Audio News

Friday, 29 December 2000

It would appear that the world of opera is trying to take over the world of the musical: London in early autumn saw two directors best known for their operatic work in action in the West End. Robert Carsen created The Beautiful Game at the Cambridge Theatre, while up the road at the Shaftesbury multiple-Olivier award winning director Francesca Zambello was pulling together Napoleon, an epic new musical charting the love of Napoleon Boneparte for Josephine through troubled times in France.

To help her, Zambello turned to regular collaborators, notably set designer Michael Yeargan and lighting designer Rick Fisher, who won the 1998 lighting Olivier for his work on Zambello’s Lady in the Dark at the National Theatre.To stage the show, which covers a huge range of locations and times, Yeargan designed a spectacular floor capable of rising, falling, twisting and tilting to provide land, sea or mountains as required; this scenery proved to be something of a technical challenge, requiring international co-operation between scenery makers TMS, engineers Devineau, Jetter Automation, Vertigo Rigging and production managers Stewart Crosbie and Mark Whitemore - along with one programme credit you don’t see on many shows: automation interpreter, this the experienced figure of Miki Jablkowska. Yeargan also made the bold decision to extend the French flag painted on the show’s frontcloth out onto the proscenium itself, to dramatic effect.

Though the set was capable of many dynamic shape changes, much of the work of defining space and time actually fell to lighting an

Trent Quakes Under the Latest Cerwin Rumble
Saturday, 23 December 2000

Daniel Carver of university specialist consultants, Section 77, has opted for the new Cerwin-Vega SUB218/T250 Intense stacks for Nottingham Trent University, following a demo of this and other leading brands by John Southee of JPS.

Thus an order for eight stacks was placed with Cerwin-Vega’s exclusive UK distributor, Lamba plc. The SUB218 is a direct-radiating twin 18" sub, featuring high-power output down to 32Hz - a combination of deep bass and high power handling. Thanks to its stainless steel bar handle and and wheels it’s also portable - which is precisely what the University wanted, since the 1,500-capacity auditorium functions as a canteen by day, and the evening conversion includes the eight stacks of T250/SUB218 being wheeled into position - four stacks either side of the stage.

The Intense! T250 mid/high box is divided into two sections which can be operated in bi-amp or passive full-range mode. The mid-bass comprises a 10" horn-loaded driver, the mid/high a large format 2" exit compression driver and the SS1 1" throat HF driver, featuring hybrid diaphragm technology, handling the top end. Personally recommended for the installation work, John Southee supplied sound - with a 16K output capability - lighting, stage and the triangular Trilite grid for the lighting suspension in a contract that was briefed, designed, commissioned and installed within a three-week period - despite the fuel crisis. To optimise the different EQ parameters and system management JPS picked the BSS FDS-366 Omnidrive Compact.

The final word comes from J

USITT Appoints General Manager
Friday, 22 December 2000

Tom Scharff has been appointed the new general manager for the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. Scharff joins USITT from Cornell University where he was general manager of the Cornell Center for Theatre Arts. His career as a theatre administrator includes work as managing director of the new Repertory Theatre in Boston and business manager for Theatre and Dance at the University of New Hampshire.

Dome Auctioneer Appointed
Friday, 22 December 2000

Henry Butcher International has been appointed to dispose of the contents, owned by NMEC, that went into creating The Millennium Dome, following the planned closure of the Dome on December 31st. The Dome houses an enormous range of assets, including lighting, audio-visual, broadcast & sound equipment, restaurant and catering equipment, stage equipment, office furniture and equipment, golf buggies, battery-powered scooters and vehicles. Even the equipment from the world famous Millennium Show, which currently employs 350 people, will be for sale, including stage and acrobatic props, costumes and circus rigging. Henry Butcher will be disposing of all assets owned by NMEC over the next three months by Private Treaty and Public Auction. The Private Treaty sale process is already underway and includes many of the themed Zones, audio-visual and broadcast equipment from some of the most sophisticated systems installed in Europe and sound and lighting equipment from one of the largest and most complex installations in the world.

The public auction is open to everyone and will take place over four days - 27-28 February and 1-2 March 2001 - and any enquiries regarding the auction will be dealt with after the Dome closes at the end of December. Viewing of the assets will be a few days prior to the auction sale.

Series TWO at 93 Feet East
Friday, 22 December 2000

A new music venue has opened on East London’s Brick Lane. Part of the former Trumans Brewery complex, 93 Feet East is a 500-600 capacity venue with an on-site recording studio, allowing performances to be recorded and broadcast over the internet. The music policy is alternative, and early bookings include Cold Cut and the Sneaker Pimps. The club has a Funktion One PA system, installed by Blue Box, from Sussex. The front-of-house control is provided by a new Series TWO console from Soundcraft, supplied by Marquee Audio. Technical manager and sound engineer Paul Epworth explained: “This desk has a very open sound, considering its price. It’s easy to place sounds in a mix and, like the Soundcraft K3 which I’ve used before in live situations, the EQ is very sensitive. It’s a very flexible console.”

Dutch Parliament’s Digital NetworkDutch Parliament’s Digital Network
Friday, 22 December 2000

The Dutch Parliament Building in Limburg has recently joined the list of government buildings around the world using the BSS 9088 Soundweb to provide digital voice processing and distribution. Forming the hub of a complete new audio-visual and voting network costing 500,000 Guilders, Soundweb encompasses three separate areas - the conference hall, the ballroom and a smaller conference and performance area. TM Audio were subcontracted by Heuvelman Sound and Vision BV, who won the tender for the overall design project, to specify the electro-acoustic elements and audio distribution of the system design. The conference hall includes a central loudspeaker cluster and individual peripheral speakers, distributed around the public tribune for maximum intelligibility. A Philips DCN (Digital Conference Network) discussion system, comprising a 70-piece mic/speaker station, is assigned for the purpose, with its outputs fed to the Soundweb, which supplies all the processing and distribution before arriving at the loudspeaker clusters, as well as the back-up recorders, wireless FM loop assisted hearing system, and many other rooms and offices round the building.

Roxsett Boss Receives Eight Year Sentence
Thursday, 21 December 2000

Roxsett boss David Wilson has been sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court to eight years imprisonment for smuggling £4.27 million worth of ecstasy into Britain. Wilson, whose clients included the Spice Girls, was stopped in June this year with 125 kilos of ecstasy tablets as he drove a rental truck through customs at Dover. His young daughter was in the cab with him. In mitigation, Aidan Marron QC said Wilson was forced to smuggle the ecstasy into Britain by a "vicious" gang of "serious and professional criminals". "He was threatened with a sawn-off shotgun. He feared a loss of life if he didn't obey their orders," Mr Marron said. Wilson pleaded guilty to one count of importing Class A drugs but had smuggled the illegal cargo under duress, Mr Marron said.

Support for Birmingham Fringe
Thursday, 21 December 2000

Cause & Effect, the organisers of the 2001 Birmingham Fringe theatre festival, are looking at the possibility of holding collaborative projects with entertainment technology companies during the 2001 festival, in order to demonstrate the contribution made by them to technical theatre. Project director Derrick G Knight told us: "My motivation is to enhance Birmingham as a host city for performing arts. This will be achieved through the development of a network of performance venues in partnership with the performers, venue owners and production companies associated with performing arts." An initial idea is to include a sound and lighting exhibition alongside the festival, which takes place in July and August 2001, and Knight is currently exploring the availability of no-cost exhibition space at a number of venues adjacent to the reserved performance spaces. For further information is available from the number below.

The Influence Machine
Thursday, 21 December 2000

New York video artist Tony Oursler recently installed his imaginatively-provocative The Influence Machine work into the urban landscape of London’s Soho Square. Its trees and architecture proved a perfect setting for this compelling visual and sonic experience.

The piece was presented by The Beck’s/ARTANGEL Commission. Oursler has worked in video and mixed media since leaving art school in the mid-seventies - when the cumbersome Sony Portapak reigned supreme.

Conceptually, the work - which was simultaneously running in Madison Square Park in NY - is devised from the human attraction to virtual and moving imagery. It explores how this fascination and the technology allow us to enter different psychological states. As a result, giant talking heads, hands and eyes rolled around the trees and buildings. Eerie and ghoulish voices ranted and hissed in the night, interacting with the natural elements and sounds.

Oursler positioned five Sony LCD video projectors around the Park, beaming images onto trees and buildings. Footage included references to some key characters in the history of telecoms and media. Emphasis was also placed on the advent of the telegraph in the mid-19th century. Source material for the event combined art history with science and spiritualism - the ideas of ‘spirits’ trying to communicate with the ‘living’ via tapping, knocking and Morse techniques. It also featured early pioneers of moving image and magic lantern theatre techniques.The installation was production managed by Simon Byford and Simon Corder - who often t

The Beautiful Game
Wednesday, 20 December 2000

It’s a show made by unlikely collaborators. Starting with the authors: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lord of the Realm, and Ben Elton, former scourge of the government?

Unlikely, but true; it seems that Elton’s enthusiasm for the musical form re-awakened the composer’s own excitement. To this mix, add the unlikeliest of subject material, a boy’s football team in Ireland in the heights of the trouble. The result is The Beautiful Game, hailed by some critics as Lloyd Webber’s best musical, and drawing comparisons with West Side Story from others.

A creative team was then assembled from the world of opera: director Robert Carsen, designer Michael Levine and lighting designer Jean Kalman. For those familiar with his work - summed up, if over-simplified, by describing it as a 4K HMI fresnel in each corner of the stage, plus some low Par cans from the circle front as front-light - Kalman was perhaps the most unlikely choice of all, his style about as far from the brightly-coloured, tightly paced stereotypical ‘musical’ lighting as it is possible to get! But The Beautiful Game isn’t that kind of show. A workshop of the production, staged in what became the show’s actual venue, the Cambridge Theatre, used an empty stage with the lighting rig flown up to grid height. The real production simply finesses that concept: fake versions of the side walls were built within the real side walls to give concealed entrances and exits. A fake back wall includes moving panels to reveal the pure, distant countryside in one song, whilst the prosceni

Logic’s CS1296 System Success
Wednesday, 20 December 2000

Logic System Pro Audio’s new CS1296 three-box bi-amp system has received a good reception since its launch at the PLASA Show in September, Logic reports. Long-term Logic user Creative Light & Sound of Aberdeen has recently invested in eight stacks of the system for their own hire stock, with proprietor Charlie Flett praising the CS1296 for its flexibility, compact dimensions and the ease with which it can be arrayed. Flett chose the multi-functional CM20 15" plus 2" coaxial unit to complement the system. Meanwhile, a new customer, Innovation Pro Audio from the Netherlands, has also invested in CS1296. Four stacks of the system now feature in their rental portfolio along with an array of other Logic products including four stacks of the two-box CS1090 system, four CS1000SB 2 x 18" sub bass units and eight CM15 15" plus 1" coaxial units.

Speaker/Amp Synergy from Stage Accompany
Wednesday, 20 December 2000

Stage Accompany has introduced the new EFN-DP processing modules, an extension of the Extended Function Network (EFN) circuitry, featured in its Efficiency Series amplifiers. Dedicated to SA loudspeakers, each module features three speaker-dedicated functions, operating simultaneously - clip/excursion protection, dedicated filtering and power optimizing. The clip/excursion parameters are dedicated to the exact specifications of the driver and cabinet, and the excursion protection is a frequency-dependent, zero-attack limiter. The filtering is adjusted to the system set-up, i.e. the filtering for a top/sub system can be a combination of Bessel and Butterworth filter characters, or can have phase correction/alignment.

The third function of the EFN-DP module is power optimizing. Due to the different RMS/peak power values of a speaker and an amplifier, either the actual output capacity of a speaker is never used 100%, or the speaker is exposed to over powering. The power optimizing of the EFN-DP module matches power output of the amplifier with the RMS/peak power handling of the speaker. The circuitry is Opto-coupler regulated for less noise and distortion. Combining the EFN-DP processing with SA’s Dynamic Damping Control circuitry, Stage Accompany say they have achieved the ultimate synergy between speaker and amplifier.

New ARX Distributor for Cyprus
Tuesday, 19 December 2000

ARX, the Australia-based manufacturer of signal processing, powered and non-powered loudspeakers and power amplifiers has appointed a new distributor for Cyprus. The copany’s product range is now available from Nicosia-based A.G.C. Ehitiki, headed up by Loris Demetriades. The company can be contacted at:

Royal York Entertains With Tannoy
Tuesday, 19 December 2000

Tannoy speakers have been specified and installed at a brand new award-winning conference and event facility at the Royal York Hotel in York. Chosen for their high-quality sound performance, the combination of Tannoy speakers, installed by Orsett-based Creative Audio, has been chosen to provide speech and audio reinforcement for a wide range of differing applications, including conferences, presentations and live music productions. Creative Audio has designed and installed a powerful, high-quality audio system based around Tannoy Point source loudspeakers, with elements suited to the different applications. For the central paging system, Tannoy CMS 55 ICT ceiling mounted monitor systems provide discrete, high-quality sound reinforcement for speech and music. The 90° dispersion characteristics of the CMS 55 ICT allow the whole room to be covered with just four units.Four Tannoy i12 Dual Concentric loudspeakers are wall mounted at the middle and rear of the room, providing effective speech and music reinforcement. Extended bass response is provided by four Tannoy B225 15" bass speakers, which together with four Tannoy i15 speakers provide the extra impact required at front of house for larger events and live music productions. Two Tannoy TX2 controllers provide crossover and control functions and stage foldback monitoring is via four Tannoy T12 Dual Concentric speakers. All speaker systems are driven by Lab Gruppen amplifiers. The fully-equipped control room features an Allen & Heath 32-channel mixing desk, with monitoring from two Tannoy System 600 monitors.

CD/Cassette Combination from TascamCD/Cassette Combination from Tascam
Monday, 18 December 2000

Building on the success of the CD-A500 and CD-A700, Tascam has extended the range of products available to professional sound contractors, installers and engineers, with the introduction of the CD-A630 rack-mounting combination three-disc CD changer and auto-reverse cassette deck. Designed for installation in music clubs, bars, restaurants, theatres, dance studios, and for small to medium PA applications, the CD-A630 provides a space-saving versatile sound solution, say Tascam. Available in the UK from TEAC.

Baffle-Only Speakers from Scar
Sunday, 17 December 2000

Scar Audio - part of Audio Industries Research - has introduced a range of baffle-only speakers available direct from the factory. These ‘ready to play’ baffles range from 2-way 12" systems, to 2 x 18" sub-bass bins, surround speakers and studio monitors, are fully wired and tested with drivers, horns, crossovers and tuning ports. All that is needed is a simple box (or flightcase).

New Mic Picks Up Sound From Jaws
Friday, 15 December 2000

The BBC programme Tomorrow’s World recently featured an innovative new microphone that will help to ease communication in very noisy environments – such as between security officers at pop and rock concerts. Where the noise levels generated by screaming fans can exceed 110dB, using radio walkie-talkies to relay potentially vital messages can be a real problem. However, the new microphone, called Invisio, gets round the problem by picking up the wearer’s voice from inside the head. Sitting inside a specially-made earpiece, the miniature microphone picks up the voice of the speaker via the vibrations passing up through the jawbone.

Celestion’s SubstationCelestion’s Substation
Friday, 15 December 2000

Celestion has launched two new multi-purpose bass systems that make up a range of innovative products called Substation. The new Substation 10, Substation 15 and the Substation18 are flexible units designed for easy integration into fixed and portable systems. All three cabinets feature a unique Celestion connector panel that allows them to be configured in any one of three modes; Passive Stereo, Passive Mono and Direct Mono. The dual voice coil design enables mono ‘summed’ bass reproduction of a stereo signal, while an internal passive crossover allows the user to select mono or stereo high pass passive filtering for separate mid/high loudspeakers.

The smallest loudspeaker is the Substation 10, which has been designed for use in space-critical fixed installations. This provides additional LF reinforcement for music systems and is ideal for use in retail stores and restaurants. The Substation15 combines high power and performance in an easily transportable cabinet, adding extended bass performance to portable systems or fixed installations. This compact unit provides solid bass performance and high power handling make it suitable for high level bass reinforcement in a variety of venues. The Substation18 is the largest product in the range, providing a powerful low-end performance for bars, clubs and live music venues.

Renkus-Heinz Launches Reflex Series
Friday, 15 December 2000

Renkus-Heinz has officially launched the Reflex Series of loudspeakers, which was previewed at the PLASA Show in September. Reflex is manufactured in Europe, and brings two key Renkus-Heinz technologies to a host of applications at a more affordable price. The Reflex Series employs advanced Renkus-Heinz technology, top grade cabinet materials and high quality European audio components. The units are designed for both installed and touring applications, with rugged construction and user-friendly features such as handles and tripod mounting sockets.

The Reflex Series incorporate two unique Renkus-Heinz technologies: Complex Conic horn topology (which eliminates the polar pattern distortions created by traditional horn designs) and True Array Principle or ‘TRAP’ (which ensures that the acoustic centres of adjacent cabinets are physically coincident). Typical applications include theatres, nightclubs, small-to-medium size arena/stadium distributed systems, compact live sound PA systems, and portable or installed conference A/V applications.

Wembley Bows Out with Final Concert
Friday, 15 December 2000

Early November saw the final concert at Wembley Stadium before the venue is demolished and redeveloped. Quietly publicised, it passed off with little note in the Nationals, but nevertheless raised a substantial amount of cash for the NSPCC thanks to a host of stars.

Keith Morris, under the auspices of CSS Productions, managed the event, reassembling the team he used so successfully for the British Gas, Maritime Museum New Millennium’s Eve event (strange how little we hear of the Millennial events that succeeded). Being November and rather nippy around the towers, this dinner and music show was staged on the pitch, but under cover. Serious Structures provided its Space Building, a giant derivative of the classic Orbit roof, being a curved ‘tunnel’ 92 metres long, 40m wide, with a max height at centre of 15m. The main feature of the Space Building is the totally transparent side fabric, which meant a lavish lighting display could be staged against the backdrop of the famous Twin Towers.

"This event was always going to be very tight on time," commented Morris. "The window for the build and de-rig was only 10 days (seven-day build, three-day de-rig). Scheduling was therefore of prime importance and a lot of time was spent with suppliers and site manager William (Pitso) Pirrie going through this process.

All audio was in the hands of Capital Sound, project managed by Martin Connolly. All Martin Wavefront 8, nine cabinets were flown each side of the stage as main system, plus two sets of delays down the length of the structure to avoid hig

New Product Specialist at QSC
Friday, 15 December 2000

QSC Audio has appointed Roger Maycock to the position of product application specialist. Maycock brings a wealth of industry experience to QSC Audio, having served many years as a product trainer, clinician, documentation specialist and journalist. In this newly-created position, he will function as a technical trainer - spearheading QSC’s education programmes while also serving as a spokesperson on technical issues with the press.

Maycock was, until recently, technical consultant to Mix magazine where, he contributed product reviews, applications articles, and feature stories. His work has been published in Electronic Musician, NetMedia, EQ, Pro Sound News, Down Beat, and Music Inc. magazines. He served several years as TASCAM’s marketing support manager and has also served as a product specialist with Fostex and Roland.

Martin Pro Launches New Web Site
Thursday, 14 December 2000

Martin Professional has given its website a new look, in order to give its visitors a more customized experience. Martin has segmented the website into the various lighting industry segments. There are also separate areas for Jem smoke machines and Mach loudspeakers.Users logging on to the site for the first time can customize their visit by choosing a lighting industry sector, and language, so that users are always directed to a sub-site reflective of their background and interests. The 10 different sub-sites cover the following segments: DJ, Club, Touring, Theater, Architectural, TV, Commercial, Leisure, Jem Smoke and Mach Speakers. Each sub-site contains products and case stories relevant to that particular sector, as well as company information, a comprehensive distributor directory page and support area, as well as some fun extras.

Millionaire Gets the Midas Touch
Thursday, 14 December 2000

Elstree Sound Associates (ESA) has recently purchased a Midas Heritage 1000 from the London branch of LMC Audio Systems. Celador Productions dry hire a TV sound control room from ESA for the UK version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ Having already been aware of Midas XL4 and XL3s, ESA were familiar with Midas for their reputation in live sound environment. On being presented with the new H1000, ESA was convinced that the console would work equally well in a broadcast environment. Sound supervisor Kevin Duff commented: "You never know how a desk is going to perform until the red light is on . . . but the H1000 excelled and blew me away with its warm, bright and crisp sound." He was also impressed by the console’s automation, adding: "There are two sound supervisors on 'Millionaire' - Chris Thorpe and myself - and we both have our own personal operational preferences in the way we use the console. By storing our preferences in the snapshot automation either of us can recall our settings instantly, which greatly reduces set-up time."

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Thursday, 14 December 2000

Central London-based Orbital Sound is currently in pre-production for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s musical adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which will make its London debut at Sadler’s Wells this Christmas.

In order to accommodate the complexities of this acclaimed production of Lion, Orbital worked closely with sound designer Scott Myers at all levels to help augment his initial sound design, first created three years ago for the show’s original run at the RSC.

Orbital has invested in the revolutionary new Yamaha PM1D as a world first to operate as the FOH theatre desk. The potential of this desk as part of Orbital’s extensive inventory is set to dramatically change sound design in theatre for both complex sound effects plays and larger musicals.

As Scott Myers explained: "The facilities on the PM1D will enable me to do complex operations simultaneously such as various changes in orchestra colours, quickly yet subtly, difficult changes in foldback mixes, and multi-dimensional sound effect placement. This should allow me to give the audience a first-rate theatrical experience."

From the show’s inception, Myers and Orbital’s head of production, Andy Robinson, have engineered detailed CAD schematics and produced a new systems design, breaking new ground by way of the use of the PM1D. Orbital’s in-house editing suite has proved especially useful on Lion. Working closely with Pro-Tools expert Sebastian Frost, Scott Myers found that the company’s vast library of sound effects has enabled him


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