The world premiere of Magick Macabre, an alternative “magic and horror” spectacular – staged by Moya Doherty and John McColgan’s Riverdream Productions, the creators of the sell-out Riverdance extravaganza – took the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, by storm recently. The tantalizing and grizzly show kept audiences pinned to their seats – all aided of course by the immersive sound tactics of OutBoard’s TiMax Audio Imaging matrix, which created a soundscape as realistic and chilling as the performances were graphic.

Kevin McGing, Production Sound Engineer for the show, called on Dublin-based MOSCO to supply and install the multi-channel sound system – including the TiMax audio imaging system – specified by Dublin-based composer, Denis Clohessy, to handle multiple on-stage and surround-sound effects localisation.

The music and effects montage, comprised of several hundred cues, in its totality was created by Denis Clohessy. The dialogue free production was entirely dependent on the soundtrack to provide the backdrop for master illusionist, Daemon Cordell, to carry out his macabre people-chopping, drilling and lady-burning stunts.

Out Board’s Robin Whittaker spent a week on-site amidst the fake blood and body parts of the technical rehearsals to provide the TiMax setup and programming support. Whittaker comments “Magick Macabre has a lot going on in audio terms. For example; a stereo music track starts in an on-stage old fashioned 78 wind up gramophone player and then moves, or rather morphs, into the main house stereo playback system over a background bed of clanks, groans and rolling thunder, while keeping some headroom for spot effects to punctuate the on-stage action. In order for this to work well perceptually, from the audience perspective, it was important to give each element of the multilayered mix its own spatial signature. TiMax makes this otherwise dauntingly complex task relatively easy”

The music, atmospheric tracks and spot effects were compiled and played back through QLab, via a Yamaha 01V console, into eight TiMax inputs to be independently localised and dynamically panned around the stage and auditorium. The TiMax show control software was slaved to QLab via MIDI to run playlist Cues which added the necessary localisations and effects pans to Denis Clohessy’s multilayered audio sequences.

The TiMax matrix employs pre-programmed, delay-based Image Definitions, which utilise the Haas Precedence effect to ensure all static and animated pan localisations work effectively for every audience member regardless of their seating position. Effectively, multiple, varying, delay times are applied between each individual source track and every speaker to ensure the designers were able to create a continuously-changing, dramatic and immersive music and effects soundscape. Proprietary smooth-panning dsp algorithms in the TiMax matrix ensure that the enhanced, delay-based imaging is achieved without any glitching or colouration of the sound.

The 16 TiMax matrix outputs fed a distributed system of d&b Q-Series cabinets and subs that catered for the main stalls, as well as the circle and balcony left and right positions. A centre-hung d&b E9 cabinet with asymmetric horn augmented the sound and further front fill was added via a pair of d&b E8s.

On stage, two left and right pairs of upstage and downstage d&b MAX12 wedges worked as effect speakers and in the auditorium a pair of d&b E3s, on each audience level, provided rear left and right surround effects. A pair of E-V X-Line subs, driven off a dedicated TiMax output, added depth to some of the more pivotal effects in certain scenes for dedicated low-end impact.

Kevin McGing explained why TiMax was the only match for the production, “The production is completely new and a very shocking full-on show in terms of sound, lighting and set. The only way we could get anywhere near creating sound that matched up to the other artistic criteria was to use surround sound – and once that decision was made the only intelligent way to go was to use TiMax.

“Only with TiMax could we get that ability to put everything exactly where we wanted it, when we wanted it, at the volume we wanted it at!”

He adds, “It was the first time I had used TiMax myself and I took to it very quickly. You have to trust it and go for it – and it repays your trust handsomely and the performance went perfectly.”