TiMax SoundHub upgrade for Manchester’s Royal Exchange

Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre has expanded its existing TiMax SoundHub system matrix and spatial processor to a 48 x 48 configuration with analogue and MADI I/O.

This latest infrastructure upgrade also includes a new Digico SD10T main FOH console and a QLab/MADI workstation.

TiMax has been integral to the theatre’s audio showcontrol for just over 20 years and the productions appearing at the Royal Exchange have long benefitted from the system’s advanced object-based spatial rendering.

“Though all the basic settings remain the same, there are significant enhancements in the detail we’re able to pick out here and play with,” said head of sound Sorcha Williams, who oversaw the last upgrade in 2014 to TiMax SoundHub. With the added advantage of MADI, “we have essentially doubled our output capabilities as not only do we have the 48 channels dedicated to TiMax we also have another 56 analogue outputs from the SD rack and a further 8 on the console itself,” added Williams.

Manchester’s Royal exchange is an in-the-round-theatre rather than a traditional proscenium arch space. As Williams explained, this makes the approach to sound design slightly different: “Routing or moving sounds from one zone to the next is often the opposite of straightforward! However, TiMax makes a lot of things possible with just a few clicks. The software interface is very user-friendly, so what could be a difficult few weeks of programming is actually more easily achieved in a shorter space of time,” she said. “We can trigger everything from QLab in TiMax and it just works. It enables us to turn around shows very simply and quickly which is of the utmost importance in this busy theatre.”

The TiMax PanSpace object-based 3D spatial rendering is the sound department’s go-to feature, Williams revealed, “We use it in almost every production and while there are ways of achieving the same thing, they all take an incredibly long time to programme. With PanSpace we can have it programmed in a matter of minutes.”

TiMax enables the sound department to set up the crossover shows that are a regular part of the theatre’s schedule, simply and easily, without disturbing any of the existing show information, while its comprehensive system management functions have also proved invaluable. “To assist and preserve our ageing speaker system, the sound department has put high and low passes across certain groups of outputs as a protection measure so that mishaps can’t inadvertently affect our drivers,” said Williams. “So TiMax has even made it a lot easier for us to manage the system in that sense.”