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Harman Audio Products Finish On Top At 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony

JBL VERTEC® speakers, Crown I-Tech amplifiers and Soundcraft Vi6 Digital Consoles specified for spectacular event sound system design.

In one of the most-watched global media events of the year,the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing was held on Friday, August 8 at the newly-constructed Beijing National Stadium (known informally as “The Bird’s Nest�). The Opening Ceremony marked the beginning of the 29th Olympic Summer Games. While the Stadium normally has a capacity of 80,000, an additional 11,000 temporary seats helped accommodate the 91,000 spectators at the ceremony, which lasted nearly four hours, and included four segments: the opening address, artistic performances, entrance of the competing athletes, and lighting of the primary Olympic torch flame inside the stadium.

Composer Tan Dun provided the musical score for the event, which featured more than 15,000 performers and was highlighted by Chinese gymnast Li Ning lighting the Olympic torch. Centered around the theme of “Civilization and Harmony,” the spectacular performances, including costuming, sets and overall production effects, were designed by Zhang Yimou, the renowned film director, who aimed to convey the “conception of harmony from an international perspective.” Leading-edge projection, lighting and mobile sculpture technologies and an entertainment production stage designed by Mark Fisher were an integral part of the technical production, along with extravagant fireworks displays. Sound Media Fusion facilitated the event audio system design, programming and deployment, which prominently featured JBL VERTEC® line arrays, Crown I-Tech amplifiers and Soundcraft Vi6 digital mixing consoles.

Gary Hardesty (Chief Designer, Audio- Beijing Olympic Ceremonies Department; Technical Consultant, Panasonic for all Olympic Ceremonies and competition/non-competition venues) had the complex but rewarding task of specifying and implementing the massive, multi-zone, distributed sound reinforcement system approach to integrate portable and installed speaker locations.

“All FOP [field of play] speakers needed to be self-powered arrays due to highly restrictive physical space limitations,â€? explained Sound Media Fusion’s Gary Hardesty. “In the case of the JBL products, I needed small size and a lot of SPL, not to mention predictable coverage. The JBL VERTEC DP systems were part of a very large, distributed, multi-zone system and they performed flawlessly, exceeding my requirements and expectations. The sound quality was very good. Overall, the venue sound for the event was excellent, with an ‘in-your-face’ direct sound characteristic throughout the audience area. We achieved excellent acoustic isolation from zone to zone with zero intelligibility problems. Even considering the massive venue size, the result was very, very good for all concerned.â€?

Numerous Harman HiQnet™-compatible VT4888DP-AN powered midsize line array elements and VT4882DP-AN companion subwoofers with JBL DrivePack® technology were selected to cover various portions of the stadium, including array locations dedicated for use in critical end-zone locations.

These were configured as ground-based stacks, each containing two or three enclosures. Arrays were masked with neutral grey weather-protective covers, and many speaker units were installed behind facades and integrated into Hardesty’s overall system design underneath temporary staging platforms, including the 5 Rings Plaza and the National Flags Platform. Additionally, a total of 26 JBL MS-26 ultra-compact fill speakers were dedicated for second tribune and VIP stand fill.

Passive speaker systems were powered by Crown I-T6000 and I-T4000 power amplifiers, compatible with hundreds of other Crown amplifiers installed for the venue’s audio system infrastructure. Additionally, Soundcraft Vi6™ digital consoles were part of the event sound system. In addition to the high-profile event system for the Opening and Closing ceremonies, Harman products have been specified and installed for more than a dozen Olympic venues in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, including the National Olympics Conference Center, The National Stadium, National Aquatics Center, and Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium, as well as various fencing, softball and equestrian sports facilities.

“Global multi-media spectacles such as the Opening Ceremony for the Olympic Games have the highest level of audio performance expectations, and require an ever-increasing amount of advance planning, with coverage and output predictions for specialized loudspeaker systems being paramount,� noted David Scheirman, Vice President, Tour Sound, JBL Professional. “JBL and Harman’s other professional audio brands are honored to have our products be selected for use in this demanding and high-profile application.�

Sound Media Fusion’s efforts for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games were assisted by Harman Professional’s Chinese distributor, ACE (Advanced Communication Equipment) whose staff provided JBL and other Harman brand product application information and regional technical support. Duncan Edwards was on hand as a direct assistant to Mr. Hardesty for music programming and system tuning. “The technical collaboration between Gary Hardesty, Duncan Edwards and the entire Chinese team, including Mr. Ma Xin [assistant sound designer to Mr. Hardesty] and Mr. Jin Shao Gang [FOH sound engineer for the opening ceremony], was inspirational to see,� observed ACE’s Bingo Tso. “This teamwork has resulted in a highly successful achievement, the most spectacular sound reinforcement project in the nation to date�.

Harman HiQnet is the world’s first connectivity and control protocol that integrates all product categories in the signal chain for professional audio systems of all types, size, and applications. Harman HiQnet no longer requires the user to manage multiple disparate operating systems or be responsible for programming individual signal processors, speaker controllers, wireless microphone systems, and mixing consoles. HiQnet was developed by engineers from across the Harman Pro Group and is coordinated by the System Development and Integration Group (SDIG), a team of dedicated systems specialists based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

For additional information on Sound Media Fusion, contact
JBL is a unit of Harman International Industries, Incorporated ( Harman International designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment products for the automotive, consumer and professional markets, and maintains a strong presence in the Americas, Europe and Asia, employing more than 11,000 people worldwide. The Harman International family of brands includes AKG®, Audioaccess®, Becker®, BSS®, Crown®, dbx®, DigiTech®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, Mark Levinson®, Revel®, QNX®, Soundcraft® and Studer®. Harman International’s stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “NYSE: HAR.�

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