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Theater and Sound

July 3, 2006
Since some people think I’m all out to get LTTE, and have nothing else to Blog, I thought I’d quench their thirst with some thing I promised in an earlier post. I’ve been involved with sound for some time, and that has converged with Theater, earned the fond title of “Sound Man” at college.

I decided to write this post, because there are few mistakes that most people keep on doing each year, and the wisdom doesn’t seem to get passed on to the next generation. There fore I thought I’d pass on my 2 sense.

When it comes to Sound and Theater you always have to keep in mind that we use this only to “Add” to the performance, and shouldn’t be a major part of it, unless your doing a musical. It’s always nice to have an actor/actress give out an emotional speech and a piece of music on undertone to hit the exact spot. However in your enthusiasm you can drown out the actor’s voice and leave the audience guessing what the hell he just said, effectively killing the effect!

This happened to a few school’s at the Boy’s Semi’s @ Shakespeare, in-fact a judge pointed out that a school completely drowned out their actor. Doing sound at the Wendt is no easy task, as many of you may think, because of the equipment they use. According to my knowledge they use a top of the range Bose with Direct/Reflecting® Speaker Technology. As you can see the inside of the Speaker unit is fitted with many more speakers inside them.

This has the unique feature of reflecting the sound off the walls and give you a truly surround effect.

More info 1.
More info 2.

The negative point of this is, if you take a cross-section of the Wendt(pls bare with my handy work) it creates a hollow downstairs and more sound ends up down stairs than in the balcony.

Since the controls are in the balcony, most people blindly increase the volume not knowing that it’s not the same volume down-stairs.

Since the actors don’t have the ability to reflect sound off walls, their goal is to project to the last row, which most of the time hits the last row of the balcony and is heard. Ironically since the sound volume is much higher downstairs he’s often drowned out.

Specially if your participating in a competition which involves judges, they’d be sitting downstairs (around the 10th row from front). So if the judges don’t here your actors, your basically screwed.

This is also the case for Opening and Closing music. There is nothing more that I like than opening with a BANG! and closing with a BANG! However since you cant judge the actual volume level heard down-stairs you might be actually deafening most of the members in the audience (down-stairs).

How to over come this :

1. Play it by ear. Actually speaking play it way lesser than you can hear.

2. Use monitors. We normally put a sensible guy in the audience to judge the level of sound and let us know.

Well that’s about it for now. Hope you learnt something from my experiences(actually mistakes.. I had Tracy say I drowned out some of the speeches @ Shakes 2002). If you guys have anything to add, point out a few things I’ve missed go ahead.

Hoping this brings out a another side of me that you guys see.. before a certain blogger labels me as an extremist.. lol (not that I see anything wrong with what I’m doing)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. SpectralCentroid permalink
    July 4, 2006 10:47 am

    Interesting shit.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    October 19, 2006 10:56 am

    A bit more reserch into the way the sound system at the wendt works would be good for you…

    The Bose 802 do not use the reflective technology you speak of – rather they provide a more uniform dispersion of sound because of the way the speakers are arrayed (8 drivers in an array) (You’re talking about home theatre systems, I believe)

    Plus the walls of the wendt do not reflect sound the way a conventional hall would do so… its textured to absorb – not reflect. SO you do hear a lot of direct sound.

    The balance downstairs is different, yes. Buts its due largely to the monitors back stage, the absorbtion by the audience and the sound range thats being amplified.


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