Custom Audio Equipment Package Creates Concert-like Feel for Tony Award-winning Sound Designers Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz
NEW YORK, JANUARY 22, 2020 – Tony Award-winning Sound Designers Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz were given the task of creating a haunting, hopeful and powerful audio experience for Broadway’s Hadestown, the acclaimed musical by celebrated singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and innovative director Rachel Chavkin. They found the audio solution they were looking for with Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement and installation company.
Hadestown intertwines two mythic tales — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone — as it invites audiences on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Inspired by traditions of classic American folk music and vintage New Orleans jazz, Mitchell’s beguiling melodies and poetic imagination pit nature against industry, faith against doubt, and love against death. Performed by a vibrant ensemble of actors, dancers and singers, Hadestown is a haunting and hopeful theatrical experience that grabs you and never lets go.
One of the duo’s main goals in designing the sound for Hadestown was to honor Chavkin’s desire to create a concert-like feel. This made the audio equipment selection vital. At the heart of the custom equipment package provided by Masque Sound was a DiGiCo SD7T audio console, which was specifically chosen by the designers. “I love DiGiCo in terms of usability,” says Paz. “The SD7 with T software is a desk I know well – I know how it performs and it offers some unique features to the theater market in terms of understudies and the ease of programming.”
To further create the concert-like vibe, microphone selection was extremely important. The duo chose a combination of DPA 4066 Omnidirectional Headset Mics with backup DPA 4061 Miniature Omnidirectional Mics for the actors and DPA’s 4099 Instrument Mics for the band. “I greatly appreciate the discreet profile of DPA microphones,” adds Paz. “The 4061s were easy to add to the 4066 rig as a live backup, and the 4099 Instrument Mics allowed us to keep a clean look on-stage by eliminating the need for microphone stands. In addition, the 4099 is simple to attach to instruments and provides superior audio quality. To further capture pristine instrument sound, we placed a 4061 inside of the housing of the piano and it sounds so full and beautiful. Accompanying mics from Shure, Sennheiser and AKG all helped create the sound we were looking for.”
For speaker selection, Steinberg and Paz chose a PA system that features Meyer Sound LEOPARD arrays. Paz finds the LEOPARD’s exception precision and headroom ideally suited for live theater. The designers complimented the LEOPARD arrays with Meyer Sound UPQ’s, Alcons Audio VR5, VR8 and VR12 for delays, and d&b audiotechnik E3’s, E5’s and E6’s for stage monitoring.
In addition to the high-quality equipment Masque Sound provides, Paz also finds the customer support to be exceptional. “The team at Masque Sound and their customer service is on point,” adds Paz. “They are all very lovely people, very knowledgeable, and their expertise in the equipment is always top notch. The show sounds great.”
Since opening to critical acclaim and selling out nightly, the show has earned eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score and a Grammy Award nomination for Best Musical Theater Album. For their collaboration on Hadestown, Steinberg and Paz earned a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, and a nomination for Best Sound from the Outer Critics Circle Awards.
“Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz are the best in the business and all of us at Masque Sound look forward to supporting their creative vision,” concludes Scott Kalata, director of sales, Masque Sound.