Located in the heart of London’s West End, the Donmar Warehouse is an icon of the capital’s theatre scene. A 251-seat venue, the Donmar Warehouse opened in 1977 and has since garnered a reputation for its diverse mix of productions, from musicals and plays to new works by leading writers. This not-for-profit theatre recently underwent a full refurbishment of its audio system. Leading the project were sound designer Sound Quiet Time, and systems integrator Stage Sound Services.
The project was initiated with a clear brief in mind: to enhance and unify the sound system at the Donmar Warehouse while preserving the venue’s unique character and intimacy. Working closely with the team at Sound Quiet Time, which has been responsible for audio management at the Donmar Warehouse for several years, Stage Sound Services collaborated to deliver the integration of EM Acoustics loudspeakers.
“The Donmar Warehouse was looking for a new long-term vendor to handle product hire, install and to provide ongoing support”, explained Phil Hurley, director at Stage Sound Services. “We’d worked with the Sound Quiet Time on previous projects, and we were pleased to be involved in the installation at a venue as iconic as the Donmar.”
“We have been really switched onto EM since the release of the Reference Series. From the moment we heard them we were very impressed and have now used them across several projects,” said Rob Bettle from Sound Quiet Time. “EM Acoustics was our first choice when it came to re-designing and unifying the Donmar in-house system.”
“The Donmar is a small but complicated space from a sound point of view,” reflected Bettle. “The stage is thrust and all audience members are both extremely close to the action as well as possible rigging locations for loudspeakers. Therefore, you need a lot of loudspeakers for a small auditorium.”
Following Sound Quiet Time’s design, Stage Sound Services integrated a full EM Acoustics left, centre, right system, complemented by delays and surround sound. At its core, the main PA system consists of six R8s from the brand’s flagship Reference Series. To enhance the low frequencies and add depth, two S-18 subwoofers are employed as the main subs. Twelve EMS-41 loudspeakers serve as stall delays, while an additional 12 EMS-51s are utilised for circle delays.
To create an immersive sound environment, 12 EMS-51 loudspeakers are dedicated to the stall surrounds, while a further 12 are placed in the circle surrounds. Four EMS-112 subs deployed across the circle and stalls complete the surround sound system. On-stage effects are handled by two EMS-122W, four EMS-51, two EMS-41 and four EMS-61 loudspeakers, all of which can be positioned as needed. The full system is driven by five Di20D 8-channel amplifiers.
“We are honoured to have been selected as the preferred audio solution provider for the Donmar Warehouse,” said Hurley. “The venue’s rich history and commitment to community engagement align perfectly with our own values. This installation showcases the versatility and excellence of EM Acoustics products while enabling the venue to deliver outstanding audio experiences to its patrons.”
“A mixture of our longstanding experience of working with the Donmar Warehouse and EM’s extensive product line allowed us to achieve excellent audio coverage of the auditorium. Furthermore, the Donmar Warehouse hosts a variety of shows, and the new system is adaptable enough to cater for many different genres,” concluded Bettle. “Noël Coward’s Private Lives is currently showing, and so far, everyone has been very happy with the results.”