rio3224-D, and two
Rio1608-D i/o units were supplied by Orbital
Sound, with associate sound designer Jon
Sealey operating the show.
The advantages of both a console and
multicore which are much easier to handle
are obvious, especially on an intensive tour
where there is just six hours for the get in and
soundcheck, he says. The CL5 is just a twoman lift, even in its flightcase, which means
less time lumping gear around and more time
doing sound.
The R-series i/o units handle 24 inputs
from the six-piece live band, plus 28 from cast
wireless mics and a pair of acoustic guitars.
The cast play the acoustic guitars themselves,
says Sealey. Its a nice way of bringing the
music right into the narrative.
An interface in one of the CL5s MY
8 May 2014

expansion card slots allows the band to use an


Aviom personal mixing system. It didnt take
the musicians long to be happy with it and it
saves us so much time. Its an instant link - one
Cat5 cable and its done, says Sealey.
One of the challenges of mixing the
show is that the audience largely comprises
Rod Stewart fans who are up for a raucous
singalong, but the production has a surprising
amount of light and shade.
The audience come expecting it to be loud
and upfront, like a live gig, but at the same
time the director wants it to be quite natural,
he continues. Its a very dynamic show and

we have to find the balance between making


the dialogue come across naturally, ensuring
that the audience can hear the words over
six excellent musicians, while delivering the
excitement of the songs.
Sealey has been particularly impressed
with the dynamic EQ in the CL5s Premium
Rack effects. Its been a lifesaver. Were using
DPA 4066 headset microphones, which are
very close to the mouth, and the EQ is really
good for that, he says. The Premium Rack is
fantastic, its been a real help to keep outboard
to a minimum and cut down our footprint.
www.yamahacommercialaudio.com
The International Guide To Theatre Sound 2014

SENNHEISER

Sign up for the Audio Media service at www.audiomedia.com

The British National Theatre


is among the stages that have
opted for Digital 9000

Sennheiser A Passion for Sound


From large theatre productions to cabaret, and from big live shows to intimate club gigs:
Sennheiser microphones ensure optimum live sound for any stage.
A passion for the job is the common
denominator in the entertainment business,
from the manufacturers of audio equipment
to sound designers, and from audio engineers
to actors and artists. This passion is almost
palpable at Sennheiser, and is reflected by
the products the company offers for stages big
and small.

www.audiomedia.com

THE MUSIC STAGE


Whether wireless or wired: stage microphones
need to be rugged, reliable tools for the live
sound engineer. On the wired side of things,
Sennheisers evolution series has become a
standard on stages around the world, covering
the entire backline and offering a wide choice
of vocal microphones. The series comprises the
600 line instrument and 800 line vocal mics
as well as the e 900 series of both vocal and
instrument mics, with such acclaimed models
as the e 935 vocal microphone. The evolution
mics are joined on stage by such all-time
classics as the MD 421 a firm favourite on
guitar amps, toms, and wind instruments and
recent additions to the portfolio such as the
MK 4 large-diaphragm mic, which excels at
vocals, acoustic instruments, guitar amps,
and drums.
As regards wireless microphone systems,
large touring productions will rely on
Sennheisers 3000, 5000, and 9000 series
wireless systems, while the smaller live stage
usually works with 2000 series and evolution
wireless which include the mic heads from

their famed wired counterparts. For wireless


monitoring, Sennheiser offers its industry
standard evolution wireless G3 IEM and 2000
series IEM systems.

WIRELESS SYSTEMS MANAGER


To monitor and remotely control wireless
microphone and monitoring systems,
Sennheiser offers its customers a free
software programme: the Wireless Systems
Manager. This allows the engineer to
import and export frequency plans, preprogramme systems prior to an event, scan
the radio environment on site, get frequency
recommendations for mics, IEMs, and
spares, and much more.

[ ]

THE THEATRE STAGE


Frequency-agile, reliable wireless transmission,
high-quality audio, and inconspicuous micing
are key for theatre microphone systems.
Sennheiser wireless systems have been
designed with these requirements in mind,
and have become synonymous with reliable
multi-channel transmission in complex RF
environments.
Destined to become a reference standard
throughout the theatre production industry,
Sennheisers Digital 9000 is the only digital
wireless system able to transmit uncompressed
audio in the UHF range, thus enabling
sound designers to set up professional multichannel systems in the digital realm. The
system consists of the EM 9046 eight-channel
receiver (328 MHz switching bandwidth) and
a choice of bodypack or handheld transmitter.
The compact bodypack can be combined with
Sennheisers well-established range of subminiature microphones such as the MKE 1
or MKE 2.

Other firm favourites for theatre


productions include the 5000/3000 series with
the EM 3072-II dual-channel receiver and SK
5212 bodypack transmitter and the 2000 series
with its EM 2050 dual-channel receiver and
the SK 2000 bodypack.

INFORMATION

Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG


t +49 (5130) 600 0
w www.sennheiser.com
Sennheiser UK Ltd

t +44 (0) 1628 402 200


w www.sennheiser.co.uk

May 2014 9

PRESONUS AUDIO ELECTRONICS

PreSonus StudioLive
AI-series Loudspeakers
a live show that sounds great in a wide variety of
venues and with virtually any musical genre.
This fantasy has become reality thanks to
a partnership between PreSonus and Fulcrum
Acoustics legendary engineer David Gunness
(formerly of EAW and Electro-Voice). Rather
than take the usual brute-force approach to
PA-speaker design, the team designed a coaxial
loudspeaker that employs Fulcrums specialised
TQ DSP algorithms, which correct acoustical
problems normally associated with coaxial
designs.

Meet the family! Clockwise from top left:


StudioLive 328AI (horizontal), StudioLive 312AI,
StudioLive 315AI, and StudioLive 18sAI subwoofer

THE COACTUAL SOLUTION


All full-range StudioLive AI systems employ
an 8in midrange driver and 1.75in titanium
compression driver configured in a proprietary
coaxial design called CoActual. CoActual
speakers reproduce transients with very little
change in the shape of the waveform, and unlike
conventional designs, they have an inaudible
crossover transition, both off- and on-axis.
This produces superior intelligibility, so
the audience can hear the lyrics and feel the
percussion; less distortion at high soundpressure levels, resulting in more volume
without pain and a less fatiguing listening
experience.
THE FUTURE IS ACTIVE INTEGRATION
Products that work together via wireless
and wired communication, are seamlessly
integrated with software, and run on CPUs far

PreSonus StudioLive AI-series Active Integration coaxial


loudspeakers and subwoofers are the first affordable, active
PA speaker systems that deliver studio-monitor accuracy
exceptionally clear, coherent sound at high sound-pressure levels
and offer sophisticated networking and iPad control.
PreSonus StudioLive AI-series 3-way,
coaxial, active PA loudspeakers employ highend DSP technology to deliver studio-monitor
accuracy at high SPLs, with amazing imaging
and without distortion. There are three fullrange speakers in the series, distinguished by
woofer size, plus an 18-inch subwoofer.
These loudspeakers offer system-control
and performance-monitoring features that
give you unprecedented control, thanks to SL
Room Control, a free speaker-management and
remote-control/monitoring software for Mac,
10 May 2014

Windows, and iPad. The speakers are ready


to network out of the box; just add a laptop or
iPad, a wireless router, and user-friendly SL
Room Control.
STUDIOLIVE: STUDIO SOUND
ON STAGE
StudioLive AI-series loudspeakers are the
first affordable, active PA speakers that deliver
studio-monitor accuracy exceptionally clear,
coherent sound on stage, while supplying the
features and protection systems required to mix

The rear of the StudioLive 312AI reveals an


assortment of I/O jacks and controls for many
of the features. Many more features can be
accessed via free SL Room Control software
The International Guide To Theatre Sound 2014

Sign up for your digital AM at www.audiomedia.com

PRESONUS AUDIO ELECTRONICS

subwoofers but a lot louder, thanks to a


more powerful than competitors
1,000 watt, Class D power amplifier. It adds
current audio products PreSonus
up to punchy, round-sounding lows that
has realised this dream with its new
make kick drums, basses, and other bottomActive Integration technology.
dwelling sounds come alive.
Each StudioLive AI speaker
Full-range StudioLive AI speakers are
contains a computer with enough
phase- and time-aligned to create a true fourprocessing power to handle the TQ
way system when paired with a StudioLive
algorithms for tuning the coaxial
18sAI subwoofer, with or without the 100 Hz
system while providing extensive
highpass filter engaged. But the StudioLive
remote control over system
18sAI works well with other powered
performance, EQ, and much more.
loudspeakers, too. Connections include stereo
Since StudioLive AI speakers
line inputs (XLR/0.25in combo) and fullhave more DSP than a rackrange, switchable stereo/summed-mono line
mounted speaker-management
outputs (XLR).
system, you dont need
On SL Room Controls Speaker Edit page, you can create
external processing devices.
settings for each individual speaker. Other pages let you create
COMING SOON: THE DIVINE
Furthermore, the networking
settings for groups of speakers and for the entire system.
INTERFACE
and communications features
Active Integration doesnt stop at remote
SL Room Control lets you group speakers
make Active Integration products incredibly
control. Swap out your StudioLive
in order to manage specific parts of the system,
convenient to use.
loudspeakers Ethercon control card for the
then save all settings for the entire system in a
StudioLive Dante upgrade, and you can ditch
single preset. Create settings for each speaker,
REMOTE-CONTROL EVERYTHING
those analogue cables. Audinates Dante is
for speaker groups, and for the entire system.
Every StudioLive AI-series speaker includes
a combination of software, hardware, and
wired and wireless communications. The
network protocols designed to transfer many
MEET THE FAMILY
included USB Wi-Fi LAN adapter enables
channels of uncompressed, low-latency digital
The StudioLive AI series consists of three fullwireless networking with a router. Wired
audio over relatively long distances and to
range systems and a subwoofer. Each employs a
communications are provided via an installed
option card with an Ethercon port that connects CoActual system with a woofer, driven by 2,000 multiple locations, using a standard
Ethernet network.
watts of triamped, Class D amplification.
to your Ethernet-based LAN network.
The StudioLive 312AI features a 12in
The master control centre resides in SL
ferrite woofer. Its perfect for mains when used
Room Control, a rich, easy-to-use, systemconfiguration application for Mac, Windows, with a subwoofer, and it makes a great sidefill
or floor monitor. If you need more woof,
and iPad that offers individual and group
consider the StudioLive 315AI, which features
control of all StudioLive AI-series speakers
INFORMATION
a 15in woofer.
on the network. A Network Setup Wizard
If space and ease of transportation are issues,
automatically detects each speaker and allows
consider the StudioLive 328AI; instead of a
you to quickly connect to your network. Once
PreSonus Audio Electronics
single woofer, it pairs two 8in midrange drivers
connected, you can easily create, edit, save, and
PreSonus Audio Electronics
to deliver surprising low end.
recall speaker-setup parameters.
18011 Grand Bay Court
The rear of each full-range system sports
Baton Rouge, LA 70809 USA
For each speaker, SL Room Control
a combo XLR/TRS line input and an XLR
accesses a 500 ms alignment delay with 0.1 ms
T: +1 225 216 7887
microphone input with an XMAX Class A
increments, 8-band parametric EQ, 8 notch
F: +1 225 926 8347
W: www.presonus.com/products/
filters to eliminate feedback (full-range systems), mic preamplifier and 12V phantom power, as
live-sound-reinforcement
well as an XLR mix output to connect multiple
control of input level to set a hard limit on a
United Kingdom & Ireland
speakers. In addition, you get speaker levelspeakers output, a 100 Hz highpass filter (fullSource Distribution (UK distributor)
attenuation control and USB and Ethercon
range systems), polarity reverse (subwoofer),
Unit 6, Pembroke Buildings
connections.
Cumberland House Business Park
and muting, solo, and output level. You also can
London UK NW10 6RE
Each full-range enclosure is pole-mountable
select DSP contours that change the character
and has ergonomic side handles, interlocking
of each speaker to customise for different
T: +44 020 8962 5080
F: +44 020 8968 3218
stacking, and M10 fly points. Dual-position
applications, such as FOH, floor monitor, and
E: sales@sourcedistribution.co.uk
pole mounts for the 312AI and 328AI allow you
compensating for artifacts when playing MP3s.
W: www.sourcedistribution.co.uk
to mount the speaker atop a stand or StudioLive
Every setting is immediately stored onboard
Germany & Benelux
18sAI subwoofer at 90 degrees or at a 10-degree
the loudspeaker in a User Layer. You can
Hyperactive Audiotechnik GmbH
downward tilt.
Neukirchner Str. 18
configure your system and then disconnect SL
65510 Hnstetten, Germany
Room Control without changing the sound.
GET DOWN WITH THE
You can remotely monitor key performance
T: +49 (6126) 95 36 50
F: +49 (6126) 95 36 569
STUDIOLIVE 18SAI
indicators in real time for each speaker on the
E: info@hyperactive.de
The StudioLive 18sAI active, 18in ferrite
network: real-time temperature, driver overW: www.hyperactive.de
subwoofer gets down to 35 Hz (-6 dB) with
excursion, and signal levels that are too hot for
an accuracy usually found only in studio
the converters.

www.audiomedia.com

May 2014 11

THEATRE MICROPHONES

The famed La Jolla Playhouse at the


University of California, San Diego
has been using a slew of 2011C twin
diaphragm cardioids as foot mics

Critical Characteristics for


Theatre Microphones
The right microphone choices can make or break a theatre
production, writes Steve Harvey.

ir Winston Churchills famous comment


about blood, sweat, and tears not only
symbolises the effort that goes into
any theatrical production but also represents
a shortlist of just some of the challenges that
may be encountered by microphones used in
that environment. As if that werent enough,
microphones in theatrical applications must
often also be impervious to the vagaries of the
wireless frequency spectrum, endure hours of
constant use, and be nearly invisible. Oh, and
they had better sound great, too.
Speaking of blood, Carrie: The Musical,
based on Stephen Kings bestselling novel,
features a bucket of it. At the musicals west
coast premiere at The Victoria Theatre in San
Francisco in late 2013, the actor playing Carrie
had four gallons of fake blood dumped on her
at every performance.
San Francisco-based Sound Productions
supplied 21 Countryman E6i omnidirectional
earset microphones as part of the sound design
and engineering services that the company
provided. Anton Hedman, general manager
of Sound Productions and owner of Hedman
Sound, reports that one E6i was hidden
in Carries tiara for the prom scene. We
positioned the mic face down and protected
it with a funnel-shaped wrap of medical tape
around the capsule and a solid wrap around the
ear connection to repel most of the liquid. We
were all amazed at how well it worked!
He adds: We typically use these mics with
Shure SLX, ULX, UR, and ULXD wireless

14 May 2014

systems and, together, they make a great


combination.
Carl Casella, sound designer at Sound
Associates, a sound equipment rental and sales
house with locations in the New York City
area, is also a fan of Shures ULX-D system.
Casella recently wrapped a production of A
Night with Janis Joplin at the Lyceum Theater
on Broadway.
In the [radio spectrum] space of three
conventional microphones, you can fit 32 of
their digital ones, says Casella of the ULX-D
digital wireless system. Having used it on the
shows regional tour, he says, he was adamant
about retaining the system for its Broadway run.
It was so reliable and so bulletproof. I
said, I just want to stay with the ULX. In
New York, we added all the guitars on it also,
he says. Its served me well for 18 months
without a problem.
Since its founding in 1947, La Jolla
Playhouse, a storied complex of theatres
located on the campus of the University of
California, San Diego, has produced 44 world
premieres, 24 west coast premieres, and seven
US premieres, reportedly sending more shows
to Broadway than all other theatres in the
country combined. Serving as both teaching
facilities for the schools dramatic arts students
and as a venue for professional productions,
the Playhouse acquired a selection of DPA
microphones during 2013, including 2011C
twin diaphragm cardioids and 4061/4062
omni-directional miniature mics.

According to Joe Huppert, sound and video


supervisor for the UCSD department for theatre
and dance and the La Jolla Playhouse, the venue
often works with Broadway sound designers
on the premieres of new productions. They
always expect us to have DPA microphones,
he reports. We look for a realistic, somewhat
intimate, sound reinforcement environment
where we need high-quality sound rather than
high levels of sound. All of the DPA mics that
Ive encountered have filled these needs.
The DPA mics are typically deployed as
foot mics and on instruments at the Playhouse.
Weve used some other brands as foot mics,
but we found them to be much more difficult
to EQ and get a good sound, says Huppert.
When we throw in a really good mic, like
DPA, it makes it easier for us to teach our
students how to get a good production.
According to Eric Stahlhammer, the
theatres sound designer and owner of Greater
Sound Designs: The DPA mics are just
way better in terms of flatter response, full
coverage, and off-axis response.
When he elected to use the 2011C model
for the Second City Comedy Troupe, says
Stahlhammer: We didnt have an issue
with feedback and what was going into the
microphone was clean from the PA.
Mindful of the impending FCC auction
that could soon see wireless mic users moved
out of the 600MHz frequency spectrum,
David Hallock, production manager at the
Park City School Districts Eccles Center
for the Performing Arts in Park City, UT,
recommended the purchase of a Lectrosonics
system in autumn 2013. The centre purchased
18 Lectrosonics LMa beltpack transmitters,
six HH handheld transmitters, three Venue
mainframe systems fully loaded with VRS
receiver modules, and a pair of ALP650 LPDA
antennas.
The very narrow band transmission
capabilities of the transmitters, along with the
rock-solid stability of the companys Digital
Hybrid Wireless system, made this equipment
the ideal choice for futureproofing ourselves
against the expected sale of the 600 band of
wireless spectrum, says Hallock. From an
audio quality perspective, Lectrosonics lack
of companding offers truly uncoloured audio
performance and excellent response.
The system proved its value during a student
revival of the popular 1960 musical Bye Bye
Birdie, when it was used in combination with
the centres existing RF equipment. We were
able to run 36 channels for two and a half weeks
with no dropouts. The LMa transmitters held
up to everything the students had to offer
without so much as a scratch, he reports.
The International Guide To Theatre Sound 2014

CASE STUDIES

DPA Stays Invisible for The Bodyguard


Based on the 1992 film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, the hit stage musical
features DPA miniature mics on all cast members.
When it comes to micing musicals and theatre
productions DPA microphones have been
heard (but rarely seen) on numerous shows
from Broadway to Londons West End.
One of the latest productions to join this
club is The Bodyguard, the hit stage musical
written by Alexander Dinelaris and based on
the 1992 film, which is currently playing at the
Adelphi Theatre in London. The Bodyguard
uses DPAs d:screet 4060 omnidirectional
miniature microphones on all members of the
cast who have spoken lines.
Ania Klimowicz, deputy head of sound for
the show, says the d:screet 4060s were chosen
because sound designer Richard Brooker
and director Thea Sharrock didnt want any
microphones to be visible to the audience.
We use paint, tape and make-up on the
mics to make them look as invisible in the
actors hair or wig as possible, Klimowicz
explains. We mainly use mic clips and
occasionally elastic to fix the mics to the
performers head. Male actors with shaved
heads are probably our biggest challenge in
those cases we abandon the usual centre top of
forehead fitting and fit the mic over the ear.
There are 32 actors involved in this
current production of The Bodyguard, with 22

Beverly Knight as Rachel Marron


Credit: Paul Coltas

performing in each show. There is also a 10piece band, a three-person sound crew, and a
backstage cast of 45. When it comes to sound,
the show is operated by one person who live
mixes the band and vocals, as well as firing the
sound effects.
Three members of the cast are double
miced meaning they wear a main and backup
DPA d:screet 4060 head microphone,
Klimowicz says. Some of the girls wear a
headset, a head-mic, and use a handheld
microphone a various points during the show.
Generally the sound for the spoken parts of

the show is reinforced but remains naturalistic.


This contrasts with numbers such as Queen of
the Night or So Emotional, which are set during
concerts and therefore need to feel big and
more rock n roll.
The DPA d:screet 4060 microphones
sound great and are also very reliable. We
rarely have an issue with them, she says.
Occasionally they get damaged and need
replacing, but given the amount of wear
and tear they face on a daily basis, they are
incredibly rugged.
www.dpamicrophones.com

DiGiCo Proves Perfect Solution for The Commitments


A quarter of a century after the film of Roddy Doyles best-selling novel became a resounding
hit, the stage show is proving equally successful.

Richard Scott with the DiGiCo SD7


Credit: James Cumpsty

The stage adaptation of The Commitments


adapted by the novels author working with
director Jamie Lloyd is playing at Londons
Palace Theatre, which has been home to some
of the most successful productions of all time.
Rory Madden, a 40-year veteran audio
16 May 2014

engineer, is sound designer for the show. His


rental company Sonalyst provides all audio
equipment, including the DiGiCo SD7 at the
heart of the system.
This show certainly has some challenges,
says Madden. One has been making it sound
less than perfect at the start, which goes
completely against the grain.
The Commitments follows a group of
working class Dubliners who form a soul band.
At the beginning of the show, the band who
cant yet play particularly well play in a
bedroom and a shop window.
The biggest challenge is how fast the sets
move. Its almost like a film, everything moves
from scene to scene very quickly.
The frenetic pace of the show also means
that the SD7 is worked hard, with 150 inputs

in use and constant cue changes throughout


the show.
Weve used every single part of the desk,
says Madden. Sonically its great and with the
sheer amount of things we have to change on
so many cues, its probably the only desk in
the world that could have done this show. Its
a very high channel count because there are
effectively two bands. The Commitments the
actors play their instruments live all the way
through, but there is a second, seven-piece
band for underscores, accents, and other bits
and pieces of musical emphasis.
The SD7s ease of programming aided the
teams ability to give focus to different parts of
the production using 18 effects speakers which
are fixed in the set.
www.digico.biz
The International Guide To Theatre Sound 2014

THEATRE LOUDSPEAKER SYSTEMS

George Washington Universitys 1,500-seat


Lisner Auditorium recently updated its audio
system with a Martin Audio MLA Compact
line array system installed by MHA Audio

Consistency and Flexibility


Flexibility is key when it comes to audio systems in theatres, writes Strother Bullins.

n comparison to outdoor performance areas,


sheds, and large arenas, modern theatres tend
to be very reflective audio environments,
imposing significant character to any audio
programme that grace their stages. And by
character, we usually refer to frequencyaltering issues that sound system designers must
acknowledge. In multipurpose theatres, install
engineers face an added, greater challenge:
theres always a new production, each with
widely different needs and overall SPL levels,
among other varying day-to-day issues.
For these reasons, building out a flexible
theatre sound rig begs for careful choices,
most commonly employing line array systems.
Manufacturers including d&b audiotechnik,
JBL Professional, L-Acoustics, Martin
Audio, and Renkus-Heinz have researched
the markets needs and developed system
configurations to systematically correct
for zone-based frequency variations, thus
providing equitable coverage throughout a
theatre, sometimes within a 2dB SPL variance
from any one seat to another, anywhere in the
house. As a result, each staff or visiting mixer
is allowed the comfort of knowing their mix is
everyone elses, too.
With a history of work in theatres, the
engineering team at Clair Brothers Audio
Systems is well versed in applying line array
18 May 2014

technology to complex, large, and overall


acoustically challenging rooms. By installing a
well-designed line array, were giving mixers
a solid foundation to build on, explains Jim
Devenney, Clair senior engineer. Clairs work
on The Theater at Madison Square Garden,
one of MSG Entertainments key venues, is
an ideal example of this: Devenney and his
team had an early opportunity to utilise the
new JBL VTX line array system. As it is the
biggest theatre in Manhattan hosting a broad
range of acts in its 6,000-seat, balcony-less,
low-ceiling environment the necessary wide
main PA placement required careful selection
of a strong centre cluster, two rings of delays,
and sideboxes.
The very nature of the line array not
having to set up a bunch of point-and-shoot
boxes reduces comb-filtering across the
listening area, explains Devenney. Theres
no setting up longer-throw boxes across the
top, and because the theatre is so wide
youd have to have an array of a couple of
boxes wide, so there would be comb-filtering
between them, too. The line array just makes
the coverage area smoother. Being prepared for
anything from The Muppets to The Who, we
also had to make sure the system was powerful
enough to handle anything, recalls Devenney.
With the new Crown Audio I-Tech HD 4 X

3500 amplifiers and VTX sub-lows (hanging


four per side), we were ensured that we had
it covered. Its easier to scale back than to
scale up.
Specing a system that will assure visiting
engineers is always a good move, but
sometimes being one of those visiting engineers
can provide some insight as well. After
serving audio needs at George Washington
Universitys 1,500-seat Lisner Auditorium
for 20 years, Maryland-based MHA Audio
owner Mike Scarfe recommended configuring
a Martin Audio MLA Compact line
array system for the venues unique sonic
characteristics and needs. Having a history
there, and by knowing the cross-section of
entertainment they host, choosing the system
was straightforward, he said. Ive personally
been using Martin Audio MLA for a little over
two years now, so it was a no-brainer for me
to suggest they step up their game and go with
this ground-breaking technology.
FEWER BOXES, MORE COVERAGE
Belgiums Oostende Post Office a modernist,
former public building considered one of
that countrys finest post-war architectural
endeavours now hosts De Grote Post, a
multipurpose performing arts centre with
slightly over 400 seats, redesigned for music,
The International Guide To Theatre Sound 2014

THEATRE LOUDSPEAKER SYSTEMS

Sixteen high powered JBL AM7112 with a


narrower pattern, 60 wide, served-us well;
we could put more of them in with less
overlap. It allowed us to get more power to
the delays in the first delay ring. In the second
delay ring, in the raised ceiling area with low
ceilings and restricted sight lines, we had the
same number. One of the main challenges is
to get power to the back in low ceiling, deep
room situations.

De Grote Post, a performing arts centre in Belgium with 400-plus seats, has the first European
installation of Renkus-Heinzs VARIA modular point source line array

dance, and traditional theatre. It also marks the


first European installation of Renkus-Heinzs
VARIA modular point source line array, with
four VARIA VA101 cabinets per side, a two
22.5 cabinet centre cluster, and a third cabinet
ground stacked atop two VA15S subwoofers.
Four TRX61 loudspeakers provide front fill for
the first few rows.
Steven Kemland of Foundation for
Audiovisual Commerce and Engineering
(FACE) De Grote Posts systems provider
explains: Most of the systems we looked into
would have required many more cabinets to
provide even coverage across the entire seating
area. The VARIAs variable coverage patterns
enabled us to configure a system with fewer
boxes than a traditional line array. Its very
compact and yet it sounds like a much larger
system.
MULTI-BRAND SYSTEM SELECTION
Masque Sound the New Jersey-based
theatrical sound reinforcement, installation,
and design company tackles a variety of
summer theatre festivals around the country,
ranging from the Williamstown Theatre
Festival in Massachusettes, which it has
handled for over a decade, to the high-profile
Shakespeare in the Park festivities at the
Delacorte Theater in New York, to The Muny
in St Louis. For the Williamstown Festivals,
sound supervisor Alex Neumann confirms that
a carefully chosen amalgamation of Meyer
Sound, d&b audiotechnik, and L-Acoustics
speakers including Meyer Melodie line
arrays, UPQ-1Ps and UPQ-2Ps, d&b
20 May 2014

audiotechnik E0s, E4s, and E9s, L-Acoustics


108Ps and DV subs covers its 511-seat main
theatre, proving line array selection can be
customisable.
On the two main stages, we turn over
shows in 24 hours, so we need to make sure the
sound equipment we are using can hold up to
the rigours of our crazy schedule, Neumann
explains. Equipment selection is essential
and knowing that Masque Sound consistently
provides reliable and well-built gear allows me
to focus my attention elsewhere. That is a
huge help.
Although we provide unique audio
equipment setups, our goal is to supply the
sound designers with the flexible, customised
equipment packages they need to create an
environment in which every audience member
feels a connection to the show, confirms
Dennis Short of Masque Sound.
KEEPING OUT OF SIGHT IN MIND
Somewhat like house of worship environments,
where aesthetics and sightlines are almost
literally and figuratively sacred, theatre
loudspeaker installs are often presented with
some unalterable acoustic tendencies to work
around yet another good reason for going
line array, as Clairs Devenney notes about
The Theater at Madison Square Garden
installation.
One thing that [MSG Entertainments]
Tom Arrigoni and I wanted to make sure
of was that the centre cluster could keep up
with the main PA. [Because the ceiling is so
low], we couldnt put up large delay speakers.

NEW TECHNOLOGY IN SET SPACES


At Lisner Auditorium, Scarfe deployed
cutting-edge line array technology in a
traditional theatre environment: Lisner
Auditorium was certainly designed to project
unamplified content from the stage; its a very
live room. Using Martin Audios proprietary
Display2 optimisation process, I was able to
designate the back wall of the auditorium as
a hard avoid area and the ceiling as a nonaudience area, minimising reflections from
those two surfaces.
Other than a little bit of acoustic treatment
on the back wall, there was none, and it
wasnt in the scope of this project, continues
Devenney on the sheer size of MSGs Theater.
The acoustics are what the acoustics are. Its
a city block wide with low ceilings for a venue
with that many seats. Usually theatres are
stacked up with balconies, and there are none
here. You take all those seats that balconies
add and bring people closer, and it makes the
room fan-shaped, deep and wide. We covered
it well with delays, making sure that it is even
in all places.
BENEFITTING FROM BALANCE
A more even coverage throughout a theatre
allows visiting engineers to mix with
confidence. At MSGs Theater, the mix
position is kind of close to the stage, compared
to most theatres where you are close to the
back, even under the balcony, says Devenney.
Youre close to the stage, at the edge of the
coverage of the main PA, but the centre field
helps. Its a great place to mix.
Scarfe touted MLAs ability to provide
consistent sound throughout the venue, and
the fact that the farthest seat from the stage
receives the same sound quality as the front
row serves the historic Lisner Auditorium
well; he recently engineered an outdoor MLAbased spoken word event where, at 350ft from
the stage, SPL was only 2dB down from the
podium, with no delays. In these cases, gain
before feedback is always an issue, he notes,
adding: MLA is really the only option to
get this kind of controllable decibel balance
throughout such venues.
The International Guide To Theatre Sound 2014

DIRECTORY

Alcons Audio
www.alconsaudio.com

Eventide
www.eventide.com

Orbital Sound
www.orbitalsound.com

Allen & Heath


www.allen-heath.com

Flare Audio
www.flareaudio.com

Point Source
www.point-sourceaudio.com

AKG
www.akg.com

Focusrite
www.focusrite.com

QLab
figure53.com

Audix
www.audixusa.com

Fohnn Audio
www.fohhn.com

Que Audio
queaudiousa.com

Audio-Technica
www.audio-technica.com

Funktion-One
www.funktion-one.com

Radial
www.radialeng.com

Avid
www.avid.com

Genelec
www.genelec.com

Rane
www.rane.com

Bose
www.bose.co.uk

Innovason
www.innovason.com

Raycom
www.raycom.co.uk

BSS
www.bssaudio.com

JBL
www.jblpro.com

Renkus Heinz
www.renkus-heinz.com

Cadac
www.cadac-sound.com

Klark Teknik
www.klarkteknik.com

Riedel
www.riedel.net

Clair Bros
www.clairsystems.com

KV2
www.kv2audio.com

Royer
www.royerlabs.com

Clear-Com
www.clearcom.com

L-Acoustics
www.l-acoustics.com

RTS
www.rtsintercoms.com

Countryman
www.countryman.com

Lab.gruppen
labgruppen.com

Sennheiser
www.sennheiser.com

Crown Audio
www.crownaudio.com

Lawo
www.lawo.com

Shure
www.shure.com

CSC ShowControl
www.ctrelectronics.co.uk

Lectrosonics
www.lectrosonics.com

Sonifex
www.sonifex.com

d&b audiotechnik
www.dbaudio.com

Lynx Pro Audio


www.lynxproaudio.com

Sony Pro Audio


pro.sony.com

dbx
www.dbxpro.com

Mackie
www.mackie.com

Soundcraft
www.soundcraft.com

DiGiCo
www.digico.biz

Martin Audio
www.martin-audio.com

Stagetec
www.stagetec.com

DiGiGrid
www.digigrid.net

Masque Sound
www.masquesound.com

Studer
www.studer.ch

Dolby
www.dolby.com

Meyer Sound
www.meyersound.com

Tannoy
www.tannoy.com

DPA Microphones
www.dpamicrophones.com

Midas
www.midasconsoles.com

TC Electronic
www.tcelectronic.com

Duran Audio
www.duran-audio.com

Neumann
www.neumann.com

Vue Audiotechnik
www.vueaudio.com

Earthworks
www.earthworksaudio.com

Nexo
www.nexo-sa.com

Waves
www.waves.com

EAW
eaw.com

Ohm
www.ohm.co.uk

XTA Audio
www.audiocore.co.uk

Electro-Voice
www.electrovoice.com

Opus Audio
www.opusaudio.com

Yamaha Commercial Audio


www.yamahacommercialaudiosystems.com

22 May 2014

The International Guide To Theatre Sound 2014