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Mike, Part 1 — Flexibility, networking fuels new applications in sports

Developed for boardrooms and courtrooms, DSP-guided arrays are deployed in the field of play.

Bubble wrap was originally developed as a textured wallpaper product. The Frisbee is an actual pie plate, made in the 19th century by a baker named William Russell Frisby, who has since become the airfoil of his quad on the ubiquitous campus. History is littered with products that have achieved success in fields other than those for which they were designed. Now it’s Mike’s turn.

The most notable example of this is Shure’s MXA710 linear array microphone system — a strip of DSP-guided transducers introduced in 2020 that provides accurate audio coverage for conferences and conference spaces — that recently debuted in MLB, NBA , and pickleball telecasts.

“The array is operable, and the lobes can be widened or narrowed as needed, remotely and on-the-fly,” he explains. Turner Sports Sound Designer Dave GrundtvigHe is the primary broadcast sports evangelist for this application, deploying corporate audio products for football to pick up the general ambience, and for basketball, mounting them to hoop struts and other impact locations to help capture the ball’s impact. It captures dynamic transients. metal. “Array can replace Parab his mic with numerous shotguns on the field.”

According to him, Shure’s IntelliMix DSP and autofocus processing allow the A1 or submixer to remotely change the lobe configuration of each of the six or eight transducers for more targeted effects in different areas. I can do it. For example, reconfiguring a single array unit during a baseball game to account not only for left-handed and right-handed batters, but also for the nuances of their stances so that bat cracks are always sharp and present. I can.

Shure’s John Born sees microphones as part of a broader shift to IP workflows.

according to Shure Associate Director, Global Product Management, Mike, John Bornthe company has been working with Grundtvig on several NBA productions in what it calls a “discovery phase” for the last year or so, noticing an increase in the use of array lobe microphone products in sports applications.

Remotely controllable mic arrays have obvious advantages for mixing sports effects, but the big picture is that mics have already migrated to IT networks and are used in studios, trucks, and high-speed It is becoming part of a broader shift to IP workflows on the road. playground.

“The benefits of having one Cat 5 cable do it all are very clear,” he says. These types of microphones are about the same workflow efficiencies that were originally developed to serve in corporate, municipal/legislative, and higher education installed audio applications. “It’s a way to simplify workflow, simplify deploying multiple mics, and improve sound quality consistency across productions. This is what broadcasters want.”

The shift towards placing microphones in networks for sports applications may have been facilitated by devices like the MXA 710, a Dante native product, but traditionally cabled Shure’s ANI audio network interfaces. It could have been facilitated by devices like boxes, Bourne adds. His XLR mic to network can also bring an existing mic universe into that workflow.

new but not so new

Gary Dixon of Audio-Technica says shotgun microphones inspired the design of the MicroLine series of condenser gooseneck microphones for use in business and government/legislative bodies.

This isn’t the first time a segment of audio products has breathed new life into a sport. Audio-Technica Product Manager Gary Dixon I cite the company’s U851 cardioid condenser boundary microphone. Developed as a tabletop audio solution for conference spaces, it has appeared in places like the MotoGP pits and mounted on ceilings to collect intensity for tire changes and other critical pitstop maintenance during races.

In fact, boundary microphones are probably the earliest iterations of vertical crossovers. For example, Grundtvig has been using his MX391 boundary transducer from Shure taped to the floor for several years to capture his LFE around the basket in his madness and other basketball games. rice field. The Crown PCC Boundary Mic also serves as a regular sonic sentinel on the board and in goal to pick up the clatter of sticks and pads as the player concentrates on the puck in his NHL game.

Technology can also go in other directions. Dixon describes how AT’s shotgun microphones inspired the design of his MicroLine series of condenser gooseneck microphones used for corporate meetings and government/legislative applications.

Sennheiser has a similar interest in the TeamConnect Ceiling 2 microphone array. Developed for corporate and higher education institutions as well, it sits about 14 feet above his boxing ring and steers the array to follow the sound of a punch landing.

Sennheiser’s Dave Missall: Microphone array technology “shows how to push the boundaries and create more dynamic sound effects scenarios.”

“HBO Boxing tested this concept in 2019 and it worked really well,” he said. Dave Misall Insight Manager, Consultant/Manager, Technical Application Engineer, Sennheiser“It was clearly better than a corner-fixed shotgun for picking up sounds up close.”

Another recent application is a sound capture system in the press conference room of a sports venue, such as the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium. TeamConnect Ceiling 2 microphone arrays are positioned above the pedestal and above the reporter’s seat, automatically tracking the position of questioners and respondents and allowing them to be beamed in for the best possible sound pickup . In fact, according to Missall, the process can also send vertical and horizontal beam position information to automated cameras, which can then be used to visually focus on the speaker.

“This shows how we can push the boundaries of this kind of technology and create more dynamic sound effects scenarios compared to fixed mics,” says Missall. “We expect these applications to grow in sports.”

DSP does it

Dixon suggests that advances in digital signal processing that improve control are facilitating the uptake of such products in sports. Efficient, very fast, and very cheap.”

To highlight that, he looks to AT’s Delta Beam AT895 adaptive array microphone. This is a now discontinued broadcast product used in commercial audio applications for distance miking. Equipped with arrays and pistol grips, traversing verticals, and sporting shotguns and parabolas were expected to replace or augment his microphone.

“It worked really well,” recalls Dixon. DSPs are now much more powerful, driving microphone arrays for other fast transient audio applications in sports. ”

Shure’s Born agrees that more powerful DSPs will make array microphones as flexible as they are for sports, but adds that DSPs can add even more value in broadcasters, especially in the REMI/home production model. says.

“DSP can add [functionality like] Automatically apply automixing, denoise, dereverb, EQ, compression and more to your mic signal. [A1’s] desk,” he says. “This will allow mixers to focus more on the game.”

In fact, the NBA and other leagues are looking to capitalize on the vast amount of audio they can already capture, as the amount of content coming from interviews in hallways and locker rooms that networked mics can facilitate. he adds.

“As long as the mic is on the network, I can plug it in as an endpoint whenever and wherever I need it. [sources] Available outside of normal pick-ups [on the court or the field] With the usual shotgun and love. ”

Microphone manufacturers are aware of how some of their products for other professional audio industries are being applied to sports broadcasts, and are paying more attention to that potential. For example, Dixon says AT’s latest enterprise product, his Dante-enabled ATND1061, takes the beamforming process a step further and measures 9 x 9 inches. The form factor could be attractive for size-sensitive sports audio applications.

“I could see people performing tasks for applications that weren’t intended,” he said, adding, “I hope you’ll give it a try.”

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