Sound Designer Gareth Owen on Networked Audio Solutions

by Michael Eddy
Bat Out of Hell features a sound design by Gareth Owen
Bat Out of Hell features a sound design by Gareth Owen

World class sound designer Gareth Owen has been using Luminex GigaCore 12 switches for ultra-reliable networked audio for his sound designs on all-new productions of international hit musicals he’s been involved with, including Starlight Express, Come From Away and Bat Out of Hell. A seven-time Tony and Olivier winning and nominated sound designer, Owen’s pioneering work can be heard all over the world, including Broadway, Las Vegas, and London’s West End. Shows utilizing his designs have been enjoyed by over 30 million people.

The latest productions of Bat Out of Hell and Starlight Express in Germany, and Come From Away in London’s West End set new standards in musical theater, featuring revolutionary immersive surround sound designs by Owen and the creative team at Gareth Owen Sound.
Starlight Express

Utilising d&b audiotechnik’s Soundscape object-based sound design mixing platform, the technically demanding shows – which range from 180º up to full 360º implementation – feature a huge number of data channels running over Dante. With no analog backup for the audio systems, the network distribution has to be 100% reliable. Working together with d&b and equipment suppliers to the shows, Stage Sound Services and Orbital Sound, the Luminex GigaCore network switches were rigorously tested in a Soundscape-based setup and left everyone impressed.

Owen commented: “We wanted to get a Dante-approved switch which was rock solid, well built and trustworthy. The Luminex switches are built to last in this industry, with a proper case that’s not going to bend when they have to go up 16 stories and up onto fly floors, or when slammed off a truck. This also makes the GigaCores a good investment for rental companies. They’re more expensive than an off the shelf domestic or commercial switch, but in the long term you’re not going to be buying more of them, so you will continue to earn money from them in the future.”

Owen has also been impressed by the GigaCore’s ease of use. He commented: “The GigaCores are so quick and easy to set up. You don’t need a degree in IT to configure them. You plug in, turn on, plug things into them and they just work. Being able to fully isolate down what the network is seeing in terms of devices is extremely valuable.”

For complete peace of mind, all three shows utilise main and secondary Dante audio streams which are run over entirely separate physical distribution networks. Owen explained: “We run a dual redundant Dante network utilizing the GigaCores, along with redundant PSUs that provide full power redundancy at each end of the wire for both sets of switches, so in the unlikely event of a failure, the system can seamlessly switch over to the redundant stream.”

Summarizing his experience using the GigaCores, Owen commented: “We’ve now standardized having Luminex switches for Dante distribution on all our shows. They just do the job they are supposed to do reliably, without any problems. We haven’t had a single issue with them. For such a show-critical piece of hardware, having such peace of mind is extremely important.”

The Luminex GigaCore switches were supplied to Stage Sound Services and Orbital Sound by the Audio sales division of exclusive UK distributor, A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ltd (AC-ET).

Further information from Luminex and A.C. Lighting: