The musical diversity of Rock Me Amadeus is captured by audiopool with TiMax SoundHub

Tim Ferns from Swiss sound design collective, audiopool, recently specified a 64-channel TiMax SoundHub as the foundation of their design for Rock Me Amadeus, Vereinigte Bühne Wien (VBW)’s latest in-house production, playing at Vienna’s Ronacher theatre.

Called upon by VBW as trusted audio design partners to create an immersive and intimate audio environment to engage the audience closely with the lavish and complex production, audiopool’s Tim Ferns asserts, “There was no other choice but to implement this with TiMax.”

Rock Me Amadeus chronicles the tumultuous life and 23-year career of the Austrian pop star and showman Johann “Hans” Hölzl, better known by his stage name Falco. The fast-paced and complex production incorporated a diversity of musical numbers ranging from 80’s synth pop to power ballads, choral parts and big orchestral numbers which reflect the star’s often tormented personality.

Ferns and audiopool founder, Tom Strebel, have relied on TiMax SoundHub to manage the audio soundscapes on many musical and theatrical productions for nearly twenty years. Ferns explained, “TiMax provides maximum flexibility in designing audio systems with emphasis on immersive audio. For Rock Me Amadeus, we quickly understood that the powerful audio control capabilities of TiMax would be essential.

The flexibility of TiMax enabled Ferns to “…create the different listening spaces for each scene and each of the musical styles”. Using the visually intuitive PanSpace area in SoundHub, Ferns was able to map the orchestra as he wanted it to be heard before programming the show’s sequence of scene changes. He confirmed, “Calculating system and spatial Image Definition delays in PanSpace, plus also being able to adjust and fine-tune them, makes TiMax SoundHub a very powerful tool.”

Ferns specified a distributed loudspeaker configuration featuring six KV2 ESD15 point-source speakers with four KV2 ESR215 speakers handling the music and a further five KV2 ESD12s for vocal output. Six ESD Cubes formed the front fill, three ESD15 cabinets provided delay supported by four lines of ESD5 as under-balcony delays. The in-house surround system comprised of APG MX1 was further supported by six CP218 subwoofers.

Connected by MADI to a Stagetec Aurus console, every TiMax input was utilised in the sound design. Each principal performer was assigned to a TiMax input and their spatial positions rendered across a set of image definitions that incorporate the whole stage and are calculated for just the vocal PA. The localisations of the ensemble vary on a scene by scene basis according to the respective musical numbers.

The remainder of the inputs were assigned to individual instruments and groups of instruments in the band and orchestra, spatialised to unmask and enhance the clarity of each of the musical elements. Tim Ferns explained, “…by separating and widening the scope of the layers and dimensions of audio, we were able to expand the listening experience.”

He continues, “Whether it was an intimate spoken scene that makes the listener feel close and immersed in the story, or big musical numbers where we could reach high SPL levels, while keeping the depth and clarity of the band, orchestra and vocals. From imitating a concert situation in the 80’s to bringing the Ensemble and Choir into the auditorium and immersing the audience into the show, Rock Me Amadeus and how it was written meant we had to be prepared and capable of following and enhancing the story from a sound perspective.”

VBW’s Head of Sound, Patrick Polly, who was impressed by the effectiveness of TiMax and its ease of programming, concluded, ““TiMax worked very well localising the voices of the actors on stage and also allowed the simple mapping of the orchestra instruments in a convenient and visual way in the software for a more immersive experience.”


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