One Sound, many guvnors
The first production to pass through the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) Lyric Theatre, 'One man, two guvnors', exhibited all the demands chief sound technician Mr. Sanco Lee had anticipated when he specified his expectations of a new sound system. "The Lyric is a typical modern theatre venue for the size of audience; two balconies, side burns and gallery boxes place the audience at various levels to afford the best view of the stage. It's a great venue to see a show; I wanted it also to be the best for what people can hear in terms of music, speech intelligibility and even coverage. It also needed to be high performance, to deliver 117 dB SPL at 1 kHz 3 octaves throughout the seating area."
Among many, Mr. Lee approached Alex Poon, Senior Project Manager at d&b audiotechnik China for a proposal, "Lee knew he wanted a distributed system to achieve the sort of coverage goals he specified, but as with all such venues, there are physical and architectural limits to be overcome."
Lee and Poon between them devised a system design based largely on d&b Q-Series for the main system. "I like the natural sound of d&b systems," said Lee, "The Qi is also very compact and light weight, there is just no other line array system like it, so its physical impact on the venue was slight; the inherent seventy five degree horizontal dispersion of the Q-Series is ideal for covering the main stalls and upper tier audience positions. We also put in a T10 centre cluster to provide a vocal source, leaving the Qis, when required, to just carry the musical score. Again these are small and very light weight loudspeakers, and great performers. To pull the sound image down to stage level, Alex introduced me to the White range of d&b installation products, the 4S proving an ideal candidate for front fills. It is extremely small and unobtrusive, yet delivers that typical d&b power and transparency. In fact the White range proved ideal for other areas, 8S in the upper gallery, with some 10S loudspeakers for added low end weight; and we used the 8S again for dead zones to either side of the stage where the physical architecture of the room acoustically shades some seats."
The Hong Kong press didn't notice the new sound system at all when 'Two guvnors' opened, "which was just as we wanted," said Lee. "Previously there had been comments about the distractions of amplified sound. That won't be the case with contemporary musicals, where we know they are going to be bowled over by the power and finesse of the system. We can't wait."
Photographs courtesy of Caroline Moss