Testing presets at Avalon in Hollywood prior to the DNC: (l-r, standing) Mario Di Cola, senior loudspeaker engineer, Audio Labs Systems; Scott Harmala, CTO/VP engineering, ATK Audiotek; Kirk Powell, system design engineer, ATK Audiotek; (front) Ken Blecher, EVP, Powersoft U.S.
Ventura, CA (September 27, 2012)—Production sound company ATK Audiotek has upgraded all 474 of its Powersoft DIGAM K10 amplifiers with DSP cards, enabling control of processing, monitoring and other functionality using Powersoft’s Armonia Pro Audio Suite software.
The company used the newly upgraded amplifiers for the first time at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), which was held at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC in early September.
"We are very excited for this moment to have finally arrived,” said Scott Harmala, CTO, VP engineering at ATK Audiotek. “A lot of work has gone into developing our K10 preset library. This will allow us quite a bit more flexibility and control with our speaker systems."
“We always have a really short load-in, so there's always a lot to do in a short amount of time,” commented Kirk Powell, system design engineer, ATK Audiotek. The new implementation of Powersoft’s optional DSP cards, combined with ATK’s proprietary crossover presets, helped to speed up the system set up, he said. “We had previously set the whole system up here in the shop and recalled all the presets for the arena. So when we got there, we just pushed the equipment to where it needed to go, hooked it up, plugged in the speakers, and it all worked.”
Although the DNC’s original plans had included a schedule of musical performances by an array of guest artists on the third and final day at Charlotte’s open-air Bank of America Stadium, the threat of bad weather meant that the festivities leading up to President Barack Obama’s nomination acceptance speech had to be scaled back and rescheduled for the arena instead. Marc Anthony started proceedings off with a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” before Mary J. Blige, James Taylor and the Foo Fighters took to the stage prior to the president’s speech.
ATK installed a multi-array JBL VerTec system at the Time Warner Cable Arena for the entire three-day event. “There were four VT4889 arrays around the front of the stage, then there were two VT4887 arrays in the upstage area to fill in the extreme sides of the stage. There were also three VT4889 delay clusters,” said Powell. “We had three amp positions up in the roof—one on the catwalk and two amp platforms that were built specifically for us off the side of the catwalk.” Signal distribution from front of house was over ATK’s QSC Audio RAVE network.
The Powersoft DSP upgrade is the latest phase in ATK’s transition from hardware controllers at FOH to onboard amplifier processing. “At this point, we're just trying to move out of the XTA processors and into the Powersoft DSP, yet keep the mixers comfortable with the way the system sounds,” said Powell. “The mixers are so used to hearing our system sound a certain way, they know before they even get there what they need to do to the system to make it sound the way they want it to—if anything. So we wanted to keep that standard for them at this point.”
Currently, DSP in ATK’s Powersoft K10 amplifiers, which already provide interconnectivity through Powersoft’s proprietary AESOP (AES Ethernet Simple Open Protocol) networking capabilities, handles the crossovers and the XTA units manage room equalization and system optimization. In the next phase, according to Powell, ATK plans to implement FIR filtering and other capabilities in Powersoft’s DSP in order to further fine-tune those crossover settings. Ultimately, ATK intends to exclusively use Powersoft’s DSP for speaker system optimization and fully employ the KAESOP network for signal distribution.