Streamlined Custom Audio Equipment Package Delivers Powerful Results Without Sacrificing Quality for Sound Designer Walter Trarbach
NEW YORK – When SpongeBob SquarePants, an incurable optimist and earnest sea sponge, and his undersea friends (and one squirrel) decided to come up to the surface for the national tour of The SpongeBob Musical, fans rejoiced. The challenging task of bringing the magical sounds of Bikini Bottom to audiences across the country fell squarely on the capable shoulders of Sound Designer Walter Trarbach. Trarbach in turn, relied on Masque Sound to deliver a custom audio equipment package capable of capturing the essence of the show; and its original pop- and rock-infused songs.
Based on the popular Nickelodeon animated television series, SpongeBob SquarePants, stakes are higher than ever before; SpongeBob and all of Bikini Bottom face the total annihilation of their undersea world in this touring musical extravaganza. Chaos erupts. Lives hang in the balance. And just when all hope seems lost, a most unexpected hero rises up and takes center stage.
The primary goal and number one priority for Trarbach for the SpongeBob tour was putting together a good functional sound system that could be installed quickly due to the show’s eight-hour load schedule.
“The show itself is pretty complex; there’s a live band and foley operator on-stage, and about 10,000 sound effects,” says Trarbach. “There’s just a lot of facets to the sound, so making sure we had the right equipment was very important. When you do a tour, especially with a short load in, you need to be very cognizant of keeping it streamlined and workable for your touring engineers. Masque Sound was wonderful in working within our budget parameters to provide us with the audio equipment we needed to be successful.”
Trarbach also had to consider truck space when designing the sound for the tour. “We selected the DiGiCo SD7 for FOH console and the DiGiCo SD10 for the monitor console,” says Trarbach. “We went with DiGiCo because they make great theatrical consoles (and we used them for the show’s Broadway run); and also because we could share the pre-amps between the two consoles, which take up less space on the truck.”
In keeping with the streamlined, size-conscious approach, Masque Sound supplied a Meyer Sound speaker rig that fit nicely into the allotted truck space.
“We decided to go with a Meyer PA system because they are a high-quality sounding speaker; also because we would not need amplifier racks and could have a powered sound system,” adds Trarbach. “We primarily used a combination of Meyer LEOPARDS and LINAs. The LINAs are the smaller speaker boxes, which worked out very well for the balcony. We put speaker towers on each side of the stage and a center cluster position and some front fills. In addition, we utilized L-Acoustics 5XT’s for front fills and Meyer UPA’s for stage monitors.”
Masque also supplied 40 channels of wireless Sennheiser 5212 transmitters with MKE-1 mics for the SpongeBob tour. Trarbach finds Sennheiser to be an excellent theatrical microphone; it is very discrete, allowing for better mic position, which is particularly helpful on this show. For the band, Trarbach used a variety of mics including Shure mics on the drum kit, Neumann on the brass section and AKG for the reed players. The guitar and bass are direct.
“I have great things to say about working with Masque Sound,” adds Trarbach.
“The company provided very high-quality sound gear, excellent technical support and expertise. They were very accommodating and their familiarity with the touring world was incredibly helpful. In addition, my Associate John McKenna and Production Sound Engineer Matt Bell, himself a former Masque Sound employee, did a wonderful job. As did my touring crew, Shaughn Bryant and Megan McKay, who are great at getting the show in on time. The show sounds great.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit thespongebobmusical.com. The tour is currently scheduled to run through July 2020 with upcoming stops including Philadelphia, Toronto, Detroit, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Charlotte, Houston, Dallas, Tampa and many more.