The name for Cirque du Soleil’s newest production, KÀ, was inspired by the Egyptian belief in an invisible soul that accompanies every human being throughout this life and into the next. In the words of director Robert Lepage, KÀ was "not about creating a new show. It’s about creating a new world." The LCS Matrix3 product family–consisting of the LX-300 digital audio engine, CueConsole mixing surface, Space Map, and VRAS–play a large part in creating this "new world."
LCS has worked with Cirque du Soleil on Mystere, "O", and Zumanity, and LCS’ flexible and creative sound design tools have proven to be a good match for the thrilling acrobatics and extreme artistry of each Cirque production. KÀ is no exception.
Three separate LCS Matrix3 systems are deployed at MGM Grand Hotel’s new 1,951-seat theatre that breaks from the traditional stage approach and instead uses a huge moveable platform for its acrobatics, pyrotechnics, puppets, and martial arts sequences. Two LCS CueConsole modular mixing consoles–one for FOH mixing and one for monitors mixing–provide the precise control and automation needed for the complex sound design. The third LCS system is equipped with VRAS (Variable Room Acoustic System) and provides seven different zones of room acoustic enhancement, used for both effects and for generating a more personal and intimate listening experience for the audience, no small feat considering the immense size of the new theatre.
The sound design of KÀ makes extensive use of Space Map‚ a unique feature built into LCS’ CueStation programming software for Matrix3. Space Map is a custom panning surface that gives KÀ intuitive control of over 150 channels and over 4000 loudspeakers. A project programmed with CueStation software can have any number of Space Maps, which can be used for different sound sources and sets of loudspeakers at different points in the show. One of the benefits of this technique is that Space Map adapts to the loudspeaker layout, rather than the other way around. Sound designers can determine the loudspeaker locations first, and then program one or more Space Maps appropriate to the show. Movements of sound are programmed as trajectories, and then triggered in a cue by an operator pressing a button, or by timecode reaching a designated point. Every input in the console can be panned independently at any time.
The FOH system at KÀ includes fourteen LX-300 system frames providing Ethernet control of 152 inputs and 184 outputs via a modular LCS CueConsole mixing desk. For monitors mixing, KÀ employs eight LX-300 system frames with 128 inputs and 64 outputs and a second CueConsole mixing desk, also connected via Ethernet. The VRAS system is comprised of an additional eight LX-300 system frames, seven of which incorporate the VRAS option, and provide forty inputs and 144 outputs, making it the largest VRAS system to date.
For more on the overall design process and concept of KÀ, check out ED's January 2005 coverage, "Into The Abyss."