I stopped by last year and checked out the Macy's holiday light show in Philadelphia, and ended up eventually meeting Larry Kerecman, the control systems designer for the show, who sent me an email with lots of detail that I posted as a followup to the original posting (which you can read here, lots of photos and videos there too). In that entry, Larry wrote:
I suspect that 2009 will be the year that Macy's tackles both issues with the sound in the Grand Court. Julie Andrews was a Macy's addition in 2007, not to universal acclaim. Some folks in Philly still want to hear the local TV announcer who was the narrator of the show during the Wanamaker years. That is not possible, but it does give you a sense of how hard it is to change too much at one time in this project. So the trick will be to improve the intelligibility and coverage in the room with new equipment, especially above the first floor, and then somehow upgrade the music tracks without ruffling too many feathers in the collective public perception of the show. Macy's is a class act and I have been quite pleased with their desire to upgrade the Light Show but still keep it a beloved Philly tradition.
While I was in North Carolina for Thanksgiving (seeing Dollywood and the Ripley's Aquarium), I got a nice email from Nikola Sizgorich, who works on the Organ Restoration Team (see Friends of the Wanamaker Organ). It looks like Mr. Kerecman was right--Mr. Sizgorich gave me a nice update on the show's sound system:
Just wanted to give you an update regarding the sound for the Macy's Christmas Light Show. Several changes were made this year to dramatically improve the audio from the show around the Grand Court, especially on the 2nd and 3rd floors. In addition to using the eight black speakers in the Grand Court, the show's audio is now also pumped through the muzak system house speakers surrounding the Grand Court on all three floors. These speakers have been zoned off from the rest of the Muzak speakers on the Market Street and Chestnut Street sides of the building; those continue to play Muzak regardless of whether the show is running or the if the Muzak is muted in the Grand Court for a recital or announcements.
Now that these changes have been made, the temporary rented speakers used on the 2nd and 3rd floors are no longer used and will eventually be removed.
This sounds great, I'll probably check this out right after Christmas, along with new updates to the amazing Comcast Experience.