Sound Designer Gareth Owen Talks Audio in Musical Theater

by Michael Eddy
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Award-winning sound designer Gareth Owen has been very busy of late with multiple, concurrent stage productions, including Bat Out of Hell, Wind in the Willows and 42nd Street—all running in London’s West End, as well as A Bronx Tale and Come From Away on Broadway. Working on a diverse range of high-profile productions, Owen needs a live sound system with the power and flexibility to create the perfect sound for each production regardless of the genre. Owen talks about relying on Avid’s flagship live sound system to support these musical theater productions for his sound designs.

As long-time members of Avid’s distinguished user community, Owen and his team were the first to adopt Avid VENUE | S6L for Broadway and West End productions, using its extensive programming capabilities to craft much of each show during the production phase.

“Every show is different, and some are polar opposites of each other in terms of sonic requirements—for example, Bat Out of Hell is a balls-to-the-wall rock and roll musical, as loud as any concert, while 42nd Street is the traditional book musical, all about subtlety and transparency,” said Owen. “The S6L takes these varying musical styles in its stride, tackling them all as if it was designed specifically for that purpose. The sound quality is far ahead of any other console I’ve used. There’s a clarity and transparency to the sound of the S6L that’s a new experience for me. And it gives me the power to explore my creativity without being hemmed in by the technology.”

Owen and his team are currently using the Avid VENUE | S6L console for several shows, including Come From Away (Broadway), A Bronx Tale (Broadway) ,42nd Street (West End), Young Frankenstein (West End), and Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame (Germany). They will also be using the console for a number of upcoming productions, including Donna Summer (Broadway), Come From Away (Toronto), Prince of Egypt (Denmark), Bat Out of Hell (Toronto), Starlight Express (London) and Strictly Ballroom (London).

“We are honored that one of the world’s top sound designers relies on Avid’s comprehensive tools and workflow solutions to mix the biggest musical theater productions,” said Avid President, Jeff Rosica. “As well as giving Gareth and his team the control and creative flexibility to support the most sophisticated productions regardless of genre, the Avid VENUE | S6L console’s sound quality is second to none.”

Avid VENUE | S6L is a fully modular, flexible live sound mixing system that delivers best-in-class functionality for a range of live sound mixing applications, including front-of-house, monitor, broadcast, theater, and more. Offering unprecedented processing capabilities—with over 300 processing channels—S6L delivers unrelenting performance and reliability through its advanced engine design, backed by modern touchscreen workflows and the scalability to easily handle large, complex tours and events. Powered by MediaCentral®, the industry’s most open, tightly integrated, and efficient platform designed for media, S6L provides seamless Pro Tools® integration and on-board industry-standard plug-ins, with higher track counts and more processing power than ever before. With a comprehensive array of network and I/O offerings, users can easily configure the system to meet the demands of any type of show.

Further information from Avid: www.avid.com