New York’s Park Avenue Armory is home to the first U.S. run of The Lehmann Trilogy, a play that was put on by the National Theater in London prior to its visit to the states. New York-based Masque Sound was tapped to provide the system for the off-Broadway run of the show.
In both locations National Theater’s head of sound & video Dominic Bilkey, alongside co-sound designer Nick Powell, specified five arrays placed outer left, inner left, center, inner right and outer right. The Park Avenue Armory arrays were made up of six d&b audiotechnik Y8 followed by two of the wider dispersion Y12 line array modules. A single d&b V-SUB subwoofer is flown between each array (four total) to provide the audience with additional low end.
There are ten T10 loudspeakers mounted to the face of the deck for front fills and a delay line of seven Y7P to further the propagation of sound. Lastly, fourteen T10 loudspeakers – four on both side walls and six in the rear – surround the audience to guarantee that every seat is fully immersed in the audio experience.
“The use of d&b and Soundscape was based on a number of years of discussion and engagement in the productions evolution,” explains Bilkey. “The d&b Workflow allowed us to integrate the elements of system control, amplifier control and positioning within one software solution. From system design through setup and operation, the tools provided allowed for total control of the audio system.”
Bilkey notes that designing the sound system was interesting because on the surface, the audio goals of the production appeared simple – amplify three actors onstage alongside a piano. However, it is when the specific challenges of the 800 square foot rotating glass cube – where the play takes place – curved upstage cyclorama and importance of the narrative dialogue are considered that the true complexity of the project takes shape.
“Vocal imaging and intelligibility are critical to the show,” Bilkey adds. “The actors pass behind glass while speaking which presents one challenge, while the width of the seating bank at the Armory was another and finally, giving the audience an intimate audio experience in an acoustically challenging venue was yet another. For the Park Avenue Armory Soundscape was the logical solution given its basis within delay and gain-based spatial engine. Other solutions would allow for some degrees of control with context and L/C/R panning of the space, but it is the delay-based component which really allows us to position the performers within the depth of the revolving cube.
Masque Sound also provided d&b loudspeakers for use on the stage. Two J-INFRAs were located behind the stage and four V7Ps were placed on the stage for effects. With the glass cube itself there are six more KEF Ci100QS mounted in the ceiling fed by d&b amplifiers. Two E3 loudspeakers were mounted underneath the deck where the midi keyboard was located to provide localization for the sound. Each loudspeaker had its own amplifier channel and signal feed to work within the Soundscape system.
In addition to PA, Masque Sound double mic’ed the actors with Shure Axient ADX1M micro bodypack transmitters outfitted with the new DPA6061 micro capsules while placing a third set in their top hats. The DPA capsules allowed placement to be discrete. The size of the Axient transmitter was a determining factor in their use. Front of house was home to a DiGiCo SD10 with a redundant engine also provided by Masque Sound utilized with two d&b DS100 processors.
“The Armory tends to be a troublesome spot for RF,” explains A.J. Nittoli, production manager for Masque Sound. “We have not had any problems using our newest digital microphone system. We also deployed Professional Wireless Systems helical antennas for receiving and domed for transmit. The Professional Wireless antennas are run through a Wisycom unit that allows us to change the gain of each antenna and filter out unwanted frequencies to ensure the best possible connection.”
Nittoli concludes, “The use of Soundscape allows you to place input sources wherever needed within the larger system. It helps localize the actor’s voices to wherever they are on stage or within the cube. The effect was mesmerizing as it allowed the audience to forget about the P.A. and amplification of voice and focus on the words spoken. Overall the entire audio experience was top notch.”