Headliners recruits over 200 new performers every year to sing and dance their way around the world
UK - Producing over 100 shows each year, P&O Cruises' Headliners Theatre Company is a major player in the UK's performing arts industry. Its new Southampton training and rehearsal facility - The Academy - opened in June, with Yamaha DXR12 loudspeakers chosen to overcome the challenging acoustics of the large dance studios.

Headliners recruits over 200 new performers every year to sing and dance their way around the world onboard P&O Cruises ships. Before sailing, each cast rehearses for nine weeks, six days a week, a process which has been markedly improved by the opening of The Academy.

With a floor area of 1258m2 it is one of the largest dance rehearsal facilities in the country, but overcoming the acoustic challenges of the large, hard, flat surfaces was a key requirement for its audio system. Production executive Darren Harvey had been previously impressed by Yamaha's active DXR12 loudspeakers.

"I first heard the DXR12s at a demo for a small touring rig and was instantly impressed with them," he says. "They blew the competition away with almost studio monitor clarity and lots of handy features. The audio quality isn't compromised at high volumes and they deliver a surprising amount of low end - when paired with the relevant subs they can become quite epic."

Although Harvey and his team looked at a number of different loudspeaker types for The Academy, they kept coming back to the DXR12.

"Most speakers have pros and cons in applications where large rooms, high ceilings and flat surfaces are a feature," he says. "They are either too expensive, too heavy, not loud enough, have too-narrow a horn dispersion or lack a rounded and balanced frequency output without adding more and more boxes. The only speaker that stood out was the DXR, so it quickly became the only choice."

Four DXR12s are installed in each of The Academy's three studios, run in parallel with two loudspeakers on one wall facing the other two on that opposite. The idea is to counteract the challenging acoustics by firing the speakers almost at each other. Playback audio is mixed and then sent directly to the speakers.

"To work effectively, this solution relies on each speaker reproducing the same high quality at high power as the next," says Harvey. "Because of the DXR12's accurate sound, we haven't needed any additional outboard processing or EQ. This is a major bonus as the vision of the space was to be as user friendly as possible and not to have masses of equipment everywhere.

"For many applications, firing high SPLs across the room has solved the problem of the acoustics. But the DXR12s are also superb when the levels are reduced for maximum clarity and accuracy, like when performers are rehearsing time critical audio such as pre-recorded tap dances, etc."

Opened by Strictly Come Dancing professionals Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe, the Academy stages its first full rehearsal sessions in late July, with the Yamaha DXR12s set to find an enthusiastic audience.

(Jim Evans)

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