Buena Vista Social Club at the Atlantic Theatre

X1 let the vocals shine for ambitious musical tribute to the legendary album

Buena Vista Social Club at the Atlantic Theatre

"HOLOPLOT has a different approach to line array and point source speaker coverage that’s very successful for treating our vocals in this very tight space and, potentially, very loud situation. We wanted the best coverage and the highest level of control"

— Jonathan Deans, Sound Designer

Theatre with a twist

Powerful vocal reinforcement with X1

Buena Vista Social Club, first released in 1998 has been revived by being translated into a theatrical format hosted at the Atlantic Theatre in New York.

A 1x3 HOLOPLOT X1 Matrix Array system addressed the acoustic challenges inside the converted church theater and managed vocal presence amidst live percussion instruments with ease.

HOLOPLOT collaborated with renowned sound designer Jonathan Deans and production company Production Resource Group to showcase the benefits of the unique sound control capabilities of HOLOPLOT technology for performing arts settings.

Buena Vista Social Club is a show about music and doing justice to the Afro-Cuban rhythms of the much-loved numbers from the legendary 1998 album was key. This meant creating space between the instruments and the vocals in the mix, without losing the impact and recognition value of these well-known songs.

The expert sound design by Jonathan Deans achieves just that.

Converted church

Intimate impact

A well-known and respected off-Broadway house, the Linda Gross Theater forms the main performance space of the Atlantic Theatre Company complex. A compact capacity of 199 and location inside a Gothic Revival building, makes it a unique, beautiful and intimate setting featuring high ceilings and exposed brick walls.

A challenging acoustic environment, especially when staging such a complex theatrical show as Buena Vista Social Club, featuring a plethora of instruments including congas, bongos, timbales and multiple vocals.

The concept

Create space within the mix

Proximity of the audience to the stage and its effect on levels as well as balance between instruments and vocals were the main concerns for sound designer Jonathan Deans, who called upon HOLOPLOT to help him create the solution.

Utilizing X1’s proprietary 3D Audio-Beamforming and Wave Field Synthesis technology, Deans created precise coverage zones for the audience as well as sound localization in 3D space. The combination of this managed the vocal presence in this tight space, without overwhelming the audience.

Beam settings

Bringing vocals closer to the audience

A single central mono cluster of three MD96 X1 Audio Modules in a horizontal arrangement was exclusively designated for vocal reinforcement. This configuration addressed the steeply raked seating, employing 3D Audio-Beamforming to minimize space requirements for the sound system.

Most importantly, it allowed the vocals to be brought closer to the audience via the placement of two Virtual Sources within the seating area.

The beams

The cluster of three MD96 X1’s formed three beams. One Optimized Coverage Beam covered the entire audience area, while two further beams function as Virtual Sources placed behind and alongside the array, delivering stereo ensemble vocals.

This approach produced subtle yet impactful results. The system design creates space within the mix, letting the vocals shine within a complex musical arrangement. It's a unique concept for a traditional mono cluster and something no other system could achieve.

A failsafe combination

Directionality and optimization guarantee optimal coverage

1 Virtual Source

1 Virtual Source

+ 1 Virtual Source

+ 1 Virtual Source

= Even coverage and impactful vocals

= Even coverage and impactful vocals

"HOLOPLOT technology keeps our audio pattern tight in the room, not bouncing off the walls and we're able to control the image to cover the seating area and get separation so that we're not having to deal with reflections."

— Timothy Jarrell, A1 production mix engineer

All photographs © Ahron R. Foster