Producers The Avila Brothers, Lil Jon and Kronic worked at Hideout Recording Studios in Las Vegas, working on an SSL Duality and SSL 12 interfaces

Las Vegas, Nevada — Solid State Logic production tools helped Usher deliver a record-breaking halftime show at Super Bowl LVIII, with producers The Avila Brothers, Lil Jon and Kronic using an SSL Duality console for mixing, and multiple SSL 12 USB interfaces for breakout production sessions while at Hideout Recording Studios in Las Vegas. The Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on February 11, 2024, was the most-watched ever, according to analytics firm Nielsen, with an average 129.3 million viewers tuning in across all platforms.

“One hundred percent of all of our pre-production recording was done at Hideout Studios, The Avila Brothers and Mike Smith’s SoundVille studio in Nashville and Larrabee Studios in Los Angeles with Manny Marroquin working on the 96-channel Duality, and also using the SSL 12 interfaces,” says Bobby Ross Avila. He had reached out to Marroquin directly in September 2023 and recruited him to the team. They discussed the importance of creating a profound sonic experience that would marry the playback world and the live stage performance experience in real-time in a way that would not compromise the sonics of the hit, the overall audio and translate in the home and in the stadium. The audio team also included Bruce Bang, Nick Anderson, Kyle Hamilton, Jeremy Peters and Adrian “AP” Porter.

“A lot of what IZ was doing on his DJ controller he ran through the SSL 12,” continues Avila, who also used the interfaces to introduce his synths and vocoder into the mix. “The production team depended on the SSL products to deliver the highest quality audio that such a high-profile event like the Super Bowl demands,” he says. “The one thing that SSL is synonymous with is that punch. so we’re making sure that everything translates.”

“SSL has been in the room with us from start to finish. That’s our standard,” IZ Avila confirms. “We had to figure what it’s going to sound like in the stadium to make sure the detail of the live instrumentation doesn’t get washed out and lost, and then be cautious of how it all translates over broadcast, because those are two very different processes and require different approaches as it relates to the mix.”

The GRAMMY-winning Avila Brothers, Bobby and IZ, have long worked behind the scenes on albums such as Usher’s Confessions, Mary J. Blige’s The Breakthrough and Chaka Kahn’s Funk This. Over the past 25 years they have written and produced with Janet Jackson, Gwen Stefani, Missy Elliot, Mariah Carey, Patti Labelle, Earth Wind & Fire and many others. They have also partnered with fellow Minneapolis natives Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and their Flyte Tyme Productions on various projects.

On Super Bowl Day, Usher took to the field with guests Alicia Keys, Jermaine Dupri, H.E.R.,, Lil Jon and Ludacris, and a spectacular production featuring dancers, acrobats, marching band, drumline, roller skates, and numerous costume changes. Having so far achieved nine No. 1 and 18 Top 10 hits with record sales of more than 80 million, the eight-time GRAMMY® Award winner had plenty of songs to choose from, drawing on his repertoire from three decades as the king of R&B to deliver 14 songs in almost 13 minutes, from set opener “Caught Up” to the grand finale “Yeah!”

All hands on deck, with SSL

Speaking days before the event, IZ Avila, reported, “We’re probably at 124 revisions since the day we started, which was November 3, 2023. We spent roughly a month putting a skeleton setlist together. That was a brutal process, not only trying to fit all these songs into 12 minutes and 30 seconds, but also trying to figure out which parts of the songs do we do? Do we do a verse? Do we do a B section, then the chorus? We had to figure out a way to represent them and rework them, but also not veer from what they are and how they will be heard by his core fans and people around the world.”

Show pacing and sequencing was everything, he added: “One of the things that has played a role in the rhythm and flow of the show is saying, ‘If we listen to this and we feel like we might go get a snack, then we’ve missed the point.’ So, how do we keep people glued to the show and glued to the TV during these 12 minutes and 30 seconds? That was the goal.”

The Avila Brothers also worked with Usher on his two-year residency in Las Vegas, where he played 100 shows at a couple of different venues, ending in October 2023. “It’s similar to our process for Caesars Palace,” says IZ Avila, comparing the residency to their halftime show production. “We treated this as one long song. How do we take the viewer on a ride? How do we keep the energy? But whether it’s picking up an instrument to layer a part or moving some stuff around in the session, we’re recording and mixing at the same time. One of our superpowers is that it’s all hands-on deck at all times.”


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