Riedel Systems Take Center Stage at the 65th Tony Awards

Riedel Communications, a manufacturer of real-time networks for video, audio and communications, provided their Rocknet digital audio network including Studer Vista 5 console integration, Artist digital matrix intercom, and Performer digital partyline for the 65th Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre. The production companies Firehouse Productions and Audio Intercom Services created the comprehensive system in order to distribute audio signals and establish a comms infrastructure for the Tony Awards production, which is broadcast live on CBS television.

The Tony Awards are a large-scale live and broadcast production, recognizing achievements in live Broadway theatre. This year, the Tony Awards were held in the Beacon Theatre, a smaller venue than the event’s previous home in Radio City Music Hall. Because of space limitations in the Beacon Theatre, equipment that would usually be installed next to the stage had to be installed in trucks and tents outside the venue, requiring a more complex setup.

Firehouse Productions, a New York-based rental and production company, provided the live and broadcast audio distribution using a 154-channel Riedel RockNet system. At the heart of the audio installation, two Studer Vista 5 digital mixing consoles served as FoH and monitor mixers. Four RockNet RN.343.VI cards integrated the consoles into the digital audio network, providing remote control over the RockNet inputs and outputs. RockNet’s Independent Gain feature allowed both the FoH and the monitor consoles to control the gains individually without interfering with each other. On stage, 18 RockNet microphone input modules were used. With little space available backstage for monitoring, Firehouse Productions deployed “Engine 1,” a double-expanding 48-foot semi-trailer production audio unit parked outside the venue.

The JBL PA system and the broadcast production’s Calrec desk were also integrated with RockNet. RockNet fiber connectors bridged the large distances between the various locations.

Audio Intercom Services managed the intercom system, which consisted of five Riedel Artist mainframes at various positions, including the OB truck, the FOH, stage and producers. They provided the redundant communications backbone for 18 Artist 1100 series control panels. In addition, 40 Riedel Performer digital partyline beltpacks were used in conjunction with the matrix intercom. They were integrated into the infrastructure via eight Riedel Performer C44plus system interfaces, which transmitted calls from Artist control panels directly to selected partylines and vice versa.

“Due the Beacon’s lack of wing space on either side of the stage, the show was forced to relocate all of the tech departments locations that would normally be living on stage to areas outside the venue. Riedel Artist’s flexible design made facilitating all of this possible,” said Anthony Bandelato from Audio Intercom Services. “Riedel’s fiber-based decentralized approach allowed my assistant programmer, Justin Milner, and myself, to make system-wide changes from our location in the comms compound to any of the nodes in the ring via the Director software, which is both intuitive and user friendly – a huge time saver.”

In addition, the OB truck’s RTS Adam intercom was also integrated into the production comms infrastructure via 4-wire.

“We are seeing more truck companies changing over to the Artist system, and when we encounter a truck with Artist on board, the setup is even easier – we just include the truck’s system in our network. After executing the ‘Merge Configuration Files’ function in the Riedel Director software, everyone has access to all ports of the entire system,” adds Bandelato.

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