Photo: Monitor Engineer Jason Batuyong at one of the DiGiCo SD12 desks
For a decade now, America’s Got Talent has been proving the popular show’s title assertion year after year: America can sing, it can dance, and it can do cool stuff. The NBC program, which has averaged 11 million viewers each season and been nominated for People’s Choice, Teen Choice and Kids’ Choice Awards every year since 2011—including winning the 2017 Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Reality Show—puts a lot of emphasis on great sound.
To stay at the cutting edge of broadcast audio, this year the show implemented two DiGiCo SD12 consoles, at front of house and for monitors. The latest in DiGiCo’s successful SD-Series of consoles, which recently became even more powerful with the introduction of Stealth Core2 Software across the series, the SD12 raised the bar even further. It’s an affordable, multi-application digital console with features including dual 15-inch touchscreens (never before seen on a console in this price bracket), and is the first in the SD range with built-in recording interfaces, all packed in an incredibly compact form factor.
That, says Jeff Peterson, project manager on America’s Got Talent for ATK Audiotek, the show’s primary AV vendor, was the initial reason the SD12 was selected this season. “The audition and elimination round shows are smaller—maybe 50 inputs each—but they’re important for setting the stage for the big live shows,” he explains of the two SD12 consoles, which shared a single SD-Rack during the preliminary performance shows. “The SD12 was the perfect choice for these events. It’s small size means it can work in virtually any size venue, but we’re not sacrificing anything in the way of sound quality or operational performance.”
Recordings of the auditions and elimination rounds of the show, which preceded the finals that were broadcast live starting in August, took place sequentially at the Pasadena Civic Center and the Universal Pictures lot in Los Angeles, respectively.
Jason Batuyong, who mixed monitors for the show, says the two SD12 desks were the perfect size for these preliminary venues. “The form factor was absolutely key for that,” he says. “We knew we weren’t going to need a lot of channels for these events. But what we did appreciate was the SD-Series’ performance and features, which were a huge step up from what we’ve used in the past on the show.”
Batuyong says he also likes the fact that when the show moved to the finals, which are broadcast live, they were able to transition seamlessly from the SD12 worksurface to the DiGiCo SD10 consoles. ATK Audiotek also supplied these desks for those shows, and Peterson notes that the channel count to rose to 112 for the larger production requirements of the finals.
“It’s like having a smaller version of what we’ve been used to on other shows and what we use for the finals,” he says. “I especially like the fact that we’re able to access all of the Stealth Core2 processing capabilities on the consoles. All of the functionality we’re used to in the rest of the SD line is right there, but in a much smaller footprint.”
Mike Parker, the FOH mixer for AGT, says that he particularly appreciated the SD12’s dual 15-inch touchscreens. “It made the user worksurface very accommodating and gave us a level of visual feedback similar to the larger SD5 and SD7 with the multiple screens,” he says. “At this price range, you can’t beat it!”