Over 130 L-Acoustics systems deployed for NFL Draft

LD Systems specified more than 130 systems from L-Acoustics for the annual NFL Draft broadcast, which offers viewers the chance to see which franchises players will be signing for the upcoming football season.

This year’s event was held in Cleveland from April 29 to May 1 and welcomed 50,000 fans per day for live events, including the NFL Draft Experience interactive football festival and nightly concerts from Black Pumas, Kings of Leon, and one of the city’s native sons, Machine Gun Kelly.

The National Football League and events promoter C3 Presents selected Houston-based Certified Provider LD Systems as the live sound vendor for the NFL Draft. LD’s main deployment was for the Draft Theater, a 200-foot-wide by 220-foot-deep by 80-foot-tall half-moon structure created by Stage FX. Constructed near FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, overlooking Lake Erie, it housed the NFL Draft Theater Stage, where NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made pick announcements and where all concerts and other main events took place.

“We never had any doubt that an L-Acoustics sound system would be the best tool for the job, but as we experienced at both the 2019 Draft in Nashville and during the planning phases of the 2020 Draft in Las Vegas prior to that event being cancelled due to COVID, we knew to expect limitations on where and how high or low we could fly our arrays,” said LD Systems audio department operations manager Thomas Ruffner, who worked closely with 2021 Draft Theater Production Manager Shawn Worlow of The Production Collective and C3 Presents Director of Production Brandon Sossamon on the system’s design, implementation and operation.

For the Draft Theater’s main left and right arrays, LD Systems specified full-range bandwidth, a very short throw and a bottom trim of at least 55 feet, making L-Acoustics K2 a suitable choice.

“We flew eight K2 per side, and our site angle on those arrays ended up at -46°, so by the time we increased the angle between each box, the bottom of the array was facing nearly parallel to the floor,” Ruffner explained. “Above those arrays, we flew a four-enclosure hang of KS28, in cardioid configuration, which made for a ton of impact out of the mains and also kept our rigging points concentrated in a very tight area.”

To round out the side coverage where the mains could not reach, the LD Systems team flew arrays of six K2 for outfills as high as they could, putting the bottom trim right around 50 feet.

“The throw for the mains needed to be quite short because the NFL Network and ESPN had broadcast booths just ‘house left’ and ‘house right’ of the FOH mix position, but still within the structure of the Draft Theater,” said LD Systems Audio crew chief and systems engineer Bryan Woodall. “The live show was broadcast from these locations, so on those eight-foot-tall booths, they wanted as little energy from the main PA as possible. This meant that we couldn’t focus energy from the mains onto FOH, so we flew a centrefill array of two L-Acoustics K1-SB over six K2 set to 70° horizontal dispersion, which let them cut through to the house mix position without compromising the network booths. This is where the Panflex technology of K2 really came in handy, as we were very effectively able to tailor the dispersion pattern to where it needed to be and away from where it shouldn’t.”

For general audience coverage, which was a 500-foot wide by 200-foot deep area just outside of the Stage FX structure, two main delay arrays of four K1 were flown over four K2s, plus two outfill delay arrays of eight K2 each from the very end of the structure.

Additional L-Acoustics systems included 12 KS28 ground subs under the stage, eight Kara and eight Kiva II enclosures used for frontfill, 12 K2s on a delay tower addressing the NFL Draft Experience area 600 feet out from the Draft Theater, and a stage monitoring package comprised of 16 115XT HiQ coaxial wedges and two SB28 plus two SB18 subs.

The L-Acoustics complement was collectively driven by 18 LA-RAK and three LA-RAK II amplified controller racks, all networked via LA Network Manager.

“As expected, everything went extremely well and sounded fantastic,” Ruffner added. “But one very important detail that cannot go unmentioned is the level of support we received from L-Acoustics throughout the planning and execution of this event. We had numerous calls with Application Engineer Vic Wagner who helped us get solid answers on complex rigging scenarios, consulted with us on the design, and even participated in-person with load-in and optimization of the rig. What more can you really ask for? That’s the kind of experience we routinely get with our partnership with L-Acoustics. It’s really a special thing and we’re truly grateful for the support they provide us here at LD Systems.”