Spider-Man's Sound

2010-07-06 15.16.10\

For all of the technical departments for Spider-Man, the scale of the systems was the primary challenge. "Spider-Man's biggest challenge was really just sheer size," says production sound engineer Simon Matthews. “The audio system is 50% larger than any other Broadway show. There are Cirque du Soleil shows that get pretty close but nothing on Broadway. From every aspect Spider-Man is larger than any other show."

Sound designer Jonathan Deans and sound designer Peter Hylenski, who consulted after Deans' left the show due to a scheduling conflict, worked closely with PRG to engineer the audio system which includes almost 17 miles of microphone, control, and power cabling, of which 5½ miles is Ethernet cable.

For the main audio control, PRG supplied a Meyer/LCS CueConsole 2, used in conjunction with Meyer/LCS D-Mitri Digital Audio processors. Three Avid Digidesign Profile consoles handle additional audio mixing and routing. The audio system sends SMPTE triggers to the PRG V676 lighting console to trigger the video system and it receives MIDI from the V676 as a DMX channel to trigger audio cues from lighting.

The centerpiece of the sound system is the Meyer D-Mitri mixing system, which has a very large input/output setup (144 in x 144 out). "We aren't limited; each speaker can essentially get its own mix," says Matthews. "As much as we can think of the systems as there being a monitor system, a proscenium system, and a surround system, we can put vocals in surround; we can put the band into the surround or a singular instrument that pans and moves around overhead."

The speaker package for Spider-Man includes left and right line arrays that consist of the Meyer M'elodie speakers and two center clusters made up of Meyer JM1P speakers designed to put the audience in the heart of the action. "We have overhead surrounds, side surrounds, rear surrounds on the rail plus proscenium and stage speakers. It was designed to envelop the audience," adds Matthews.

Spider-Man also has Broadway's largest wireless RF system, which runs 100 wireless frequencies on a daily basis. "This system includes RF microphones, god mics, in-ear monitors for the aerialists, walkie-talkies, wireless intercoms, and then a whole slew of 2.4GHz for all of the standard access points for control networks,” says Matthews. “Lighting uses quite a lot of wireless for control, and there is wireless in some of the props.”

In coordinating the wireless RF systems, PRG's audio team had to take into consideration the potential areas of interference. Aside from the other wireless used on the show itself, many of the scenic elements are made primarily of metal; the deck consists mainly of lifts with a lot of steel and aluminum; there are LEDs in almost all of the scenic elements including the large moving LED video walls; and the theatre is just off Times Square and near other Broadway shows all with massive WIFI and RF wireless networks. "As we went along, we needed PRG to come in and make tweaks and adjustments," says Matthews. “That's their area of expertise; and they've done a great job with it. We rely very strongly on them for all of our wireless coordination.”

PRG also provided a closed circuit video (CCTV) package in conjunction with a redundant intercom system for all of the stage managers, automation operators, orchestral performers, and anyone who needed to be able to see what happening during the intricate production. The 45-camera system handles the cueing and coordination of the orchestra, housed in two separate rooms below the stage, as well as providing needed life-safety support for both the scenic automation system and performer flying rigs.

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