There is something uniquely timeless about Kander and Ebb’s ‘Cabaret,’ if only people could wear their age as well as this musical. The current production at the Savoy Theatre, London bears the familiar hallmarks of love and lust that the musical is know for.
Ben Harrison, sound designer, created a system based around older elements from d&b audiotechnik to create the ambiance he felt the production required.
“Orbital Sound happens to own some d&b F1222s, these are the successor to the F1220 that was launched in 1988. Despite the age I did specify them deliberately,” he explains. “I have had occasion to use them a few times on bits and pieces and always liked them for their smoothness and total transparency.
“I’ve been waiting some time, looking for a show to put them on.”
The d&b F1222 is a two-way active loudspeaker with a precise 60 x 40 degree dispersion.
“I did the sound design for the previous production of Cabaret when it played the Lyric Theatre in 2006 and thought that for this new staging the F1222 would be the logical box,” Harrison continues. “Essentially it’s the same show, but it played bigger venues on tour before it came into London at the Savoy.
“Well suited to the bigger rooms, I thought that it would transfer well to the Savoy. Although the theatre has a narrow proscenium making the top centre position a little higher than normal, the room itself is a good size, and the acoustic is excellent.”
The F1222 built its reputation on transparency and a well defined constant.
For Harrison the loudspeaker had further noble attributes.
“Cabaret is quite a natural sounding show, and a lot of that in the delivery is down to the smoothness of this cabinet. In fact you don’t realize quite how loud it is until you turn the PA off, this loudspeaker is that smooth, especially in the HF; totally transparent.”
“I have six rigged left/right, two for stalls, two for the circle, and two at the gallery,” explains Harrison. “To pull the image to the stage I have a centre cluster of eight T10s.
“The great thing about the T-Series is it’s so small, but so wide: I can get a sizable amount of them up in the air. That helps massively with pulling the image to the stage.”
For delays Harrison uses E3s, and the surround system is E0s.
“Even with its reputation for fidelity, the other d&b elements of the PA system all sound harmoniously in symmetry with the F1222s.”
Despite its origins in the analog era, Harrison chose to make one concession to modernity.
“I do like to run everything AES straight out of the Yamaha desk, so I asked Orbital to provide D12 amplifiers to run the F1222s instead of the older A1amplifiers that had been the norm.”
“It was the first time we’d ever been asked to do that,” said Dan Samson, Harrison’s Production Engineer, “But low and behold, d&b had already had the loudspeaker parameters preloaded into the D12 since day one, so Ben’s request was easily fulfilled.
“Whatever the reputation of the F1222s, and even allowing for the traditionalist view of the analog world, it was clear to Ben and to me that switching to the D12 actually made not the slightest colouration to the performance of the loudspeakers.”
“This revival of the 2006 production has allowed us to reimagine the production for the larger venues,” concluded Harrison, “Scaling up slightly while losing none of the focus on the all important sense of time and place.
“It’s been very fulfilling to see the F1222s be a part of that; I can think of no other loudspeaker that originated twenty four years ago, which we could expect to perform so well; just as this new cast has performed. Immaculate.”