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Avid, JBL and DiGiCo systems shine at 2013 Grammy Awards

Long-time PA contractor ATK AudioTek swapped last year's JBL VerTec line array for the new JBL VTX V25, while DiGiCo enjoys its second year at "Music's Biggest Night" and Avid captures rehearsal performances.

As on previous occasions, ATK AudioTek coordinated live sound in the Staples Center for the Grammy’s audience of industry movers and shakers. A night of stars and even starrier performances saw UK band Mumford & Sons walk away with the biggest honour – Album of the Year – for their second album Babel.

For sound reinforcement, ATK opted to use new JBL Professional VTX V25 three-way line array cabinets powered by Crown ITech 12000HD amplifiers with HiQnet Performance Manager for control of built-in crossover, delay and EQ functions.

The PA system comprised four identical hangs of 12 JBL V25 boxes to cover the broad audience area – the main stereo mix feeding an inner pair with a mono mix to the outers – plus a delayed mono feed for rear and side audience members augmented by a 16 JBL VerTec VT4889 line array cabinets powered by ITech 3500HD and Powersoft K10 amplifiers. Two JBL VTX S28-0A subwoofer arrays were flown above the center of the twin stage areas. The new V25 cabinet features two 2kW, 15-inch Differential Drive LF drivers mounted on die-cast aluminum baffles, with four eight-inch Differential Drive midrange transducers and three D2 Dual-Diaphragm compression drivers. “This year we used DiGiCo’s SD racks and consoles for all mixing and system I/O,” recalls Jeff Peterson (pictured, far left), an ATK system-design engineer. “The main FOH consoles consisted of an SD7 for music mixing and an SD5 for production elements [helmed by Grammy regulars Ron Reaves (pictured, seated) and Mikael Stewart (pictured, second from right), respectively].” The production console handled 96 simultaneous inputs, including Reaves’ stereo music mix, subwoofer/LFE mix and vocal stem, plus production tracks and announce mics, while the music console accommodated 168 inputs. “The A stage and B stage monitors were each controlled by SD7s [helmed by Tom Pesa and Mike Parker],” Peterson continues. “Last year we found that the SD10s [for production and monitors] just didn’t have enough inputs for this show. So the monitor positions upgraded to SD7s for redundancy, and the FOH production console upgraded to the new SD5. “Since the SD5 uses a single engine, to provide redundancy we set up the SD7 FOH music console to take over production mixing duties and drive the PA system in the event of a failure. As we know, if you don’t prepare for failures, then any failure can ruin your show!” A fifth DiGiCo SD7 console was brought in at the request of Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars for a guest mixer handling monitors for the A Stage. All of the consoles and system components were networked using a single DiGiCo fibre-optic ring to carry I/O signals from the stage, and digital outputs to the various power amplifiers racks. “The optical ring was maxed out with a total channel count of 488,” adds Peterson. Outputs from the various wired and 46 channels of wireless microphones, including 16 bass/guitar belt packs, plus line-level sources, exited the stage area to three primary destinations: front-of-house and monitor consoles, plus the pair of Music Mix Mobile/M3 remote trucks being used by John Harris and Eric Schilling to prepare 5.1-channel music mixes for the broadcast audience; announcer and audience-reaction microphones also routed directly to the expandable NEP Broadcast’s Denali Summit video production truck, where Tom Holmes prepared the final surround-sound TV mix. Stage sources were swapped between acts using a system of quick-connect multi-way connectors and stage boxes located on the drum risers and linked to a switching center located backstage. All rehearsals were recorded using an Avid ICON D-Control assignable surface in the M3 Eclipse truck, while the acoustically identical M3-West’s Horizon truck was used to refine automated snapshot settings of Pro Tools mix levels, panning and aux sends, plus plug-in settings, against a video track. During the live on-air broadcast, Harris and Schilling alternated with one another in the primary M3 Eclipse truck. M3’s Joel Singer served as engineer-in-charge. The broadcast music mix was supervised by Hank Neuberger from The Recording Academy’s P&E Wing, while Leslie Ann Jones (pictured, second from left) from the P&E Wing oversaw FOH audio. Michael Abbott returned as Audio Coordinator for the event.
Mel Lambert