Super Bowl audio sings in the rain

The Indianapolis Colts will be remembered as the NFL champions of Super Bowl XLI, but audio professionals will likely recall the event for different reasons. With a steady rain falling throughout the day, the potential for broadcast disaster during the pregame and halftime entertainment was clear. Working his 11th Super Bowl with more than 1500 channels of wireless operations during the event, chief RF wrangler James Stoffo of Professional Wireless Systems had no room for error in selecting and deploying wireless systems.

For the pregame show, which featured Cirque du Soleil and a live orchestra with vocalists, Stoffo used 14 channels of Shure UHF-R wireless, including SM58 handhelds and numerous bodypack systems with WH20 headworn and WLM-50 lavalier mics. The national anthem, performed by Billy Joel on piano, employed a hardwired SM58. In addition, several Shure PSM 700 in-ear monitor systems were employed as needed.

The halftime entertainment was provided by Prince, who used a gold-plated Sennheiser SKM 5200 wireless transmitter topped with a Neumann KK105-S capsule. Sennheiser gear also captured both Prince's stage band and the Florida A&M Marching 100, which accompanied the artist. Aside from the constant rain, Prince's wireless also withstood some rough treatment from the artist himself, who knocked it roughly to the ground at one point. Stoffo reports that the unit never stopped working and that his RF reception was pristine, enhanced by the use of two Sennheiser A 5000 P broadband antennas.

Stoffo noted that both wireless systems offered exceptional performance under daunting conditions, particularly because Dolphin Stadium stands within easy line of sight of a major antenna farm shared by Miami and Ft. Lauderdale TV stations, resulting in what Stoffo called the worst RF noise floor he has ever experienced. He praised the Shure UHF-R for its 60MHz bandwidth and available 100mW output.

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