Playing now for over six months on the outskirts of Stuttgart, Rebecca Das Musical has been made extensive use of APG speakers, particularly a Uniline array system and SMX15 monitors.
Rebecca, written by Germany's Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay, is a setting of Daphne du Maurier's classic thriller, and has been resident at the Stage Palladium Theatre complex in the south-east of the city since moving from Vienna last year.
"The nice thing is, wherever you sit, you are not a long way to the stage," says Hendirk Maarsen, sound designer for the show.
Maarsen, who trained extensively in Europe under Lloyd-Webber's principal audio expert Martin Levan, chose APG speakers for Rebecca after extensive listening tests with the APG crew in Paris: "I like to pull the focus onto the stage. What I don't like is, the actor is 'here', but the sound comes from 'there'," explains Maarsen, pointing to either ends of an imaginary stage. "I've used APG SMX15 monitors before, they engage the room. And that's why I like co-axial systems, because it brings dimension and a depth of sound.
"Line array, for my taste, it's amazing how loud they go, and how they fill a room. But it's all one dimensional sound - and that's not to my taste. However, at the A/B testing in Paris with the Uniline for the first time, I thought, you have the directivity, but you have the dimension of the sound. Such a sonic difference!"
As there was budget available, Maarsen specified an 'A-B' system, as developed by his mentor Levan. In brief: there are two speaker systems, hung side-by-side. One set of cast microphones are routed to the A system, the other to the B. So, when cast members are in close contact on stage, as long as one is A and the other B, there will be no phase difference between signals caused by A's voice spilling into B's mic, and vice versa. Coordinated re-routing of cast mics at FOH for every scenes ensures that there are always clean signals coming from the PA; and a superior sound is delivered to the audience.
The Uniline system chosen by Maarsen forms a central cluster above the proscenium and comprises 24 APG UL210 cabinets in two hangs of 12, plus four APG TB215S subs, two on each outer edge. The FOH console arrangement consists of three Cadac J-Types (where one is a rarity in these digital days), linked to the PA system via copper multicore.
The 18-strong orchestra use a mix of Sennheiser instrument mics and Schoeps overheads. The drummer/percussionist is, unusually, in his own separate room (nicknamed ‘Das Boot’) below the orchestra; his submix is piped into the orchestral pit via APG DS15s. A Yamaha PM5D controls the monitor levels for the orchestra; these are routed to Aviom personal monitor units so the musicians can set their own levels.
Other APG enclosures include SMX15s and TB118s sub stacks; DS15S speakers built into the edge of the stage (and disguised with fabric), and further MX1 scattered around the auditorium (again, on the A-B system) to complement the enveloping sound design. In total, there are nearly 150 speakers in the Palladium Theatre. All speakers have been purchased by the production company. “Here in Germany they don't have the same rental system operation like they have in the UK. Production companies are in the habit of buying things outright. Maarsen favours Lab.gruppen or Powersoft amps for installation, but admits, for touring, he always recommends Lab.gruppen (“for marketing and profile reasons”).
The sound designer knows the show boasts a much larger PA system than most shows of its class. “The director wanted a lot of atmosphere,” reveals Maarsen. “And for instance, in the part where the characters are down by the ocean, we used a SoundField microphone to record the ocean – actually off the Cornish coast! Then with plug-in software and the large MX1 speaker spread, we make it fill the room.
“I'm very grateful to APG, and the producers, that we really found a nice solution to the sound design here.” http://uk.apg.tm.fr