Doctor Atomic Technical Specs

February 27, 2014



General Sound Requirements

Doctor Atomic contains two categories for the general sound system:

  • sound reinforcement for the principle singers, chorus, and orchestra
  • surround sound playback cues in Ableton LIVE

Sound Reinforcement:

  • High-quality, full frequency, theatrical loudspeaker system is required (Meyer Sound loudspeakers recommended). Typical configuration would include the possible speaker groups – Main PA Left/Right, Frontfills, Center Cluster, Under Balcony Fills, etc. Note, extra subs should be used for the atomic bomb explosion at the end of Act 2.
  • All principle singers must be reinforced using wireless lavalier microphones (DPA 4061 recommended).
  • Chorus must be reinforced. Area microphones (and possibly roaming wireless lavaliers) should be used. Note, the chorus sings offstage at times — additional offstage microphones should be used.
  • Orchestra reinforcement should be subtle and tasteful. Depending on venue, spot microphones (and area mics for strings) should be used to help correct balances. The brass instruments can be quite loud at times. The engineer might be required to increase the string orchestra levels to compensate. Note, there is an offstage trumpet during Act 1.

Surround Sound Playback Cues / Soundscapes:

Consists of a computer driven six-channel surround sound-style presentation. The presenter will be required to obtain all of the equipment+software for this presentation. Boosey & Hawkes will supply a data DVD containing the Doctor Atomic show files (Abelton Live files, soundfiles, etc…) and technical support. The presenter will be required to hire a qualified sound designer/engineer to perform the tasks of various specific setup/performance needs. The sound operator, or the one executing the playback cues, must have the ability to read orchestra scores.


High-performance Macintosh, or PC, computer. Professional model laptops (not iBook or sim) can be used. Must have sufficient amount of RAM to playback up to 12 stereo soundfiles simultaneously. The data DVD from Boosey is approx 2.7Gb of data. The hard disk must have ample space to copy contents of DVD, but also any soundfile streaming which may occur from Ableton Live. 5Gb of free space is appropriate.

High-quality computer driven audio interface – multiple output. Firewire devices highly recommended. Six discrete outputs required.

Presenter must download the free, and most current, trial version of Ableton Live software – The trial software will run as a full version for 30-days, then the save and print functions will become disabled. Note, the Ableton Live software will still function for the Doctor Atomic needs even after 30-day trial expiration. The same software downloaded and installed can then be purchased if presenter wishes to invest in the software.


Six zone surround system:

  • Zone 1 + 2 from the Main PA system (which can be doubled as part of the above reinforcement Main PA) with subs. Zone 1 = house left, Zone 2 = house right.
  • Zone 3 + 4 is a mid-audience surround — Z3=houseleft, Z4=houseright. Speakers should be rigged, or pipe-and-base stands, close to auditorium walls, above audience heads (approx. six feet above). Should have equal coverage in balconies.
  •  Zone 5 + 6 is a rear-audience surround — Z5=houseleft, Z6=houseright. Speakers should be rigged, or pipe-and-base stands, close to auditorium walls, above audience heads (approx. six feet above). Should have equal coverage in balconies.

Speakers should be placed to have maximum coverage for the audience without cabinets being too close to individual seats – a basic “wash” coverage for each zone is needed, on all seating levels.


Before the downbeat of Act 1

Before the downbeat of Act 2

Several locations throughout Act 2:

  • A list of exact measure numbers (where each cue must be executed) will be supplied with our ATOMIC Ableton Live session files.


Please contact John Adams’ Sound Designer, Mark Grey, once the sound designer/engineer has been chosen for the production. Mr. Grey will help work with the production sound designer/engineer to make sure the presentation is in good standing.

Mark Grey: