...One of the great things about the Meyer Sound speaker system in the Olivier is that it gives a very even coverage over the whole auditorium with a consistent EQ footprint. So whether it's being driven loudly or quietly, whether we're on the edge of a speaker’s dispersion or seated right in front of the HF driver, it is dynamically linear and super clean.”
Paul ArdittiSound Designer, Jack Absolute Flies Again
“I’ve been working at the Olivier Theatre off and on for more than 30 years now, and I can honestly say that this Meyer Sound system makes my job easier than it’s ever been,” states Paul Arditti, sound designer for Jack Absolute Flies Again and associate artist at the National Theatre in London.
Arditti, internationally respected for his work on a wide range of productions including Billy Elliot the Musical, Caroline Or Change, and The Inheritance, faced a number of challenges in the sound design for Jack Absolute. The production required a dual approach – a design that could seamlessly transition between the subtle reinforcement of spoken scenes containing lightning-quick dialog in a wide variety of British accents, and two intense sequences of awe-inspiring sound effects from WWII hurricane fighters in aerial dogfights.
“The Olivier’s tricky acoustics mean that the actors’ voices need to be reinforced,“ says Arditti. “The first job of any sound designer is to determine how to best mic the performers in a transparent way – hopefully relatively invisibly, both visually and aurally. You want the spoken word to be just magically loud enough anywhere in the theater, without sounding amplified. And secondly, of course, you want to have fun with the music and sound effects, and what you can do creatively. Fortunately for me, Jack Absolute offers a lot of scope for a sound designer. And one of the great things about the Meyer Sound speaker system in the Olivier is that it gives a very even coverage over the whole auditorium with a consistent EQ footprint. So whether it’s being driven loudly or quietly, whether we’re on the edge of a speaker’s dispersion or seated right in front of the HF driver, it is dynamically linear and super clean. We love that! I really don’t think the National has ever been in a better position regarding sound than it is now.”
As part of a sonic partnership that began in 2018, the Olivier’s Meyer Sound system is anchored by left and right arrays of eight LEOPARD line array loudspeakers plus a split center cluster with three LEOPARD loudspeakers for the longer throw and six LINA line array loudspeakers for closer orchestra seating. Eight newly-added UP‑4slim loudspeakers offer great front-fill coverage for the first few rows and 25 additional fill, sub-bass, and delay loudspeakers located throughout the theater complete the system. Paul is also using two ULTRA‑X20 and eight ULTRA‑X40 loudspeakers for sound effects – “a stunningly powerful box for its size.”
The National Theatre’s Head of Sound and Video, Dominic Bilkey, echoed many of the same sentiments stating, “The Olivier is an incredibly challenging space and our continued partnership with Meyer Sound is a true collaboration that is invaluable in providing our designers with the very best resource to realize their creative ambition. The room continues to evolve and the Meyer Sound system continues to meet every new challenge presented by each new production.”
Written by Richard Bean and Oliver Chris, and based on Sheridan’s The Rivals, Jack Absolute Flies Again is set on a WW2 RAF airbase in 1940. It follows the exploits of Pilot Officer Jack Absolute, as he attempts to win the heart of his old flame Lydia Languish, whilst risking his life each day in air battles in the skies over England. The production had a successful summer run at the National Theatre and will be broadcast to cinemas via NT Live on Thursday, October 6, 2022.