The Sydney Theatre Company (STC) has been a leader in the Australian Arts Industry since it was established in 1978. Housed at Pier 4/5 on Sydney Harbour’s Walsh Bay, STC is a performing arts company that develops its own productions in-house whilst managing three theatres (Wharf 1, Wharf 2 and Sydney Theatre). There are also 3 rehearsal spaces along with a newly refurbished bar at the end of the Wharf (suitably named ‘The Bar at the End of the Wharf’).
STC’s current artistic directors, Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton, creatively drive the company; curating a diverse program of works that is presented to over 300,000 patrons each year. Building on the impressive legacy of STC, the latest Wharf 2 PA upgrade starred Nexo front and centre.
Given that Sydney Theatre had recently been refitted with Nexo and yielded great results; when the time came to upgrade Wharf 2, Nexo was a simple choice.
PS15’s througout the entire Sydney Theatre Venue including the Bar at the End of the Wharf pictured above
Ben Lightowlers, Sydney Theatre Company’s Head of Sound, was kind enough to provide some insight into the decisions behind choosing Nexo.
“With STC reaching the 30 year mark, we found that a lot of equipment was not as efficient as it could be. Our artistic directors had introduced a number of greening initiatives in their tenure and as a result we were given the go ahead to update our sound equipment across the building as part of this process.”
“With Nexo’s NXAMP4X4 system processoramplifiers only drawing 150watts at idle; they are considered quite ‘green’.”
“I commissioned a left centre right PA system with the Nexo PS15 R2’s, 2 x PS 8’s for delays and 2 x PS 8’s for surrounds plus a killer RS18 sub.”
“Wharf 2 is known as a ‘black box’ space which seats up to 200 people. Its reputation for versatility has seen it play host to traditional drama productions, play readings, writers forums and live broadcasts.”
The diverse range of performances wasn’t the only consideration for the Wharf 2 upgrade, there were further challenges that also needed to be taken into account.
Australian alternative rock band ‘Faker’ tearing up the stage
“For the Wharf 2 refit, I consulted a number of our regular sound designers and found a common request for a centre channel. Wharf 2 is quite a wide theatre space in relation to the seating bank. Due to a major architectural beam obstructing the last two rows of seats sound designers would often call on the ability to add a set of delay speakers. Naturally rear surrounds were needed and while we were at it, why not put a serious sub in there, too.”
“There were a few challenges. Firstly I wanted to eliminate fan noise in the bio box so we took advantage of an upstage crossover mezzanine position that had become available due to the relocation of the lighting dimmer room. This would effectively reduce the ambient noise for the operators in the bio box but in order to achieve this we needed to redirect/redo the entire speaker cabling for the venue. The upside is we now have a fully re-commissioned venue and peace of mind that all the speaker, signal, power and data runs are fully isolated and protected with conduit ducting.”
“I also took advantage of this opportunity to enlist Bass Electrical to install our own dedicated audio power points around Wharf 2 and to furnish the venue with a 120KVA 3phase UPS which allows us to run off the grid for 13 minutes at full tilt, or as much as 8 hours with no load.”
“In brief, Wharf 2 has benefited from a full overhaul thanks to improvements to the signal patching, speaker patch points, upgraded data distribution, the addition of Coda Audio’s famous isolated splitter/distribution system and a killer Nexo PA upgrade to top it all off.”
Compelled by hearing Nexo in action at Sydney Theatre, Ben knew that Nexo was the way to go.
“To be honest I was initially considering a fully self powered speaker system upgrade, but we recently refurbished the Sydney Theatre across the road with the Nexo PS15R2’s with excellent results and so I was convinced.”
“My colleagues agree that the Nexo PS R2’s have a much higher threshold plus the added ability to rotate the asymmetrical horn is hugely advantageous given the many varied set and sound designs we encounter here at STC.” “The first company that worked in Wharf 2 after the upgrade were Belgium’s Ontroerend Goed with their incredibly humbling production A History of Everything. This company had a track record of running Wharf 2’s system to the limit (they blew one of the FOH speakers during their last visit) but this time they didn’t even touch the sides.”
“There are many to thank for helping bring it all together: my 2nd in charge Bede Schofield and STC sound technicians Luke Davis, Louis Thorn, Dave Bergman, Michael Toisuta and Hayley Forward. The sound designers who kindly offered up their expertise; Steve Francis, Paul Charlier, Basil Hogios, Kingsley Reeve, Max Lyandvert, Stefan Gregory and Adam Iuston. STC’s technical manager Barry Searle and GM Patrick McIntyre. Coda Audio’s Daniel Clinch, Adrian Grigorieff and Bass Electrical’s Mark Brinning”
‘Faker’ flying high on stage with the help of Nexo