Composer Jeff Wayne selected KLANG 3D in-ear monitoring for the arena production he conducted of his debut concept album, The War of the Worlds.
The War of the Worlds is a symphonic, progressive rock retelling of the H.G. Wells classic novel, which was released in 1978 and has since sold millions of copies around the world.
The first album to be recorded on 48 tracks, Wayne’s album featured a number of high profile musicians, including Justin Hayward, Phil Lynott, Julie Covington and David Essex, as well as the voice of legendary Welsh actor Richard Burton.
Touring productions of The War of the Worlds have received critical acclaim, huge public support and boasted notable stars such as Russell Watson, Jason Donovan, Ricky Wilson and Joss Stone playing principal roles.
In 2018, Wayne took to the podium to conduct the latest version of the production during a tour of UK arenas. Eight singers were accompanied by a nine-piece band and 36-strong orchestra to deliver the spectacular show to sold out venues across the country.
On the technical side of the production, for this the 40th anniversary of his legendary album, Wayne added a new cast member that in his own words added an “extra dimension” to the show. Wayne had been introduced to KLANG – the world’s first immersive 3-D in-ear mixing technology – by the show’s experienced monitor engineer Becky Pell, who had road-tested it on tour with Anastacia.
Pell elaborated: “I first encountered KLANG when Karrie Keyes of the Soundgirls organisation asked me if I’d write an article about psychoacoustics, culminating in discussing KLANG’s technology and how it can help monitor for engineers and musicians. I was keen to be involved and asked the guys at KLANG if I could take a demo unit out on my tour at the time – Anastacia – to get a feel for it. I was really impressed with the product, both with how it sounded and what it let me create, and also the fact that the space created allowed me to reduce the central element of a mix – vocals for a singer or click for a drummer – by as much as 6dB. That’s extremely significant for protecting hearing. What I also liked was the fact that it’s a very natural way to listen. KLANG is based on the science of binaural hearing, that is, how we perceive sounds naturally, so it’s far less fatiguing for the brain and ears to listen to than stereo, which is very unnatural. All of these elements led me to think that KLANG would be perfect for Jeff’s mix.”
Pell approached Wayne prior to the tour and suggested that he listen to the KLANG demo and compare its 3D properties to stereo. He was immediately on board with the idea, recognising that the spatial placement on offer would be of great benefit.
Pell expanded on KLANG’s role in The War of the Worlds: “The War of the Worlds is a lot more involved than your average rock and roll tour; Jeff has created this beautifully produced album and my job is to recreate it as faithfully as possible. When he’s conducting, he wants to hear it in its entirety. It struck me that it’s a lot of information – 168 inputs to get into a stereo mix – and I had the idea that KLANG would help me to create space within all of that…to create depth and width and height and just be able to find separation in the midst of all of these elements. It’s proved an absolute winner for him.”
For Wayne, the mix represents the full range of his creation, with every aspect clearly audible. The KLANG 3D allows for the placement of what might be described as ‘awareness’ elements – effects and surround sound – lower down, behind or to the side, whilst the more critical elements he is focused on are placed higher and in front. It is clear that he considers KLANG to be a significant step forward: “When I’m conducting, I’ve got a band on one side and a symphonic string orchestra on the other and with the KLANG system, the placement of those elements is very much as I’m seeing them, rather than just having a good general mix. The result is that it’s very much more alive, more 3D. I have a better balance in my head, so the sound quality is at a completely different level now than previously. I’d like to stay with the KLANG system whenever I’m performing with in-ear monitoring.”
In practical terms, KLANG is a straightforward addition, as Pell confirmed: “It’s very user friendly, taking just a few minutes to get set up. Once it’s patched, I’m basically unaware of it. I have the icon on my computer screen showing where everything is but it doesn’t actually affect the way I mix, it’s just there, set, creating lots of lovely space.”
Wayne concluded:“The system gives me this extra dimension. When I take into account the spatial placement it provides, it’s hard to see why anyone – bands and solo artists with musical accompaniment, or any show – wouldn’t want to enjoy the benefits of KLANG.”