Police officers' memorial service in Washington DC
Not every amplified event calls for excitement, exuberance and exhortation; there are times when a more demure presentation is called for. So it was for the Fraternal Order of Police that sponsors the National Peace Officers Memorial service. Staged on the west front of the US Capitol in Washington DC on May 15th, this commemoration of police officers who gave their lives in the course of duty requires a special sensitivity.
'The majority of the work we do deals with spoken word and, as with any event, clarity in the system is paramount,' said Bill Mills of Overland Pro Audio Inc, who provided RCI Sound Systems (a local Washington audio service provider) with a d&b audiotechnik Q-Series PA system for this somber event. 'But the emphasis here is unusual. Yes, there's music too, singer Patti Labelle on this occasion as well as a few exceptionally talented police officers, and that has to carry the weight and articulation people expect; but it's in the spoken word that the real work is done.'
'There were five thousand people in attendance, many of them surviving family members of the fallen officers, so it's absolutely crucial that every single one of those people feels included in the ceremony, and that the speakers up on the podium get to feel that the whole audience is with them. For proper speech recognition you need flat frequency response over the whole audience area, that's why we selected the d&b system. The system is ruler flat, the tonality is incredibly neutral and the pattern control is the most dependably accurate of any system I've ever come across; when you map your audience you know precisely what it's going to deliver. And on an event like this, where you are transitioning between speech and musical content, you see another area in which d&b systems really shine. I have not come across another system that crosses from one to the other so seamlessly.'
Outdoor events can be relied upon to provide the most benign acoustic environment for amplified sound; 'Until Mother Nature pays a visit,' said Mills. 'The day before, when rehearsing, we had very strong gusts. It rained overnight and on the morning of the event it looked like it would pour. However, it ended up being a very nice day and broken cloud cover kept the temperatures comfortable while providing occasional patches of sunshine. The site has its own interesting touches being the front lawn to the home of the US Congress; naturally all equipment is heavily screened for security reasons, several times. It's thorough and reassuring and the government officials who oversee it make it as fast as is sensible. Since the audience for this event covers a fairly large area, for safety reasons, cable paths, particularly those running to FOH are circuitous, and consequently long. We deployed an Ethersound snake between the Yamaha M7CL at FOH and the control tent adjacent to the stage, affording us the reliability and enhanced signal to noise ratio of digital audio transport over this length. It was a completely digital path from the moment the signal entered the A/D converters in AD8HR mic pre’s all the way to the d&b D12 amplifiers. It sounded sweet.'
This was the 28th refrain of this annual event; an event that saw one hundred and thirty-three police officers cited by the US Attorney General on this year's honor roll.