Super Bowl LI: Shure Gear Delivers On-Field Wireless Audio
ATK Audiotek, Professional Wireless Systems deploy Axient mics and PSM 1000 in-ear systems
On-field audio for Super Bowl LI was provided by ATK Audiotek again this year, with a strong assist from the RF experts at Professional Wireless Systems (PWS). They were responsible for the referee’s microphone system and for all wireless used during the pregame and halftime festivities. Working with NFL Game Day Coordinator Karl Voss, PWS managed the allotted frequencies in a very crowded spectrum to ensure flawless audio on the field.
According to PWS On-Site Coordinator Gary Trenda, the referee’s microphone system was a fully redundant Shure Axient system, with two bodypacks feeding separate AXT600 receivers. Axient using the SM58 capsule was deployed for Luke Bryan’s rendition of the national anthem. Three Axient handhelds with KSM8 elements were used by cast members from the Broadway musical Hamilton to sing “America the Beautiful,” and, with a KSM9 Axient handheld, Anquan Boldin announced the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. In all, 10 Axient channels were used, including one universal backup for emergencies.
With the Axient ShowLink system, Trenda had remote control of changes to frequency assignments and gains structure of all Axient transmitters, allowing him to act on any interference-detection alerts in real time.
“We did have some alerts of possible interference during the game,” he explains, “so we shifted the referee’s backup frequency several times. But we never needed to switch the primary frequency. It was rock solid all night, which is a credit to Karl Voss and the NFL for the coordination planning they did.”
PWS also designed the wireless antenna system for the on-field portion of the show, a critical aspect to delivering flawless audio in such a crowded RF environment. The supplier relied on its own helical antennas, feeding those signals through a multi-stage receiver system based on the Shure Axient AXT630 antenna distribution system.
In-ear monitors were another critical element in the on-field production. PWS chose Shure PSM 1000 systems for their exceptional selectivity and diversity reception. A total of eight transmit mixes were sent to the 32 bodypack receivers used by the musicians and dancers in Lady Gaga’s halftime show. The PSM 1000 was used also by all pregame performers, including the piano accompanist and sign-language interpreter.
Trenda notes that, from the start of pregame until the end of the game, there was not a single wireless failure on the field. “Everything was flawless. We didn’t have any dropouts or failures, and I literally did not have a single complaint,” he says. “It’s a real tribute to Shure Axient, our go-to wireless, and to the great audio team we had in Houston. I couldn’t be happier at the results.”
The ATK Audiotek team was led by GM Brett Valasek and Project Manager Paul Liszewski. Says PWS GM Jim Van Winkle, “We are honored to work with ATK Audiotek at the Super Bowl again this year. Their trust in us to deliver flawless wireless is something we will never take for granted. Once again, it was high fives all around.”