In outfitting San Diego's Old Globe Theatre for Duncan Sheik's musical “Whisper House,” the sound design team of Dan Moses Schreier and associate designer David Bullard – who designed the audio for the current Broadway hits Westside Story, A Little Night Music and Sondheim On Sondheim - drew on years of combined experience to select the optimal equipment for every scenario of the complex audio production. With an on-stage orchestra, a cappella vocal performances, large-group sequences and loud, complicated battle scenes transitioning throughout the entire play, they needed a great sounding audio system that could reproduce it all – from loud, overbearing sound effects to quiet, intimate spoken scenes- and ultimately selected AKG's frequency-agile DMS 700 wireless microphone system and JBL VRX loudspeakers.
AKG DMS 700 digital wireless microphone systems were outfitted with a variety of AKG handheld mics, such as the C5 condenser, D5 dynamic, D7 dynamic handheld. The most impressive feature, according to Bullard, was the digital system's ability to do frequency scanning for the entire spectrum and automatically determine the optimal channels to use. Open mics for on-stage musicians created a challenge. Acoustic leakage from traditional stage monitors led Bullard and Schreier to outfit the Whisper House singers with AKG IVM 4 in ear monitors using AKG SPR4 pocket receivers. Bullard reports “the male lead wasn't accustomed to using in-ear monitors, but once he heard his vocal through the AKG IVM4 system he said â€˜this is fantastic.' The system was easy to use, easy to set up and reliable.” According to Schreier, the premium audio quality and ultra-wide tuning range of the AKG equipment provided reliable transmissions that always sounded crisp and intelligible. “The AKG equipment made this a true plug-and-play system,” Bullard said. “We were able to set the channels and adjust all of the variables in a matter of minutes and then just hand the microphones to the performers and we heard strong, intelligible sound throughout each performance.”
Meeting the demand for high-fidelity reinforcement of Duncan Sheik's score, left and right clusters of JBL VRX932LAP Powered 12-inch 2-way line array loudspeakers were suspended from the proscenium for the orchestra-level audience, and two arrays of VRX928LA speakers targeted at the balcony to provide the perfect amount of coverage throughout. As soon as the JBL speakers were set up, the sound crew noticed the VRX system took the room from acoustically dead to “full and warm.” The VRX cabinets adjustable EQ eliminated the need for additional outboard processing and allowed Bullard to quickly achieve even response and coverage. Four VRX918SP subwoofers, which were mounted in the ceiling, gave more than enough power to produce low frequency impact of Whisper House's battle scenes.
To reinforce sound effects, a surround sound system was installed incorporating JBL AE Compact series AC26 loudspeakers. “The AE series speakers were positioned close to the audience and gave full 120 x 60 foot coverage without overwhelming the front row,” commented Ballard. “The VRX and AE series speakers that we used here are also very versatile, and with this musical, we had to really push the limits in terms of different audio applications.”
Crown iTech amplifiers powered the JBL speakers , and audio was mixed using a Soundcraft Vi6 digital console outfitted with Lexicon FX6 reverbs and a rack-mounted Lexicon PCM 96 Processor. Bullard and Schreier were able to remotely configure Crown and JBL system components using Harman HiQnet control protocol and Harman System Architect software which greatly enhanced the workflow.
“The Harman Professional equipment, primarily the JBL loudspeakers and AKG microphones, provided a level of performance and an ease of use that we simply couldn't get with any other brand,” commented Schreier. “The whole crew was more than pleased with the results, as were David and I, and we will certainly look to Harman Professional equipment for other theater setups in the future.”
About Harman HiQnetâ„¢:
Harman HiQnet is the world's first connectivity and control protocol that integrates all product categories in the signal chain for professional audio systems of all types, size, and applications. Harman HiQnet no longer requires the user to manage multiple disparate operating systems or be responsible for programming individual signal processors, speaker controllers, wireless microphone systems, and mixing consoles. HiQnet was developed by engineers from across Harman's Professional Division and is coordinated by the System Development and Integration Group (SDIG), a team of dedicated systems specialists based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Harman International Industries, Incorporated (www.harman.com), designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment products for the automotive, consumer and professional markets. Harman International maintains a strong presence in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and employs more than 11,000 people worldwide. The Harman International family of brands includes AKG®, Becker®, BSS®, Crown®, dbx®, DigiTech®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, Mark Levinson®, Revel®, Soundcraft® and Studer®. Harman International's stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “NYSE: HAR.”
JBL VRX Loudspeakers and AKG DMS700 Digital Wireless Microphones bring Duncan Sheik's Whisper House to life.