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Riedel Artist and RockNet Shining at the Tony Awards

The Tony Awards are a large-scale live and broadcast production

To provide a comprehensive system for distributing of the audio signals and establishing a comms infrastructure at this year’s Tony Awards the production companies Firehouse Productions and Audio Intercom Services provided a versatile solution. The system comprised RockNet digital audio network including Studer Vista 5 console integration, Artist digital matrix intercom and Performer digital partyline from Riedel Communications, one of the leading manufacturers of real-time networks for video, audio and communications.

The Tony Awards are a large-scale live and broadcast production. The prestigious annual award recognizes achievements in live Broadway theatre. The 65th Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre were broadcast live on CBS television. One of the major challenges of this year’s Tony Awards was the new location as the ceremonies were moved from the Radio City Hall to the much smaller Beacon Theater. This meant that the equipment that usually would have been installed next to the stage, now needed to be installed in trucks and tents outside the venue resulting in a more complex setup.

For providing the live and the broadcast audio distribution, the New York based rental and production company Firehouse Productions used a 154 channel Riedel RockNet system. At the heart of the audio installation were two Studer Vista 5 digital mixing consoles serving as FoH and monitor mixers. Four RockNet RN.343.VI integrated the consoles into the digital audio network providing remote control over the RockNet inputs and outputs. RockNet’s Independent Gain feature allowed both the FoH and the monitor consoles to control the gains individually without interfering with each other. On the stage 18 RockNet microphone input modules were used. With little space available backstage for monitoring, Firehouse Productions deployed “Engine 1”, an especially equipped, double-expanding 48-foot semi-trailer production audio unit parked outside the venue.


“RockNet makes distributing audio very simple. Even at a large show like the Tony Awards, which needed to incorporate broadcast and live applications, setup was fast and easy. And the audio quality and routing flexibility are just amazing”, said Mark Dittmar from Firehouse Productions.

The JBL PA system and the broadcast production’s Calrec desk were also integrated with RockNet. RockNet fiber connectors bridged the large distances between the various locations.

Interfacing communications systems

The intercom system managed by Audio Intercom Services consisted of five Riedel Artist mainframes at the various positions such as the OB truck, the FOH, stage or producers. They provided the redundant communications backbone for 18 Artist 1100 series control panels. Furthermore, 40 Riedel Performer digital partyline beltpacks were used in conjunction to the matrix intercom. They were integrated into the infrastructure via eight Riedel Performer C44plus system interfaces allowing calls from Artist control panels directly to selected partylines and vice versa.


“Due the Beacon’s lack of wing space on either side of the stage, the show was forced to relocate all of the tech departments locations that would normally be living on stage, to areas outside the venue. Riedel Artist’s flexible design made facilitating all of this possible“, said Anthony Bandelato from Audio Intercom Services. “Riedel’s fiber based decentralized approach allowed my assistant programmer, Justin Milner and myself, to make system wide changes from our location in the comms compound to any of the nodes in the ring via the Director software which is both intuitive and user friendly – a huge time saver“, Bandelato continued.

In addition, the OB truck’s RTS Adam intercom was also integrated into the production comms infrastructure via 4-wire.

"We are seeing more truck companies changing over to the Artist system, and when we encounter a truck with Artist on board, the set-up is even easier: We just include the truck’s system in our network. After executing the “Merge Configuration Files” function in the Riedel Director software everyone has access to all ports of the entire system" adds Bandelato.