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Lahti City Theatre doubles up for Hair

Finnish sound designer Kai Poutanen has combined Nexo, Meyer Sound and d&b elements into two PA systems to create a '3D feel' for Lahti City Theatre's production of Hair.

For its production of the 1968 American musical Hair, Lahti City Theatre’s sound designer Kai Poutanen (pictured) opted for two PA systems to give the music a ‘3D feel’. Located in Lahti, Finland, the theatre is one of the largest in the country with three separate stages, the largest of which (where Hair is performed) seats 650. The in-house PA system consists of left/right hangs of Nexo GEO S805 and S830 vertical arrays and a horizontal S830 center array plus four Nexo CD12 cardioid subs. The downfill system, used for the front rows of the audience only, comprises eight Meyer Sound MM-4 miniature wide range speakers. “I bought the Meyer MM-4 set a year ago, because we were supposed to do Hair then, but we ended up doing another musical first,” said Poutanen. “I think they are one of the best, really solidly constructed compact speakers.” Supplementing the in-house PA is a secondary system comprising two 15″ d&b MAX cabinets, supported by Nexo CD12 cardioid subs. For Hair, Poutanen mixes on a DiGiCo D5T, feeding the music to both PA systems. The vocals are mixed to the main PA only. “I wanted to have some bass onstage. I’ve had the experience where singers on stage say that the monitor mix is good, but the bass is lacking the ‘thump.’ They want to hear the bass because the sing better when they hear its harmonics.” Despite his fears that using two PA systems could go “very, very wrong” Poutanen is very pleased with the result: “The venue I work with is quite large; 25 metres wide and 12 metres high so the first row is always right under the main PA. So even though the mix and the sound design was good, the PA is way up, and it felt like the amplified music and the acoustic music weren’t in the same place,” said Poutanen. “Hair is all about the music, all about the tribe, all about the energy; so I wanted the music to come from around the dancers and singers. That’s why I wanted the zero-point of the music on stage, and the main PA was just amplifying a delayed set.”