DPA helps to create Middle Earth in London’s West End

The stage version of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ uses DPA miniature mics for both cast members and the orchestra.

Following its successful debut run in Canada, the stage version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” has now opened in London. Featuring intensive production values, this stage event features a cast of 50, all miked directly. To ensure pristine audio in this challenging environment, the production selected DPA Microphones, using 4061s and 4066 omnis to feed their wireless bodypacks.

Indian composer A.R. Rahman and Finnish contemporary folk group Värttinä, requiring 17 musicians, score the production. Sound designer Simon Baker from Autograph, together with associate Alan Lugger and FOH mix engineer Laurie Kirkby, set out to create a crisp, clean and intelligible mix that was achieved almost exclusively with microphones from DPA. In an unusual move to enhance the overall sound experience, Baker decided to move both the brass and percussion sections out of the orchestra pit and into a purpose-built studio space upstage behind an LED wall.

Baker uses DPA IMK4061 miniature instrument miking kits for the strings, DPA 4011 cardioids for horns and DPA 4041 large diaphragms for percussion and other strings, while DPA 4015 wide cardioids take care of more unusual ethnic instruments, which include a jouhikko — a three-stringed Finnish bowed lyre — and bouzouki.

“We have some tricky mic placements to do, particularly with Gollum,” Baker said. “DPAs are great in this situation — rugged and reliable. I am also reliant on them to perform well across a very broad dynamic range, not to mention inside the varied helmets and hats worn by the company. Our onstage sound team has done some great work in getting mics disguised into some very esoteric headwear.”

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