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ATK Audiotek Provides Consoles, Main P.A. System for Grammy Awards

The Recording Academy presents the annual Grammy Awards telecast to honor outstanding achievements in the production and performance of recorded music. The 56th annual Grammy Awards were broadcast live in HDTV and 5.1 surround sound on the CBS Television Network on January 26, 2014. More than 28.5 million viewers watched this year’s Awards telecast.

This year’s Awards were hosted by LL Cool J and featured performances by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Madonna, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and more. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis earned Best New Artist, Lorde won Song of the Year for “Royals,” while Daft Punk won Album of the Year for Get Lucky, plus two other Grammy Awards. In addition, Harman’s Lexicon earned a Technical Grammy Award, which is presented to individuals and companies that have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field.

From left: Hank Neuberger, Grammy Awards Telecast Sound Supervisor; Bryan Bradley, Vice President, General Manager, JBL Professional; Michael Abbott, Grammy Awards Audio Director

A JBL LSR6300 Series 5.1 surround sound studio monitor system was used in the Television Committee Room, where Michael Abbott, Audio Director for the Grammy Awards, along with Recording Academy executives, relied on five JBL LSR6328P studio monitors and two LSR6312SP subwoofers to listen to the mix of the show in real time.

“Attention to detail is always essential for the Grammy telecasts, and this year’s Awards were no different,” Abbott says. “Thanks to the LSR6300’s accuracy and RMC Technology, we were able to hear every nuance of the performances, and the 6300s gave us exactly what we needed.”

Southern California-based live event sound, equipment rental and broadcast audio production specialist ATK Audiotek recently acquired a number of DiGiCo digital consoles and put them to work on the 56th annual Grammy Awards telecast. This is the third consecutive year that ATK has relied on DiGiCo consoles for the production of “Music’s Biggest Night,” with this year’s show marking the very first outing for the company’s latest purchases.

ATK, the audio production provider for the Recording Academy’s annual music celebration since the telecast permanently relocated to the Staples Center in downtown L.A. 14 years ago, made the switch to DiGiCo consoles in 2012. This year, the console complement included an SD10 for Mikael Stewart, front-of-house production mixer and ATK’s vice president of special events, plus an SD7 for Ron Reaves, FOH music mixer, seated alongside Stewart.

FOH Music Mixer Ron Reaves working with ATK Audiotek’s DiGiCo SD7 console at the 2014 Grammy Awards

“Everybody who comes through the Grammys leaves happy, and all I use is the onboard processing,” says Reaves. “But my partner in crime at the Grammys, Mikael Stewart, uses the Waves plug-ins quite extensively. He mixes all the dialog and the production elements, so he makes use of the DNS plugin on some of the podium mics.”

Stewart, whose console was directly connected to a DiGiCo SoundGrid server, used the Waves Dialog Noise Suppression plugin to reduce the room regeneration coming back in to the microphones and also made use of the Waves C6 Multiband Compressor.

The DiGiCo SD8-24 desk positioned backstage at the Staples Center and used for signal distribution monitoring

Tom Pesa, the A-stage monitor engineer, and Michael Parker, monitor engineer for the B stage, each mixed on an SD7 with a redundant engine. This year, for the first time, an SD8-24—supplied by Hi-Tech Audio for the occasion—was positioned backstage at A2 world, and that enabled an assistant engineer to more efficiently monitor signal distribution throughout the venue.

As in previous years, Parker and Pesa each accessed common head amps in the four SD-Racks positioned backstage. But this year, in another first, two SD-Racks were added in parallel in order to provide Reaves with discrete preamp control at FOH. “Those were running MADI to his console. Staying at 48 kHz, we got an entire rack down one MADI cable instead of two,” says Jeff Peterson, ATK’s system designer. A further four SD-Racks were dedicated to outputs. ATK’s recent purchase was comprised of six consoles—two SD10s, two SD7s and two SD5s—plus 14 SD-Racks.

JBL VerTec line arrays comprised the live sound reinforcement system at the Staples Center. ATK Audiotek provided the main P.A. system for the Awards ceremony, which featured four arrays each containing 12 VerTec VT4889 full-size line array elements, plus two arrays of six VT4880A full-size arrayable subwoofers each. An additional 12 VRX932 Constant Curvature loudspeakers were used for front fill.

The Staples Center also features a permanent JBL VerTec line array system, which ATK Audiotek also used. The Staples Center system features eight arrays each containing between 11 and 13 JBL VT4889DP-DA powered line array elements, plus two fill clusters each containing four VT4889DP-DA elements, which are specially positioned to cover the end seating areas. The system also features four subwoofer arrays, each containing six VT4880A full-size arrayable subwoofers.

Outside the venue, in the Music Mix Mobile (M3) Eclipse truck, which provides the 5.1 surround music mix for the broadcast, Joel Singer, engineer-in-charge and M3 company partner, made use of a DiGiGrid MGO dual-port optical MADI interface and SoundGrid SGS-1 Server One. The setup enabled co-broadcast music mixers John Harris and Eric Schilling to insert Waves Renaissance Vox and DeEsser as well as CLA-76 and SSL Compressor plug-ins on the truck’s console and Pro Tools system.

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