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Triple Sound Innovation on I Can’t Sing

Triple Sound Innovation on I Can’t Sing

UK - The irreverent new musical based on the X-Factor, I Can’t Sing, recently opened at The London Palladium, featuring an innovative sound design by Gareth Owen, who specified the d&b audiotechnik J-Series for the first time in a West End production, as well as building a one-of-a-kind 256-channel mixer and a unique proprietary surround sound system. 

The FOH system is configured with seven J8s with two J12s per side, complemented by V-Series cabinets in the gallery and T-Series for the centre cluster. Describing it as a “challenging show”, Gareth explains why he chose the J-Series: “There is no other theatrical venue in London quite like the Palladium, and we wanted a system that would deliver the power we needed without sounding loud.  The major advantage with a box the size of the J-Series is that it lets you do this – it combines extremely high output and headroom with d&b’s customary transparent and detailed audio performance.  Despite I Can’t Sing being a very loud show, we haven’t had a single complaint about the volume.”

The mixer is based on two Avid Profiles, a MADI matrix system and custom software, as Gareth explains:  “There quite simply wasn't anything else available that would give us the channel count, the native handling of plug-ins and the programming flexibility.  This show features so many different styles of music with very quick changes between numbers – from rap, ballads, rock’n’roll to pop, jazz and swing.  Using the plug-in racks, we can change mode really fast.  The other issue is that it is a brand new musical and you expect to have to handle a lot of changes, right up to the last minute.  It was an interesting exercise and has enabled us to achieve the result we were looking for.”

Gareth and his team are intent on pushing the boundaries of what is considered to be best theatrical sound practice.  In the case of I Can’t Sing, this involved coming up with some unconventional yet clearly successful new techniques.  The third unique feature involves the surround sound system, with the objective of giving every seat in the house the full surround mix.  Using a proprietary MaxDSP-based control system, it involved a lot of cunning speaker placement, lots of speakers and custom-designed software to get the result.

In addition to Gareth, the sound team comprised: associate sound designer Russell Godwin; production engineer Chris Mace; head of sound Dave Palmer; sound number two Simon Brynley-Fowler; and assistant sound designer Zoe Blackford. The show’s comprehensive sound system is supplied and supported by Orbital Sound.

In picture: the sound team on I Can’t Sing

24th April 2014

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