Custom Audio Equipment Package Delivers Pristine Sound Quality for Intensely Moving Revival

NEW YORK The Color Purple musical recently embarked on its second national tour and brought a custom audio equipment package from Masque Sound with it on the road in order to deliver pristine audio quality, night-after-night as it traveled across the USA. Sound Designer Dan Moses Schreier and Associate Sound Designer/Sound System Designer Joshua D. Reid once again turned to Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement and installation company, to deliver the audio package for the critically acclaimed and highly popular musical, as the duo worked with the company for the first national tour as well.

The Color Purple Musical

“We were thrilled to work with Masque Sound again for the second national tour,” says Reid. “Masque Sound once again delivered a versatile system that could play to a wide range of touring houses.”

The Color Purple musical is a stirring family chronicle that follows the inspirational Celie, as she journeys from childhood through joy and despair, anguish and hope to discover the power of love and life. The Color Purple features a soul-raising, GRAMMY® winning score of jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues that gives an unforgettable and intensely moving revival of an American classic.

A key component to the sound design was console selection as the designers wanted the production to have a Dante® backbone.

The Color Purple musical marked the first time the designers used a Yamaha RIVAGE PM7 digital mixing console. “We were very familiar with Yamaha’s CL series console as we’ve used it on several shows in the past, so when we heard that the PM7 was available for our production, we jumped at the chance to utilize it for our show,” adds Reid. “We were very happy to see that the PM7 could support the amount of programming that we needed. In addition, a big advantage of the PM7 is that we could run Dante over Ethernet and minimize our front of house, stage and orchestra cable runs. With the PM7, we utilized the Yamaha HY144-D card, which was able to give us all of our inputs and outputs over the Dante network. With the PM7 we are basically in a plug-and-play environment, which is great.”

The show’s PA system is primarily made up of speakers from d&b audiotechnik. “We have two towers with 34 T10’s and four Q-subs along with center arrays of Q1’s and E12s,” says Reid. “The big advantage to using d&b is that not only do they sound amazing, but we could fit more boxes, for better control of the system, into a smaller physical profile.”

For microphone selection, the show utilizes 24 channels of Shure ULXD1 transmitters and ULXD4Q receivers, with a combination of DPA 4061 and Sennheiser MKE1 lavaliers for the actors. The band uses a range of mics from BSS Audio, Earthworks, Schoeps, Sennheiser, Neumann and DPA. Each of the microphones for the band was chosen based on its pickup pattern and high clarity for the representation of each specific instrument.

Another interesting component to the sound package was the use of the RedNet D16 1U, 16×16 AES3 interface for Dante audio-over-IP network.

“Utilizing RedNet D16 AES, we could install a RedNet in each of our amp racks and everything in the system only requires the Dante network and power sent to it,” says Reid. “Each individual rack is cabled on the Dante Backbone, and breaks out into the analog components that we need at each location. With the RedNet, we can send Dante down to the amp racks and then it goes directly from Dante to AES for the amplifiers. As a result, everything stays digital all the way up to the point where it has to convert to input or output from the system.”

The entire sound system is configured so that all racks are cabled together over the Dante network, limiting analog lines to distribution of intercom and video systems only. Each rack has a corresponding Dante D/A interface for maximum flexibility. The production FOH computers are also utilizing the Dante network as I/O. “We have QLab Main and Backup systems, a full 144-channel multitrack system, and a system control computer for Rational Acoustics’ Smaart 8 System tuning and system control,” adds Reid.

“RF listening is also achieved through a dedicated RF control computer, which also has access to all of the band inputs over the Dante network.”

Masque Sound also supplied the Clear-Com FreeSpeak II digital wireless intercom system for the show. The FreeSpeak II was another crucial component for the show because of its ease-of-use,  deployment and operation on the road. It also seamlessly interfaced with the production’s existing Clear-Com intercom system.

“We’re always happy to work with Masque Sound, as they always give us tremendous support both in the shop and throughout the tech process,” adds Reid. “For this production, we needed to amend the speaker positions and expedite the load-in and loud-out process. Gary Stocker at Masque completely engineered the tower components and all of the structural engineering behind it, well in advance of our show build so we could stay on schedule. In addition, our audio team including A1 Tanner Elker and A2 Ethan Fuller continue to do a wonderful job touring the production around the country. The show sounds great.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit colorpurple.com. The tour, directed by Tony Award winner John Doyle and produced by TROIKA Entertainment LLC, is currently scheduled to run through May of 2020 with upcoming stops including Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, Detroit, Madison, Chattanooga, Sarasota, Nashville, St. Paul, Huntsville, Pensacola and many more.

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