New musical White Noise follows a top-selling music producer who, according to the show’s producers, “stirs up an explosive cocktail of shock and spin with a touch of controversy to package talented artists into blockbuster stars.” Sound designer Garth Helm and associate designer/programmer Brian Hsieh have packed an amazing amount of technology into what Helm likes to call “the biggest little show ever.”
A Midas PRO9 console is used for primary mixing duties, augmented by a backstage PRO3 for monitors, both supplied by Sound Associates Inc. “In the theater world, we’re very cue-based,” Hsieh says. “For White Noise, we have 100-plus scenes programmed into the PRO9. Almost every scene carries MIDI commands to at least seven devices, with links and follows. We’re able to take any number of the 24 wireless channels and put them on the VCAs needed for that scene. And every line is a fader move, and every scene changes the layout of the VCAs. We’re constantly on the VCAs.”
The biggest challenge for the audio team was designing a system that would handle the show’s huge I/O requirements. The production uses 88 input channels at FOH and 48 at monitors. On the output side, there are 35 individual mix outputs from FOH and 24 from monitors. A Klark-Teknik DN9696 high-resolution audio recorder captures the musical performances. “Our game plan is to create a live-performance soundtrack CD,” says Helm. “It’s a great recorder and integrates seamlessly into the Midas network. We’re capturing each input individually during the performances, and then we will take them to a recording studio to mix and edit.
“We’re using three Cat-5 cables to pass a total of 144 channels of audio back and forth between the front-of-house and monitor systems. The PRO3 is the source for all the monitor mixes, which include IEMs and wedge mixes for the band, plus various stage foldback speakers. Those mixes are static so there’s no need for an active monitor engineer for the show.”