The 125th Rose Parade was an unrivaled New Year’s Day celebration, featuring floral floats, spirited marching bands, and high-stepping equestrian units along a five-and-a-half mile route down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif. Once known as a quaint, horse-drawn parade, the Tournament of Roses is now watched by a crowd of 700,000 people in attendance and millions of television viewers across 200 countries.
To support this year’s high-profile broadcast, Ron “Elvis” Stephan, technical director for the Rose Parade’s opening and closing performances, tapped Rat Sound to devise an audio gear setup that could withstand the challenges that come with a live event in a crowded RF environment. In analyzing the project’s microphone needs, Rat Sound opted for Shure Axient and UHF-R wireless systems.
“Axient was our go-to for Vin Scully, grand marshal for this year’s Tournament of Roses,” said Jamie Harris of Rat Sound. “He opened up the parade with a live broadcasted speech. It was a situation where we needed a wireless backup solution in case his signal dropped. We didn’t want to be fumbling around with backup wireless mics.”
Shure Axient systems offer Frequency Diversity, a feature that enables audio transmission from a single source on two independent radio frequencies. With two frequencies transmitting the same audio, the presence of direct RF interference on one frequency causes zero interruption. Instead of producing dropouts or audio artifacts, the receiver seamlessly and automatically switches over to the audio from the other frequency to deliver clear, uninterrupted audio.
“We had a lot of concerns going into this project,” continued Harris. “Not only did the parade route present a packed RF space, you always have the possibility of non-coordinated ENG guys dropping in and crashing your signal. I was convinced Axient was our best wireless option for Vin Scully, and it did exactly what we expected it to do—perform flawlessly.”
In addition to Axient, the Rat Sound team relied on Shure UHF-R Wireless Systems for the Rose Parade’s sponsored floats—which included NBC’s The Voice, Honda, Stella Rose, Public Storage, RFD-TV, and eHarmony—when audio needed to be transmitted to the grandstand areas, where most television stations conducted broadcasts. Shure UHF-R UR1 transmitters were used on floats, with UR4D+receivers at FOH.
“When sponsored floats stopped momentarily at the main grandstand, we used the Shure PSM 1000’s point-to-point option to transmit the program to the PA system, 165 feet through the air, rather than 2,000 feet of cable on the ground,” said Harris. “Beaming the audio across the road with the point-to-point setup was much more sophisticated than running through thousands of feet of cable.”
An exciting event for viewers around the world, the 125th Rose Parade proved to be another successful project handled by Rat Sound. “It was a great event with no RF issues,” concluded Harris.