HARMAN Systems Welcome One Million Visitors to Presidential Inauguration

HARMAN Systems Welcome One Million Visitors to Presidential Inauguration

25 February 2013, Washington, DC

As U.S. President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., HARMAN systems were once again on hand to engage the large audience.  As it has since 1996, contractor Maryland Sound provided the main PA system for the inauguration, relying on a combination of HARMAN’s JBL VTX and VERTEC® line arrays, Crown amplifiers and Soundcraft digital consoles to provide clear sound quality to the over one million people in attendance.

The ceremonial program, which included the President’s oath of office and  inaugural address, also included music from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and a chorus from P.S. 22 on Staten Island. The program also featured performances by James Taylor (“America the Beautiful”), Kelly Clarkson (“My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”) and Beyonce (“The Star-Spangled Banner”).

At the Capitol, Maryland Sound provided an assortment of JBL VP7315, VP7215, Control 25AV and AE Series AC28/95 loudspeakers. For the massive audience that filled the Capitol Grounds and National Mall, Maryland Sound deployed 12 of its custom-built line array towers, each featuring 16 VERTEC VT4889 fullsize line array elements. Crown ITHD12000 amplifiers powered the system.

The program culminated with the Inaugural Parade, following President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their families for 1.2 miles until they reached Lafayette Park. Maryland Sound supported the main parade route with nine loudspeaker towers, each ranging from 10 to 12 VERTEC VT4889 fullsize line array elements, powered by Crown ITHD12000 amplifiers, with Soundcraft Si Compact 24 digital consoles.

At Lafayette Park, Maryland Sound erected two towers each containing four hangs of eight JBL VTX V25 fullsize line array elements. Crown ITHD12000 amplifiers powered the audio, which was mixed with a Soundcraft Si Compact 24 digital console.

Audio at the Presidential viewing stand outside the White House featured 25 JBL Control 25 loudspeakers, powered by Crown ITHD12000 amplifiers.

The entire system was configured using JBL HiQnet Performance Manager™ software.

“It is always an honor to provide the audio system for the Presidential Inauguration and the challenge is always to provide the best audio quality possible while giving consideration to the sightlines of the crowd at the Capitol and National Mall,” said Bob Goldstein, President of Maryland Sound. “As we always say, the audience matters, and never is that clearer than at the Inauguration. JBL’s VTX and VERTEC line arrays, along with Crown amplifiers and Soundcraft consoles, once again played a crucial role in making this event a success.”

Maryland Sound Inaugurates a President

February 2013 Issue of FOH Magazine Production Profile

Maryland Sound Inaugurates a President

Written by Kevin M. Mitchell
Saturday, 09 February 2013 20:31
Photo by Sonya N. HebertLive/lip sync debate aside, everyone in this business noticed Beyoncé pulling out her IEM in the middle of her rendition of the national anthem before President Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term. Bob Goldstein, owner of Maryland Sound International (MSI), has an opinion as to why: “She preferred the MSI HEX12 Monitor at her feet to the IEM!” MSI once again participated in the historic day, and their contribution to everything involved with the event, held Jan. 21, 2013, was certainly very real and very live.

When asked to start with “the big event,” MSI’s Matt Snyder declares, “Man, they were all big events!” Indeed. MSI supported the swearing in ceremony at the Capitol, the parade route, and a whopper of a party for the Texas State Society, which was a multi-stage hoedown (turns out almost all the states have their own happening).
In addition to all of that, MSI made audio audible for several other inaugural-related social events like the Historically Black Colleges and Universities celebration at the Almas Shrine Temple and the three-day BET Network’s party at the National Portrait Gallery’s Kogod Atrium.
Art Isaacs and Brian Bednar were the project managers on the Capitol. Jeremiah Leiter was the project manager on the Parade Route. Other inaugural events, parties and balls were project managed by Robert Jones, Jeff Miller and Snyder.
MSI started bidding on the honor of being a part of this historic event at the beginning of 2012, and the team hits the ground to make it all happen on Jan. 2. “From then to the 21st, it’s just a lot of getting things from point A to point B,” explains Isaacs. “We spend the first several days just putting up the main clusters, and then a day and a half running cables.”
MSI Supports Presidential Inauguration 2013Team of 30
Overall though, this year’s fête was scaled down from 2009’s swearing-in. For example, four years ago there were nine official balls, of which MSI did four; this year that number was scaled back to two, neither of which MSI was involved in. “We bid on them, and while we would have liked to have done those events, it was fine that others got those two. We had already been contracted for the big events, and there’s enough work for everyone,” says Snyder. “If you’re a sound company and you can’t find work during inaugural week, you should probably get out of the business!”
MSI had more than 30 personnel working downtown, with the majority of gear culled from their warehouse, including miles of cable and hundreds of speakers. “It was all our inventory, and we sub-rented very few things,” says Snyder. “We did build some additional MSI proprietary wedges to cover our needs for that week.”
The hands involved were presidentially experienced. “Getting to do Obama’s second inaugural is like playing pinball,” says Isaacs. “You win, you get to play again!” Isaacs has been with MSI since 1985, and this was his fourth inauguration (and during the Clinton era, he worked on their inaugural balls). He says that Obama’s inaugurations were ratcheted up from the Bush era in terms of reach and ambition.
MSI Supports Presidential Inauguration 2013“The design of the system was basically the same, though more speaker clusters were added as basic demand elevated. In 2009, we had sound all the way up to the Potomac River, about 23 city blocks.”  This year they got the audio to just beyond the Mall, as this year’s Presidential Inaugural Committee chose to handle it from there.
As reported in the media, even with a million people attending, the crowd wasn’t as sizeable as the three-million-strong throng that showed up four years ago. “But a lot of it is consistent, and we make little tweaks every time.”
MSI worked with many government organizations and agencies, from the Secret Service to the lesser-known Architect of the Capitol (AOC), which oversaw the event. Also involved were the U.S. Park Rangers and the National Park Service. At the top of it all was acclaimed audio designer Patrick Baltzell, who is known for his work on the Academy Awards show, as well as many other major events. (When he finished up in DC, he headed to the Super Bowl in New Orleans.)
About 120 mics were used: 48 for the choir, 50 for the band, mics for James Taylor and his guitar, and two handhelds for Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson. Plus, there were lavaliers for the two Supreme Court justices administering the oath of office to the president and vice president, who opted against wearing lavaliers, which can be prone to picking up off-hand comments. Instead, for the public swearing in ceremony, Isaacs says, the crew deployed shotgun mics — which, despite their name, are less dangerous — for the elected officials, anyway. “This part of the show is the touchiest for Patrick. But he pulls it off each year.”
Pre-ceremony rehearsal/soundcheck with U.S. Marine band at zero dark thirty - 12:30 am!Thinking equally of open sightlines and sound quality, the crew follows Baltzell’s design, which centers on JBL VerTec VT4889 large-format line arrays. In total there were nine of MSI’s custom-built, ground-stacked array towers ranging from four to 14 VT 4889 loudspeakers each, and they were spread throughout the Mall area, starting with two 14-box clusters at the main stage. Ten more were used along the parade route.
Six towers were placed on the outside perimeter of the main lawn to provide delays without getting in the way of the audience’s view. For extra measure, five additional delay towers were set up beyond the 1,000-foot mark to push the audio for the rest of the crowd. Two Yamaha PM5Ds drove all of it.
Now about those MSI wedges: 10-inch and 12-inch speakers were used extensively. “They are great sounding wedges, and I think they sound better than anything else out there,” Isaacs says. “We’ve been building them for years, starting with the 15-inch one and then expanding to the 12-inch and 10-inch. The 10-inch MSI HEX are really handy for corporate events, providing a great sound in a small footprint.”
The Parade
MSI’s Jeremiah Leiter, who focused on the parade route, has been with MSI since 2008 and today is GM. He notes that while the 70-volt solution found at your local high school football game has sufficed for previous administrations, this one wanted full range audio reproduction. “This involved a brand-new design that used MSI poles, which are also deployed at other high profile events that we do, including the Times Square Ball Drop,” he says. This solution is much better than a truss tower, especially at an event with major security concerns like this. It requires a small footprint, can’t be climbed, and doesn’t obscure sightlines.
Making it all come together on the big day and covering the 1.2-mile parade route required diligent planning. The challenge for the parade crew involved working nights to avoid disrupting the hustle and the bustle and pomp and circumstance this is Washington DC. “It was logistically challenging, but we coordinated with all agencies and vendors involved to get our systems in place and prepped for the show.”
JBL VerTec boxes on delay towerThe crew broke it down into six different mix areas using a total of 11 poles — nine along the route and two in the park. “Those along the parade route were able to hear the music from Lafayette Park and the swearing in, plus commentators associated with the parade,” Leiter says. Most poles had 10 to 12 JBL VT4889 cabinets; the two in the park had VTX V25s. Small-format Soundcraft Si desks handled the mix.
Then there was the Presidential review stand, which was set up in front of the White House along Pennsylvania Avenue in Lafayette Park. “We worked closely with the National Park service, broadcast teams, and the White House communication staff. We received the program material and then distributed it out to the [press feed] so all media that was involved could broadcast it as well as reproducing the audio in the park and the review booth so all could hear.” Also involved were the Austin-based production company C3 Presents (c3presents.com) and the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC), a temporary committee responsible for producing the inaugural parade.
“I will say that the full-range solution is what was unique about this event,” Leiter adds. “The audience matters to us, and with this full-range audio approach they got the clarity we think they deserve over the entire route. We have people hanging on every word of what is being said, and we wanted to provide a positive experience to everyone gathered along the Mall.”
Two Shure SM57s at the podiumSecurity is Everything
Nothing is more important than security, and anyone dealing with anything involving the President understands that and adapts. Interestingly, this was less of a challenge then in past years, Isaacs says. Previously, on the day of the event, the MSI team had to get up at four in the morning to turn everything on and then leave so the police dogs could sniff everything. This year, they were able to do that the night before and then “sleep in” a bit, just needing to get to the entrance before 6 a.m.
Otherwise, everyone had to go through metal detectors and make sure everyone had their badges. In previous years, there had been occasional challenges. “One year when we walked up to the podium area to place the podium mics and the 120 underseat speakers, and none of the people on my crew had access to the podium,” Isaac says. “That was a problem. Luckily someone from the AOC was on site and arranged for an escort. After that, I made sure we always had the proper badges.”
Dealing with all the government agencies is nothing compared to one uncompromising lady: Mother Nature. Those at MSI who have worked on many of these White House outdoor events talk about the weather being persnickety if not downright pitiless. But they caught a break: “Compared to previous years, this year’s weather was like getting a bonus check!” Isaacs says. “We had cold but nice weather until the end of load-out, and it was nice not dealing with snow, rain, sleet or mud.”
Is there extra pressure at an event like this?
“I don’t want to say we do any more than what we do on any job in terms of making sure everything we use is in good working order,” Isaacs responds. “But there is a lot of redundancy. We do a lot of maintenance on connections, checking for moisture, testing everything each and everyday. We run the signals through fiber but also have copper as backup, because sometimes fiber can fail if it gets too cold. One year when we came in the morning to run some tests, there was no audio getting to the delays. It turned out that the fiberglass had actually frozen and the signal couldn’t get through the ice! Now, in years when it gets really cold, we have heaters all around, and backup power units. We have analog backup signal to backup all of the digital fiber runs just in case.”


Main and Overflow System: JBL VerTec VT4889 (50)
Delay Systems Loudspeakers: JBL VP7315/64 (12), JBL VT4889 (30)
Infills: JBL VP7215/90 (4)
Outfills: JBL VP7315/64 (3), 
JBL VP7215/90 (2)
Congressional seating area: JBL Control 25 AV (120), JBL AC 28 (14)
White House Communications Agency and Secret Service areas: JBL Control 25 AV (4)
Senate Choir Seating Area: JBL A 28 (20), JBL VRX932 (8)
Media platforms: JBL VRX932 (4)
Band: MSI HEX 12 (1)
Performance Area: MSI HEX 12 (1)
Choir Area/Soloist: MSI HEX 10 (6)
Podium: Shure SM57 (2; in “Presidential” VIP57 mount); Schoeps MK41 shotgun (1)
Announcer: Schoeps MK40 (1)
Oath mics: Sennheiser MKH 816 
shotguns (2); Shure lavaliers (2)
Vocalists: Shure KSM 9 (James Taylor); Shure SM58 (Kelly Clarkson); Neumann KMS 105 (Beyoncé)
Choir Soloists: Shure KSM 9 (3)
Choir: Shure SM58 (48)
Marine Band: Audix D4 (4), D2 (5); Electro-Voice N/D 308 (5), RE-27 (2); Sennheiser MD-421 (11), e604 (15); Shure KSM 32 (3)
Consoles: Yamaha PM 5DRH (2)
Outboard Effects: TC Electronic System 6000, System 5000
Mains Processing: Dolby DLP (3); Lake Mesa Quad EQ (1)
Delay Processing: Dolby DLP (1); Lake Mesa Quad EQ (1)
Signal Transmission
Optocore Loops (2; for mains and delays); Optocore YS-2 cards in FOH console (2); Optocore DD32 on mains (2); Optocore DD32R-FX delay systems with Ethernet control of all parameters and amplifiers (2); X6 delay systems (2); fiber to mains (1,000 feet); fiber to delays (1,500 feet); multicore for all inputs/outputs (6,500 feet); cable ramps (200); MSI speaker poles for suspending VerTec clusters (9)


Maryland Sound International Utilizes Optocore Network Rings for Signal Distribution and Monitoring



Munich, Feb 20th, 2013

Maryland Sound International Utilizes Optocore Network Rings for Signal Distribution and Monitoring

When audio integrator Maryland Sound International (MSI) was once again tasked with supplying the main audio system for President Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration on January 21, 2013, the company employed two Optocore Networks. MSI, a longtime user of Optocore technology, a leading choice for powering professional audio, video and data transmission networks in a variety of markets, including broadcast, post production and AV, chose the networks for their multiple levels of redundancy and reputation of superior reliability. This marks the third presidential inauguration in a row for which MSI has chosen Optocore equipment for the critical audio distribution.

With the ceremony taking place on the grounds of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. in January, MSI was faced with unpredictable winter conditions as well as a long transmission path back to MSI’s Front-of-House position, nearly 2,000 feet from the last speaker tower. MSI and audio designer Patrick Baltzell needed a way to distribute audio signals with as few conversions as possible in order to ensure the approximately 1,000,000 attendees of the ceremony heard every word.

MSI chose Optocore Network technology in order to drive the signal chain directly from the Yamaha PM5D FOH mixing console using Optocore YG2 Yamaha cards that were connected with redundant fiber cabling to the locations of the loudspeaker processors and amplifiers. This provided MSI with lossless digital transmission, which is critical in order to properly transport the audio with crisp sound and clarity over such a long distance transmission path without any glitches.

“The Optocore Networks we put in place for this year’s ceremony certainly made access to all of the amplifiers, signal processors and overall signal distribution far easier and more reliable than in the past,” says Brian Bednar, system technician, MSI. “This time around, everything was more streamlined and faster to set up and tear down at the end of the event.”

The main Optocore Network consisted of one YG2 card in the Yamaha PM5D FOH mixing console connected to an Optocore DD32 networked AES/EBU device on stage right and another DD32 on stage left. Each DD32 was connected to an Optocore X6P-8/8 analog converter and a Dolby DLP loudspeaker processor via AES. The X6P converters gave MSI the ability to feed all the devices that were not AES and/or not driven through the Dolby processor units.

The second Optocore Network consisted of one YG2 card in the PM5D connected to an Optocore DD32R-FX networked AES/EBU device at delay zone 1 (700 feet away) and another DD32R-FX at delay zone 2 (1500 feet away). Each DD32R-FX was connected to an Optocore X6P-16IN analog converter and a Dolby processor via AES. Both networks featured redundant fiber connections.

The DD32R-FX proved to be a helpful add-on for this year’s sound system, with its built-in network-wide Ethernet switch. The Optocore Network allowed MSI easy access to the Dolby DLP loudspeaker processors and amplifiers located off the main site. With a broad part of the sound system offsite, it was then easier to maintain control and monitoring of all the devices on the network to see if they were functioning to MSI’s specifications.

“It is my role to help the FOH engineer tune the system, so having access to all parts of the system at all times in order to make changes without my needing to leave the FOH position is invaluable,” says Art Isaacs, project manager, MSI. “The X6P-16IN converters gave us the functionality to run measurement microphones from multiple city blocks away back to the FOH position. Using the Optocore system proved itself to us in many ways. The sound system was extremely quiet due to the all-AES based drive system. Ethernet access to all of the online devices proved extremely helpful and provided great flexibility. I can only hope that in 2017, we can continue to work with Optocore systems to further enhance the sound system.”

The relationship between Optocore and MSI goes back for almost a decade. “Optocore has been part of MSI’s rental inventory since 2004,” says Tine Helmle, director, Optocore. “We are proud to provide MSI with the solutions it needed to ensure the audio was heard loud and clear during such an important and historic U.S. event as the presidential inauguration. We look forward to working with them well into the future.

JBL VTX Loudspeakers Create a Buzz at Orion Music + More Festival

JBL VTX Loudspeakers Create a Buzz at Orion Music + More Festival

Posted on February 2, 2013 by llevine

JBL VTX and VERTEC® loudspeakers were used in combination to deliver the audio from one of the main stages at the recent Orion Music + More Festival in Atlantic City, N.J., an event that featured four separate stages in all.  The set-up, designed and built by Baltimore-based production company Maryland Sound International, contained a number of JBL line arrays, all powered by Crown IT amps and mixed using Soundcraft Vi6 digital consoles.  The sound from the stage was so dynamic and impressive that 15 minutes after the first act started performing, people from around the venue started coming by and asking why their PA system sounded so good.  It made quite an impression on the 64,000 attendees.

JBL Line Arrays JBL VTX Loudspeakers Create a Buzz at Orion Music + More Festival

JBL VTX and VERTEC speakers were used on one of the stages at the Orion Music + More Festival, and created quite a buzz. JBL Pro makes VTX and VERTEC speakers.

Maryland Sound International has over 45 years of experience in sound systems for major events, and chose JBL VTX and VERTEC speakers intentionally for this stage.  For the set-up, they used 14 VTX V25 line arrays and 12 VERTEC VT4888 mid-size line array elements per side, along with 12 VT4880A full-size subwoofers.  For out fill, MSI arranged 6 VT4889 full-size line array elements on each side, and used 4 VT4887s for front fill.  In addition to the main PA, MSI also deployed VT4889 and VT4888s JBL line arrays as stage monitors, and placed another pair of VT4881 subwoofers near the drums to add low-end monitoring.  The entire speaker system was powered by 80 Crown IT12000HD amps, 70 for the JBL VTX and VERTEC main speakers and 10 for the VERTEC monitors.  Front-of-house and monitor mixing was performed by a pair of Soundcraft Vi6 digital consoles, and the entire system was tuned using JBL’s HiQNet Performance Manager™ software.

Maryland Sound originally purchased the JBL V25s because of their commitment to deliver the very best sound “when the audience matters – when they’re listening to the bands they care about,” said their General Manager, Jeremiah Leiter.  The Orion Music + More Festival gave them a great opportunity to try out their new JBL VTX speakers in a large outdoor concert setting, and they performed magnificently, he noted.

Because of the multi-band, multi-stage format, there wasn’t a lot of time for set-up between acts, which made the superior sound quality of VTX and VERTEC JBL line arrays a key factor, Leiter stated.  Most of the bands had time to do only a line check and not a full sound check, which meant they couldn’t tweak the EQs and settings for every instrument and vocalist.  Fortunately, the line arrays had a flat-enough response that they required only minor adjustments at the mixing boards.

Another feature that the technicians at Maryland Sound loved was the installation system.  “The JBL VTX speakers are much easier to move into place and rig,” Leiter shared.  The dolly system used to transport the system is secure and rugged, and the built-in rigging hardware made it faster and simpler to fly the speakers quickly.  On top of that, he said, “Performance Manager almost makes configuring the system idiot-proof.”

To put a finishing touch on the event, Leiter said that everyone was knocked out by the sound.  The bands were extremely pleased, and many other audio professionals came around to their stage to check it out.  “We really created a buzz,” he concluded.

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