When you talk about multicable, you end up talking about almost every aspect of sound. You talk about the past, present, and future. You talk about all the disciplines. There is an enormous gap among the specializations of rock 'n' roll sound, broadcast sound, and theatrical sound, but multicable is one thing that ties us all together. It was John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, who said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” Just like any modern sound system, no matter the discipline, we are all connected, and the company behind so much of this is Wireworks. The new Wireworks AV2000 multicable carries video, audio, and data down one trunk.
What It Does
Wireworks makes multichannel audio cables that are the standard for Broadway. Walk backstage in any Broadway house, and you will find MultiBoxes and MultiTails in almost every rack, and MultiTrunks will be no doubt dangling from above and plugged into the racks. The same holds true for most theatrical tours. Wireworks multicable is so integral to Broadway that Wireworks even created the Broadway Latching System, or BLS, to address the needs of the community. Wireworks will also create custom panels for whatever the show needs. It is so integral that, when you build a Broadway show, you spend days doing nothing but labeling Wireworks products.
How It Came To Be
Gerald “Jerry” Krulewicz, president, and Larry Williams, chief operations officer, started Wireworks in 1974 because they saw a need for multicable. Krulewicz explains, “Our original markets were live theatre and broadcast. At the time, there was no such thing as multicable. People used mic cable and taped it together with friction tape; it was a ridiculous situation. So we started a company. The cable was actually borrowed from the computer industry, which used shielded cable. We started with a stage box hardwired to a fan-out on the other end. Back in the XLR days, people would use small numbers of mics, but once multicabling came along, people wanted to put mics everywhere.”
When asked how Wireworks multicable was initially received, Krulewicz explains, “It was a product that was released at the right time to the right market. So it was like a miracle. It was a whole revelation. It made load-ins in New York quicker and helped immensely with touring. Some of the original designers started to name the different trunk cables, and some of those standards have stuck. The industry not only adopted the multicabling idea but the whole concept. This worked very well for the rental shops also. It eliminated their need to have custom panels for every tour.”
With the world of digital taking over sound, cables have been changing. We are running fewer XLR lines and more digital lines, but Wireworks has been thinking about that as well. When asked about the future, Krulewicz says, “We have a line of digital connections — Digi — that is very heavy duty and includes adaptors. We have been looking at Ethernet in multi for quite a while, but it has to be rugged enough to go on the road, and that's something we have been actively working on, although we have a couple of versions that haven't been announced yet. Cat5 was never meant to be used in the way it is currently being used. We do put Cat5, Cat5e, or Cat6 through G series connectors, but it can't be certified because of the lengths.”
What End-Users Have To Say
Kai Harada, associate sound designer for Wicked, explains how they are using the AV2000. “On the North American touring production of Wicked, we are using a custom-designed variant of Wireworks' AV2000. The multicore in question is for onstage loudspeakers and video cameras, and we wanted a quick solution that would be tour-worthy yet easy to use. We ended up putting our custom-designed AV2000 tail-set in each lighting tower on stage for a total of six drops. The tail-set contained two different pairs of AC power — one for onstage foldback loudspeakers and one for video camera power, two audio lines, two composite video lines, and a four-conductor loudspeaker cable, all terminating in a single G-series connector. The mating tail-set traveled back to a central distribution point where custom patch panels allow for signal distribution. All possible audio and video signals appear at these patch panels so we can adjust what signals go where from a central point.”
“We first used homemade multicable or snakes on the West Coast in the late ‘60s,” recalls Abe Jacob, creative consultant for the Broadway Sound Master Classes, as well as sound designer for Jesus Christ Superstar and the original A Chorus Line, among many others. “The remote recording trucks of the time, I believe, introduced snakes to the live sound world. I also remember bundling mic cables together to make our own sort of snake just for microphones. With multi-pin connectors and fan-outs, it became much simpler to build processing racks, and it certainly became easier to run cable in multis wherever needed. Wireworks has been in the forefront of multi-cable design and fabrication and has been most helpful in assisting designers with new products that can serve many applications.”
Tony Meola, sound designer of Wicked and Steel Pier, explains how he started using Wireworks multicable. “The first show I remember using multicable on was I Remember Mama, designed by Otts Munderloh,” he recalls. “I remember when I walked into Masque, and there were six, three-pair multis on the order. They said, ‘You'll get three XLRs taped together, and you'll like it.’ Otts really pushed for multicable. Before multicable, we bundled cables together. Back then, the only multicable was more of a snake without breakouts. It was a box or tails at one end and tails at the other. And it was either 15 or 19 pairs. I remember asking Wireworks to make us a custom panel, so for every show, we had custom panels. Eventually, to keep the cost down, I said we don't need custom panels every time; we just needed three, six, and, nine pairs, standard.”
Otts Munderloh, sound designer of Barnum and Dream Girls, to name a couple, talks of touring with Wireworks multicable. “Multicable made it easier on the road,” he says. “New York is an anomaly; you load in, and everything changes. But it made it much easier on the road. I would have to say the tour of A Chorus Line was the first show to use multicable. In New York, it was not multi. Jerry and Larry approached me to do my cables for A Chorus Line. Jerry was the electrician on the bus-and-truck of Promises Promises the same year I was out on the bus-and-truck on I Do! I Do! in ‘74. So I asked Abe, ‘Do you want to use this?’ The shops were extremely resistant to buying multicable. One of the shops said to me, ‘If we buy this stuff, no one is ever going to use it again, so we are going to charge the show for the price of the cable.’ But when I did my next show and asked for multicables, they told me they were all rented out.”
For further information visit, www.wireworks.com.