For this year’s Super Bowl at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ, ATK Audiotek (a Clair Global company), the live sound provider for the event for the past 25 years, deployed an all-digital audio signal path with an extensive Dante networked audio infrastructure utilizing components from the Focusrite RedNet range of converters and interfaces.
“This is our eighth year using Focusrite RedNet with our Dante Audio-over IP network at the Super Bowl,” says Kirk Powell, engineer in charge for ATK/Clair at Super Bowl LVII. “We started with a pretty small-scale Focusrite setup, but it’s grown over the years into the huge deployment that you see today. This year we are responsible for all audio in the stadium, including the halftime show, so that is a pretty hefty undertaking. We know State Farm Stadium well, as we have done past Super Bowls there, so we know what we’re getting into.
“But still, it’s a huge logistical challenge, with a ton of different audio sources and places the audio needs to be routed, and Focusrite RedNet components are absolutely essential for us to do our job. They give us the interconnectivity and flexibility that we need to do the job right.”
The Focusrite contingent included 20 RedNet D16R 16-channel AES3 I/Os, 24 RedNet A16R 16-channel analog I/O interfaces, and 24 RedNet D64R 64-channel MADI bridges. Additionally, the sound team used the stadium’s house PA system and augmented it with a number of additional loudspeakers from L-Acoustics. “Being an indoor venue, State Farm Stadium has a lot of reflective surfaces,” notes Powell. “The challenge is to keep intelligibility up and keep reflections down.”
The A16R units were used to connect with various interfaces operated by the venue and other entities, and D16R units were used to interface with amplifiers. RedNet D64R MADI bridges were deployed to interface with consoles and broadcast trucks. Clock management during the Super Bowl is important not only for the teams on the field, but also for audio production. Powell explains, “The production tracks are on a different clock, because they’re not used all day long. The D64R allows me to break the clock between my system and the production tracks because they’re done after halftime. They start to pack up, and I don’t want to be on their clock and have them shut down.”
Prep time at the stadium can be in short supply, so ATK/Clair covers its bases by doing a dry-run setup at its home base in Valencia, CA in the weeks leading up to the big game. “We set up the whole network in the office, getting all the Dante routing done and double- and triple-checking everything to minimize on-site setup and look for any issues that need troubleshooting. It sometimes feels like overkill, but we don’t want to leave anything up to chance when gameday comes,” Powell concludes. “Looking at our staging area for the system, you see a sea of red rack-mounted units! [laughs] We’re able to get to State Farm Stadium, set up and go. Because we do our extensive prep work, there are very few surprises.”