Cleveland, OH (August 3, 2016)—Political events are hotbeds of excitement and the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland last month was no exception. Much was said and discussed during the four-day event, as the party chose its presidential nominee for this fall’s election, but one topic that never came up was the audio inside the arena. It was simply there, always ready and working, handled by longtime audio provider Valencia, CA-based ATK Audiotek, and sound designer/FOH mixer Pat Baltzell.
Baltzell began the designing process last December: “First and foremost, this is a speech-based event, so the design approach has to take into account that every single seat needs to clearly hear what is being communicated,” he says. “Further, the venue is being used to maximum capacity, and there is a seated floor where the basketball court normally is.”
ATK chose to integrate 84 Powersoft K10 amplifiers, which we used to power all of the primary speaker clusters comprised of JBL VerTec 4889s. The clusters in the primary system surrounded the stage, and ATK also placed 14 delay clusters in the 200-level upper deck seating area.
Baltzell mpted that the vast majority of national conventions typically have a single stage set up on the short side of the arena (e.g. ’50 yard line’), with in the round style seating. For the Quicken Loans Arena, Baltzell’s design entailed some acoustic refinements: “We did some acoustic analysis and decided to treat the upper wall surfaces and hung vertical absorption panels to eliminate reflections off of the upper walls which were not treated,” he said. “There were also untreated areas of the ceiling, so we finished those off as well.”
The Powersoft K10 amplifiers were hoisted up onto the catwalk of the arena, high above the audience. “The amp racks were motored up there one at a time, and this was great because they are all so light,” Baltzell said. Having the amplifiers on the catwalk enabled ATK to reduce cabling lengths to the clusters, and each of the amps were controlled remotely using Powersoft’s Armonía Pro Audio Suite software. “The Powersoft amplifier racks required a small footprint on the catwalk, which was very advantageous because this is also used for lighting dimmer racks, balloon drops, confetti and other things. There is a lot of activity up there that you would not normally have for something like a rock concert or a basketball game.”
Before the amplifiers were sent up and placed into position, they were pre-programmed to cover the appropriate zones and wired for AES connectivity using Cat 5 cabling. Once in place, Baltzell and his crew were able to maintain control over the units via Powersoft’s Armonía software. “All of the tuning and filters are done in Powersoft’s Armonía, and the software itself works great — especially considering the location of the racks, which are all the way up in the catwalk,” Baltzell said. “So having full network control to be able to mute them at the end of the day, turn them on in the morning or even just check status is invaluable.”
Powersoft K series