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Live Sound

DiGiCo Delivers CMAs

Production console was key to multiple levels of redundant backup plans.

Nashville, TN (November 28, 2018)—Keith Urban won Entertainer of the Year and Chris Stapleton’s “Broken Halos” was Song of the Year at the recent 52nd Annual Country Music Association Awards ceremony, where DiGiCo desks managed both the television production and house audio mixes.

Everyone who heard the show’s 22 music performances and awards introductions at the telecast ceremony, held on Wednesday, November 14 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, heard it all through a pair of DiGiCo SD-Range consoles. ATK Audiotek principal Pat Baltzell piloting an SD5, mixed the evening’s production audio. Blackhawk Audio president Rick Shimer helmed an SD7 at FOH for the event’s music performances. JBL VerTec 4889 and VTX V20 enclosures delivered the house audio.

“Rick and I have done this show for nearly 20 years, and the SD consoles have made a huge difference in both the house sound and the workflow,” says Baltzell, who was also the sound system designer. “We split the sound between us—Rick handles all of the music mixes from the stage, while I do the production mix, which is all of the audio elements other than the music: the awards introductions, acceptance speeches, video rolls and so on. We’ve found that division of labor to be the most efficient workflow.”

Miking Ricky Skaggs at the CMAs

Baltzell notes that the DiGiCo SD5 console, with 253 input channels and up to 124 aux and subgroup busses, might have seemed like overkill for the relative handful of microphones used for the awards presentations, versus the order of magnitude larger number of inputs that came close to maxing out the SD7 console at FOH. However, he notes that in addition to the production audio for the show, his SD5 console was also the fail-safe hub for the entire production.

A separate music feed was continuously sent from the SD7 at FOH to Baltzell’s SD5. Should there be an interruption in the feed from FOH to the broadcast truck, it could be switched over instantaneously. And in case the signal path from the venue to the Denali broadcast truck failed, Baltzell could route the audio for the entire production directly to the satellite uplink truck.

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“As a result, the SD5 was taking on the potential for much greater responsibility for the event,” he says. “That’s one of the reasons I chose it—I knew it could handle that kind of pressure. It has tremendous capacity to do a lot of things simultaneously and do them all well.”

DiGiCo •