Plug-ins help pave the way in Deans’ sound design for Jagged Little Pill.

New York, NY (January 23, 2019)—Jonathan Deans has tackled sound design for decades, and a fair number of those shows have had pop music connections, from Broadway’s Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark (U2) and Waitress (Sara Bareilles) to Las Vegas’ The Beatles LOVE. This past year, he added to the list with the new musical, Jagged Little Pill, based on Alanis Morissette’s mid-90s hit album.

Deans’ overall setup includes Shure digital wireless for vocals, instruments and in-ears; a DiGiCo SD10 console for band monitors; a KLANG in-ear mixing system; DiGiCo SD7T as the front-of-house desk; two Waves SoundGrid Extreme servers (one main, one backup); a Waves MultiRack software outboard host that lets us run plugins in real time during the show; Meyer D-Mitri interfacing with the DiGiCo console for matrixing and output spatialization; Meyer Galaxy speaker management; and a Meyer main and surround speaker system.

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“With Jagged Little Pill, we wanted to create an immersive experience,” he said. “From early conversations with Tom Kitt, the orchestrator, music arranger and supervisor, it was clear that the intention is to deliver the sound as a full sonic experience, supporting the storyline. Depending on the style of music, plug-ins can help to create controllable and repeatable sonic images, to be layered into the mix by the front-of house mixing engineer. The H-Comp Hybrid Compressor is a great compressor for live theater: it’s bold, quick and easy to use. The S1 Stereo Imager, helps me create space within the proscenium speaker towers, and the C6 Multiband Compressor can vary from being a subtle treatment to a hard-handed multiband compressor.

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“The difference of how a microphone and sound system works for actors’ dialogue and singing is significant depending on each performer,” he noted, “so I use the C6 Multiband Compressor followed by Waves DeEsser on certain vocalists. The DeEsser also solves issues created when actors are catching their breath, as well as for controlling sibilance. I also use the Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates on the strings, because how can you not? Having worked on Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles LOVE production and visiting the historic Abbey Road Studios, I was able to understand how and why the studio became such a legend. Beyond that, Renaissance Reverb is the main reverb that I use for drums and acoustic guitars. I am also doing parallel drum processing, which changes from song to song so that it will be relevant to the sound and story concept. The Waves SoundGrid servers allow me the processing power to do all of this, and the Waves’ technical support team have also been great at responding quickly to questions from our sound team, which is an important service when working on live productions.”

Deans felt he achieve his goal of “creating a sonic experience fitting for an audience of all generations. Plus, using this setup has enabled me to respect and stay true to Alanis Morrissette’s music, her overall wishes, and the expectation of the fans–including me.”

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