Sound Design Criteria

Reviewers must give each criteria a score between 0-10.

Supports Storytelling
Overall, how well did the sound design support the storytelling?

Did it help create the world of the play without being distracting? If the play was conceptual did the sound support the concept? If the play required realistic sound design, did the cues feel real and specific to the locale? When appropriate, was it used to enhance understanding of character; create time, place, or mood; underscore dramatic beats; or otherwise support key moments in the show? Or did sound design just focus predominantly on the role of amplification, and pre-show entertainment and miss opportunities to further enrich the story?

How creative, interesting and original was the sound design?

Did the sound designer use a combination of sound amplification, sound effects, and/or music in a fashion that was unique? Was there original music recorded for the production? If there were recorded sound cues, did they appear to be originally and uniquely recorded and/or edited for the production such as radio or TV broadcasts?

Incorporating Music
How well did the sound design utilize recorded music and/or support live musical accompaniment?

If it was a straight play, was recorded pre-show, intermission and exit music used? If so, was it appropriate to the mood of the play? If it was supposed to be period music, did it appear to be from the correct period and of an appropriate style based on the time period and location of the play? Was underscoring used and was it effective in supporting scenes? Was incidental music used during scene transitions and was it appropriate and effective in maintaining or shifting the mood? Or was there little or no music used at all and opportunities were missed to enrich the theatrical experience?

If the show was a musical, was the orchestra balanced with the singers and actors speaking over the underscoring? Were the sounds of the various instruments in the orchestra properly balanced so they could be heard appropriately in the final mix? Or did the sound of the orchestra overshadow the acting and singing performances?

Level of Difficulty
How difficult was it to execute the sound design for this show?

Was it a musical with a large cast, many body mics and a large orchestra that required careful balance and execution? Did the recorded sound effects appear to be layered in such a way that multiple sounds are mixed to appear seamless? Did the sound design require a high degree of proficiency? Was this a production with 100 sound cues interwoven with the play or musical, or was it just a simple sound design, with little or no amplification, basic pre-show music and just a few stock sound effects?

Technical Execution
How well were the technical aspects of sound executed?

If amplification was used, did the actors’ voices sound natural, or did they sound “canned” or over-amplified? Was the fidelity of the amplification clear, without feedback and free of the sound of actors rustling costumes or sets creaking beneath their feet? Was the mix between actors, music, and sound effects appropriately balanced? Did the speakers provide full coverage so the entire audience could hear well? If body mics were used, was their placement hidden or otherwise unobtrusive unless called for by the context of the play?

If no amplification was used, was the fidelity of the recorded music or recorded sound effects clear and the levels appropriate? Were recorded sound cues appropriately edited or mixed to avoid clunky, distracting cuts or noises? If sound cues were executed as “practicals” (sound effects made by cast or crew members live during the performance) did they sound appropriately realistic and could they be heard by the entire audience?

Use of Available Resources
How well did the sound designer seem to make use of the available resources?

On the whole, how good was the sound quality given the equipment that appeared to be available and the natural acoustics of the playing area?