The 60th annual Grammy awards reached an estimated 20 million viewers around the world when they were held back in January 28th at Madison Square Garden, New York City.
The A32 AD/DA digital converter from German manufacturer Ferrofish played a pivotal role in the success of the evening’s elaborate live performances, which included high profile artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Gary Clark, Jr., Lady Gaga, Kesha and the big winner of the night, Bruno Mars.
Anthony Lalumia who is Digital Source Mixer for the show selected the Ferrofish A32 primarily for its reliability. The single U rack space Ferrofish A32 was streaming audio from his ProTools interfaces via a MADI auto-switcher. The A32 was fed coaxial and optical MADI streams (for redundancy), and the unit’s analog output was split to five different consoles with five different engineers mixing at different positions in the show.
Anthony Lalumia who has also worked on similar live award shows including MTV’s Video Music Awards...
The A32 is the final step in the chain which means it’s constantly passing audio. With so much going on, it’s something I shouldn’t have to think about. I just need it to work 10 times out of 10. During the Grammys, the A32 was seamless, reliability is a huge factor for me, and I knew I could rely on my A32 converter.
Balancing Multiple Backing Tracks
With almost 20 live performances to deal with during this year’s star-studded show, Anthony was responsible for compiling the musical acts’ individual tracks so they could be played back from a single system as opposed to each act bringing their rigs
A lot of the work is on the front end because we’re having to compile all of that and be in communication with many different people. New files are coming in through rehearsals and it’s our job to put them together and be sure they are the correct format for the show. It’s a high-pressure job so I need my rigs to be fully redundant. Since the A32 is ultimately the last point before all the tracks are sent out, it’s a pretty critical piece that has to sound totally transparent for me — and the A32 delivers each time.
We are dealing with on-air performances and backing tracks that we are getting from many different sources. The A32’s AD/DA conversion is really transparent. Literally what I play out of my systems into that machine is exactly what comes out. There is no colouration whatsoever, and that’s a huge deal for me.
All In A 1U Space
For a live show like the Grammys, space is at a serious premium. Anthony, who has been working as a Pro Tools engineer for over a decade, said the Ferrofish A32’s 1U rack-mountable size was the perfect option for the Grammys where equipment and logistics is a big factor.
Having 32 inputs or outputs with conversion to MADI or any format I need in a single rack space is a big plus. I didn’t have a lot of space in my world during the Grammys, so to have a really small form factor in my systems was a huge selling point.
Being able to control the unit from the front panel adds to the A32’s ease of use when setting up the unit and setting input and output gains quickly on the fly.
The Ferrofish A32’s visual feedback of all the inputs and outputs is more in-depth than any other converter on the market. Being able to monitor directly from the face of the unit gives me the confidence that the outputs are going to the correct places.
The Show Must Go On
The Ferrofish A32 offers a dual-power supply, which, for an engineer like Anthony working on a live broadcast, is critical for redundancy.
I’ll typically power one of the power supplies from a UPS battery back-up and the second one from separate AC power. The dual supply on the A32 gives you the confidence that even if the UPS fails, you’ll have that second power supply plugged into AC power which is paramount.
You can find out more about Ferrofish at their website.