With thousands of devices competing for the RF spectrum, Super Bowl is arguably the most wireless-intensive live event. Leading up to the big game, the 2019 host city of Atlanta saw a wide range of football activities, concert events, broadcasting and ‘fan experiences’ take place at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, with Shure wireless systems used for game day.

Gladys Knight with Shure ADX2FD/KSM8 All RF usage was planned and managed by NFL Lead Frequency Coordinator Karl Voss. Regular audio supplier ATK Audiotek again brought in experts from Professional Wireless Systems (PWS) to deliver audio for the on-field entertainment, including Gladys Knight’s rendition of the US National Anthem among other pre-game festivities, plus the Maroon 5 halftime show and the referee’s critical microphone.

‘It’s our second straight year using Shure’s Axient Digital as our preferred system,’ says PWS RF Engineer, Gary Trenda. ‘The Quadversity antenna system increases reliability and range – no matter where your transmitter is, you’re always closer to antennas than you would be with a regular diversity setup. That’s a huge advantage to us because the stage design and location are typically not yet finalized at the time when we are designing the RF distribution and specifying the wireless equipment.’

In the 30 minutes before kickoff, Axient Digital got the game broadcast off to a flawless start. For the coin toss, referee John Parry was double-miked with twin Axient analogue AXT100 bodypack transmitters, also in frequency diversity mode. Parry used the system for penalty calls throughout the game, so the referee’s mic was always under the microscope. Since changing to Axient analogue several years ago, referee audio has been consistently tight.

‘Shure frequency diversity feature offers big benefits,’ Trenda says. ‘With two active frequencies operating simultaneously, we can avoid interference by switching seamlessly to the second channel. For the referee system, we extend that redundancy by using two microphones and even two receivers, one on house AC and the other plugged into a UPS battery backup system. That gives us two fully redundant audio paths, so it would take a pretty catastrophic failure to lose the referee audio.’

The halftime show was a Shure-driven event, with Adam Levine’s vocals delivered via an ADX2FD/SM58 microphone. In addition, Levine and Maroon 5 lead guitarist James Valentine used the new ADX1 bodypack systems for their guitars. The ADX series of Axient Digital incorporates Shure’s ShowLink system, which provides full remote control of all transmitter functions by the system operator. This backchannel command and control system was powered by three AD610 ShowLink Access Points  placed around the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

‘Throughout the day, PWS’ Cameron Stuckey was monitoring all the Shure wireless systems with the Wireless Workbench software,’ says Trenda. ‘With Workbench and the AD610 Access Points, we can control all aspects of the ADX series transmitters. We can actually change frequencies, and adjust other functions remotely. This provides an extra measure of reliability and confidence that you need at an event like the Super Bowl.’

During the game, surround sound listeners enjoyed audio ambience from a range of Shure microphones, including VP88 stereo mics in mid-side mode with KSM313 ribbons, paired Beta 181 condenser mics, and roof-mounted KSM44A condensers in X-Y configuration, all strategically placed around the stadium by sound engineer Dave Grundtvig, to capture the crowd.

During the week, 48 Axient Digital channels were deployed at Super Bowl press conferences by the NFL, the Rams, and the Patriots, plus Opening Night at State Farm Arena and at Super Bowl live fan events. Shure MX418 gooseneck mics were used speeches and interviews in the Georgia World Congress Center. At the annual NFL Honors awards show on Saturday, ATK Audiotek provided 20 channels of Axient Digital, six channels of UHF-R wireless mics, and used PSM 1000 for all in-ear systems. Another highlight of the week was the first Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest, where daily concert events included Bruno Mars on Axient Digital, Aerosmith on Axient analogue, and Cardi B with her signature gold UHF-R handheld wireless transmitter.

Shure wireless systems were seen at official events around Atlanta leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, with hundreds of Axient Digital microphones and PSM 1000 in-ear systems in the most demanding situations.

Super Bowl

Trenda reports that Axient Digital again provided exactly what the NFL has come to expect of Super Bowl audio: flawless RF performance and outstanding sound quality for the most demanding live broadcast event on the planet. ‘The Super Bowl requires a lot of preparation and specialized equipment, and Shure is a big part of that,’ he says. ‘Once again, we had no equipment issues at all during pregame or the halftime show, so it’s fair to say that Axient Digital with Quadversity is our preferred wireless. It’s a proven product that gives us the reliability required for a live broadcast event like the Super Bowl.’

Sound in the Stadium

For sound reinforcement in the stadium, a total of 58 Danley Sound Labs point-source SH96 Synergy Horn loudspeakers served the upper bowl, while VIPs enjoyed the service of 60 Danley GO-2-8CX loudspeakers in the luxury suites overlooking the game.

‘We’ve been doing this for so many years that we are very comfortable with how our on-field carts and temporary loudspeakers will perform,’ explains ATK Audiotek sound designer, Kirk Powell. ‘The wildcard is always the house sound system. We don’t want to attempt covering all the way to the top of the bowl from the field because we’d get a lot of spillover and reflections back from the roof and upper bowl walls.

‘This year, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s Danley SH96s picked up beautifully where our systems left off. I didn’t expect anything less, because I know that Danley makes really good products. We had a couple of days before the game to tune everything up so that the delays were perfect and that the tonality of both systems meshed naturally.’

ATK Audiotek worked closely with Baker Audio, the regional A/V integration firm that installed the Danley system at the stadium.

 
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