New York, NY (October 12, 2015)—The recent second GOP debate, broadcast on CNN, had Production Resource Group on-site, providing audio for all present. Clearly there were a lot more folks watching than just those on-hand at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs in Simi Valley, CA where it was held—the marathon event averaged 23.1 million viewers, becoming the most watched televised debate in CNN's history.
The GOP debate set was built atop a scaffold-type structure that was around 40' tall and placed above the Marine One helicopter, with Air Force One as the backdrop for the candidates. Space on the set was limited and designed to handle the 11 candidates, moderators, live audience and minimal technical crew. For this reason, all of the typical backstage equipment was allocated to one floor below the stage on the second floor of the library.
PRG provided the audio and lighting solutions for this debate and submitted an audio design by PRG project manager Mark Boettcher, who spec’d a variety of VUE Audiotechnik loudspeakers as part of the system. He worked closely with PRG's senior systems engineers Bill Daly and Alan Henig, who both have many years of experience with similar systems for televised events. Boettcher explains his process. "I designed a system that would allow me to adjust on the fly using the techniques that we had used successfully in previous installations." The audio system was installed, tuned, and tested in just two days. Daly and the team tuned the system and time aligned each row.
The audio design featured 24 isolated under-the-seat zones and 11 fold back circuits. The final audio design was implemented with the help of the CNN-hired mix engineer Dave Tennant and audio assistant Chris Rucker. It featured 142 distributed VUE Audiotechnik i-2x4.5 speakers with 70˚ x 70˚ dispersion placed under seats, with a number of the speakers dressed in red silk speaker fabric to conceal them within the red carpeting for on-stage monitoring.
The console of choice for this event was a Yamaha CL5. Boettcher explains, "This provided us with plenty of surface control for the show, plus enough matrix and mix output capabilities to handle the all the requirements." The stage boxes were connected using Audinate's Dante(Digital Audio Network Through Ethernet) network routed over Cat 5e from the stage boxes (Rio 1608) to the console. "I broke the system out into four zones fed from the console to provide quick access for Dave to adjust on the fly," continues Boettcher. "These zones were, the front row, remaining main floor, house right bleachers, and house left bleachers."
The speakers, console, and microphones were connected to the set via cabling that was dropped down to the second floor technical compound. For the speaker systems, Neutrik NL8 multi-line speaker cable was used to route four zones of the PA through each cable. The zoning and fold back requirements were all controlled using four Meyer Galileo 616 loudspeaker management processors. The amplification was entirely provided by Lab.Gruppen FP2400Qs. These were chosen based on their ability to run eight VUE i2x4.5 speakers on each amplifier channel. PRGs VUE i-Class loudspeaker inventory is made up of a custom-built model of the i2x4.5 that operates at 16-ohms, allowing larger quantities to run in parallel on each amplifier channel.
Production Resource Group