Andover, MA––Phillips Academy Andover, founded in 1778 and one of the oldest incorporated secondary schools in the US, held its 240th Commencement with a Martin Audio WPM system deployed by Balanced Input of North Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Balanced Input founder/owner Mark Waker explains, “this was the 21st time we had been put in charge of audio for the Commencement. For the keynote speeches this year, we fielded an all new Martin Audio WPM rig in concert with our new production partners, Paddle Out Productions.
“The system consisted of 8 WPM per side,” Mark continues, “underpinned by dual CSX-LIVE 118 subs with the arrays powered by two Martin Audio iK81 amplifiers using one box resolution for optimum coverage. We also used Martin Audio DD6 for front fills on the edge of the steps along with Blackline X8 and X12 systems for outfills and delays about 150 ft. alongside the audience focused inwards. All fill applications were powered by Martin Audio MA5.0Q amplifiers and processing was by Martin Audio DX0.5.
“Typically, Phillips Academy Andover tries to hold its Commencement outdoors every year, but in the event of severe weather, it’s held indoors. The performance audio system installed in the Academy’s new Snyder Center, a multipurpose sports/event facility, features two hangs of Martin Audio W8LM with six LM and one LMD in each hang and four CDD12. All processing is via Martin Audio DXO5 with Martin Audio 9.6K and 5.0Q power amps. The system was installed by Balanced Input as well.”
Asked about audio challenges, Mark responds: “This year, the Commencement was held outside on the lawn in a rectangle surrounded by three and four-story brick buildings, so we had to keep sound off the walls. There are also low trees in front of and alongside the speaker’s platform so we had to trim the rig low at about 12 ft. off the ground. Basically, we needed to fire under the trees with a narrow beam of sound to get under them and to the audience’s ears without having the sound climb and hit the building at the back of the quad or spread too wide into the trees.
“To do that, we placed the speakers on lifts about 106 ft. apart on either side of the dais to get sound to the back without being affected by the trees. The coverage from WPM is extremely good because it’s a genuine 100 degree horizontal that actually matches up to the specifications. Another big thing was that we’d invested in new lifts and cable systems to support WPM and the system flies really fast! It goes up, comes down quickly and packs well, all of which is important when you’re dealing with labor costs. The fly frame for WPM is a joy to work with.”
Summing up, Mark concludes: “The area to be covered was for around 4200 people with a throw to the rear of just under 200 ft. The system sounded amazing in terms of clarity and articulation. One audience member, a vocal coach, observed how everything was ‘crystal clear’ regardless of who was speaking or however good an orator the person was. If it happened at the podium, it was heard in the audience. Everyone was extremely happy with the WPM system and how well it performed.”
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