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Powersoft Drives Audio For Super Bowl 50 Entertainment

ATK Audiotek deploys K10 Amplifiers and M-Force powered subwoofers for pre-game, halftime and post-game portions of the event.

By PSW Staff February 16, 2016

The entire audio during the entertainment portion of Super Bowl 50 was powered by Powersoft amplifiers. (Credit: Kirk Powell)

Amplifier manufacturer Powersoft delivered for a crowd of 71,088 gathered for Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium last week, with over 120 of its K10 high-performance power amplifiers and 8 custom subwoofers featuring Powersoft M-System drivers.

The pre-game and halftime entertainment portions of the event — powered solely by Powersoft amplifiers — featured performances by Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, and reached no less than 111.9 million viewers.

Audio services provider ATK Audiotek provided system integration and audio services for the event, creating an agile audio solution that consisted of 18 mobile speaker carts — each equipped with JBL VT4889 line array elements, JBL VT4880A subwoofers and Powersoft K10 amplifiers. The speaker carts were rolled onto the field for the pre-game, halftime and post-game portions of the event.

Pre-game programming included performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “America the Beautiful” and the Walter Payton award presentation; the much anticipated halftime segment included electrifying performances by Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars; the post-game programming featured the presentation of the Vince Lombardi trophy and Most Valuable Player award.

For the halftime performances, ATK Audiotek’s team had just six minutes to roll out and set up the entire audio system, with the stage itself consisting of 28 individual pieces in addition to the loudspeaker carts that had to be rolled into position on the perimeter of the field. For the duration of the entertainment programming, the Powersoft amplifiers — drawing power exclusively from generators — performed flawlessly, enabling an energetic and memorable experience for fans in the stadium and television audiences at home.

During the event planning processes, efficiency and footprint were key concerns, as Kirk Powell, systems designer of ATK Audiotek explains: “For events of this size, there is enormous power usage so efficiency is absolutely key. The Powersoft K10s minimize our power draw and provide maximum output efficiency,” he says. The small size of the amplifiers also significantly reduces truck weight and transportation expenses. “We had five packed semi tractor trailers carting gear up to the stadium, and every bit of space counted,” he adds.

The compactness of the Powersoft amplifiers — which occupy approximately one third the space of conventional amplifiers — helped enable a smooth transition during set up from game time to halftime. “They were able to set up and tear down the K10s really fast — and there was absolutely no shortage of power in the stadium,” says Entertainment front of house engineer Toby Francis.

Francis was impressed with the sound and performance of the K10s, in what was one of the most energetic halftime performances in history: “The K10s really held it all together, the low end was tight as it could be, and the overall response was really good for a stadium like this.”

James Berry, monitor engineer for Beyoncé, was also pleased with what he heard: “The wedges sound incredible on the Powersoft,” he states. “The amplifier can make or break the sound of a speaker, and these amps sound really great. Plus it was amazing how fast they were able to set up and tear down the system.”

In addition to the full service sound system ATK provided for the entertainment elements, the existing stadium PA system was augmented with additional low-end reinforcement for mid-game music bumpers, referee announcements, and announcer calls.

“When the speakers were not out there and we we’re in game mode, they wanted subwoofers to make gametime more exciting — so we had eight locations of Powersoft subs set up permanently against the audience wall on the field,” explains Pat Baltzell, sound designer and front of house mixer for ATK Audiotek. “These helped us get an extra half-octave of audio, reaching the super-low frequencies, between 25 and 35 Hz.” By using the M-Force loaded cabinets with 30-inch cones, the ATK team was able to leverage roughly three times the power of conventional drivers, the subwoofer count on the field from 24 to eight.

The M-Force powered subwoofers were positioned against the audience wall on the field, four on each side, in evenly spaced intervals. Each cabinet, measuring approximately 3.5 x 4.5 x 3.5 feet, was powered by a single Powersoft K10 amplifier. “The M-force and K10 combination delivered exactly the low end we were looking for, perfectly complementing the house PA,” Powell says.

To pull off an event like Super Bowl 50, which has incredibly sophisticated power requirements, efficiency is the name of the game.

“They have to bring in so much extra power for these entertainment elements – including the lighting and the sound,” explains Baltzell. “They asked us to be as efficient as we can, and in terms of a watt in and a watt out, Powersoft is the most efficient amplifier in the world. By using Powersoft, we are able to substantially reduce our power consumption and create big savings; truckloads are smaller, cartage is easier and of course the overall power draw is smaller. All of these efficiency elements come into play at an event like this, and it’s why we switched to Powersoft in the first place.”

In addition to harnessing Powersoft’s amplification capabilities, ATK also leveraged the Company’s Armonia software to handle tuning and DSP settings for the halftime show. “All of the system tuning — including filtering — was done in Armonia,” says Baltzell. “By using the filters in Armonia, we are able to attain a much finer resolution in the DSP than if we were using a standalone device. Also, if the DSP is in the amplifier, you are that much further ahead and you have eliminated another piece of equipment that could potentially fail,” he says.

In such a landmark event fraught with challenges and millions of fans watching around the world, Powersoft delivered: “I couldn’t imagine doing a Super Bowl without Powersoft,” says Baltzell.
 
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Halftime show set up during Super Bowl 50 (Credit: James Berry)

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