A major tour surrounding children's TV favourite Peppa Pig is making extensive use of a Yamaha LS9 as it treks between UK venues of various sizes. Keeping volume levels down while ensuring the show is heard above an inherently noisy audience is the primary challenge faced by house engineer Colin Allen and team as they negotiate the three-shows-per-day tour.
An audio system devised by Ian Horrocks-Taylor and supplied Blitz Communications features a Yamaha LS9-16 mixing console, SB168-ES stage box and EtherSound multi-core to offer the necessary flexibility and compact footprint for the one-truck production.
The tour, said Allen, is "on a very tight schedule, so the size and portability of the LS9, stage rack and EtherSound multi-core are perfect. I don't need to get four people 'round the desk just to move it."
Also part of the core set-up are: six Sennheiser HS2 headworn microphones with SK50 beltpacks for the actors; an iPod and a PC (with laptop back-up) to provide recorded narration, sound effects and music via an Edirol soundcard; and a PA comprising six d&b e9s, two d&b E18s, EM Acoustics frontfills, and Tannoy I8s and V8s for onstage foldback. On some dates, the team is using the in-house loudspeaker system, providing that it is of sufficient quality.
"I'm using pretty much every output on the LS9, bar four of the Omnis, which we save for doing house feeds," revealed Allen. "Another advantage of the LS9 is that it's so easy to set up. Being able to set the delays in metres as well as milliseconds saves a lot of time - you can get a good gauge from that and adjust accordingly."
All the relative levels for the songs are preset within the PC so, once Colin has set the house level, all the music levels naturally follow on without him having to do anything. The cast warm up with a couple of songs, during which he can adjust the microphone levels.
"There are about 80 cues in total. I trigger the PC via MIDI, but I mix the show on the fly," he continued. "It gets quite interesting because the cast are putting on children's voices for the younger characters, mimicking the TV series. The actors who play Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig also play Susie Sheep and Danny Dog, so they are changing between adult and childlike voices. They're pretty good with keeping the levels consistent between characters, but obviously the frequencies of their voices change."
Mindful that children - many of whom will be making their first to the theatre - should not find the sound levels overwhelming, Allen said that he is generally "riding it just above the audience level. There's a song at the end where it gets a little bit crazy, they're all got up on their feet to clap their hands and stamp their feet, so you've got both the kids and the parents all making as much noise as they possibly can. That's the only point at which I really have to turn it up and they don't mind because it's only one song. It gives them a high to go out on."
Summing up, Allen paid tribute to the Yamaha equipment ("very reliable") and the "unique" nature of the tour: "The stuff that gets left behind is a true eye-opener. I have never done a tour before where you're tripping over used nappies post-gig."
Image Credit: Pete Jones