When ATK Audiotek of Valencia, CA, was called upon to design an audio network for “American Idol,” it relied on Aviom and the company’s A-16II Personal Mixer to help with its communication needs.
The task at hand required a system that would be capable of handling amateur singers accompanied by a professional band and judges exchanging dialogue and interacting with a host, all within a noisy, live performance environment. Drawing from its own experiences in designing audio networks for large venues hosting high-profile events such as the Academy Awards, which like “American Idol” also took place at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre, the engineers knew that communication was key in this type of environment.
This year, “American Idol” has a brand new, larger, multi-level set and, for the first time, conductor Rickey Minor, also the bass payer, is separated from the other musicians in a second-story balcony across from the band. This new configuration made its communication network even more vital to the production. For years, ATK Audiotek had been using an Orchestra Conductor System built for the company from a manufacturer that no longer makes or supports the product. Due to age and extensive use, the system began having technical difficulties. Making use of proven intercom technology along with innovative audio networking and monitor mixing equipment from Aviom, engineers were able to replicate the system, which allows for seamless bi-directional communication between Minor, the director and the mixing engineer as well as cues to the band.
“This system had long worked for us for events such as the Grammys and the Oscars,” Arango says. “Using control boxes and headsets, it creates a perfect communication network for large orchestras as well as for a band such as the one in ‘American Idol.’ We knew we had to make it work, and the Aviom mixers made it possible. It also has the added benefit of allowing the musicians to have increased control over their own audio monitor levels, including the verbal cues.”
The system is arranged into two individual zones — one for the band and one for the drummer–to which Minor and the director can speak using Clear-Com Party-line AB-100 and Studio Technologies 233 announcer consoles as the main interfaces. The band zone is equipped with an A-16R rack mountable mixer controlled by the monitor engineer while the drummer uses a standalone Aviom A-16II mixer, which he can control himself. Tweecomm OB-1 headset box with headphones are powered by Clear-Com’s PS-464, a four-channel intercom power supply that features a fail-safe design for maximum reliability and delivers 2.5 amps at 30 volts.
For the first time, several other band members are using the A-16II for monitor control. “The players have embraced the mixer and are enjoying the increased control it offers,” Arango says.
In addition, the system was flexible enough to move from the small set during the earlier rounds of the show to the new, big stage being used for the semi-final rounds with simple wiring adjustments and the addition of several boxes.
“All we needed to do was add some more OB-1 boxes and lengthen our XLR cable to the units,” Arango explains. “It was that easy.”
Founded in 1983, ATK Audiotek is the foremost sound reinforcement provider in the professional audio industry. ATK Audiotek provides unparalleled quality and reliable service to all of its clients. ATK Audiotek’s client roster includes hundreds of television productions, special events, industrial conventions, permanent installations and concert tours. ATK Audiotek has received many awards including four nominations and two wins of the prestigious TEC Award for outstanding technical achievement
Aviom is the world leader and pioneer of personal monitor mixing technology with the popular Pro16 Series, as well as the exclusive developer of the revolutionary Pro64 Series of audio networking products. All Aviom products are powered by A-Net, the company’s groundbreaking high-speed digital audio transmission protocol. Aviom products solve problems in a variety of different environments, including live sound reinforcement, audio recording studios, houses of worship, theater, broadcasting and post-production facilities and a host of commercial installations. Aviom’s entire line of high-quality professional audio products are designed and manufactured in the USA..