PWS' Super Bowl team at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI
When the pre-game festivities kicked off at Lucas Oil Stadium for Super Bowl XLVI, Professional Wireless Systems (PWS)—a Masque Sound Company and experts in supplying and supporting wireless systems for live and broadcast events—were on hand to ensure interference-free RF management and the handling of the equipment, including the company’s new Domed Helical Antenna, for all of the game's entertainment segments and the referees’ microphones.
Faced with the clutter of several hundred frequencies in use at the showdown between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, the team of experts at PWS employed an arsenal of state-of-the-art gear to make sure the National Anthem, “America the Beautiful,” and half-time extravaganza featuring Madonna all went off without a hitch.
Subcontracted for the event by ATK Audiotek of Valencia, Calif., for the 14th consecutive year, PWS began its work four months prior to the big game. "My first site survey at Lucas Oil Field was in October," says Jason Eskew, project manager for PWS. "At the initial site survey, we picked frequencies and submitted them for approval to the Game Day Coordinators [GDC] without even knowing who the talent was going to be. Essentially, we were charged with laying in a frequency and band plan that would give us the flexibility to cover all of our needs once we actually got to the game."
Tasked with managing frequency coordination, microphones and IEMs for the entertainment segments, Eskew and his team created a flexible frequency plan that would be able to cover the tunable range of the diverse systems, as each performer has preferences and endorsement deals that dictate which make and model wireless systems will be used. “The artist and industry relations folks like Nick Wood at Shure and Tim Moore at Sennheiser bent over backwards to support their artists and equipment,” says Eskew.
What’s more, serving as the overall point of contact for frequency management for ATK, the PWS team worked directly with the GDCs throughout the event. “The Super Bowl is a much more compressed and busy event. Working closely, in this case, on an 8-by-12 platform on the side of the field, we managed 110 frequencies. Next to us were coach intercoms, the NBC stage, NFL Films, NFL Network, Westwood One Radio and many other users,” says Eskew. The NFL’s GDCs acted as the global clearinghouse for frequencies in and around the stadium and as a conduit for the flow of information between all of the various wireless system users at the game. “In fact, there were times when we purposefully timeshared the limited number of ‘good’ frequencies,” says Eskew. “For example, Good Morning America had a 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. call-time on Game Day. Since our call wasn’t until 9 a.m. that day, the GDCs were able to contact the various parties involved and successfully negotiate the use of shared frequencies for GMA. We all try hard to maximize the use of the very scarce spectrum resources available to us in any given city.”
To ensure all wireless activities went smoothly, Shure supplied PWS with its new Axient Wireless Management Network. In addition, UHF-Rs and PSM-1000 Series IEMs and 2000 and 3000 series gear from Sennheiser were provided by ATK Audiotek. "The frequency coordinators pack us closer than the equipment can actually support, so our expertise comes into play when we’re able to manage interference by negotiating the times certain equipment is turned on and when other equipment will be turned off to avoid interference," says Eskew. "One of the reasons we used the Shure Axient Network was its ability to have a much tighter IF [intermediate frequency] strip, which then allowed us to put channels closer together—safely." PWS also took advantage of the Axient’s frequency diversity mode for automatic fail over protection of the Referees’ microphones and the diversity receiver features of the PSM-1000 IEM systems.
PWS Domed Helical Antenna
PWS also premiered its Domed Helical Antenna on the field for the first time since its launch in late 2011. A new standard in wireless antenna performance and physical presence, the Domed Helical Antenna combines the highly successful circular polarization configuration pioneered by the company’s original Helical, but with the unit sealed within a unique new compact “domed” design. This provides robust multichannel wireless microphone, in-ear and intercom wireless connectivity. Constructed from rugged polycarbonate, PWS’ Domed Helical is designed to hold up to considerable road-related abuse. A combination of eight Domed Helicals and seven original PWS Helicals were used for all of the ATK wireless systems on the field.
“While the Domed Helical has made appearances at concerts and other live events, the Super Bowl adds a whole new dimension to the types of applications that can benefit from the capabilities these antennas offer—from greater bandwidth and longer range gain to more flexibility in wireless communications,” says Eskew. “The Super Bowl is a major event in terms of logistics and frequency coordination and we couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of the team that makes it streamlined. We do it not only for our clients but also for the viewers in the stadium and those watching from home.”