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dBTechnologies supplies audio for aircraft carrier

dBTechnologies’ DVA T12 line array craned onto a US Navy aircraft carrier for a special family and friends ‘Tiger Cruise’ offered as a reward for sailors’ excellent service.

Last month US audio providers Mambo Sound and Broadcast Support were asked to specify a full PA system and backline for a US Navy aircraft carrier, and to look after it on its cruise from Hawaii to San Diego. Mambo Sound’s Steve McNeil said specifying the DVA T12 line array was not a difficult decision: “Our friends at Broadcast Support already have a DVA T4 rig, so we knew it was reliable. It also needed to be light weight to keep the freight costs down,” he explained. “We flew the whole sound system to Hawaii, took it to Pearl Harbor and craned it on the USS John C Stennis active aircraft carrier, then craned it off again in San Diego seven days later.” The main PA comprised six dBTechnologies DVA T12 active 3-way line array modules – three either side – controlled by RDNet. These were ground stacked on top of two DVA S20s dual 18” subwoofers. “We brought eight T12s with us, but they were so powerful we actually only needed six,” added McNeil. “As the ship was to be in the middle of the Pacific we could not fly the PA, so it had to be stacked and strapped. At one point we had 30 foot swells! The hardware supplied was easy to use and versatile, and we were able to bend the stack by three degrees. The system sounded smooth and open – even stacked.” Area fills were handled by DVX D15s, whilst DVX DM12 and DM15 looked after stage monitoring. “Since the ship was a working vessel, we had to set the stage on horizontal plane. We relied on the area fills to get the sides and edges. It worked great. No complaints.” The US Navy provides sailors with a ‘Tiger Cruise’ as a reward for excellent service. A select group of crew are allowed to bring friends or family members on to the ship for a ‘ride’ back home, giving them a chance to work along side the sailors and get a unique perspective of life on the ship. McNeil continued, “We needed a powerful PA to cover the 5000 crew members plus 1000 Tigers [visitors], which made the DVA T12s an ideal choice. Indeed there are bunch of reasons why we went for dBTechnologies: the boxes are reliable, energy efficient, flexible and really great sounding.” The demands on the PA throughout the week were quite diverse, which meant the system had to be flexible. Presentations were made to the Tigers for the schedule of events (which included two air shows), there was a 26-act talent show performed by service members, a ‘rap-off’, readings, a step performance and an awards ceremony commending top sailors presented by the Commanding Officer. “This job presented a unique set of problems for a sound company,” said McNeil. “This is a working 90,000 ton aircraft carrier and we are at the mercy of the ship’s operational needs. Besides setting up for the music portion, our time schedule needed to be flexible – world events could change the gig at a moment’s notice, and when the CO wants the stage, it’s his. “It was a stunning setting,” he added. “A stage was built in the hangar, in an enclosed steel room in the belly of the craft where the planes and helicopters were stored, and large doors would be opened that lead to the ships five aircraft elevators exposing all to an awesome view of the open sea.” The battle group for the USS John C Stennis had seen some action whilst patrolling the Strait of Hormuz, also rescuing some Iranian fishermen from Somali pirates over its eight-month deployment, and the cruise allowed them to wind down and share their experiences with friends and family before heading to their home port in Bremerton, Washington.