Masque Sound's Custom Audio Package For Broadway's Once

once.jpg Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company specializing in live concert, television broadcast, corporate, industrial, theatrical, house of worship and sports events, has returned to the Great White Way, providing a custom audio equipment package for Once, the critically acclaimed new Broadway musical based on the 2007 Academy Award winning film. (Photo Joan Marcus)

Once arrived on the Broadway stage after a successful developmental run at the New York Theatre Workshop, for which Masque Sound also provided the audio equipment. The production broke box office records, concluding a sold-out engagement at the Workshop.

As Sound Designer Clive Goodwin worked with Masque Sound for the New York Theatre Workshop production, this made the transition to Broadway smoother, though not without challenges. “Moving the show to a 1,000-seat Broadway theatre and keeping the intimacy of the small 200-seat theatre that Once had been playing in was very challenging,” says Goodwin. “In order to do this we needed a much larger sound system, with much more flexibility. We knew equipment selection and sound design were critical.”

For the show, which includes some tender moments, Goodwin aimed to produce a gentle, intimate feel. His ultimate goal in working with Masque Sound, then, was to create an experience where the audience feels closer to the stage, partly through what it is hearing. To do this, he distributed speakers throughout the theatre as much as possible. This way, it was not necessary to turn up one large source of speakers.

Due to the size and shape of the theatre, and because of the level of excellence that must be attained with a Broadway production, Masque Sound, in consultation with Goodwin, designed an entirely new sound system for the Broadway run. Masque Sound's equipment package included a DiGiCo SD7 digital console that offers a high level of inputs and outputs, as well as signal routing flexibility. In addition, Masque Sound provided a large Sennheiser wireless microphone rig and several different loudspeakers from Funktion-One and D&B.

“One unique aspect of the sound equipment was Clive's use of the Funktion-One speakers,” says Scott Kalata, Masque Sound. “These very unorthodox speakers had never really been used on a Broadway stage before, and we had to import them from the U.K. So we were all curious to see how they would perform. Clive knew they would help him upstairs, just because they were entirely horn loaded. By using them, he was able to cut down on the reflections and actually point the beam of sound at people, rather than have it hit walls, giving him the control he wanted. Clive is a genius and his strong desire to use these speakers turned to out to be a major success. They sound amazing and really add a sense of warmth to the show.”

Another challenge faced by Masque Sound on this project was frequency coordination. Considering the show's 72 channels of wireless, along with sharing a stage door entrance with two other theatres, there were numerous radio frequencies to manage in providing interference-free coverage. Although the frequency coordination was very complicated, Masque Sound's team of experts utilized their many years of experience to ensure all of the wireless signals remained without interference.

“Masque Sound worked incredibly hard to make it all work for me and I am very grateful for that,” adds Goodwin. “They supplied everything; they built a really flexible system so we could even experiment a little as well. They really did such a great job.”

Once tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, their unexpected friendship and collaboration evolves into a powerful but complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together. Brought to the stage by an award-winning team of visionary artists and featuring an ensemble cast of gifted actor/musicians, Once is a musical celebration of life and love.

Once currently plays on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The production opened to rave reviews on Sunday, March 18, 2012.

About Masque Sound

Founded in 1936 by a trio of Broadway stagehands, Masque Sound evolved into one of NYC's most successful theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design companies specializing in live concert, television broadcast, corporate, industrial, theatrical, house of worship and sports events. Celebrating more than 75 years in the industry, the company is lead by Geoff Shearing, the firm's 3rd generation owner, and General Manager Stephanie Hansen. The company also operates Florida-based Professional Wireless Systems, a leader in the development and implementation of wireless technology. Credits range from major Broadway shows and tours including “Phantom of the Opera,” “Mama Mia,” “Jersey Boys,” “Memphis,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Newsies,” and “Once” to yearly Super Bowl broadcasts and installations of varying sizes, including New York's New Victory Theater and historic St. Bartholomew's Church. Masque Sound's 70,000 sq. ft. corporate headquarters and main assembly facility is located at 21 East Union Ave., East Rutherford, NJ, 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan. For more information, call (201) 939-8666 or visit www.MasqueSound.com.

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