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Masque Sound Takes On Lehmann Trilogy

Epic play gets the immersive audio treatment for New York premiere.

New York, NY (May 1, 2019)—Following a run in London where it was presented by the National Theater, The Lehmann Trilogy landed in New York City recently for an off-Broadway run in March and April, presented at the Park Avenue Armory. Theatrical audio specialist Masque Sound provided immersive audio for the epic, three-hour play directed by Sam Mendes, which covered nearly 200 years as it recounted the history of the Lehmann family and western capitalism itself, culminating in 2008’s Lehmann Brothers financial meltdown.

Masque Sound double miked the actors with Shure Axient ADX1M micro bodypack transmitters outfitted with DPA6061 micro capsules while placing a third set in their top hats. Front-of-house was home to a DiGiCo SD10 with a redundant engine also provided by Masque Sound utilized with two d&b DS100 processors. Wireless signals were captured with deployed Professional Wireless Systems helical antennas.

While the production only featured three actors and piano music, its staging—an 800-square-foot rotating glass cube and a curved upstage cyclorama—presented acoustical challenges. Sound design for the production in both countries was handled by the National Theater’s head of Sound & Video Dominic Bilkey, working with co-sound designer Nick Powell. Together, they created a system based around d&b audiotechnik Soundscape technology.

That entailed specifying five arrays placed outer left, inner left, center, inner right and outer right, and for the New York production, those arrays were each made up of six d&b Y8s, followed by two of the wider dispersion Y12 line array modules. A single d&b V-SUB subwoofer was flown between each array (four total) to provide the audience with additional low end. There were 10 T10 loudspeakers mounted to the face of the deck for front fills and a delay line of seven Y7P to further the propagation of sound. Also, 14 T10 loudspeakers—four on both side walls and six in the rear—surrounded the audience to ensure that every seat was fully immersed.

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“Vocal imaging and intelligibility are critical to the show,” said Bilkey. “The actors pass behind glass while speaking which presents one challenge, while the width of the seating bank at the Armory was another and finally, giving the audience an intimate audio experience in an acoustically challenging venue was yet another. For the Park Avenue Armory, Soundscape was the logical solution given its basis within delay and gain-based spatial engine. Other solutions would allow for some degrees of control with context and L/C/R panning of the space, but it is the delay-based component which really allows us to position the performers within the depth of the revolving cube.

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Masque Sound also provided d&b loudspeakers for use on the stage. A pair of J-INFRAs were located behind the stage and four V7Ps were placed on the stage for effects. With the glass cube itself, there were six more KEF Ci100QS mounted in the ceiling, fed by d&b amplifiers. Two E3 loudspeakers were mounted underneath the deck where a MIDI keyboard was located to provide localization for the sound. Each loudspeaker had its own amplifier channel and signal feed to work within the Soundscape system.

Masque Sound •