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Leeds Playhouse first regional theatre to install d&b Soundscape

"The potential for creativity and audience immersion is huge"

Leeds Playhouse has become the first theatre outside of London to install d&b Soundscape, an immersive sound technology that has been used by the likes of Bjork.

Autograph Sales & Installations facilitated the install when the Playhouse undertook a largescale £15.8 million redevelopment that specified d&b audio systems for the two main theatres – the main 750-seat Quarry Theatre, and the smaller 420-seat Courtyard Theatre.

Autograph assisted in the design of the installed audio systems, then supplied, tested, and commissioned both. Autograph’s Adam Broom worked closely with the house technical team led by the head of sound, Martin Pickersgill, his deputy Tom Cuthbertson, and technician Rob Landels, who handled the physical installation.

Previously, the audio setup in the Quarry Theatre was a small d&b system that was due for an upgrade in size.

“The d&b C-Series system did an amazing job covering plays and never skipped a beat,” said Cuthbertson. “But for larger musicals, we would need to hire in larger rigs, whereas now it’s a different story.”

Cuthbertson explained that the sound system design is now divided into five principal zones: the main array over and around the forestage comprises seven d&b Y10P units and four Vi-SUB subwoofers. Five 10S-Ds make up the first row of delays, located on Bridge 1, while 10 8S units on Bridge 2 comprise the second row of delay speakers. A further 14 d&b 8S units are located as surround speakers, while six compact E6s are used as front fills.

All the processing and amplification for the Quarry system is handled by a single d&b DS100 Signal Engine (the Soundscape processor/matrix device), three DS10 Audio Network Bridges, three 30D, and eight 10D installation amplifiers, plus six Cisco SG300-Series switches.

Leeds Playhouse by Page Park

“We are very excited that the Quarry’s in-house rig is the beast that it is. It’s great to have larger first bridge delays and an additional ring of delays on Bridge 2,” explained Cuthbertson. “The central sub-array gives us vastly more even coverage, and the En-Scene processing eliminates differences in the audience’s experience regardless of their seat position. The sound comes from the source with full 360-degree object positioning, and En-Space reverbs; the potential for creativity and audience immersion is huge.”

The more conventionally-shaped Courtyard Theatre is also entirely d&b equipped, including a mix of d&b 10S-Ds, 21S subwoofers, and E4s and E5s located as front fills and delays respectively. Only three additional d&b amplifiers were needed (one 30D and two 10Ds, in addition to an existing D6) to power the entire system, alongside a single DS10 Audio Network Bridge and two more Cisco SG300-Series switches.