SFX Goes Down Under:
The Arts Centre in Melbourne Austrailia

No doubt about it. America is mad for Australia. From the thrilling exploits of The Crocodile Hunter to the background story of the East Australian Current (EAC) in Finding Nemo, not to mention those puzzling vegemite sandwiches, Australia's cultural influence has started to rub off on the US and has perpetuated the insatiable fascination with this beautiful country.

So it makes perfect sense that Stage Research and SFX would bring their unique sound solutions to the land down under. Recently, SFX found its way into The Arts Centre in Melbourne.

From their website, The Arts Centre is described as "the flagship of the performing arts in Victoria, and the focal point of Melbourne's cultural precinct." The Arts Centre is owned by the people of Victoria, and in association with some of Australia's top performing arts companies, offers a unique diversity of arts and entertainment choices all year round."

The Setup: SFX via the Layla Echo external sound module is interfaced with the o2R-96 Yamaha console via light pipe.

Arts Centre Sound engineer, Jason Davidson, at the console
preparing cues on SFX for the Production of Sapphire in the
Playhouse by the Melbourne Theatre Company

Darren Golding, production manager for The Arts Centre, Darren describes his how using SFX has changed the way the Centre designs sound.

"Prior to SFX, The Arts centre sound department was using 2 x mini disc players and a 24-channel audio mixing console. After about 3 years the arts centre cost of maintaining our mini disc players over our venues become very costly an average of $3K per year."

According to Golding, most of that money was used to keep lasers and spindle motors in running order. The Centre needed to find an alternative for playing sound cues in their venues.

Enter Stage Research's SFX. SFX's simple interface and easy installation made it a perfect match for The Arts Centre sonic challenges. SFX solved Golding's problem quickly, instantly giving the stage managers more freedom and flexibility during the many productions.

"Analog equipment can be difficult to maintain correct volume levels of sound cues and fade-outs etc. This puts extra duties on Stage Management personnel. The Sound department at the Arts Centre needed to invest equipment that allowed simple operation of sound cues and also maintained sound cue levels set by the director during rehearsal periods."

"SFX and the Yamaha o2R96 have achieved the results we needed. The stage manager can simply push of the space bar and SFX does the rest. SFX has been rock solid since it installation in the Playhouse Theatre over 12 months ago.." Golding remarked.

That was all it took to convince The Arts Centre on SFX. Since first using SFX, the Centre has purchased another SFX system for their Studio. This SFX system will be used for the first time this month.

Yet another example of SFX making inroads, up, down, over and around the globe.

SFX can be inserted over 40 amplifier channel across
approximately 70 speakers mounted through the playhouse theatre auditorium

It's All About The Equipment, Baby.

It's always an adventure to see how other theatre sounddesigns are set-up. And the Arts Centre in Melbourne is no exception. Darren Golding gives us a quick insight into how the Arts Centre is hooked up audio-wise.

Playhouse Sound Equipment

Auditorium Speaker Coverage

A left, centre, right proscenium speaker system comprising 4 x Meyer Sound UPA-1As, with two JBL System 8 sub-bass speakers supplementing the system. Approximately seventy Altec dual-concentric 12" speakers are mounted into the walls and ceiling to provide a surround sound option. This system can be run off 40 channels off QSC power amps.  Stage monitoring is provided with 4 x EVS100 Foldback/Fx speakers on two sends. Amplifiers are Yamaha PC2002s.

Control Facilities

The control position for the system can be in one of three positions:

  • Prompt Corner Preferred position for Stage Manager control of system.
  • Bio-Box Position for sound operator on a basic show.
  • Rear of stalls : Position for sound operator on most shows

Standard Equipment included with the venue is:

  • 1 x Yamaha 02R96 Digital mixing console.
  • SFX Hard disc based sequencing and playback software and Wavelab 4.0 running on Carillon audio PC withWindows XP operating system and Layla Echo external sound module.
  • Surround sound consists of approximately 70 Altec 12" speakers (able to be patched individually)
  • 40 channels of QSC power amplifiers for the surround sound system
  • 2 x Tascam CD160 CD Players
  • 5 x Yamaha 1027 GEQ
  • 2 x Yamaha D1030 processors for sub crossovers
  • 2 x Meyer bi-amp racks (2 x Yamaha PC2002 and 1 x Meyer M1 processor)
  • 1 x Yamaha PC2002 sub amp
  • 3 x Yamaha PC2002 for sub and foldback