“An immense logistical hurdle”: here's how much pro audio gear it takes to make the Super Bowl halftime show happen

Super Bowl rack room
(Image credit: Focusrite)

If you thought that Usher’s Super Bowl halftime show was spectacular, wait until you see what was going on behind the scenes. A shot of the rack room at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, shows a mass of hardware and cabling, including more than 100 components from Focusrite’s range of RedNet Dante-networked audio converters and interfaces.

Live sound for the Super Bowl was handled by ATK Audiotek (a Clair Global company), who used an all-digital audio signal path. “This is our ninth year using Focusrite RedNet with our Dante Audio-over IP network at the Super Bowl,” revealed Kirk Powell, Engineer-in-Charge for ATK/Clair. “This year we are employing over 100 RedNet units, which is the largest Focusrite setup used on a Super Bowl to date.”

ATK was responsible for all the audio at the Super Bowl, which means not only the halftime show, but also the pre-game performances, which included Reba McEntire performing the US national anthem, and turns from Post Malone and Andra Day.

“Each year the Super Bowl presents an immense logistical hurdle which involves handling a multitude of diverse audio sources and routing them to various destinations,” says Powell, adding that, rather than use the stadium’s in-house PA system, they chose to ‘fly’ a completely separate L-Acoustics K2 setup.

It was this, says Powell, that presented the biggest challenge:  “Allegiant Stadium’s ceiling structure is cable-based, just like SoFi Stadium [in Los Angeles], which restricts options for placing clusters and similar components due to weight restrictions and rigging points. Managing rigging and cables presented challenges, as did determining optimal amplifier placement. We had to compromise on a few positions, but the system worked out really well. 

“Also, with renowned mixers Dave Natale and Alex Guessard handling FOH duties, the audio for the performances sounded great.”

Find out more on the Focusrite website.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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