Studer Consoles and JBL Professional Loudspeakers Have Starring Role at 65th Annual Tony Awards

The Tony Awards required Firehouse Productions to replace parts of the “permanent” system

On Broadway’s biggest night, New York City’s Beacon Theatre lit up with celebrities and eager fans while hosting the top theatrical performers and acts of the year at the 65th Annual Tony Awards. Firehouse Productions of Red Hook, New York provided the live sound reinforcement and audio broadcast systems for the event, deploying HARMAN’s Studer Vista Series audio mixing consoles at the front of house position and in the monitor truck, and JBL Professional VERTEC® line arrays for the Theatre’s live PA system.

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The 65th Annual Tony Awards featured an A-list crowd of performers and presenters, such as Daniel Radcliffe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kelsey Grammer, Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer and host Neil Patrick Harris, among others.

Although the Beacon Theatre houses JBL VERTEC line arrays as part of its own sound reinforcement system, the Tony Awards required Firehouse Productions to replace parts of the “permanent” system with main arrays situated higher in the air to stay out of live camera shots. Firehouse outfitted the Beacon Theatre with a temporary PA system that featured 13 JBL VERTEC VT4888 midsize line array elements per side with a center cluster of four VT4887 compact line array elements. 22 of JBL’s new VERTEC VT4886 subcompact line array elements provided front fill, down fill and under-balcony coverage. Forty-two Crown I-Tech HD 12000 amplifiers powered the system. Firehouse supplied a Studer Vista 5SR console at the front-of-house position, manned by Ron Reaves, which also included a pair of JBL LSR4328P studio monitors.

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“We needed to design a system that wouldn’t be seen by any of the television cameras and would remain separate from the stage set,” said Mark Dittmar of Firehouse Productions. “We were also faced with the challenge of hanging everything from a single point that supported a maximum of one ton. The VERTEC line arrays were ideal because they are lightweight and easy to hang, but also provide a tremendous amount of acoustical output power.”

With little space available backstage for monitoring, Firehouse Productions deployed “Engine 1”, a specially-equipped, double-expanding 48-foot semi-trailer production audio unit parked outside the venue. Here, Mike Bove was also responsible for onstage artist and presenter monitor mixes. Firehouse provided a Studer Vista 5 digital console, along with a pair of JBL LSR6328P studio monitors and a Lexicon PCM96 effects processor.

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Digital audio distribution for the entire system was handled via Riedel RockNet, which acts as a universal input/output router, connecting multiple consoles for large events and specialized field applications.

“With the Tony Awards, expectations are at their peak so it’s important to ensure the full magnitude of the presentations, videos and performances both engage and immerse the live crowd as well as those watching at home,” Dittmar said. “The reliability and user-friendly aspects of the Vista 5’s allowed us to perfect the broadcast, even around the block in the mobile broadcast station.  This year’s event was a groundbreaking show for us and we were able to provide some excellent new equipment.  The Vista 5’s are great consoles and we were very happy with the end results.”

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