December 1, 2015 · Los Angeles, Calif. – At the 43rd annual American Music Awards, held at Microsoft Theater in Downtown Los Angeles on November 22nd, amplifier manufacturer Powersoft made its presence known with over (100) K10 DSP+AESOP amplifiers on site. With approximately 7,000 people in attendance, the program was broadcast to over 10 million viewers across the U.S. and featured performances by a ‘who’s who’ list of contemporary musical artists including Coldplay, The Weeknd, Demi Lovato and many others; the show was highlighted with a moving performance of “Hymne à l’amour” by Celine Dion, which eulogized victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.
In addition to hosting an evening of lively performances, the AMA presented awards to a range of chart topping artists including One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Rihanna, Fall Out Boy and many others. Country artist Sam Hunt was recognized with “New Artist of the Year”, while superstar Taylor Swift scooped up nominations in six categories. The night was hosted by Jennifer Lopez and featured A-list presenters including Harrison Ford, Prince and Jenny McCarthy.
Audio for the entire awards show performance was driven by over 100 Powersoft K10 DSP+AESOP amplifiers, located in racks situated throughout the facility. ATK Audiotek, which has been providing audio services for the AMA Awards for 25 years, handled sound services for the event — including equipment specification, set up, FOH and monitor engineering. “For all the large shows we deploy, we depend on Powersoft for the main P.A., monitors and subs,” commented Sean Prickett, Audio Engineer for ATK Audiotek.
Lots of Music and Fast Production Changes
Unlike many other popular awards shows, the AMA Awards is characterized by several musical performances throughout the evening, in addition to award recognition. For production staff, this means constant changes in both stages and performers, says Prickett: “There is dialog, but it is standard for us to have to go A Stage to B stage after a v/o right into another performance. It was certainly a case of ‘all hands on deck’ for everyone in the audio department.” In such a high-profile, live broadcast environment, equipment dependability is key: “We have so many amps out there and with Powersoft, I was not concerned about reliability at all.”
At a show such as the AMAs, reputation and credibility is always on the line when it comes to delivering audio services: “It is considered one of the top three music shows in the country, so there is a certain amount of prestige when the artists come in and they have certain expectations,” says Mikael Stewart, VP Special Events, ATK Audiotek. “We are doing a lot of show in a relatively short amount of time, so everything has to go in, work right away, and be flexible.”
Setting the stage for excellence
Having done so many shows in the Microsoft Theater (formerly Nokia Theatre L.A. Live), ATK has its audio system ‘dialed in’: “Our system for Microsoft Theater consists primarily of four main hang arrays, four delay arrays, three balcony hung delays as well as under balconies and two different versions of front fills for FOH,” explains Prickett. “Typically, for these awards shows, we do a split up distributed drive system, unlike what we might do for typical touring situations.”
For the main P.A. and main delays, ATK specified JBL VerTec 4089 line arrays and 4886 balcony delays, all powered by Powersoft K10s. “We deploy a distributed system to give us more flexible set up for music and dialog, and it means we do not have to drive the P.A. as hard because there are many zones to create a nice even coverage pattern throughout the whole house,” says Prickett.
Whether it is for an awards show or a touring installation, preparation is one of ATK’s key ingredients for success. No matter where the performance, the company relies on Powersoft’s Armonia software to catalog and recall key DSP settings so the production team doesn’t have to start from scratch when it comes to set up and room-tuning. “These venues are very much the same, and the show hasn’t really changed its physical structure over the last five years,” says Stewart. “We just load the presets from the Armonia software, which gives us a really good starting point so we don’t have to spend hours re-tuning the room.”
“We use Powersoft Armonia exclusively for our DSP, and there is no other system controller in front of it,” Prickett adds. “We rely very heavily on this to tune the system, as well as facilitate EQ and level changes. The preset capability is a key feature for us, since time is always of the essence in these shows.”
Making efficiency count
Aside from their predictable sonic performance on a demanding live broadcast program such as the AMAs, the Powersoft K10s deliver a range of efficiencies in a range of other areas too: “The main reason we use K10 DSP+AESOPs at ATK Audiotek is because they allow us to operate in a reduced physical footprint, which is essential in the rack world when it comes to amplifiers,” says Prickett. “Since each K10 takes up just 1U, we are able to have a spare amplifier at each location without tying up a prohibitive amount of rackspace. So in case one of the signals goes away, we have a backup at every single amplifier.
For the AMAs, where every second of live programming counts, the Powersoft K10s never faltered when it came to performance: “There were absolutely no issues with any of the 100 amplifiers on our network,” concludes Prickett. “Everything went smoothly and without incident: this is the kind of performance we rely on.”
For more information on the Powersoft K series, please visit http://www.powersoft-audio.com/en/touring/k-series.