Having completed a major £15.8m redevelopment that included all-new d&b audiotechnik audio systems for its two main theatres, Leeds Playhouse has become the first UK regional theatre to install d&b audiotechnik’s Soundscape sound object positioning,

Quarry TheatreThe theatre’s performance spaces – the main 750-seat Quarry Theatre and the smaller 420-seat Courtyard Theatre – have been significantly redesigned and improved, and the multi-purpose Rock Void, created in an unused basement.

Autograph Sales & Installations assisted in audio design in the Quarry and Courtyard theatres, then supplied, tested and commissioned both. Autograph’s Adam Broom worked with the house technical team led by Head of Sound Martin Pickersgill, deputy Tom Cuthbertson and technician Rob Landels.

The sound system features various d&b technologies, including the Soundscape sound object positioning tool, which aligns up to 64 ‘objects’ to correspond both visually and acoustically. theatre in the UK to include it as part of a permanently-installed house system.

Previously, the Quarry Theatre audio set-up used a small d&b system, and the team’s satisfaction with it led them to d&b again. ‘The d&b C-Series system did an amazing job covering plays and never skipped a beat,’ Cuthbertson says. ‘But for larger musicals, we would need to hire in larger rigs, whereas now it’s a different story.’

The Quarry Theatre is a contemporary theatre design, similar to the Olivier Theatre at the National in London. Its similarities are also echoed in the challenges encountered when implementing a sound system capable of dealing with the very broad portfolio of productions presented by a leading regional theatre.

The sound system design is now divided into five principal zones – the main array over and around the forestage comprises seven d&b Y10P units and four Vi-Sub subwoofers. Five 10S-Ds make up the first row of delays, located on Bridge 1, while ten 8S units on Bridge 2 comprise the second delay row. A further 14 8S units are located as surround speakers, while six compact E6s are used as front fill.

Quarry TheatreAll processing and amplification is handled by a single d&b DS100 Signal Engine (the Soundscape processor/matrix device), three DS10 Audio Network Bridges, three 30D, and eight 10D installation amplifiers, plus six Cisco SG300-Series switches.

‘It’s great to have larger first bridge delays and an additional ring of delays on bridge two,’ Cuthbertson reports.

‘The central sub-array gives us vastly more even coverage, and the En-Scene processing eliminates differences in the audience’s experience regardless of their seat position. The sound comes from the source with full 360° object positioning, and En-Space reverbs; The potential for creativity and audience immersion is huge.’

The more conventionally-shaped Courtyard Theatre is also entirely d&b equipped to cover three levels of seating, including a mix of d&b 10S-Ds, 21S subwoofers, and E4s and E5s located as front fill and delays respectively. Only three additional d&b amplifiers were needed (one 30D and two 10Ds, in addition to an existing D6) to power the system, alongside a single DS10 Audio Network Bridge and two further Cisco SG300-Series switches.

The quality and capabilities of the theatre’s new audio infrastructures match its ambitious and forward-thinking redevelopment. It is now one of the best-equipped regional theatres in the UK comparable with many West End venues, able to deal with demanding productions and sound design. The addition of d&b’s Soundscape, and the range of possibilities that it affords sound designers, takes an already superlative facility to the next level.

More: www.dbaudio.com

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