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26/05/2011

Orbital Equips Narrative Ballet

A leading sound and communication systems specialist for the theatre, event and broadcast markets, Orbital Sound, has recently supplied the sound system for Sadler's Wells' ballet première of The Most Incredible Thing - a narrative ballet with a contemporary score written and recorded by The Pet Shop Boys.
Sound design was by Olivier, Drama Desk and Tony Award-winning designer Paul Arditti, who centred the system around the d&b audiotechnik T-Series T-10 line-array.
Paul put together the spec for a top-end system that could also cope with later plans to tour the ballet, recognising that the in-house system at Sadler’s Wells would not be able to cope with the score's large dynamic range.
The main system is configured with four hangs of eight T-10s, each with a T-SUB, plus a centre cluster of ten T-10s, with the addition of four d&b Q-Subs and four B2s to boost the low end performance.
Paul explained his approach: "The T-10s are awesomely compact at just 30cm wide - to the extent that when I first saw them, I started to wonder if I had made the right choice.
"My concerns soon abated once I started to work with them, as the amount and quality of the sound they deliver is quite amazing, together with a very flat response.
"Their ultra-slim profile was also very popular with the set designers. I did most of the EQ’ing by ear, which is how I prefer to work, although we also did some SMAART measurements to help me blend the T-10s into the T-Subs, then into the Q-Subs and the B2s – and it all sounded very good.
"We used the d&b R1 software for all the internal balancing of the T10s and T-Subs, which is a very useful tool. We used a DiGiCo SD8 mixing console, which was great but proved to be too small. Fortunately, the SD8 allows you to have all 60 input channels as either stereo or mono, so we got round the lack of inputs by using a lot of the orchestral channels in stereo mode.
"The Pet Shop Boys were very impressed with the result, and both Orbital and d&b audiotechnik are to be congratulated.
"When we started out on this journey, Neil Tennant asked me to make it sound like the CD.
"At the end, he said it sounded even better, with the live orchestra and the surround sound giving it a very three-dimensional quality. I couldn't have hoped for a better verdict," he said.
The creative team behind the production included the unorthodox Venezuelan choreographer, Javier De Frutos, and orchestrator Sven Helbig - a long-time collaborator with the Pet Shop Boys – as well as Tony Award-winning designer Katrina Lindsay and BAFTA-winning animator Tal Rosner.
(BMcC/GK)
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