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Shure Axient Digital Supports 11th ACM Honors In Nashville

RF coordinator J.D. DuCrest provides 20 channels of wireless for the Academy of Country Music awards and live performances at the Ryman Auditorium.

By PSW Staff September 20, 2017

Maren Morris performs onstage during the 11th Annual ACM Honors at the Ryman Auditorium on August 23, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Credit: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM)

Taped live at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, the 11th ACM Honors was broadcast Friday, September 15, as a two-hour special on CBS. Honoring the biggest names in country music through special Academy of Country Music awards and live performances, the ACM Honors program recognizes musicians, songwriters, and a wide range of others making significant contributions in the industry.

Wireless microphones and in-ear monitors have become an integral part of live music performance, and this year’s ACM Honors was no exception. To ensure sound quality and performance, RF coordinator J.D. DuCrest brought in 20 channels of Shure Axient Digital wireless as the default microphone system.

Produced for television by Dick Clark Productions, the ACM Honors event was mixed for broadcast by Chip Matthews and Paul Sandweiss, recorded by Tom Holmes. Ryman Auditorium chief sound engineer Les Banks handled the live house mix, while Tom Graham provided the monitor mixes for all performers.

Artists performing included award winners Toby Keith, Kelsea Ballerini, and George Strait, along with Brad Paisley, Little Big Town, Maren Morris, and Chris Janson, among others. Another highlight of the evening was special recognition for Songwriter of the Year Award winner Lori McKenna.

A variety of Shure capsules were available, including the SM58, KSM9, and Beta 87A. Axient Digital bodypack systems were also available, handling instrument microphone duties for various stringed instruments as well as the three-piece horn section, which used Shure Beta 98A clip-on mics.

Experiencing Axient Digital in his work with Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn, DuCrest was excited to have the opportunity to deploy it at ACM Honors. He also brought in six Shure PSM 1000 and two PSM 900 in-ear systems for the headliners and house band.

“Bringing in both Axient Digital and PSM in-ears as a package was clearly the best option,” notes DuCrest. “The sound quality is just outstanding, and the RF performance is the best I’ve ever encountered. Plus, it allowed me to coordinate the entire production using Shure Wireless Workbench software. Working with so many amazing artists on the Ryman stage, this show demanded the best, and Axient Digital delivered.”

Front of house engineer Les Banks agrees. “This was my first experience with Axient Digital at the Ryman, and my first impression was simple: It sounded like copper,” he says. “The sound quality was superb and the RF signal was rock solid. In other words, there was really nothing to notice sonically – and that’s a good thing.”

In addition to 20 channels of Axient Digital for vocalists, presenters, and instrumentalists as the primary microphone wireless systems, Shure UHF-R wireless was in use for another application. Four channels of UHF-R systems were deployed for the two podium systems, with one UR1 bodypack and UR1M micro-pack on each, eliminating the need for cables for those key microphones.

Shure’s Nashville Artist Relations manager, Ryan Smith, was also on hand for the festivities. “The annual ACM Honors is a fantastic event, so I was very pleased to hear that J.D. DuCrest had requested Axient Digital systems for this show,” he notes. “The performers enjoyed the benefit of clean digital audio, plus the crew at the Ryman was able to experience it for the first time. It was a great night for everyone involved.”

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