Manchester’s Royal Exchange expands TiMax system
Tuesday, 13 February 2018
outboard-manchesterroyalexchangeManchester’s Royal Exchange is an in-the-round-theatre rather than a traditional proscenium arch space
UK - As the want of returning sound designers has become more adventurous by the visit, and sound designs and PA systems have grown in complexity, so Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre has stepped up to match the requirement by expanding its existing TiMax SoundHub to provide an impressive 48 x 48 analogue and MADI inputs/outputs. The upgrade also included a new Digico SD10T main console and QLab over MADI.
TiMax has been integral to the theatre’s sound control for just over two decades and the main productions appearing at the Royal Exchange have long benefitted from the advanced spatial programming that can be achieved effortlessly in TiMax. Head of sound, Sorcha Williams, who oversaw the last upgrade in 2014 to TiMax2 SoundHub, when the theatre’s original system came to its end of life after 16 years, notes that sound designers accompanying productions from elsewhere are amazed by the difference the Exchange is able to engineer. “Though all the settings remain the same, there’s disparity in the detail we’re able to pick out here and play with.”
The extra capabilities of the embellished TiMax system means the theatre can offer its sound designers greater possibilities with the in-house equipment and keep show budget for very specific requirements or building onstage practicals. With the added advantage of MADI, Williams explains, “We have essentially doubled our output capabilities as not only do we have the 48 channels dedicated to TiMax we also have another 56 analogue outputs from the SD rack and a further 8 on the console itself.”
Manchester’s Royal Exchange is an in-the-round-theatre rather than a traditional proscenium arch space. As Williams explains, this makes the approach to sound design slightly different, requiring the sound department to ‘think outside the box’. “Routing or moving sounds from one zone to the next is often the opposite of straightforward! However, TiMax makes a lot of things possible with just a few clicks. The software interface is very user-friendly. So, what could be a difficult few weeks of programming, is actually more easily achieved in a shorter space of time.”
As a show control system, TiMax has enabled Manchester’s Royal Exchange to close the gap on show turnaround times which has meant that not only can more theatre productions be scheduled but a wider variety of events can be executed in the vast array of striking spaces enclosed within the venue’s striking architecture.
(Jim Evans)

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