At the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Microsoft Theater in Downtown Los Angeles last month, amplifier manufacturer Powersoft delivered reliable and intelligible audio to over 7,000 people in attendance, including the television industry’s most talented and elite professionals.
The event, which was broadcast live by Fox on Sunday, September 20th to a viewership of 11.9 million viewers across the U.S., recognized achievements for the 2014 – 2015 television season.
Hosted by Brooklyn Nine-Nine star and comedian Adam Samberg, the event’s big winner was HBO, which racked up 43 Emmys: more than any other network. HBO’s Game of Thrones received 12 awards, including ‘Best Drama Series’, setting a new record for the most Emmy Awards received by any show in a single year.
For the duration of the event, including the 67th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards held the week prior, production specialist ATK Audiotek provided live sound services — with the live system relying on 54 Powersoft K10 DSP+AESOP amplifiers strategically positioned throughout the venue.
For ATK Audiotek, the two primary goals for the audio system were reliability and intelligibility: “We have been doing the Emmy Awards for so long now that we know exactly what to expect,” comments Kirk Powell, system design engineer at ATK Audiotek.
“There are many set changes and different presenters, and our main job is to ensure that the dialog is intelligible for everyone in the house to hear while not interfering with the broadcast mix.”
“Great amplification is critical in what we are doing here and we depend on Powersoft K10s,” he adds. “For this show, reliability is key. We rack the amplifiers up in different locations throughout the venue, and once the configurations are complete and systems are tuned, we begin programming our front of house and monitor levels.”
ATK, which recently replenished its arsenal with 48 new Powersoft K10 DSP + AESOP amplifiers, routinely uses them on high profile broadcast award ceremonies throughout the year, including the GRAMMY Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, Country Music Awards and others.
The K10 is a ‘go-to’ amplifier for ATK, which acquired a total of 522 of the units over the last six years. Powell says the K10s were chosen because of their efficiency. “There are many dimensions where efficiency comes into play,” Powell explains. “For example, from a power perspective, the K10s are so efficient that we can run them on a 30 amp circuit at high levels as opposed to a 40 amp circuit so there is significantly less power draw.”
Then there is the physical efficiency: “Since the K10s are smaller and lighter, we can fit more on the truck,” says Powell. “Even though we had plenty of space to work with at the Emmy Awards, very often times rack space is at a premium on these awards shows — particularly when your working environment is on the stage or somewhere in the audience. Powersoft has been a workhorse in this regard, delivering the power that we need while occupying a very small footprint.”
For the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, ATK set up a total of 10 array clusters: three in the front consisting of JBL VT4886 three-way line array elements and seven other clusters spread throughout the venue, comprising JBL VT4889 three-way line array elements. Two amplifier rooms were set up in the upper tier of the facility, as well as a small rack to facilitate some minor wedge reinforcement at the monitor position.
For the entire two weeks comprising the Emmys, ATK relies on a DiGiCo SD5 124 input console to control the front of house system, in addition to a DiGiCo SD10 console with 96 inputs at monitors. This is then routed to Aviom personal mixing systems on stage for direct control of in ear monitor levels.
By using Powersoft’s built in DSP, ATK is able to remotely monitor all the amplifier settings from the front of house and monitor stations. Powell says that once the amplifiers are set up with all the cable runs in place, they are ‘plug and play’. “The Powersoft units are very reliable, so we never have to worry about them — this is key in a production like The Emmys, where there are so many moving parts at set changes.”
Obviously, providing live sound services can entail working in a vast range of different physical and acoustic environments. ATK relies on the DSP capabilities of the K10 to reduce production times — particularly in the configuration and tuning phase.
“We have worked extensively with Powersoft on the DSP features we need and are very pleased with how they have been implemented,” says Powell. “For example, we are able to lock in presets that we use for specific environments, and this gives us a known point of origin when we are tuning for a specific room.”
Different presets and fine-tuning are required for different array clusters: “We use a lot of groups in our DSP settings,” he continues. “For example, we might use a single tuning for an entire cluster, or we could split the cluster and tune two groups differently. The same goes for attenuation. Oftentimes we will adjust the bottom boxes down by -2 dB, and the upper boxes by -1 dB.”
Most importantly, Powell says, ATK uses the Powersoft DSP to set things like delay times and EQ. “For the front clusters at the Emmys, the left and right settings were pretty much tuned the same, but the center cluster was different. You’ve got to pay attention to each of the clusters and adjust them appropriately. We have refined all our DSP settings over the years and now have a great starting point wherever we work.”
With decades of experience under its belt, ATK Audiotek continues to strive for perfection in all of its productions, and the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards was no exception: “Everything was executed flawlessly,” concludes Powell. “At an awards production like this, which is broadcast to the entire country, have the most powerful, Hollywood elite in the room. If something isn’t perfect, someone is going to say something. In this regard, as far as amplifiers are concerned, we are grateful to have Powersoft in our corner.”