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Yamaha Ensures The Birds Of A Feather Don’t Get In A Flap

July, 2012

A little piece of Chigwell has spent the past four months visiting destinations as far afield as Blackpool, Bath and Cardiff, as one of Britain’s best-loved sitcoms - Birds of a Feather - enjoys a new lease of life in theatres across England and Wales. A Yamaha LS9-16 digital mixing console and StageMix iPad app have ensured that, in the sound department at least, the flight has been smooth.

The tour has reunited Pauline Quirke, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph as Sharon, Tracey and Dorien in a seven-piece ensemble that includes Quirke and Robson’s sons, Charlie and Louis.

The tour’s sound & AV engineer Jenn Goodheart-Smithe specified the audio equipment, while John Meany of Kent-based Jem Productions facilitated its acquisition from Subfrantic Production Services.

“I had to keep things as straightforward and self-contained as possible because the sound department is effectively me - the only technical help I have is Tommy Doyle, the Technical Assistant Stage Manager who I share with the stage management department,” says Jenn. “We are also using house systems and so I never quite know what I will get each time we arrive at a venue.”

The show uses seven Sennheiser wireless microphone systems, with the sound effects and playback from a laptop running SCS. As well as the FOH mix, stage monitoring for the sound effects is also done via the LS9.

“The LS9-16 was the perfect console for the job because it offered all the facilities and flexibility that I needed, but is small enough for me to move on my own,” Jenn continues. “Although I hadn’t used one before, I’ve got a lot of experience with other Yamaha consoles and so got to grips with it very quickly.

“Some venues we’ve played in have had the PA all set up, whereas at others I’ve had to tune the system from scratch. The onboard compressors, parametric EQs and routing options meant that I’ve been prepared for every eventuality, without having to carry round a load of outboard.”

Tellingly, Jenn cites StageMix as being “an absolute life saver” on a tour like this.

“It has made a huge difference,” she says. “Venues like the Richmond Theatre, the Lowry in Salford and the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham have circles which massively overhang the mix position. Similarly, at Norwich Theatre Royal I was mixing in a control room, where the acoustics were totally different from the auditorium.

“Being able to use StageMix to get the basics right from the audience seats was brilliant. It meant that at the mix position during the show I could take into account the difference in the sound and know that it would be right in the seats. The tour would have been ten times harder without it.”


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