EAW® At Michelle Obama's Keynote At Spelman College

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EAW®'s KF740 Line Array and SB1000z Subwoofers, deployed by AEE Productions, filled the room at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta with clear, articulate sound

On Sunday, May 15, 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the keynote graduation address to the 2011 class of Spelman College. The graduation event took place at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The Convention Center hall is huge, approximately 200 feet wide by 420 feet deep and able to hold in excess of 10,000 people. Still, the sound that filled the room that day was both clear and articulate, thanks to the use of EAW® loudspeaker systems.

The P.A. system, provided by Atlanta-based AEE Productions, utilized 16 EAW KF740 Three-Way Full Range Line Array Loudspeakers flown in two line arrays on either side of the 60-foot-wide stage. Another 16 EAW SB1000z Large Format Subwoofers were set up and stacked on the stage itself. In addition, a pair of the new EAW KF394 Line Array Modules was used as an outfill on the wings of the main line array, positioned three feet behind and two feet to the side of the line array hangs, and eight EAW KF730 Compact Line Array Modules were used as delay speakers, set approximately 225 feet back from the front of the stage. The P.A. system was processed and controlled using EAW's UX8800 Digital Signal Processor with proprietary EAW Focusing.

The event celebrated the newest graduating class of Spelman College, America's oldest historically black college for women and ranked among the nation's top liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. The college is also placed among the top 50 four-year colleges and universities for producing Fulbright Scholars. Complemented by the keynote address by Michelle Obama, Spelman's graduation event attracted significant media coverage so a spotlight would be on the sound. “The entire system sounded fantastic, particularly the new KF394 speakers,” states West Brothers, Co-Owner of AEE Productions. “You could hear every word clearly, and the 394s really filled up the sides of the room smoothly and evenly.”

Gregory Skeete, Head Systems Engineer for AEE Productions, agreed, saying that this was his first time using the KF394 but will not be his last. “Even at the FOH position, I could still hear the 394s,” he recalls. “The great thing about them was they offer high volume but are never harsh sounding. You know how you can walk by a speaker and as you get closer it gets louder to the point it hurts? That is not the case with the 394 - it's incredibly smooth sounding but fills the space you want it to effortlessly and articulately. And they were an excellent complement for the KF740s.”

Skeete says the audio signal was all-digital, from the processors to the Avid Profile FOH console, and that the EAW UX8800 processors kept the sound controlled and even-sounding. “It was a system that did everything it was called on to do – deliver great, intelligible sound and distribute it evenly,” says Skeete. “Everyone heard every word Mrs. Obama said.”

The Spelman College graduation event was the third time this year that EAW speaker systems were used for events that included the First Family. On Thursday, February 24, 2011, a live celebration of Motown music was the latest in the concert series “In Performance at the White House.” There, performers including Smokey Robinson, Sheryl Crow, Seal and John Legend performed through an EAW NTL720 Self-Powered Line Array System, NTS250 Large Format Flyable Subwoofers, JF60z Compact Full-Range Loudspeakers and NT29 Self-Powered Full-Range Loudspeakers. The Motown celebration was followed by the use of EAW QX, KF and JFX loudspeakers and SB250 subs for the United States Coast Guard Academy graduation, held on May 18, 2011, which featured President Obama as the keynote speaker.

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