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NBA Finals 2024: ESPN Plans Some New Sound Moves With More IP, New Mics

06/06/2024

NBA Finals 2024: ESPN Plans Some New Sound Moves With More IP, New Mics Game Creek Varsity and Spirit mobile units are on hand in Boston; NEP EN1 will be in Dallas By Dan Daley, Audio Editor

Thursday, June 6, 2024 - 3:34 pm

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The 2024 NBA Finals are here, with Game 1 set for tonight. The Dallas Mavs-Boston Celtics series is expected to be a classic matchup, going a full seven games. That's plenty of time for ESPN to roll out some new tricks for the broadcast audio.

ESPN A1 Scott Pray will oversee audio for the NBA Finals.

This year, for the Boston series, explains ESPN series production-mix A1 Scott Pray, we are using Game Creek Video's recently built Varsity mobile unit, equipped with the Lawo [ST] 2110 IP Core routing system, the newer Calrec Apollo Impulse mixing desk, and IP audio-routing system for game-production mixing. The Impulse system interfaces directly with the Lawo 2110 cores.

He adds that the court-effects submix is being handled from Game Creek Spirit, which uses a Calrec Hydra2 audio core for its onboard Apollo desk. To interface the two systems and create a shared network, Pray and effects-mix A1 Jonathan Freed are deploying two new 512 512 Calrec Gateway devices to translate and route audio signals between the two trucks. This system is administered via the new Calrec Assist and Calrec Connect browsers, which can be easily accessed over the compound network in either mobile unit.

Pray and Freed will be working with Senior Field Audio Engineer Matt Leshner and Senior Comms Patrick Martin on the entire series.

New Technology The biggest difference from previous NBA Finals is the inclusion of the Calrec Gateway, new enough, Freed says, that a manufacturer's technician was onsite for nearly 16 hours installing and integrating two interfaces aboard Varsity to link the Lawo ST 2110 format with the Calrec Hydra.

This is one of the first, if not the first, use of these [for an NBA game], he says. It has been fantastic so far. It's transparent; you don't know it's there - which is good.

When the series moves to Dallas, NEP EN1 (A, B, C, and D units) will be on hand, with few changes since last NBA season. Everything is running smoothly, notes Pray of that configuration.

Enhanced Familiar Mics There will be some new microphones on the broadcasts - or more precisely, some new components. Freed notes that the vintage Soundfield mics - the Soundfield 250 in Dallas and the Soundfield DSF-B system - he has been deploying for years are showing both their age and their dwindling component supply chain, although they retain their sonic capabilities that make them exceptional ambience mics for a 5.1-surround broadcast like the Finals.

We are trying a few new things this season with great results, he says, listing Sennheiser MKH8040 cardioid mics for pregame and halftime locker-room pep-talk sound (replacing the Neumann KM183 condensers used in the past), the DPA 5100 surround microphone, Neumann KM184 small-diaphragm condenser microphones, and the Soundfield 250 for 5.1-surround arena ambience in Dallas.

In Boston, he adds, we are still using our tried-and-true Soundfield DSF-B system with a Holophone array and Neumann AES42 digital microphones for 5.1 arena ambient capture. The Soundfield 250 is great, but, because of some component issues, we're using it as a front-facing array. But it still sounds great.

There will likely be mics on ballplayers, at least on Games 1-3 and possibly Game 4. I would not expect any after that, Pray says. He expects considerably greater intensity as the two evenly matched and aggressive teams get closer to going the full seven games, with Kyrie Irving and Mavericks bracing for a hostile Celtics crowd.

Another new transducer for the series is the Crew-Com CCU-08 interfaces, part of the production's studio and games intercom infrastructure. It allows us increased 4-wire connectivity for 16 individual channels and 26 4-channel beltpacks on 14 transceivers for the ever-expanding channel count and personnel required for this event, with compound and arena-wide coverage provided by an antenna system over fiber-optic lines, he explains.

ESPN will have complete coverage of the 2024 NBA Finals, which tip off today at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC and the ESPN App.
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2024/06/06/nba-finals-2024-espn-plans-some...
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