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RockNet Debut At Rockefeller Center For NBC



NEW YORK: This year‘s NBC “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” broadcast, celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, featured a sound design by Audio Producer Daryl Bornstein, which included a digital audio distribution infrastructure for both live and broadcast sound. A major component of the digital audio distribution network was Media Numerics‘ RockNet.

Historically, details relating to the size and location of the audio infrastructure for this production are not finalized until the last minute due to ever changing artist availability and choice of repertoire. This year, decisions were made later than usual, with several key decisions not finalized until after the show began to load in.

Designing the sound system around a scalable, easy to modify digital distribution network was imperative. In the past, Bornstein used a variety of digital audio distribution systems for this show. This year‘s production provided the opportunity for his first experience with Rocknet.

“It was an enormous risk making RockNet the backbone of a two hour national television special without having fully tested the product on other live broadcasts beforehand. It was a calculated risk, and it paid off in spades.” Bornstein adds: “RockNet was the perfect product for my application. Not only did it work flawlessly, it saved me more than 50 man hours in set up/strike labor, provided ample flexibility/scalability for a show that is a moving target until we are off the air, and provided a solid sense of security. At no point during rehearsals or the broadcast was I worried that I would lose audio because of the distribution network. Those advantages were further compounded by absolutely first rate audio quality.”

The live sound system included three Yamaha consoles: 2 PM5D, one for the massive distributed PA system, one for the ice rink stage monitor position, and 1 DM2000 for 49th Street Stage monitor mix, fitted with 8 RockNet RN.341.MY cards beginning the CAT5 backbone. It was decided early on that the infrastructure would be divided into two independent loops, one dedicated to music performance audio, the other including the production audio elements and distribution to the PA. The two loops were configured as closed loops, affording the additional redundancy.

The consoles were connected via Rocknet to a central equipment rack comprised of 5 RN301.MI input devices, which included all of the talent (production) and performance (musical) wireless microphones, performance playback mixes, production video and audio tape playback, SA, and press feeds. Additional Rocknet input boxes delivered talent microphones and audience reaction microphones to the live sound consoles and the broadcast mixers from remote locations around Rockefeller Center. Outputs from the live consoles were routed via RN.341.MY to RockNet RN.302.LO analog outputs and fed performer stereo in ear monitors and various remote speaker locations.

With the exception of the amplifier racks that were located at the Front of House position, all speakers (self powered as well as conventionally powered speakers) throughout Rockefeller Plaza were fed through Rocknet. The design included 20 different speaker zones. One key aspect of the flexibility of RockNet was that an input or output device could be added to the network, in any location, at any time.

In closing Bornstein added: “I look forward to the forthcoming additions to the product line. At long last I have the digital audio transmission system that I have been hoping to find.