A 48-channel Allen & Heath SQ-6 digital mixer landed a role in the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles (SCLA) production of Henry IV, one of the Bard of Avon’s most popular historical plays. Built from the ground up outdoors on the West Los Angeles Veteran Affairs campus under the artistic direction of SCLA founder Ben Donenberg, Henry IV was staged with a cast that included Tom Hanks as Falstaff, Hamish Linklater as Prince Henry, and Joe Morton in the title role. Sound design fell under the guidance of Diablo Sound, an LA-based firm that has brought audio to many of SCLA’s most acclaimed productions.
Diablo Sound president and principal designer Drew Dalzell looked long and hard for a compact console with a feature set and price point that could facilitate the audio blueprint he envisioned for the play. His moment of discovery occurred when the SQ-6 landed in his lap.
“The SQ-6 is indeed small, feature rich, and sounds great,” he notes. “That’s the trifecta for me, especially in theatre. I’ve always loved the Allen & Heath sound, and this one lives up to its heritage.”
Front of house engineer Anna Grossman used eight of the SQ-6’s DCAs to create a template of scenes that managed the play’s Broadway-style, line-by-line mixing format. “It’s not an easy mix method to learn or execute,” Dalzell explains. “But by keeping it down to just eight DCAs in front of you, you actually stand a fighting chance.”
Grossman’s scenes were programmed in what Dalzell calls a “modified round-robin” fashion. Starting with her first scene she populated fader one with the first actor to speak, then moved consecutively through the script using the other faders for all the other actors in the sequences in which they spoke. At the end of each scene, she moved to the next, dropping-in the required pre-sets and repeating the process.
“The SQ-6 has all the tools we needed to get the maximum gain before feedback from our mics,” Dalzell adds. “We also used QLab—a multimedia cue-based software—for audio playback. We were able to plug it right into the SQ-6 via a USB port and have the console recognize it on one of our layers simply as another audio device, just like the 19 channels of Shure ULX-D wireless we were using. The possibilities are seemingly endless with this desk.”