Issue 27

iHeartRadio Music Awards Back In-Person

ATK Audiotek deploys JBL Professional loudspeakers to provide dynamic sound reinforcement for speech and music at the Dolby Theatre in LA


8 September 2021

ATK Audiotek recently deployed a JBL Professional sound reinforcement system at the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards, bringing dynamic, high-energy sound to one of the first indoor live award shows of the year.

Now in its eighth year, the iHeartRadio Music Awards honors popular artists across 41 categories, ranging from Song of the Year to the prestigious Icon Award. The 2021 ceremony, which was hosted by Usher, was held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles in front of a crowd of 1,500. Performers included The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Dan + Shay, Silk Sonic, Brandi Carlile, Demi Lovato, H.E.R., Doja Cat and Usher.

With content ranging from acceptance speeches to high-energy musical performances, the event demanded a sound system with excellent dynamic range. And, with only the venue’s main floor and first of three balconies open, the event required a more focused system than a full-capacity show. To meet these challenges, ATK Audiotek deployed a JBL Professional line array system consisting of VTX A12 loudspeakers and S28 subwoofers.

“Our shows go from quiet dialogue on a podium mic to a loud rock band at 115 dB, so we need the whole dynamic range to be pristine and clear,” said Jeff Peterson, Front of House Engineer, ATK Audiotek. “That’s something that the JBL products have done well for us.”

ATK Audiotek deployed a line array system consisting of 16 JBL VTX A12 loudspeakers in clusters of eight on each side. Featuring two 12-inch Differential Drive woofers, four 5.5-inch mid-frequency drivers and three 2-inch annular diaphragm compression drivers, the JBL A12 delivers full-range sound with massive power for music and excellent clarity for speech. A patented Radiation Boundary Integrator (RBI) waveguide provides 90-degree coverage down to 250 Hz with smooth, linear response across a wide area.

“The A12 rigs fast and weighs less than a comparable 4889 or something powered, so we’re usually able to hang more in the same space where we would be limited with something heavier,” said Peterson. “The sound quality is pretty top-notch; they’re transparent and pleasant to mix on.”

For low-frequency reinforcement, ATK Audiotek used four JBL VTX S28 subwoofers in clusters of two per side. With two 18-inch Differential Drive woofers, the VTX S28 delivers extended low-frequency performance with high peak-to-peak excursion for powerful output with extremely low distortion.

Additionally, ATK Audiotek used AKG C414 large-diaphragm condenser microphones as drum kit overhead mics on stage. Used on countless studio and live recordings, the C414 delivers classic tone and features a variety of polar patterns for rejecting stage bleed in a live setting.

The 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards was ATK Audiotek’s first in-person show in an indoor venue since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and according to ATK’s Kirk Powell, the energy in the theatre was palpable.

“I think that was actually the first real indoor audience, elbow to elbow,” said Kirk Powell, PA Designer and System Tech, ATK Audiotek. “There was a lot of energy in the room because the performers were really enjoying being in front of a crowd and the fans were really enjoying being in front of the performers. At times, Jeff had to goose it a little bit to get over the crowd, which is normal, but it’s been so long since we’ve had to do that.”

MadisonAV (Installed Distributor):
CMI (Production Distributor):


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