The Washington Mall from 14th Street
during today’s inauguration.
Photo courtesy of Clair Global.
By Clive Young.
Washington, D.C. (January 20, 2009)–Four score and eight years ago, loudspeakers were used for the first time at a presidential inauguration. A lot has changed since Warren G. Harding’s 1921 inauguration as the 29th president, but with today’s swearing in of Barack Obama as the 44th commander in chief, one thing was still the same: The president had to be heard.
Ensuring that the massive audience heard every word were both Baltimore-based Maryland Sound International (MSI), which has provided audio for two other inaugurations, and Clair Global (Lititz, PA). In the January issue of Pro Sound News, Bob Goldstein, owner of MSI, predicted, “We’re thinking this may wind up as probably the largest amplified event ever, period.” The Associated Press estimated that more than 1 million people were on-hand today, while MSNBC placed it as around 2 million, far surpassing the record of 1.2 million for Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
The speeches were reportedly captured with Schoeps microphones, with Sennheiser 816 shotgun mics waiting on the sidelines as emergency backups. Mixing all those mics, plus various musical interludes from the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Aretha Franklin and Itzhak Perlman, were a pair of Yamaha PM5D consoles. For today’s convocation, MSI brought in 30 truckloads of control gear and JBL VerTec line array boxes, minded by a staff of 10, to tackle sound on the Capitol steps and grounds. It also provided eight delay towers that covered the crowd down to 3rd Street, and additionally handled audio for the parade route.
Meanwhile, the crowd stretched far beyond 3rd Street for the better part of two miles. From 4th Street onwards, a team of more than two dozen people from Clair Global provided 27 delay towers comprised of Clair i-4 line array boxes, covering all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial. The Clair team and gear has been busy in the area for days, having also provided audio this past weekend for the Opening Ceremony on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (which aired on HBO). Proving there’s no rest for the weary, Clair is also handling audio for 10 of this evening’s inaugural balls.
Maryland Sound International
Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems