February 2, 2024
KLANG brings a touch of ‘musicality’ to the new West-End show The Time Traveller’s Wife: The Musical
Credit: Johan Persson
Based on Audrey Niffenegger’s bestselling 2003 novel that captivated millions worldwide, a new musical adaptation of ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ love story recently premiered at London’s Apollo Theatre in the West End, showcasing an original score by global superstar Joss Stone and multi-Grammy Award winner Dave Stewart. Sound Designer Richard Brooker and Associate Sound Designer Nick Lodge collaborated closely with the production crew – including Callum Donaldson, Isabel McIntosh, Andrew Williams and sound effects designer, Pete Malkin – to bring forth this mesmerising show, which has been running since October. The production also marks Brooker’s first proper use of the KLANG:technologies immersive in-ear monitor mixing system, supplied by Stage Sound Services, for the show’s band. The innovative system comprising KLANG:vokal and KLANG:kontroller offers great audio quality, flexibility, and a simple infrastructure with a wealth of functionalities that can be customised depending on each musician’s preferences.
Brooker shares, “KLANG was an innovation we wanted to introduce into our shows.” After initial discussions with Phil Kamp from KLANG:technologies, who offered full support in transitioning from the team’s previous system, Brooker also had the opportunity to visit DiGiCo’s offices to meet with Dave Bigg, Product Specialist at DiGiCo, who provided Brooker with a further opportunity to delve deep into the system.
“You just have to adjust your thought process to understand how KLANG works,” Brooker says. “It’s much more aligned with how our ears and brains process information on a day-to-day basis, rather than simply putting on a pair of headphones and working with stereo limitations. It’s about trying to make it feel as natural as if you weren’t wearing headphones or in-ears. It just blew my mind!”
All of the band members, especially the guitarist and a bass player, embraced the system and were very impressed by the quality of sound and flexibility that it offered to them.
“Nick did an excellent job programming the system in a way that made sense to us, but also catered to the musicians,” Brooker continues. “One of the things I really appreciate about KLANG is that it not only sounds fantastic with a great headphone amplifier, but also sounds ‘musical’. Some modern digital equipment lacks musicality, so you can hear everything, but there’s a missing musicality in the listening experience. KLANG, however, excels in this aspect.”
“It’s much more aligned with how our ears and brains process information on a day-to-day basis, rather than simply putting on a pair of headphones and working with stereo limitations. It’s about trying to make it feel as natural as if you weren’t wearing headphones or in-ears. It just blew my mind!”
Richard Brooker– Sound Designer at “The Time Traveller’s Wife”
Brooker emphasises that once “you get your mix right, and if you’re using the 360-degree soundstage, it’s possible to listen to the mix at lower volumes.” He believes this is helpful because some musicians tend to keep the volume high, which can be damaging to their hearing in the long run, and also fatiguing. “This is where KLANG offers enormous possibilities, by allowing people to control their own listening environment in a much safer way.”
Additionally, Brooker notes the high quality of KLANG products, mentioning that “something that looks so aesthetically pleasing and is well-engineered definitely has a positive effect and provides extra confidence to new users.”
With each band member having their own unique mix setup, Brooker highlights that it shows everyone’s distinct preferences in how they like to listen, with “KLANG fully leveraging that flexibility.” Brooker further notes that being a DiGiCo through and through designer and engineer, he appreciates how seamlessly KLANG products integrate with the DiGiCo Quantum7T digital mixing console that is being used for the show.
Talking about the technical set-up, Lodge explains that they are feeding the KLANG system directly from the DiGiCo console, “sending Groups and auxes and other things to it, as well as some direct outs so we can treat things directly as, for example, the bass player wants to hear his bass,” he says. “We made an initial assessment of each musician and their needs, then programmed KLANG to each musician’s preferences. Some people wanted to play with the angles and positioning and other features, while others preferred a set menu. One of the biggest strengths of the KLANG system is that it can be customised player by player, and everyone can delve as deep into the system as they want to.”
Brooker agrees and states that another ‘check’ point for him was the simple infrastructure and the ease with which settings could be adjusted remotely, contributing to an effective workflow for both the musicians and Callum Donaldson, who is responsible for sound mixing on this show.
Following the successful deployment of the KLANG system at ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife: The Musical’ production, Brooker has already been using it on other shows he is managing.
“I’ll say it again – if you haven’t used KLANG before, just give it a try,” he concludes. “While it took a bit of time to grasp, once you understand it, it really opens your eyes to the possibilities this system offers.”