Super Bowl LIV was a truly Latina-American event: Bronx-born Jennifer Lopez headlined the halftime show and Colombia native but Miami Beach resident Shakira shared the main stage, while New Mexico native Demi Lovato sang the National Anthem before the big game.
The 12-minute halftime extravaganza, watched by more 100 million people, garnered rave reviews for its showmanship but also drew plenty of kudos for its sound.
A pair of DiGiCo SD5 consoles at front of house and a pair of DiGiCo Quantum 7 desks at monitors were the crown jewels atop a custom JBL sound system, comprising 18 1,500-pound carts on the field and 14 flown line arrays.
All of the gear was designed and brought in by ATK Audiotek, which has been the halftime event’s sound-reinforcement provider for nearly two dozen Super Bowls.
“For me, the SD5 is still the fastest-workflow console ever,” says, which was used for the pre- and post-game entertainment, as well as the halftime show. “I set the two SD5s up so that we had mirror images of both the worksurface and one console as the A engine, so in the unlikely event that we had a failure on one console, the other was ready to run seamlessly.” Needless to say, there was no need to take advantage of that redundancy.
The DiGiCo SD5s managed the show’s 60-plus input channels, including vocals, instruments and Pro Tools outputs, with ease, says ATK Audiotek project manager Alex Guessard, who also mixed the live sound for the show—alongside engineer Dave Natale—and designed the entire sound system.
Super Bowl Hustle
The event’s massive Dante network was “fed from the MADI on the consoles, and signals were eventually routed via AES to the amplifiers,” says Guessard. Each console also had two DiGiCo SD-Racks of its own, allowing them to operate independently.
Tom Pesa and the monitor crew had to manage upwards of 150 wireless beltpacks for vocalists, musicians and dancers. He also used two consoles, both of which were Quantum 7 desks.
They began working on the show at two rehearsal locations—one offsite and one onsite—which necessitated the need for two consoles to be available as the complex production came together. Once the show was ready, Pesa, like Guessard, kept the second desk online as a backup.
“Instead of having the B engine as the backup on one console, we’d have an entire second console as our mirrored B engine,” says Pesa, who was working his 24th Super Bowl halftime show. “It’s overkill, but it’s also the Super Bowl.”
The output of the console went to a combination of in-ear monitors—120 of them for dancers alone, who rely on them for click tracks and cues—and to a dozen ATK Audiotek LM3 wedges around the stage.
Pesa set up an entire separate section of the console customized for Ramon Morales, Shakira’s longtime monitor mixer.
Super Bowl’s halftime shows are a marvel of tightly packed bombast on a precise schedule.
“It’s all over so quickly,” says Guessard, who was working on his third Super Bowl halftime event. “We had six minutes to get ready as the football players were leaving the field and the stage was coming together, then a 12-minute show, then six minutes to get ready before the teams came back.
“It’s a huge adrenaline rush no matter how many times you’ve done it, and it takes an insane amount of coordination,” he says.