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EM Acoustics enjoys purple patch on Broadway

EM Acoustics enjoys purple patch on Broadway
EM Acoustics enjoys purple patch on Broadway

USA – After a highly successful run in London at the Chocolate Factory, John Doyle’s The Color Purple opened to rave reviews at the Bernard B. Jacobs theatre on Broadway in December 2015. Interestingly, Doyle’s latest version is a far cry from the original flamboyant Broadway show. This time Doyle opted for a much more streamlined, pared-down production, leaving more room for the performers to shine and for the intense emotions to resonate. Just as he did for the London production, Doyle turned to Tony Award-winning sound designer Gregory Clarke to create a clean, powerful sound design that would accurately reflect the extraordinary passion of Alice Walker’s tale of black female oppression and emancipation in the American south.

“I deployed EM boxes on the original London version of the show in 2013 and they performed spectacularly well,” explains Clarke. “I specified a complete EM vocal system for the Broadway version, and all those who bid for the job were very happy to proceed without questioning the loudspeaker spec. This seems to be proof positive of EM Acoustics’ growing reputation in the US. Masque Sound, who were finally awarded the contract to supply all the audio for the show, were perfectly happy to make what was a significant investment in new kit from the UK; they had, of course, already heard the demo system and loved it.”

The key component of Clarke’s design is the HALO-C line array system which he describes as “truly outstanding”. Not being a particular fan of line array systems in general, the advantages of which in terms of scalability and flexibility he often sees as compromised by some “very, very dodgy physics at the design stage,” Clarke regards HALO-C as the exception to the rule. “It has all the physical advantages in abundance, but critically it sounds simply tremendous,” he declares. “The system is transparent, honest, interesting, involving and ridiculously powerful for its size. It just needs a touch of EQ, dependent on the number of elements and it’s ready to go, unlike some other systems I could mention that require hours of fiddling with proprietary software and radical processing to achieve a barely passable result.”

The smaller boxes that make up the rest of the system on The Color Purple are, according to Clarke, no less critical than the array. There are 24 EMS-51 and 20 EMS-61 ultra-compact and compact passive loudspeakers handling delay, side fill and front fill, complemented by a handful of EMS-122s and EMS-81s. “In my opinion the 51s and 61s are simply the best small speakers on the face of the planet,” affirms Clarke. “The consistency of the voicing between elements is staggering; there is very little difference in overall personality no matter what loudspeaker the audience is listening to. This is hugely beneficial to the overall design and a major factor in my equipment choice.”

“Indeed, the system has drawn consistently positive comments, not least from my New York-based audio team during production as well as from the audience because we are delivering exceptionally high levels of intelligibility to the entire auditorium. As far as I am concerned, the quietly brilliant equipment that EM develops remains a standout choice for me and I’m delighted with the results I have been able to achieve with the system on Broadway.”

photos: Mathew Murphy

26th April 2016

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