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  National FFA Convention 2004

When most people think of the National FFA (Future Farmers of America), they think of low-tech: Trucks and trailers, animals and tractors; all the things that make agriculture work. But if you were one of the lucky 51,000 FFA members who attended this year's National Convention, you would know different. With a 100' wide stage, over 100 moving lights, lasers, huge video screens, and with a sound system that any musical act would be lucky to have, the National FFA Convention in Louisville's Freedom Hall, is anything but low tech.

For the fifth year in a row, Bartha Visual of Columbus, OH, has called upon Sargent Solutions to design and implement the complex sound system required by this event. While the basic sound requirements are typical for an corporate event (podiums, lapel mics, etc..), the needs of the National Band and Choir are anything but ordinary. The goal is simple: reproduce concert level audio from a 100 member student band and a 300 voice choir, in an arena that seats 17,000 people. To meet this challenge, Sargent Solutions started with a Yamaha PM1D digital audio console, deployed a 50 input microphone package to mic the band, and set up an array of (6) high quality condensor mics to mic the choir. After adding all the other talent show mics, playback channels, and some basic effects, we had a total of 98 inputs for this show. Of course, managing this number of channels can be difficult, but our extensive experience with the PM1D and shows of this size, allowed us to forsee and meet the challenges.

But mics and channels are nothing without speakers. Over the course of the last 4 years, several different speaker systems have been used, but this year, we deployed a brand-new Meyer Sound Laboritories MILO system, for the primary house PA. Having used a number of line array's before, including V-DOSC, vertec, X-Line, kf760's, and several other Meyer products, we were extremely excited about using MILO. After spending about 6 hours using the computer software MAPP Online, we knew exactly how we wanted to hang and wire the system, to give us the best possible coverage.

We hung 16 MILO's per side and turned it on: Using Meyer's new LD-3 controller, we dialed in what kind of speakers we had, how many, and what the temperature and humidity were, and played our first CD: The results were nothing short of breathtaking. The coverage and response of the system were just like the model. The best and biggest suprise came however, when we discovered just how great the LAV mics and the choir and band sounded, with almost NO equalization. Everything was loud and clean and direct, with very little on-site effort. Everyone agreed, that the choir and band sounded the best that they ever had, sooner than they ever had. Considering that our past results were very impressive, this was no small statement.

With a PM1D and Meyer Sound MILO speakers, Sargent Solutions and Bartha Visual have once again provided a sound system that exceeded everyone's expectations.


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