Masque Sound Returns To St. Louis For The Muny’s 103rd Season

Custom Audio Equipment Package Helps Recapture Hearts and Spark Imagination at America’s Oldest and Largest Outdoor Musical Theatre.

When The Muny, America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre, was given the green light to commence its 103rd season, Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, once again returned to the historic venue with a custom audio equipment package. Working directly with Sound Designers John Shivers and David Patridge, Masque Sound helped the team reboot its outdoor season after presenting an online season in 2020 due to COVID-19.

With the support of the City of St. Louis Health Department, The Muny’s 2021 season operated at full capacity, including the 1,500 free seats available for each performance on a first-come, first-served basis. The five-show season began with Smokey Joe’s Cafe and was followed by The Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, On Your Feet!, and Chicago.

“Masque Sound graciously added equipment that we asked for from previous seasons and we were able to update the system in a number of ways,” says Patridge. “We continued our advancement of using audio over IP to improve upon the extensive upgrades that were made at The Muny in 2019. We upgraded the wireless radio system by moving to the Sennheiser EM3732-II high-end receiver with up to 184 MHz switching bandwidth. That was a nice sonic upgrade and from a software perspective, the EM3732-II’s are so much nimbler.”

The duo also employed software monitoring tools from Wavetool for the first time at The Muny this season. “Most of our workflow was now Dante®, so we used the Wavetool software to monitor our digital signal path,” adds Patridge. “We took the AES signals out of the receivers and converted them to Dante using Focusrite RedNet boxes. We went from AES to Dante with the radios, and then put them into the network. Everything else, I/O wise, was either connected to the network of the DiGiCo console or a Dante rack, like the Yamaha Rio. The beauty of this set-up is that we don’t have any big, huge cable bundles anymore.”

For the console, Masque Sound provided a DiGiCo SD7T with the Quantum engine upgrade. According to Patridge, “The Q7 was available, and we were thrilled to be able to upgrade and use it. This new console allowed us to expand the flexibility of the monitoring system for the orchestra. We had more channels available to us, with 160 channels in the Quantum engine desk and 55 auxes.”

One component of the equipment package that remained the same from 2019 was the PA. “We used the same Meyer Sound LYON and LEOPARD PA system, as it delivers a great sound. With the reconstruction from 2019, the main PA now flies higher and from a single left/right position so that the sound in the house is more evenly distributed. It also allowed us to have a center sub position, which really helped to achieve comprehensive low-end coverage.”
Since The Muny employed smaller orchestras this year, the microphone package provided by Masque Sound while still powerful, was not as extensive as previous years. “We always get a good selection of top-quality mics from Masque Sound,” adds Patridge. “I’m never left wanting something. This year, we had 21 Neumann KM 140’s along with several Neumann U89’s, U87’s and Radial direct boxes.”

Additional new equipment for this season, also provided by Masque Sound, was an Allen & Heath’s AHM-64 Audio Matrix Processor and an Eventide H9000 Harmonizer. The AHM-64 allowed for speaker processing and time management over Dante, while the Eventide H9000 delivered powerful signal processing.

“Overall, this slightly abbreviated and unique season was a success again for us in terms of our partnership and collaboration with Masque Sound, which dates back a long time,” adds Patridge. “The Muny is very happy with Masque Sound’s support over the years. Masque Sound is not averse to changing things on a year-to-year basis and having that level of flexibility is very advantageous.”

“We’re so fortunate to re-start with true professionals like John and David, and also a great client like the St. Louis Muny!,” concludes Scott Kalata, director of sales, Masque Sound.

Photo: © Phillip Hamer