Olivier and Tony Award-winning sound designer Gareth Owen has recently specified an array of Allen & Heath products across three of London’s biggest theatre productions. Employed to solve the issues of personal monitoring for musicians in the West End shows, the ME-1 Personal Mixer is at the heart of the systems, which Owen has used for Wind In The Willows (London Palladium), Bat Out Of Hell (London Coliseum) and 42nd Street (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane).
“This is the future,” says Owen. “We have three of the biggest shows in London, two on Broadway and Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame running out in Germany, all on the Allen & Heath set-ups and we couldn’t be happier. It’s been a truly great choice.”
Rather than being driven by a traditional console, the ME-1s are fed by an Allen & Heath dLive DM64 MixRack in each situation, with the MixRack controlled from touch-screen PCs running the company’s Director software. As such each of the installations allows for a remarkably compact solution to the complex needs of each production.
With different musical line-ups – ranging from the orchestral 42nd Street to the electric band in Bat Out Of Hell – the shows bring varying challenges in terms of monitoring. But the flexibility of the ME-1 and DM64 systems has placed control in the hands of each player, as Owen explains…
“We have older, very experienced brass players who want everything kept very simple,” he says, “and young drummers who want every one of the 40 stems from a show coming into their mixer so they can do really detailed mixes. And their ME-1 gives them that choice and control.
“And the fact that the DM64 has freed us from having to use a large mixer to drive the ME-1 units is fantastic. Our monitoring stations are very often below stage, so space is a real consideration – the DM64s with the Director software is a very powerful, convenient solution for us.”