Focusrite RedNet Technology Used As Grammy Awards Transitions To Audio-Over-IP (AoIP)

This year, in a first for the Grammy Awards Show, the audio team implemented a Dante network powered by Focusrite RedNet D64R 64-channel MADI bridges, Focusrite RedNet D16R AES-to-Dante interfaces and RedNet MP8R eight-channel mic pres and A/D converters to deliver the vocal performance and production wireless microphones to the house sound and broadcast audio mixing consoles.

The awards show was broadcast live from the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on the CBS network on January 26. Performers included Lizzo; Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X, as well as Tyler, the Creator; H.E.R.; Gary Clark Jr. with the Roots and Demi Lovato.

The new Focusrite AoIP transport scheme was designed to eliminate the complex signal-splitting system that has long been employed. It fed signals from the show’s multiple stages to the two front-of-house and two stage monitor consoles, as well as the two music mixing consoles and the broadcast audio production desk in three remote trucks.

In addition to the efficiencies afforded by digitally transporting dozens of microphone signals over fiber and making them available everywhere simultaneously, the new system design delivered a noticeable improvement in audio quality.

“The performance mics sounded a lot clearer to me, because they weren’t going through a splitter,” said Eric Schilling, one of two broadcast music mixers stationed in a pair of M3 (Music Mix Mobile) trucks parked outside the Staples Center. “I didn’t feel like I had to ‘carve out’ as much as I do on a typical mic through a splitter, where it might be a little murky in the low end. I found myself doing less processing on the vocals in terms of both low end and high end.”

“We knew we were going to get a better frequency response without all the spitting going on,” said Michael Abbott, the longtime Grammy Awards audio coordinator. “But it was substantially noticeable.”

Abbott, in collaboration with other engineers on the show and with Audinate, developer of the Dante protocol, designed a system incorporating Focusrite RedNet D64R MADI bridges to transport signals from the wireless microphones supplied to the show.

Production budgets permitting, said Abbott, the plan for next year’s show is to also incorporate the approximately 400 back-of-house channels, including audio tracks and video playback, into the AoIP network. The following year, he said, “The third phase would be to add all the musical instruments.” 

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