NEW YORK, MAY 11, 2016 — When the darkly thrilling musical American Psycho arrived at Broadway’s Schoenfeld Theatre, Sound Designer Dan Moses Schreier and Associate Sound Designer Joshua Reid needed to provide a top-notch listening experience. Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, was called on to deliver a custom audio equipment package that would take audiences on the ride of their lives.
Set in 1980s Manhattan, American Psycho tells the story of Patrick Bateman, a young Wall Street banker who has it all – looks, money, style and status. He and his entourage buy the most expensive designer clothes, eat at the most exclusive restaurants and party at the hottest clubs. But privately, Patrick indulges in another kind of transgression. And people – including those closest to him – keep disappearing. Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho features a score by Tony- and Grammy Award-winning composer Duncan Sheik.
One of the biggest challenges both designers faced was maintaining vocal clarity throughout the show. “There’s a very large dynamic range to the performance,” says Reid. “There are some very soft intimate moments with the dialogue and scene work that is meant to draw the audience in, but then in the next scene we have to take the sound system to an 80’s electronic dance club. We had to have the low end energy, while still making sure the vocals were clear. We have a lot of loud orchestrations for the show, so being able to get the words over that while still maintaining an intimate environment was the biggest challenge. We achieved this through different sourcing of the sound system that Masque Sound supplied.”
At the heart of the system, Masque Sound supplied a DiGiCo SD7 Digital Mixing Console, which was selected for its routing capabilities. By utilizing the SD7, Schreier and Reid were able to create different vocal looks through the audio system with the delay matrix, bringing the audience closer to or further away from the intimacy of the stage.
The PA system is mainly composed of speakers from d&b audiotechnik. “The d&b range gives us the intelligibility at both ends of the spectrum,” adds Reid. “It gave us the ability to be intimate and soft spoken in the dialogue that really pulled the audience in, and also gave us the power for the rock-style environment when we needed to get loud while maintaining vocal accuracy and intelligibility.”
Masque Sound provided the production with a d&b Y-Series center array with array processing on D20 amplifiers, E12-Ds for orchestra house mains, V-Series arrays for balcony house mains, J-INFRAs, B4s, B2s, E12X-SUBs and Meyer Sound 500-HPs for subs. All delays and surrounds are d&b E6s and E5s. Additionally, 26 channels of wireless with Sennheiser EM3532s and SK5212 transmitters on DPA d:screet 4061s omnidirectional microphones were provided.
“From the very beginning, Masque Sound was incredibly supportive in getting us the specified equipment that we requested,” says Reid. “They understood exactly why we needed the equipment we pre-selected for the show, and they made absolutely every effort to make sure we had those tools at our disposal by the time we got into the theatre.”
One of the interesting components of the sound package was the use of Ableton software. American Psycho only has four live musicians. The team utilized Ableton for playback of both the main and back up tracks. Throughout the show, some tracks are being played back through the Ableton, the production team then takes the live instruments and feeds them into Ableton processing, putting different effects on the track and then creating a band mix from that. For some of the songs Schreier and Reid are doing live vocoding or voice encoding, which means they are taking the vocal microphones and putting them through the same system they are using for the live instruments to create different effects for them. This allows them to take four chorus singers and make them sound like 12.
“Masque Sound was wonderful to work with once again,” says Reid. I also want to acknowledge our team for doing an incredible job. Our FOH Mixer Gabe Wood, Production Audio Dillon Cody and Deck A2 Kate Munchrath were amazing. The show looks and sounds great, and we are very proud of it.”
American Psycho officially opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 W. 45th Street) on April 21, 2016. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit americanpsychothemusical.com.
About Masque Sound
Founded in 1936 by a trio of Broadway stagehands, Masque Sound evolved into one of NYC’s most successful theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design companies specializing in theatrical, house of worship, sporting, corporate, TV broadcast and live concert events. Celebrating more than 75 years in the industry, the company is led by the firm’s Vice President Geoff Shearing. The company also operates Florida-based Professional Wireless Systems, a leader in the development and implementation of wireless technology. Credits range from major Broadway shows and tours including Phantom of the Opera, MAMMA MIA!, Lion King, Jersey Boys, The Book of Mormon, Once, Kinky Boots, Aladdin and Fun Home to yearly Super Bowl broadcasts and installations of varying sizes, including Western Connecticut State University, the Jim Wise Theatre at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and the historic St. Patrick's Cathedral. Masque Sound’s 70,000 sq. ft. corporate headquarters and main assembly facility is located at 21 East Union Ave., East Rutherford, NJ, 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan. For more information, call (201) 939-8666 or visit www.MasqueSound.com.