The systems served more than 180 speeches and 15 musical performances across the four-day duration of the event.
ATK Audiotek, which also served the Republican National Convention in Cleveland the week prior, was charged with delivering reliable audio with high speech intelligibility for both events. This effort was led by ATK head system tech Alex Guessard, system tech Kirk Powell, and designer/FOH mixer Pat Baltzell.
Baltzell’s design specification called for two amplifier barges located on either side of the main arena scoreboard, which were to drive the primary loudspeaker clusters. “One of the biggest considerations we face is placement of equipment,” explains Powell. “For the amp barges, we are limited in the amount of weight we can put up there, and we have to make sure we can get enough power in there to drive the amps. All of these things factor into how Powersoft can really help us at a convention like this, since the racks are so light and power-efficient.”
Similar to Cleveland, the stage in Philadelphia was situated on the long side of the arena floor. Powell says that it was an extremely reflective acoustic environment, particularly with the temporary walls and boundaries set up by attending media to create isolated live broadcast setups. Not surprisingly, stringent security measures were in place, adding to the logistical challenges. “All of the amplifiers have to go through security before they can go up in the air to the catwalk or into the amp barges — this adds another level of complication to an event like this,” he adds.
For the primary audio system, ATK specified six clusters of JBL Professional VerTec VT4889 arrays located around the stage and 12 time-delayed clusters for the arena’s upper deck. Guessard configured and time aligned the system using Powersoft’s Armonía Pro Audio Suite software, creating multi-zones for both the primary and secondary loudspeaker clusters on each level of the arena. “We had to create different delays based on the overal oval shape of the room,” Powell says. “The overall coverage was great and it performs exactly as we expected.”
While the overall infrastructure of the installation was relatively demanding with dozens of amplifiers and 18 loudspeaker clusters located throughout the arena, the audio ontsage was rather uncomplicated, as Powell explains: “The general set up was very similar to the RNC, where you have a single podium mic and then a couple secondary podiums.”
Powell concludes by noting the key ingredients for success at two of the country’s most high-profile events: “You have to have a strong group at the shop,” he says. “At ATK, it’s truly a team effort and everyone is committed and available whenever we need a hand. Also, you’ve got to be able to rely on premier audio gear for these performances, and that’s where Powersoft comes in.”