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d&b audiotechnik Retells Juliet’s Story through Pop Music

The d&b audiotechnik KSL-Series line array more than fits the bill for the unique female-led, pop music theater production of &Juliet. Following a rousingly positive run in Manchester the musical is now having an impact on the West End, with London’s Top 10 New Shows giving it the number one spot and reviews calling the sound ‘first-rate’.

The show rewrites the story of Juliet; who instead of dying for Romeo, lives and goes on a number of adventures, educating the audience about current topics of identity and female empowerment along the way. Seamlessly woven into this revamped plot are pop songs of anthem status from none other than legendary record producer Max Martin. ‘Baby One More Time’ by Britney Spears, ‘Everybody’ by The Backstreet Boys, and ‘Roar’ by Katie Perry are just some of the global chart-toppers getting audiences on their feet.

This is a show of such musical ferocity that transporting its power and emotion to the audience was left to Olivier Award winning sound designer Gareth Owen.

“I have worked with d&b loudspeakers for long enough and know the company well, so I decided to spec’ KSL without having listened to it first,” said Owen.

“To do justice to the works of super-prolific record producer Max Martin, KSL definitely delivered the tight, clean pop sound I was looking for.”

This is echoed by Max Martin himself: “We wanted to create a really unique sound for &Juliet in the West End, something that brought the worlds of musical theatre and pop together. Gareth Owen and d&b loudspeakers helped us to deliver that.”

Owen noted that this KSL System, supported by SL-SUBs, is the first time the relatively new SL-Series has been used on a musical theater production.

“Inside a closed theater environment, KSL’s cardioid performance works extremely well,” explained Owen. “Its unique design prevents reflections from the back of the array bouncing off the proscenium wall and muddying the sound – an issue very common in a theater setup because arrays are so often flown within touching distance of the proscenium walls.”

KSL has been designed to deliver a greater level of accuracy and impact with a directness that noticeably improves clarity, both for the audience and onstage. With a quieter environment for the actors, there’s room in the sound design process to actively steer and shape the sound onstage; time otherwise spent filtering out unwanted low-end reverberations.

“We were able to customize the stage sound to the artists’ exact requirements,” confirms Owen. “For the first time ever, we have been able to run the stage foldback for the cast without a CUT filter — a d&b specific high-pass filter that minimizes some of the low frequency reflection onstage. With KSL we actually had to add some low-end back into the foldback to give the performers a fuller sound onstage. Although this might sound like extra effort it’s creative time, not corrective.”

Owen’s decision to use the KSL confirms the system is firmly at home in musical theatre. The new system’s performance is the next step in d&b’s mission to deliver Democracy for Listeners, the idea that in any given space, inside or out, sound can be tailored in a way that’s right for everyone, audiences, and performers.

&Juliet may be a first for KSL — and Shakespeare’s reimagined heroine — but both look set for long term success.

“We will certainly use KSL again,” says Owen. “Indeed, we already are, it’s getting a second outing on Back to the Future in March! When it comes to rock and roll, and pop musicals, KSL is simply the best system out there. I’d use it on every show if I could.”