Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Spilling the tea: The challenges of live music for television


Ciaran Doran reports on a recent RTS Technology Centre event that heard about the challenge of getting sound on live TV events just right, including dealing with spill, amplifying the audience, foldback for the musicians, and clean feeds for external use

By Contributor

Published: March 14, 2024

Ciaran Doran reports on a recent RTS Technology Centre event that heard about the challenge of getting sound on live TV events just right, including dealing with spill', amplifying the audience, foldback for the musicians, and clean feeds for external use

target=_blank title=Share on LinkedIn class=share-linkedin>

From Glastonbury to Glyndebourne, putting live music on television is challenging. TV doesn't lend itself naturally to music events - it always looks great but getting the audio right, for everyone, can be very hard work.

The University of Surrey, home to the famous Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) audio degree course, has produced some of the world's top BAFTA, Emmy and Oscar winning sound engineers. Earlier this month, Royal Television Society (RTS) members and guests were welcomed by Russell Mason, programme director for the Tonmeister course and Rupert Flindt, lecturer in recording techniques, to enjoy an informative and entertaining discussion with engineers Mike Hatch, Mike Felton and Tudor Davies.

Their TV credits include Later with Jools Holland, Eurovision, The Brit Awards, and Top of the Pops, not to mention the huge and iconic live events Glastonbury, BBC Proms in the Park, and touring with the band Simple Minds.

Speaking with guests as they arrived, there was an excitement in the air to learn about the complex art of audio for television, which is renowned for being difficult to get to grips with, given the many demands of running a live event.

Mike Hatch of Floating Earth with Tonmeister undergraduates How do you prepare for live music on television with multiple bands coming on stage sequentially or already there waiting their turn? Logistics and detailed planning are major factors because you simply can't predict what will happen on-location. Are we a guest here, fitting in with someone else's plan or are we in charge? Being in charge and the trust placed in your art as a sound engineer is rewarding and brings more freedom but it can be a lonely place. As in much of television, relationship-building is key.

Microphones get in the way of the cameras or lights. Cables can be a mess and get in the way of camera operators and artists. Live audiences are wonderful on camera and the director usually wants more cheering, clapping and buzz from the audience while the audio team are tearing their hair out to manage sound levels, amplification for the audience, foldback for musicians, clean feeds for external use and, of course, an amazing sound for us all to enjoy at home.

Among the many and wide-ranging problems faced at major live events such as Glastonbury is that the overall volume can be absolutely deafening and the spill nearly impossible to manage. A familiar scenario might be trying to manage spill from the drums over gentle strings while at the speaker stack is positioned to drown even the drums! There's the band that refuses to move to in-ear monitors and insists on cranking up the foldback volume on stage - perhaps to compete with the spill from another stage not far away. It's a constant battle to achieve a crisp sound and then maintain it, always riding the faders and manipulating many different areas to manage a dynamic situation.

In live classical music recording the spill can often be part of the mix but classical music for television can face quite different challenges. It's not uncommon to have a plan only to turn up on site and ditch it completely because someone has decided to position a dance set in the middle of the orchestra. However much you plan you generally have to make it work when you get on site. The key is to first understand what is to be achieved, who the target audience is and then work back from there while working out what good and bad things need to be taken care of from an audio point of view. At the Coronation, there were more than 190 microphones placed throughout and each one has to be carefully considered for not only the sonic quality but visual position to camera and congregation and spill.

Tudor Davies and Conrad Fletcher showing The Mixbus How does one choose the right microphone? There's often a feeling that the same old mics are used for years and without innovation getting through. As with relationships in any live location recording, trust is the element that can maintain a status quo; if an engineer prefers a mic because they know the exact sound they're looking to achieve and have a trusted mic that delivers it, then that's simply what will be used. The old phrase this is not a rehearsal becomes real with live production - there's no second chance and the sound engineer looks for surety as well as sonic pureness.

Speaking about the RTS event, Flindt said: Members and students engaged the sound engineers on various topics, including recording 5.1 surround sound for stereo home delivery, producing surround sound for TikTok, and maintaining uncorrupted metadata. They also explored the realities of limited rehearsal times and handling microphone failures during live performances.

This experience will undoubtedly be memorable for our students, significantly aiding their career development, he added.

Also discussed was, how much (or little) rehearsal time is given (sometimes seconds!) for a live performance, and how to cope when a mic goes down - it's not like simply switching to another camera!

The event was preceded by guided tours and live demonstrations of the Floating Earth OB truck, hosted by Mike Hatch and the Mixbus OB truck hosted by Con
See more stories from tvb

Most recent headlines


Dalet Appoints Santiago Solanas as CEO to Lead Next Era of Growth and Innovation

Dalet, a leading technology and service provider for media-rich organizations, is excited to announce Santiago Solanas as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO)....


Astera Launches LunaBulb

Astera Launches LunaBulb posted: 13/06/2024 Astera LunaBulb PrepCaseKit Astera - a leading developer of innovative light solutions for film, event and TV...


Shaping the Future We Want to See: A Note From Shira Rockowitz and Kristin Feeley

This summer we're pulling back the curtain on Sundance Labs by sharing lette...


Give Me the Backstory: Get to Know Pedro Freire, the Writer-Director of Malu

By Lucy Spicer One of the most exciting things about the Sundance Film Festival is having a front-row seat for the bright future of independent filmmaking. Whi...


Spotify's 2024 Songs of Summer Predictions Are Ready to Bring the Heat

Can you hear the soundtrack to your life over the next few months? It's time for Spotify's Songs of Summer to take over your speakers as you hit the bea...


Billie Eilish and Spotify Bring the Mysterious Universe of HIT ME HARD AND SOFT' To Seoul

In May, Spotify and Billie Eilish welcomed U.K. fans inside the vast, mysterious...


Alexander Skarsgrd Spotlights Innovative Solutions to Our Planet's Biggest Challenges on the New Podcast How We Fix This'

Our planet is facing some serious issues. And How We Fix This-a new podcast host...


L3Harris Delivers Enhanced Airborne ISR Capability to Canada

Susan Harper, Consul General of Canada in Dallas, Texas, visits with the L3Harris Canadian Manned Airborne ISR (MAISR) team and U.S. Army Fixed Wing representat...


DMC Production Leverages Grass Valley AMPP for Revolutionary Remote Production of the 2024 RallyX Motorsports Championship

Montreal, Canada - June 12, 2024 - Grass Valley, a leader in live production sol...


Whisper extends EditShare to build new capabilities

Whisper Extends EditShare to Build New Capabilities Dynamic workflows designed by Tyrell will support major commissions Boston, MA, June 12, 2024 - EditShare...


Latest ATSC 3.0 Plugfest' Targets Transport, DRM, and More

COCKEYSVILLE, MD. The Sinclair Broadcast Group, along with the Pearl TV consortium, hosted yet another ATSC 3.0 device interoperability test at the ONE Media la...


Roku Unveils TV Streaming Ad Solution

SAN JOSE, Calif. Roku has announced Roku Exchange, a TV streaming-first advertising technology solution that connects ad inventory with advertiser demand....


DMC Production Reimagines Remote Race Workflow With Grass Valley AMPP

Scandinavian remote video production company DMC Production leveraged Grass Valley's AMPP for live coverage of the 2024 RallyX to live stream the motorsport...


Capitol Broadcasting Selects Triveni Digital to Simplify NextGen TV Operations

PRINCETON, N.J. Triveni Digital has announced that Capitol Broadcasting Company the owner and operator of WRAL-TV, WRAZ-TV, WILM-TV, and WNGT-TV in North Caroli...


Byron Allen Gets Fred Dressler Leadership Award at Mirror Awards in NYC

Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, gets the Fred Dressler Leadership Award at the 2024 Mirror Awards June 13 in New York. Established ...


BOOK REVIEW: Here Now the News: An Inside Scoop Into New York's Best-Loved Anchors'

Jerry Barmash has published Here Now the News: An Inside Scoop into New York'...


Nate Burleson To Host Hollywood Squares'

Nate Burleson, co-host of CBS Mornings, will host the primetime game show Hollywood Squares on CBS. Drew Barrymore will inhabit the center square on the classic...


Taylor Tomlinson Gets Second Season for After Midnight' on CBS

After Midnight, the late-night show hosted by Taylor Tomlinson, has been renewed for a second season on CBS. The show is inspired by Comedy Central's @midni...


Shari Redstone's National Amusements Says Paramount-Skydance Deal is Dead

National Amusements Inc., the Redstone family holding company that owns a controlling interest in Paramount Global, said Tuesday it will not be doing a deal wit...


Netflix's Dancing for the Devil' Again Tops TVision Power Score Ranking

Netflix's Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult waltzed into the top slot in TVision's Power Score ranking of the biggest shows streaming on connect...


Blackmagic Design unveils world's first camera and editing system for Apple Vision Pro

The company has also introduced an updated version of DaVinci Resolve which incl...


No deal! Shari Redstone pulls plug on Skydance/Paramount Global merger

The company said it had not been able to reach mutually acceptable terms regarding the potential transaction with Skydance Media By Jenny Priestley Published...


IAB Tech Lab Releases Ad Creative ID Framework

NEW YORK In a notable development in the media industry efforts to improve the efficiency and cross-platform measurement of CTV ad campaigns, the IAB Tech Lab h...


NVISA and ATSC Deploy ATSC 3.0 Warning System at FEMA Facility

WASHINGTON, D.C. The NextGen Video Information Systems Alliance (NVISA) and the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) have announced a strategic partners...


Clear-Com Gen-IC Virtual Intercom Ships

ALAMEDA, Calif. Clear-Com has begun shipping its Gen-IC Virtual Intercom, a new system combining the benefits of cloud production with the system reliability fo...


DPA Microphones, Wisycom Join Forces to Expand U.S. Presence

LONGMONT, Colo. & CHANTILLY, Va. DPA Microphones and Wisycom have announced a strategic alliance to work together to expand their operations in the U.S....


TNT Sports Inks $650M Deal for French Open

With published reports indicating that Warner Bros. Discovery is fighting an last minute battle to retain some rights to air NBA games, WBD's TNT Sports has...


Nexstar Names Lisa Taylor SVP of Digital Ad Sales

IRVING, Texas Nexstar Media Group has appointed Lisa Taylor as senior vice president of digital advertising sales, where she will be responsible for acceleratin...


Paramount, Skydance Deal Collapses

The on-again, off-again, negotiations over a merger between Skydance Media and Paramount Global have collapsed, with the Wall Street Journal publishing a statem...


Revolutionizing Media Advertising: The Transformative Potential of AI in Campaign Planning

In today's dynamic and hyperconnected digital landscape, media advertising h...


SVG Sports Cloud Production Forum: Sessions Now Available To Watch on SVG PLAY

SVG Sports Cloud Production Forum: Sessions Now Available To Watch on SVG PLAY Catch up on the latest in live cloud-based production strategies and technology ...


InfoComm 2024, Part 1: Live-Sound Show Returns in Full Force

InfoComm 2024, Part 1: Live-Sound Show Returns in Full Force The event has evolved into the single-biggest installed-AV expo in the U.S. By Dan Daley, Audio Ed...


InfoComm 2024, Part 2: Gear for Big Sound in Stadium and Arena

InfoComm 2024, Part 2: Gear for Big Sound in Stadium and Arena Immersive live sound is part of sports entities' engagement strategies By Dan Daley, Audio E...


Netflix & Shondaland Announce the Song List and Soundtrack for 'Bridgerton' Season 3

Back to All News Netflix & Shondaland Announce the Song List and Soundtrack for...


Sweet Home' Season 3 Arrives July 19 in Fitting Finale to Epic Series

Back to All News Sweet Home' Season 3 Arrives July 19 in Fitting Finale to Epic Series Entertainment 12 June 2024 GlobalSouth Korea (Republic of Korea)...


Expo Pantalla. Mexico City. 1819 June 2024

Meet us at Expo Pantalla 2024. 18-19 June, 2024 WTC Ciudad de M xico To make an appointment, contact: [email protected] Find out more about Expo Pantalla ...


Arqiva x Wonderseekers - engaging children with science

Expanding a connection running for over 20 years, find out more about Arqiva and Wonderseekers More than 20 years ago, Arqiva donated unused land next to its M...


Scaling to New Heights: NVIDIA MLPerf Training Results Showcase Unprecedented Performance and Elasticity

The full-stack NVIDIA accelerated computing platform has once again demonstrated...


COCESNA and Thales signed two contracts to modernize its AMHS and AIM systems and navigation aids infrastructure

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn COCESNA and Thales signed two contracts to moder...


Footage of Cruelty and Abuse of Horses in Kildare revealed by RT Investigates

Hidden cameras capture horses being repeatedly hit and punched around the head Images show a horse too weak to stand being prodded with a pitchfork Major...


Nerding About NeRFs: How Neural Radiance Fields Transform 2D Images Into Hyperrealistic 3D Models

Let's talk about NeRFs - no, not the neon-colored foam dart blasters, but ne...


TOPS of the Class: Decoding AI Performance on RTX AI PCs and Workstations

Editor's note: This post is part of the AI Decoded series, which demystifies AI by making the technology more accessible, and showcases new hardware, softwa...


Celebrate and Honor Pride With LGBTQIA+ Artists, Creators, and Curated Playlists on Spotify's GLOW Hub

From the rise of disco in the 1970s to the current wave of hyper pop, queer crea...


90 years of Dr. Schnabel GmbH - SGL's Limburg site has every reason to celebrate

On June 8, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of Dr. Schnabel GmbH at our Limbur...


Little J & Big Cuz returns for season four this July

Little J & Big Cuz returns for season four this July 11 June, 2024 Media releases *First look here* Award-winning animated children's series Little J ...



Tuesday 11 June 2024, Johannesburg. The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF...


ST Engineering iDirect Joins WAVE Consortium as Board Member

Spearheading industry collaboration to transform the satcom industry into a fully interoperable ecosystem Herndon, VA., June 11, 2024 - ST Engineering iDirect,...


The Many Moving Parts of the Transition to NextGen TV

Fifteen years ago this month, U.S. broadcasters cut the cord on NTSC, shutting down analog TV and putting the finishing touches on a transition to digital tha...


Sally Wallington Joins Pebble To Lead Worldwide Sales

EPSOM, U.K. Sally Wallington has joined automation, content management and integrated channel specialist Pebble as senior vice president of sales with responsib...