12 January 2017


New York, New York. January 11, 2017 – For people up and down the East Coast and around the world, there is no more vaunted place to be on New Year’s Eve than New York City’s Times Square. Whether you waited out in the cold for a chance to watch the evening’s events unfold firsthand or you are one of the over a billion viewers tuning in on TV, nothing rings in the new year quite like the big ball dropping in the city that never sleeps.

Maryland Sound has been on the ground for this worldwide phenomenon for the last 17 years, providing the live sound that makes the event a magical experience for the over 2 million attendees braving winter weather for an up-close glimpse of the shiny ball. The company has an unassailable reputation for excellence in event sound, handling numerous major events around the country including the last six presidential inaugurations, concerts, festivals and rallies on the national mall, as well as corporate and private events and music tours, but he is always trying to create a better experience for his clients and event-goers.

This year, Maryland Sound used new Deva multimedia devices powered by Powersoft as part of their system, providing security monitoring, emergency messaging capabilities, and ambient music, for the New Year’s Eve festivities. The Deva system brought a whole new range of functionality to the city’s most important gathering.

Early Adopter
Thanks to a keen eye for the latest technological innovations by owner Bob Goldstein, Maryland Sound started using Powersoft amplification from the minute it became available in the US. “We immediately recognized the attention to detail in the design and layout of Powersoft’s amplifiers and the amount of power they could provide for their size, not to mention the outstanding sound,” Goldstein says. “Over time we would also learn that they were extremely reliable.” As one of Powersoft’s top customers year after year, the Maryland Sound team had heard about the new Deva multimedia device powered by Powersoft in its earliest stages. “We first saw it when it was just a concept, and we’ve been talking about it and waiting for it ever since,” he says. Maryland sound recognized it as a compact, weatherproof device with functions that could play an important role in a large event like New York City’s New Year’s Eve celebration. “I saw right away that Deva was an outstanding communication and surveillance device which could assist security and emergency services to observe and communicate in a place like Times Square,” Goldstein says. Upon release, Maryland Sound quickly purchased a Deva system ahead of this year’s celebration.

Success by Design
“The key to our success is the extensive testing we do of each rig before we show up for a job,” says Benjamin Krumholz, Systems Engineer for Maryland Sound. As soon as they received the Deva units, Krumholz and his team set them up around Maryland Sound’s large campus in Baltimore to take them for a test drive. He quickly found that they were both versatile and durable.

The revolutionary Deva packs an incredible amount of functionality into its uniquely shaped and compact enclosure. Featuring bi-directional wireless A/V communication as well as lighting, Deva is powered by an ultra-efficient Class D amplifier allowing up to 115dB of audio output. “It’s amazing how much output it can achieve given its size,” Krumholz says. Another key feature for Maryland Sound was the Devas toughness in the face of inclement weather. “These units are designed for permanent outdoor installation, and it was clear they could handle whatever the New York winter could throw at them, Krumholz adds.

Krumholz strategically placed the Deva units in pairs throughout Times Square. “It went up incredibly fast,” Goldstein added. “With the network control integration built into the Deva, Goldstein and Krumholz set up a LAN network in the square for their system. “It inspired us to set up an IP network in Times Square for the first time,” Krumholz says. Cisco SG300 switches help create a separate VLAN for the Deva within a broader system network to take advantage of the Deva’s vast networking capabilities.

Multi-Function All-Star
From their perches just above crowd level, the Deva units served multiple functions during and leading up to the big day. “First, we preprogrammed the Devas to play some music playlists in the days ahead of the 31st to help set the mood in Times Square before the event,” says Krumholz. On New Year’s Eve, the Devas provided live video feeds to the control booth. The video feeds provided Goldstein, Krumholz, and their team with a valuable sense of how the crowds were developing and moving through the space, as well as whether there were any security concerns. “The ability to get an up-close look at what’s going on in the crowd is not something we’ve ever had before from the comfort of our control room,” Krumholz says, referring to the large black shipping containers stacked two units high seated on an island between Broadway and 7th Avenue that served as their base of operations for the event. “It really changed things,” he adds.

More to Come
This year’s Deva rollout was just the beginning for Maryland Sound. “This is the first time we got to see these units in action, and the first time we were running an IP network in Times Square,” Krumholz says. “There will be many more interesting possibilities going forward that will incorporate Deva into a lot of different kinds of environments.” For Goldstein, a key part of his business has always been increasing the value his clients are getting from him and increasing the value of his services by doing so. “Deva can provide a lot of utility to large event setups or permanent installations by expanding security monitoring and emergency messaging capabilities,” he says. “I can see big things for this product.”

Maryland Sound owner Bob Goldstein to Receive Parnelli Audio Innovator Honor


LAS VEGAS — The governing body of the Parnelli Awards announces that Maryland Sound International’s founder and pro audio pioneer Bob Goldstein will be the 2014 recipient of the Parnelli Audio Innovator Award. Goldstein founded Maryland Sound International (MSI) in 1966, and throughout his career he’s been called on to take on the seemingly impossible.

In the early 1970s he provided the sound for a large Madison Square Garden event, and it was there he started building a remarkable reputation for doing big things really well. When asked to provide sound for the Monticello Race Track so bands could play between races in a situation that allowed for zero setup time, he was one of the first to turn a flatbed truck into a mobile stage.

He built “super boards” for arena acts, including a 42 channel one for Andy Gibb in just 30 days. In 1998, when other sound companies said it couldn’t be done, he provided audio for Times Square’s New Years Eve event where he was one of the first to used fiber optics (and he still has that NYE’s gig today). In 2009, he negotiated tight security and extremely challenging conditions to provide sound for the two million who showed up to the inauguration of president Barack Obama, the largest of its kind.

“Bob has been a longtime JBL supporter and was an early VerTec adopter who invested in VT4889 system, and then the VerTec, and now the VTX system on his many high-profile tours, festivals, and unique events such as presidential inaugurations and Million Man March,” says JBL’s Paul Bauman. “JBL considers MSI a valued development partner and enjoys a collaborative relationship that helps us improve our products. Bob has a passion for uncompromised sound quality and is always searching for ‘the next best thing,’ and in many cases, if it didn’t exist, he would develop it!”

Goldstein is a Baltimore boy, whose office today is just a mile from the first house he lived in. His grandmother bought him a Fender bass and a Silvertone amp in the early 1960s, and he was quickly playing with local bands. He was at the local Hi-Fi store so much he got a job there, and by 16, he was sales manager. There he started working on P.A. speakers and amps. Soon his talent as a sound engineer became well known and he went out the road with Frankie Valli, which was the start of relationship that continues to this day. He worked for the Clair Bros. for a short time before focusing on his own company. Through the years, he grew MSI nationally and internationally, and today in addition to supporting touring acts, they do installation, TV/Broadcasting, and even some highly specialized sensitive government work.

“Bob is one of the five or six guys who started this industry before it was an industry,” says FRONT of HOUSEpublisher and Parnelli Executive Producer Terry Lowe. “He’s always been on the forefront of providing audio for big events, and his innovative way of approaching an event has influenced many other engineers and companies.”

The 2014 Parnelli Awards will be held at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 22. For more information please visit


National Geographic 125th gala: James Cameron goes vegan, Felix Baumgartner dazzles the ladies

By The Reliable Source, Published: June 15, 2013 at 9:00 am

James Cameron challenged the gala guests to go vegan. (Rebecca Hale)

James Cameron challenged the gala guests to go vegan. (Rebecca Hale)

The National’s Geographic went all out for its125th anniversary gala Thursday, filling the National Building Museum with the world’s greatest explorers and scientists, custom designed tables featuring compasses, maps and live plants, and a massive, roof-high screen with amazing nature photography. What’s better than video of adorable penguin chicks playing in the snow? Video of adorable penguin chicks playing in the snow on an 80-foot screen.

But you probably want to know how cute skydiver Felix Baumgartner is: Very, very cute. Last year, the base jumper successfully dropped from 24 miles — breaking the sound barrier along the way — last year and landed into the history books, so Nat Geo gave him the “Adventurer of the Year” award, and everyone (especially the ladies) clamored for a moment with the daredevil Austrian skydiver.

Felix Baumgartner (Mike Busada)

Felix Baumgartner (Mike Busada)

“Titantic” director/oceanographer James Cameron received the organization’s “Explorer of the Year” for his successful solo dive last year to the deepest point of the Pacific Ocean. Cameron, the magazine’s first Hollywood cover boy, used the occasion to share his newfound solution to saving the earth.

Chef Barton Seaver shows off the entree course. (Robert Isacson)

Chef Barton Seaver shows off the entree course. (Robert Isacson)

“I’ve had an epiphany recently,” Cameron continued. “I want to challenge all of you as people of deep conscience, people who are environment stewards of the earth and oceans…By changing what you eat, you will change the entire contract between the human species and the natural world.” Cameron revealed he went vegan a year ago, and urged everyone at the gala to read up and do the same. “I felt like I was waking up from a long sleepwalk. I believe we are all sleepwalking off a cliff if we don’t do this.”

This came immediately after the shrimp course and just before the entree: bison. The menu was created by chef/National Geographic Fellow Barton Seaver with ingredients sourced from sustainable farms. So, yeah, kind of awkward.

The room was filled with deep-pocket, nature-loving donors; National Geographic has already raised $35 million to mark this milestone year — including $1 million from Alex Trebek, host of the National Geographic Bee, which ensures students will be saying “Lake Titicaca” for decades to come.

The scene at the dinner. (Robert Isacson)

The scene at the dinner. (Robert Isacson)

Alex Trebek makes a toast. (Rebecca Hale)

Alex Trebek makes a toast. (Rebecca Hale)


More Reliable Source: Vladimir PutinKardashian babyDan PfeifferTeresa Heinz KerryKim DealMiss USA;  Mary LandrieuJohn DingellMurdoch divorceJennifer Lopez


The Warner Theatre, Washington, DC

April 2013 Issue Installations

The Warner Theatre, Washington, DC

Written by George Petersen
Sunday, 07 April 2013 14:31
 A new sound system is taking Washington DC's Warner Theatre to the next level.The story of Washington DC’s Warner Theatre is one that could be repeated about dozens of theaters around the country that began as classic art deco movie palaces, which in a bygone age, hosted silent films and vaudeville performers. As the years continued, many of these fell to the wayside, yet a fortunate few — like the Warner Theatre — were reborn and restored to reflect their former glory.

» A Little History

Debuting as the Earle Theatre in 1924, what is now known as the Warner Theatre had something special from the start, with its popular rooftop garden, basement restaurant/ballroom, and precision Rockette-styled “Roxyette” dance troupe — all in addition to successfully making the transition to hosting talkie movies. Even its location was perfect — just a few blocks from the White House.

The theater eventually switched to an all-movie format and in 1947 was renamed for movie mogul (and Warner Brothers co-founder) Harry Warner. During the 1950s and ‘60s, the Warner blossomed with roadshow blockbuster films like Ben HurDr. Zhivago, and Hello, Dolly!, but by the 1970s, like many huge movie palaces during that era, the Warner Theatre lost its luster. It briefly regained prominence in the mid-1970s as a rock venue, even hosting the Rolling Stones for an unannounced show there in 1978 — but the theater finally closed to the public in 1989.

After an extensive three-year restoration/renovation project, the theater reopened in 1992 as one of the gems in a revitalized downtown area. Now established as a preeminent D.C. Metro showcase, and home to the annualBET Awards, the Warner Theatre stage has hosted performers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Tony Bennett to ZZ Top to Paul Simon, with the latter accepting the first-ever Gershwin Prize awarded for a popular song — beneath its magnificent proscenium in 2007.

View from the stage into the 1,800-plus capacity theatre.» Back to the Present Day

Now as a venue in the Live Nation family, a decision was made to upgrade the Warner Theatre with a sound system that would provide audio that would be on a par with its splendiferous decor and classic design. After a long series listening tests and auditioning of various systems, the nod for the new audio rig went to Outline, which is fairly new in terms of exposure to U.S. audiences, yet has a 40-year legacy in Europe.

“The goal was to put in a system that wasn’t going to overpower the venue — either visually or sonically,” says Tom Bensen, senior VP and managing director of Outline North America. “Keep in mind that this is a historic theater of great significance and keeping the feeling of the venue — with a minimal visual footprint from the sound system — was very important. That was one of the reasons for selecting the [Outline] Butterfly system — it provides a high output from a small package. Another part of the requirement was weight restrictions. They can’t hang a huge heavy array in front of the proscenium. After looking at the options, the Butterfly was a perfect match.”

“I was looking for a single system that could cover the entire house without having to resort to using under-balcony speakers,” notes the Warner Theatre’s audio department head Ishai Ratz, who previously spent 25 years with Maryland Sound Inc., the sound company that handled the installation, with MSI’s Matt Snyder overseeing the project.

» Up and Away

“From an installation standpoint, the system went up very quickly,” Bensen says. “With a Butterfly system, you set your angles in advance, and it literally took under 30 minutes per side to hang the system. I showed up at 10 in the morning and we were done at three in the afternoon — and that included an hour and a half for lunch. It was as simple as it could have possibly been.”

Fig. 1: Open Array software prediction for Warner TheatreThat part of the project went smoothly, due in no small part to advance planning. “We had given the venue our designs using Outline’s Open Array software, which is incredibly accurate three-dimensional prediction software,” notes Bensen. “The data we publish on our products in Open Array is spot-on accurate and we provided the theater with an extremely accurate prediction.” Open Array can indicate the coverage and response, as shown in Fig. 1, where the display predicts the sound at the Warner’s FOH listening position (the small white dot at last row of the main floor). The Outline array hang is capable of 120 dB in the red areas, -3 dB in yellow and only -6 dB in the green zones, such as the upper balcony rear.

The main hang has two sides, each with six Butterfly CDH 483 Hi-Packs (two 8-inch woofers; two 8-inch mids; and 1.4-inch-exit HF driver) above two CDL 1815 Low Packs (flown cardioid subs with 18- and 15-inch drivers) and eight CDH 483’s below. Eight arc-delayed Outline LAB15SP self-powered 15-inch subwoofers are beneath the stage and six of Outline’s MiniCOMP.A.S.S. steerable speaker systems (with variable horizontal control) handle the front and stage lip fill duties.

Warner Theatre audio dept. head Ishai Ratz“The Warner Theatre is actually a very nice sounding hall and gives you a good starting point,” says Ratz, speaking of the theater’s acoustical signature. “It has a few issues, just like any house that wasn’t originally designed for multiple-use performances. That said, it is a very good place to present an amplified show.”

One of the first artists to inaugurate the new system was Lynyrd Skynyrd, which, according to Ratz, “was our loudest show with the system to date, yet we did not suffer any ill effects or feel the house degraded the quality of the audio. A huge part of that was the design of our particular array by the [Outline] factory, which prevented any high-end energy — such as snare hits — from striking the fascia of the balcony, which would reflect right back to the stage. We placed two Butterfly Low Packs in the center of the array right in line with the fascia and those two not only improved the bottom end of the flown array, but eliminated that noticeable sharp high-end reflection to the stage. They did a great job with that.”

Of course, the Warner Theatre hosts all kinds of events, and it hasn’t been all rock ‘n’ roll. “The next show after Lynyrd Skynyrd was Tony Bennett — a total extreme shift of the spectrum,” says Ratz, “but Tony’s engineer Tom Young was very pleased with our system. During the show I walked the house and found the coverage to be even everywhere throughout the venue. Every visiting mix engineer that’s come here since January has commented on how good the [sonic] picture is at the mix position. And even when you walk from all the way in the back down toward the orchestra section, the coverage and sound is absolutely seamless.”

» Flexibility is Essential

The approach in the Warner Theatre project was to create a permanent, yet touring-style system. “So while it’s an installed system, it can be removed or reconfigured to the needs of various shows where visuals, or staging, or whatever dictates the need for that,” Ratz explains. “We do rock and pop shows, but we also have a one-month run with the Washington Ballet performing The Nutcracker, and the visual aspect of the array will not work with that. The array is flown with motors — just like a touring rig — and I can remove it or lower it or change it. It’s a removable array. It is mainly intended to be used as-is, but if the need arises, it’s easily reconfigurable. Being able to accommodate any production that comes through was very important to me.”

Bensen completely agrees. “The diverse programming of the Warner Theatre called for a sound system that was equally at home with rock, R&B, classical/symphonic, Great American Song Book and theatrical presentations. The Outline Butterfly is truly one of the most versatile systems we manufacture, able to meet all of these requirements, and yet do so with a minimal visual impact. We specialize in volumetrically efficient designs that get very high SPL’s from relatively small enclosures, while delivering high definition and high resolution sonic performance.”

Gear is great but people make it all happen, says Ratz. “I should say a few words of thanks to Maryland Sound and the project manager Matt Snyder. They got the system up and ready under a nearly impossible schedule and did it right in the midst of their busiest season of the year, while handling so many events during the presidential inauguration. So thanks to MSI, both for that and in accommodating the special needs of the Warner Theatre in a very nice way.”

MSI Installs Outline Butterfly System at Warner Theater

MSI Installs Outline Butterfly System at Warner Theater

Written by Frank Hammel
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 13:00

MSI Provides Outline Butterfly System for Warner Theater WASHINGTON DC — The venerable Warner Theater here has taken a step forward with the recent installation of an Outline Butterfly PA system. Installed by Maryland Sound International (MSI), the system includes L-R arrays of 14 Butterfly speakers with two CDL1815 subwoofers. MSI also installed eight LAB15SP subwoofers beneath the stage and six MiniCOMP.A.S.S. units for frontfill.

More details from Outline (

Nestled just two blocks from The White House in Washington, D.C. the majestic Warner Theater has a rich legacy dating back to its origins in 1923 — first with Vaudeville, and later as a cinema theater during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Fully restored in 1992, the Warner Theater took on yet another incarnation and became an esteemed live performance venue. The new sound system delivers the power and clarity of Outline technology to support the venue’s expanded entertainment roster.

Taking its name from Harry Warner, one half of Hollywood’s famed Warner Brothers, the Warner Theater is now a preeminent D.C. Metro showcase, and home to the annual BET Awards.  Its lofty stage has been graced with performers from Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, ZZ Top, and Paul Simon — who accepted the first ever Gershwin Prize awarded for a popular song —  beneath its magnificent proscenium in 2007. Today this regal palace boasts a new world-class sound reinforcement system from Outline that will further enhance its significance as a prominent and renowned venue for top acts in the entertainment industry.

“The sonic performance is stellar, and the narrow profile of the arrays minimizes impact on both lines of sight and frontal lighting needed for theatrical purposes,” says Ishai Ratz, house sound engineer at Warner Theater. “The Outline Butterfly delivers all the performance we need, and then some, but does not overpower the theater visually. That was an important consideration when it came to choosing the right PA for this venue.”

Two left/right hanging arrays of 14 Butterfly speakers along with two CDL1815 Cardioid Subwoofers comprise the front of house system. This system is complemented by eight arc-delayed Outline LAB15SP self-powered subwoofers mounted beneath the stage delivering uniform and coherent low frequency coverage. Six Outline self-powered steerable MiniCOMP.A.S.S. speaker systems, with their unique variable horizontal control, provide the front and stage lip fills.

Tom Bensen, Sr. Vice President and Managing Director of Outline North America was on hand to commission the system when it was first installed in mid-January of this year, just prior to Inauguration Day. “At the onset of celebrating our 40th Anniversary in 2013, I am pleased to have such an important and respected institution as the Warner Theater join the Outline family,” says Bensen. “As a venue managed by industry leader Live Nation, the quality and caliber of performers that will come through this acclaimed theater will provide the ideal, mutually advantageous platform whereby the artist, the venue, and Outline will each benefit greatly from the experience.”

For more information about the Warner Theater, please visit


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 ( 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.

Come back to the JBL Pro blog to learn more about our great products!

MSI Provides Sound for Complex White House Holiday Event

MSI Provides Sound for Complex White House Holiday Event

Written by Kevin M. Mitchell
Thursday, 10 January 2013 11:16
 White House Tree Lighting Ceremony photo by John Harrington Photography for Bounce/AEGWASHINGTON, DC — Maryland Sound International’s (MSI) Matt Snyder knows as well as just about anyone that the White House Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony involves more than a mere flip of a switch. MSI has handled sound for the event for the past decade, and Snyder has been involved for 23 years of the White House’s 90-year tree-lighting tradition.

“The evolution of the tree lighting has been dramatic,” said Snyder. “It went from a simple affair, almost just local, to having a clip on the evening news and then a full-blown TV hour.”

For the 2012, the ceremony, which took place Dec. 6, ramped up once again. Three stages were required for the multi-faceted production that involved a live audience of 18,000, a TV audience of millions, U.S. park rangers, the White House staff including scores of Secret Service agents and, of course, the President of the U.S. and his family.

FOH Barry Warrick handled main mixing duties on a Yamaha PM1D with another used for monitors. The live P.A. included JBL VT4889s and 4800 subwoofers, with MSI proprietary HEX-15s used as monitor wedges. “We’re very proud of those,” Snyder said.

The wireless gear arsenal included Shure UR systems. With Washington DC in general and the White House grounds in particular, highly saturated RF signals is a given.

“The intangible curve balls included state security, plus we had to coordinate with the National Park Service for media,” Snyder added. “We had to make sure that the media press packages included notification that they weren’t allowed to use any unauthorized wireless because there were virtually no frequencies left unused.”

Entertainers included Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Ledisi, Jason Mraz, James Taylor and The Fray — plus President Obama himself, who warbled a version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” along with First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha. (No comment from the White House as to whether he’d consider Auto-Tune for any future impromptu performances.)

A recording of the event is posted at