Modest Budget, Big Ambitions: RIVAGE PM3 Mixes Vanara The Musical World Premiere

Sound operator Ollie Dudman

At the end of October London’s Hackney Empire theatre was the setting for the world premiere of Vanara The Musical, a timely tale of environmental disaster and tribal conflict with a message of hope and unity. Sound operator Ollie Dudman mixed Olly Steel’s sound design on a Yamaha RIVAGE PM3 digital mixing system.

Olly Steel first used Yamaha digital mixers in 2008, as sound #2 on the High School Musical UK tour, with a system designed by Rick Clarke. “I used Yamaha digital systems on various productions after that, especially when I was doing sound design in my own right and was able to specify the system,” he says.

“When the RIVAGE PM10 system came out in 2014, I was sold! It had everything I wanted and I knew that, with some extra development and tailoring, it could be a very powerful system for theatre. I said that if it could potentially do more than 144 channels, a RIVAGE PM system would be ideal for any musical on the planet, but it would also benefit greatly from a scalable form factor.” RIVAGE PM3 is exactly that.

In touring and short theatre runs, time is always at a premium. For a brand new production like Vanara The Musical, it is even more of an issue, especially as it had some unconventional elements. These included the musicians being on a 3.5m stage riser and a range of instruments which are unusual for musical theatre, including electric cello, taiko drums, ocarina and bansuri.

The RIVAGE PM3 system was supplied by Stage Sound Services and Olly chose to do everything in the Dante domain, including playback and multi-track recording.

“For a show which was modestly-sized in both scope and budget, it had a lot to achieve and it featured very big, epic-sounding pieces of music. Score-wise it was like nothing I’d known before,” he says. “Being able to do everything in Dante was a godsend because, if we had gone down the MADI route, it would have cost a lot of money. The composer wanted multitracks from every performance and we were able provide them without it increasing the cost.”

He continues, “We loaded in on Monday, with the first performance on Friday. The system really helped in terms of the available time. The trouble with the software of some other systems is that it’s so complicated, you have to work hard to know exactly what it’s going to do. I really enjoy the simplicity of the RIVAGE PM theatre mode; this was Ollie Dudman’s first time using RIVAGE PM and it only took me 10-15 minutes to show him things like the DCA programming and bank recall. He said the same thing that other first-time users do, that it’s very easy to learn and is like using a supercharged CL5. The integration with OSC and QLab also makes it a really flexible solution.”

As always, another important factor is trust. Yamaha’s legendary reliability means that, even in high pressure situations, if anything goes wrong it’s very unlikely to be the console.

“I know I can completely trust Yamaha systems,” says Olly. “Mixing platforms are now so advanced that it’s easy to get yourself in a bit of a tangle but, having that trust in the system, you know that you need to question what you’ve done, not what the console is doing.

“I’m only speccing RIVAGE PM3 systems on any new show from now on. The system ticks all the boxes for any level of theatre production.”

London, United Kingdom


To fully support the sound engineers who support the artists and performers, Yamaha makes absolutely no compromises when it comes to quality. Sound, operability, and reliability must all be first class, and implemented in a way that allows engineers to concentrate fully on helping artists and performers deliver their message. The RIVAGE PM series embodies this ideal at the highest level, connecting technology, art, and audiences with waves that encircle the world.