The working relationship between Autograph Sound and Clear-Com dates all the way back to the mid-80s when the Sales & Installations arm of the London-based theater sound specialists took on UK distribution for the Californian company, successfully introducing the brand to the domestic market. Autograph continues its relationship with Clear-Com as a Live Sound Partner in the UK, and Clear-Com products and systems continue to play a critical role in many of the audio systems supplied by Autograph, in both London theaters and touring productions.
The importance of reliable communications in modern theater cannot be overstated–productions have become more sophisticated in line with audience expectations and with the ‘blockbuster’ shows that headline the West End and touring theater scenes. Thus, the ability for technical personnel to communicate throughout the show has never been of greater importance.
Similarly to virtually all areas of entertainment technology, modern communications designs have embraced the digital age and that means using the license-free and relatively uncluttered 1.9GHz and 2.4GHz broadcast bands. These systems also offer unprecedented levels of flexibility for both sound designers and users, as their central programmability allows quick and simple creation of new point-to-point connections, the creation of additional user groups, a choice of several operating modes and much improved audio quality.
The current volume of shows and tours using Clear-Com’s FreeSpeak II® Digital Wireless Intercom Systems supplied by Autograph Sound emphasizes how well this technology adapts to different styles of performance and production. The touring versions of Warhorse, The Book Of Mormon, The Lion King and Les Miserables are all FreeSpeak II-equipped. In London’s West End, the technical production teams for Hamilton, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, Dear Evan Hansen, Waitress, the new production of Les Miserables (in the refurbished and re-named Sondheim Theatre) and the recently opened Mary Poppins also all rely on FreeSpeak II.
HelixNet® Digital Network Partyline is now also well-established in theater, providing simple, effective and configurable group communications for complex contemporary productions. Additionally, the ability to mix and match products from within the Clear-Com portfolio to produce variant solutions is both cost-effective and can enhance operational efficiency. Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen and The Lion King UK Tour, for example, all feature a custom HelixNet / FreeSpeak II combination solution.
Ben Lloyd, Autograph’s Production Sound Engineer on the Lion King UK Tour, commented, “Using the HelixNet and FreeSpeak II combination has enhanced the process of setting up comms for shows. The ability to jump on the show’s tablet and access the settings using the browser-based software means that not only is it a simple, foolproof way to set the network up initially, but it also enables us to make changes on the fly when a member of the creative team decides that they need to be able to contact a particular member of the show team.”