Point Source Audio’s (PSA) new Embrace earmounts have been used by Alley Theater in Houston, TX during multiple production runs throughout a six-month period.
The theater’s sound supervisor, Pierre Dupree, said PSA’s patent-pending Embrace Earmounts are “worth their weight in gold.” Each of the theater’s cast of 15 resident actors now have custom mics assigned to them, no matter where they go. According to Dupree, this is possible because “Embrace is completely customizable, quick to build, durable, and most definitively, our actors love them.”
The Alley Theatre is a Tony Award-winning indoor theater in Downtown Houston. In the 2015-2016 season it boasts more than 500 performances—more than all other performing arts organizations in the Houston Theater District combined. The Alley, which opened in 1968 and underwent a $46.5 million building renovation in the 2014-2015 season, hosts two stages: the Hubbard Theater, the main stage with seating for 774, and the more intimate Neuhaus Theater, with seating for 310.
Alley Theater in Houston, TX
Dupree attributed his long-standing miking challenge to there being no bad seat in the house in the intimate setting of the theaters, which means there is a very strong visual component for the audience. The actor mics need to blend away, and until Embrace, it had been difficult keeping the actors and the rest of the production team happy. Dupree, who has served at Alley for more than nine years, jokingly recounted “numerous fights with the costume department” on the best way to conceal the mics.
“We in theater don't get products specifically targeted for us, so we were immediately captivated by Embrace,” Dupree said.
PSA VP of marketing Yvonne Ho asserted that Embrace’s product strategy and design intent is the best of two worlds: “On the one hand, you have a very miniature lavalier that’s perfect for concealing; but then it’s comfortable and capable of holding like a headset as a result of its ergonomic design.” The Embrace is currently patent-pending.
Alley Theatre is host to a steady stream of events and productions coming into Houston. “The sound designers we work with are increasingly asking for the Point Source Audio brand so we are planning to expand our inventory to accommodate these requests,” Ho said.
Dupree summed up his findings from A/B testing Point Source against the top brands: “We barely needed to EQ the PSA mics and there is much less bass roll off.”
The Earmounts are custom designed for PSA microphones with a cable diameter of about 1.5mm, but Dupree found them highly flexible—enough that he has even used them with non-PSA mics that he previously had in inventory. “You can cut them to fit and I love the fact you can mold them to stay with minimal tape,” Dupree said. For actors with no hair, Dupree found Embrace to be a more aesthetic solution: “Embrace provides us with a method to better secure the microphone that is less clunky and less heavy than past solutions.”