The world listened as President-elect Barack Obama delivered his historic acceptance speech to nearly a quarter million jubilant supporters at Chicago’s Grant Park. Thanks to a superb sound system design and deployment by CLAIR Chicago, every word was heard clearly via an Electro-Voice X-Line PA and Midas mixing consoles.
Prior to receiving its historic weight, the rally at Grant Park proved to be an enormous and challenging event to cover.
Ian Hunt, Director of Event Management for CLAIR Chicago, recalls the job: “Not only did we need to combine full coverage and vocal intelligibility on a massive scale in this deep, wide venue, we also needed to ensure signal feeds for the vast assemblage of press from around the world, and all with impeccable audio quality.”
After mapping Grant Park venue area using LAPS (Line Array Prediction Software), both Hunt and Mark Kishbaugh, Account Executive for CLAIR Chicago, determined that Electro-Voice’s X-Line line-array system was the ideal choice to deliver the long-range, highly intelligible sound the rally would require.
Two main hangs of 12 X-Line line-array loudspeakers provided the main output (11x Xvls & 1x Xvlt), augmented with one delay hang of eight Xvls.
Two more arrays of four Xvls were used as screen hangs, 12 ground-stacked Xsubs provided low end support, and eight X-Array boxes were used as stage fills and delays.
EV Xw12 floor monitors were placed on the stage, while EV P3000 amplifiers provided power for the system.
“Aside from its excellent throw, X-Line offers great vocal articulation, making it perfect for an important speech event like this,” Hunt adds.
CLAIR’s system threw sound much further than the outer limits of Grant Park. It also delivered audio to televisions and radios across the globe via an unprecedented 720 press feeds.
CLAIR used a Midas Heritage 3000 (operated by Joe Keiser of CLAIR) at Front of House and a Midas Venice 320 (managed by Bryan Farina) to monitor each of the 700 plus returning press feeds.
Each worked alongside Klark Teknik DN3600 EQs. Warm, transparent vocals were ensured at every point in the signal chain; CLAIR also used two Midas XL42 preamps beneath the podium to split feeds to Front of House, the press system, and to ABC-TV.
“We used four consoles to send signals to the press,” says Hunt, “but on a stage as critical as this we needed to be able to monitor all incoming signals quickly and easily, so we sent everything to a Venice 320. We really needed the speed and reliability of Midas’ analog desks, as this was such a hands-on production.
“We needed to be ready for everything. This was an historic moment, and he really did deliver an impressive speech. Using analog was great because it really added depth to Obama’s voice, and imparted gravitas to his words. It was wonderful to hear him through the Midas preamps.”
Following the event, Hunt and his 22-person crew received praise for their production from all corners: “Everyone was extremely happy with the performance of the EV and Midas systems,” says Hunt; “we got great feedback from everyone, from the people who monitored the television side of the rally to people who were out there in the field—they all thought the sound was excellent. It was a great show. And, because of the nature of the event, it was an inspiring show to actually attend. The sound, the speech, the crowd—it was a truly memorable night.”
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