The US Navy Band’s annual holiday concerts at DAR Constitution Hall packed more than 8,000 people into the venue for three performances plus streaming on Facebook Live. This year’s shows featured members from all of the Navy Band’s ensembles as well as “a flyover and visit from Santa Claus.”
According to petty officer 1st class (MU1) Christopher Trupe, who handled the audio system design, the US Navy Band currently owns four DiGiCo SD10 desks for its Cruisers contemporary entertainment ensemble, Commodores jazz ensemble, Country Current country-bluegrass ensemble and Sea Chanters chorus.
For the third consecutive year, three of these consoles were deployed for the holiday concerts to facilitate mixes for front of house, monitors and live broadcast streaming.
Additionally, three DiGiCo SD-Racks were used on stage for I/O, all connected in a fiber loop with HMA Optics clocking at 96kHz—replacing two 56-pair, three-way split snakes used prior to making the switch to the SD10s a few years ago. Trupe, who also served as the production’s front of house engineer, notes that the shows consumed approximately 100 inputs and that he had preamp control at the front of house SD10, while the other two consoles enabled gain tracking on their inputs after the show had been “teched out.”
Petty officer 1st class Francis DuBois, monitor engineer at the stage-left SD10, had four wedge mixes on deck that consisted of two Meyer UM-100Ps, two MJF-210s and two UPM-1Ps. In addition, there were 13 stereo in-ear mixes provided by Shure PSM1000s and P6HWs, with the musicians using Sensaphonics 2MAX earphones. A variety of microphones from Neumann, Earthworks, DPA, Sennheiser and Shure dotted the stage as well as Radial direct boxes.
Chief petty officer Brian Bowman, at the SD10 for the live stream, was paired up with the Waves SoundGrid Extreme Server for plugins. This console also took care of multitracking the entire show using two Waves MGB boxes to record up to 128 tracks at 96kHz/24-bit into Nuendo Live on two redundant laptops via SoundGrid and recorded onto Avastor external drives.
Coatesville, Pennsylvania-based DBS Audio Systems supplied the PA, which consisted of 20 Meyer Lyons mains enclosures paired with 18 Meyer Leopards for outfill. In addition, DBS provided six Minas for front-fill and two 900-LFC subs in cardioid mode. All of this was fed at 96kHz/24-bit through two Meyer Galileo Callisto 616 AES.
Dave Brotman, president of DBS Audio Systems was the system tech for the rig, and chief petty officer Scott Shepherd, petty officer 1st class Steven Van Dyne and petty officer 1st class Brendon Lennon served as stage techs. System design was done by Trupe using Meyer MAPP XT, and tuning was accomplished via Rational Acoustics SMAART paired with an Earthworks M30 and wireless Lectrosonics transmitter and receiver.
“A longstanding tradition, our annual holiday concert is certainly one of the US Navy Band’s most highly-anticipated events, and this year’s production was our largest one to date,” notes Trupe, who has been a part of the crew since August of 2002. “That being said, everything went as planned with the gear that we used and it was a very enjoyable and festive event for all in attendance.”
Based at the historic Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., the United States Navy Band is composed of 172 enlisted musicians and four officers, under the direction of captain Kenneth Collins, the 14th leader in the ensemble’s history, which dates back to 1925.