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TiMax in Gareth Fry SOR sound design at the Barbican

City of London’s Barbican Theatre recently hosted a Complicite production of The Master and Margarita, described by critics as a fantastic technical achievement. Live film and 3D animations by Finn Ross and Luke Halls combined to help director Simon McBurney bring Mikhail Bulgakov’s challenging novel to the stage. The sound design by West End veteran Gareth Fry, which employed TiMax SoundHub and TiMax Tracker automated vocal localisation, also attracted “.high praise.” from reviewers.

The TiMax SoundHub processor received radio-mic channel direct outs from the Yamaha PM5D console and delay-matrixed them to the multichannel source-oriented reinforcement (SOR) vocal system which comprised three flown pairs of LAcoustics Arcs, Meyer MM4 front fills and UPM balcony delays. Upstage UPA’s were flown above the heads of the actors to act as first-wavefront reference anchors for the main SOR system.

The actors wore miniature radar-frequency TiMax Tracker Tags which, as they moved around stage, sent signals to four TiMax Tracker Sensors to instruct the TiMax SoundHub matrix to level-pan their radio mics across the first-wavefront reference speakers while simultaneously morphing them between delay-matrix Image Definitions relating to individual stage zones. By maintaining acoustic precedence of the on-stage vocals and first-wavefront system over the main house vocal system, Gareth Fry enabled all audience members to continuously localise to the actors voices as they moved around the Barbican’s very wide stage. In a 3-hour show with a number of parallel story threads, this helped greatly with intelligibility to ensure the audience’s total immersion in the show’s complex plot lines.

The TiMax SoundHub-S32 and TiMax Tracker system were rented from TiMax developers Out Board by Barbican’s Head of Sound Steve Mayo, with Out Board’s Robin Whittaker assisting on site with initial setup. The show was mixed by Fergus Mount, and associate sound designer was Kay Basson.

Gareth Fry was happy with the results: “TiMax sounded wonderful, I’m quite sure that in the coming years SOR will be the most common way to do vocal reinforcement in drama.”