Ever wonder what it’s like to run sound for a giant show like the Grammys? Well…we’ve got the backstage info. And the only peek at the schematic released…

Are you an aspiring live sound engineer? Thinking about going bigger someday? What do you really have to know to get into the field? Well…it’s complicated. And we’re going to show you just HOW complicated.

This year DigiCo, a well respected console (that’s pro lingo for ‘giant mixer) manufacturer debuted multiple systems to keep sound at the show stellar. Below is a pic of the schematic: (This pic is really too small to see detail but ti’s the biggest we can go without blowing up the site. You can get a pdf of the document HERE.)

Schematic of DigiCo console setup at 2012 Grammy Awards

Detailed information from DigiCo describes exactly how the system was setup, but for those of you who are not so familiar with the lingo in live audio, here’s a quick primer:

FOH – stands for “front of house” and is the part of the system that the audience hears. The FOH engineer is the sound person that mixes it.

I/Os: ins/outs – you can think of these as the cables plugged in and out.

Mic Preamps: pieces of hardware that mics are plugged into to strengthen or condition the mic signal (mic pres are used to get a better sound out of the mics).

Consoles: pro audio talk for large mixers.

Fiber optic cable: new cables that use fiber optic technology to send information to different pieces of hardware.

Monitor mixes: the part of the system used so musicians onstage can hear themselves. There is always at least one monitor mix engineer for big shows. For the Grammys, there were two.

The Technical Info:
UK-based digital console manufacturer, DiGiCo, was the live music console of choice at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, as specified by longtime show production partner ATK AudioTek. The 3-1/2 hour music celebration and ceremony garnered the second highest ratings of any GRAMMY airing with approximately 41 million viewers. 
A combination of five of DiGiCo’s newer SD10 consoles along with one of its larger format SD7s handled FOH and monitor duties—for a total of 400+ I/O’s and 256 mic preamps distributed between 6 SD Racks—among four engineers in three locations within the Staples Center arena.
The entire PA system was powered by a versatile Optocore fiber optic network, which made it possible for the consoles to tie together seamlessly and also allowing the signal path to stay 100% digital from mic preamps to amplifiers. Additionally, the Optocore network cut the traditional massive wire clutter down to merely two strands of fiber per console. 
“The show’s producers continue to raise the bar in broadcast entertainment year after year and we needed to follow suit with the technology,” said Mikael Stewart, ATK’s production mixer and VP Special Events. “By using the best and most advanced tools, we guarantee the highest fidelity for every performance. The sonic quality of the DiGiCo consoles was one of the biggest assets this year, in addition to the Optocore infrastructure that allowed complete flexibility and accessibility.”
The process to vet the DiGiCo consoles began several years ago, when ATK began to contemplate making a switch from the consoles that had been used for nearly a decade. ATK’s Stewart along with audio consultant Jeff Peterson were instrumental in the decision to bring DiGiCo onboard and into the mix.
Peterson designed the show’s PA and console system and functioned as the systems engineer during the event, with assistance from ATK’s Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher. Ron Reaves was at front-of-house on an SD7 mixing all the musical performances alongside with Mikael Stewart, who handled all the non-music production assets on an SD10. On stage right and left respectively, Tom Pesa and Mike Parker facilitated monitor mixes for the artists on both performance stages on a pair of SD10s (with an additional two serving as ‘redundant’ backups).
“There was a noticeable difference in how the system sounded this year,” recalled Peterson, “and the comments and compliments came from touring and recording engineers alike. It’s not that the sound was bad in previous years by any means, but the overall intelligibility and the quality of the audio was noticeable. There was detail that we had never heard before, which we attributed to the addition of the DiGiCo consoles.”
“Not surprisingly, DiGiCo offers the most flexible, high performance range of digital audio mixing systems available today,” added Group One Ltd president Jack Kelly, DiGiCo’s US distributor. “With the expanding I/O and processing requirements of most of today’s large productions, including the recent GRAMMY awards show, the DiGiCo SD Range of consoles are ideal solutions for today’s engineers.”

Originally posted 2012-02-17 06:27:30.