In a stellar follow-up performance to the Republican National Convention, the Democratic Party held its own convention at the Wells Fargo Center last week in downtown Philadelphia. The four-day event — whose underlying purpose is to select the Democratic Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees for the highest office in the land — relied on 104 Powersoft K10 amplifiers to deliver ultra reliable, high quality audio for more than 180 speeches and 15 musical performances across the duration of the event.
The whirlwind convention featured speeches by many of the country’s most influential political leaders, appropriately set in Philadelphia: one of the country’s most historic and patriotic cities where the Declaration of Independance was signed in 1776. Systems integration expert ATK Audiotek handled the audio installation for the event, just one week after delivering a highly successful integration experience at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
While set in a completely different arena 430 miles away, expectations were similar: the audio system had to deliver reliable, no-compromise speech intelligibility to every seat within the 19,500 capacity venue over the course of a four-day period. ATK’s Head System Tech Alex Guessard, System Tech Kirk Powell and Designer / FOH Mixer Pat Baltzell were each on hand in Philadelphia, along with 104 Powersoft K10 amplifiers, to ensure yet another successful outcome.
Pat Baltzell’s design specification called for two amplifier barges located on either side of the main arena scoreboard, which were to drive the primary speaker clusters. “One of the biggest considerations we face is placement of equipment,” explains Powell. “For the amp barges, we are limited in the amount of weight we can put up there, and we have to make sure we can get enough power in there to drive the amps. All of these things factor into how Powersoft can really help us at a convention like this, since the racks are so light and power-efficient.”
A Tale of Two Cities
Similar to Cleveland, the stage in Philadelphia was situated on the long side of the arena floor. Powell says that it was an extremely reflective acoustic environment, particularly with the temporary walls and boundaries set up by attending media to create isolated live broadcast setups. Not surprisingly, stringent security measures were in place, adding to the logistical challenge: “All of the amplifiers have to go through security before they can go up in the air to the catwalk or into the amp barges — this adds another level of complication to an event like this,” observes Powell.
For the primary audio system, ATK specified six clusters of JBL Vertec 4889 loudspeaker arrays located around the stage and 12 time delayed clusters for the arena’s upper deck. ATK’s Alex Guessard configured and time aligned the system using Powersoft’s Armonía Pro Audio Suite software, creating multi-zones for both the primary and secondary loudspeaker clusters on each level of the arena. “We had to create different delays based on the overal oval shape of the room,” says Powell. “The overall coverage was great and it performs exactly as we expected.”
While the overall infrastructure of the installation was relatively demanding with dozens of amplifiers and 18 speaker clusters located throughout the arena, the audio ontsage was rather uncomplicated, as Powell explains: “The general set up was very similar to the RNC, where you have a single podium mic and then a couple secondary podiums.”
Once all the political dust has settled and all the equipment is back in the trucks headed to ATK’s headquarters in Valencia, Calif., Powell is able to finally reflect on the key ingredients that make two of the country’s most high profile events in the country successful from a leading integrator’s perspective: “You have to have a strong group at the shop,” he says. “At ATK, it’s truly a team effort and everyone is committed and available whenever we need a hand. Also, you’ve got to be able to rely on premier audio gear for these performances, and that’s where Powersoft comes in.”
For more information on the Powersoft K series, please visit http://www.powersoft-audio.com/en/touring/k-series.