Sound Design

No Evil

I was the sound designer for this show. The show had a student director who had some unusual ideas about how they wanted to do there show. This created a few challenges as i never thought about using the stage in this way.

OldAs you can see in this picture the front and back tabs were to be drawn all the way in and the audience sits on the stage and right in front of them is the performance space. My sound design consisted of two Mackie s215’s at the back of the stage. I decided to to put them at the back of the stage to create a smaller distance distance between the stage and the audience.

Unfortunately as this show had a student director and she changed her mind about how she wanted to do the the show after every rehearsal. The day before the show she changed her mind again without telling any of the tech team.

New This picture shows what actually happened. Both the stage and the audience was rotated 90° and the tabs opened slightly to allow the two spaces to fit. The sound and lighting desks stayed where they were because they were already setup and we had no time to move them.


Because the space was being used this way for the first time there was no sound system. So the first thing was for me to setup some form of system. Used two Mackie s215’s as they were more than powerful enough to fill the space and were easily hidden in the darkness of the wings. These were powered from JBL monitor amplifier 1.

Another problem I encountered was that we had setup the iMac and the small Yamaha sound desk on stage left (the Yamaha desk was used because of space limitations) and the stage box was on stage right. This problem was easily fixed however because there was two XLR cables running from stage left to stage right. This allowed me to send a stereo signal out of the Yamaha desk and into the stage box. From there I sent it into channels 15 and 16 on the Soundcraft Live 8 which is the disk at the back of the auditorium. I was them able to send the mix out of auxiliary 1 & 2 which went to monitor amp 1. Once the levels were set at the Soundcraft desk the show could be operated from stage on the Yamaha desk.

During the testing of this system i noticed it was lacking bass which was understandable as these were only being used as monitors before. I then had the idea of using the front of house subwoofers for bass. This is possible because i know that bass is omni directional allowing me to to use the subs with out moving them. I turned on only the subwoofer amplifier and sent sound out of the front of house system. After setting the level for the bass the system was setup.

The final thing to do was to build the QLab file. I have not attached it as it was very small and only had two sound files in it. But each sound file had fade in and fade out cues.


Spelling Bee

Spelling bee is a show being performed by the year 2 musical theatre students. Generally the musical theatre shows sell the most so to fill the space with a full auditorium requires the performers to mic’d up. I will be using the Sennheiser body packs and receivers because that is what they have at Sue Townsend Theatre. In combination with the body packs I will be using 6 headset style microphones and 4 lapel microphones used in a tear drop configuration. I will use the lapel mics in this way to try to hide them in the performers hair. I will probably try to get most of the performers using the lapel mics as they are less noticeable, although some actors prefer the headset style.

For this show I will be using the Soundcraft Live 8 as it is the main and biggest desk at STT. I have also spent a lot of time on this desk so I am very comfortable using it. It is important the sound operator knows the sound desk well because if there is a problem with the sound during the show it must be fixed immediately. This is much easier to do if the operator knows the desk well as they can get to all of the controls quickly.

The sound system i will be using will be the normal front of house system. There is not much i can change about this as the performance space is used by other people not related to the show. However i will be using fold back on stage so that the performers can hear themselves sing. This will be provided by the the same Mackie s215’s used in the show above and powered from the same JBL amplifier.

Another sound requirement of the show is a keyboard on stage right. This is used by the director though out the show as he provides all of the music of it. I will use the mono out to go out of the keyboard into a DI box which is used to boost the signal so it can be sent to the sound desk at the back of the auditorium. I will be using an active DI box so it will require power from the 48v phantom power from the sound desk. From there it will go into a channel on the desk and out of the sound system.

Because the performers are mainly singing on stage I will be using reverb to make their voices sound more natural. This will come from a Yamaha SPX2000 effects processor because it is our best effects processor and I can get just the sound I like out of it. Because the performers are not singing all of the time i need to be able to turn off the reverb otherwise the it will not sound quite right. Therefore to use the reverb I will send the signal from the microphones out of auxiliary 5 on the desk and into the processor. The return from the processor will go back into one of the stereo channels on the desk. Then if i want reverb for when the performers start singing I can just push the fader up on the stereo channel and then bring it down again when they have finished singing.

All of the music comes from the director on the keyboard but there are a few sound effects and a recorded sound file that need to be played in the show. For this I will setup an iMac connected to a small Scarlett 2i4 interface. I will use this interface rather than the bigger Scarlett 18i20 because I am using a lot of equipment and I do not have a lot of desk space to spare so if i can get a way with using a smaller interface I will. I only need a stereo outputs so this interface should be fine. The interface is then patched into stereo 1 on the sound desk.

Below I have made a mic plot so I can see what mics go into what inputs. This is useful to have as it speeds up the setup process and can help when trying to diagnose problems.

Mic Plot

In this I have also stated both the character and actor names next to each mic. This is useful because if problems need to be sorted its easy to find the actor. I have also noted the power requirements for each mic so that I know what batteries I need when they need replacing.