03 May 2011, Northridge, CA
To commemorate signing the official university charter 150 years ago, while honoring the scholarly accomplishments of its faculty and students, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) called upon Northeast Media of Woburn, Massachusetts to deploy a HARMAN JBL VerTec® line array system to support its Next Century Convocation. The event hosted and entertained more than 10,000 MIT professors, administration, students, alumni and various VIP’s.
Held on Sunday, April 10 in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the Next Century Convocation presented a theme of “habits of mind,” focusing on MIT’s research and education stemming from integrity, diligence, service, social responsibility and creativity. Three hundred performers on stage, which included the MIT Choir, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, among others, performed through the audio system, resulting in a mix of 170 input channels of musical entertainment and public address.
Challenged with filling the 250-foot-wide stage surrounded by hard, concrete surfaces within a convention hall that measured 300 feet left to right and 600 feet from the stage to the rear, Northeast Media’s Owner and President Wayne Strauss tapped into his arsenal of audio gear from HARMAN’s Professional Division. With four days to load in, setup, tune and operate the system, it was one of Strauss’ most complex event efforts to date. “We literally had to transform a concrete box into a concert hall for music and speech. The design for the event audio system in this acoustically challenging room was required to provide clear, intelligible sound for all seated areas,” stated Strauss.
A distributed-array system design strategy with multiple delayed loudspeaker clusters was chosen to tackle the project. With three rows of VerTec line arrays—four clusters in front, four for the first set of delays and three for the second set of delays—the audio system totalled 72 JBL VerTec® VT4888 midsize line array elements, 24 JBL VRX932 Constant Curvature loudspeakers, and 16 JBL SRX712M stage monitors. Driven by four dbx Driverack® 4800 Loudspeaker Management Systems, the loudspeakers were powered with 54 Crown I-Tech amplifiers. HARMAN’s HiQnet® System Architect software was used for remote control and monitoring of the entire system.
With the assistance of Steve Colby and Howard Rose, who regularly spend their time mixing the Boston Pops orchestra, three FOH engineers were deployed to manage the large number of input channels across three digital consoles. Every musical group in the MIT community performed, and all were located on stage at the same time. “We couldn’t just let the first group play, unplug the multi-pin connectors and have the next group come on stage,” Strauss continued. “All musicians needed to be wired at once. At some points in the show, we were even connecting the entire ensemble as they performed together for a massive number. It was a monster!” More than 40 wireless mics and transmission systems were switched on and off to coincide with each group performing at the time.
“We were honored to be selected to provide audio services to MIT in this challenging environment, and the system sounded phenomenal,” Strauss noted. “The JBL VerTec worked seamlessly together with other HARMAN brands, and this really gave us the tools we needed to complete this event with fantastic results. We continue to deploy HARMAN audio products for our customers because of the truly professional quality of the gear. With the support of these brands and Hanoud Associates, our regional HARMAN representative, we are truly able to offer a complete, integrated package for our clients.”