Articles

Why sports sound better in your living room

May 18, 2019



several years back when the raids made it to the World Series they handed out cowbells that's when you kind of second-guess your career it's just there's only so much you can do when 30,000 people are all how about the sounds inside a stadium can be unpredictable but parked outside every major sports event in a semi truck full of broadcast TV workers there's an audio engineer tasked with bringing those sounds into your living room they're called a1 mixers and they're hired by the network that's broadcasting the game basically the easiest way to describe what it is I do is everything you hear at home in the broadcast I'm responsible for other than commercials that means they mix the music the announcers interviews but it also means this and this and this if you just went and looked at a World Series game from you know 1980 and he looked at like last year's World Series it would be painfully obvious that takes a lot of work to capture the ambience of the space they point stereo microphones into the crowd but we don't want to just be placed among the crowd you want to hear the sounds of the game itself and that requires microphones near the action to capture what they call field effects so I currently run one two three four five six seven eight nine ten I run ten on court effects lights if you're sitting in the stands you might not hear the sound of the net but for viewers at home there's a little microphone taped right under the basket in baseball the key sounds are clustered around home plate you see all the advertising boards but there's also two little blue jays logos and in those logos are parabolic dishes and that's what I use to capture all the sounds around home plate parabolic microphones use a dish to focus sound waves from far away for big-budget games like the World Series you can see those mics around home plate too but the setup becomes much more elaborate they put wireless mics in the basis they have handheld parabolics out in foul ball territory and they wire up the outfield wall welcome back Kyle schwarber with a two-out double unbelievable we actually started a couple years ago burying mics in the grass and and in the infield so you can hear like some guys like Max Scherzer they really kind of grunt when they release the pitch and we also put mics on the foul poles some of them are like a real is kind of candid sound like at Fenway Park it's harder to capture field effects when the players roam around a big fields you just hope that they're close to your mics you've got a huge field with 15 guys running on grass a handheld parabolic mic can do a better job following the action and that's long been the standard for NFL games and the Fox came along they put a mic on the umpire and we were using that to pick up the cadence of the quarterback and the line coming together and that was huge the umpire was getting run over a lot and to keep him from getting hurt they moved his physical position from being on the defensive line to being on the offensive line well that doesn't help me at all because now he's behind the quarterback the next year the NFL Players Union agreed to let the league put microphones on certain offensive linemen can't wait to see what Travolta brings us depending on who's mixing it could be way up in the mix I've been called on that because it's like candy and I love it those quarterback audibles are the only times they'll take a miked up player live during the game I'm sure you've seen the games basketball games where we mic up players we mic up the head coach those mics will never be tracked live it goes to tape somebody reviews it and then it gets played back later but the effects mics can pick up angry players too if something's getting heated on-screen I will you know I'll kill those mics I want people to be able to hear but you know I got to be careful the a1 is constantly adjusting levels throughout the game and not just to keep the show family friendly you know a lot of people would have the thought process that you just set up these mics and you just leave them be and you don't I mean you can't I mean you're talking twenty you know eighteen twenty thousand people screaming you got the PA sounds so if you just leave all these microphones up you're not going to get anything so you're chasing the action with them with the faders on the mixing boards the game effects in hockey come from ten microphones taped inside the glass and the mixer will fade them up and down to follow the play they can get those effects to pop even more by tweaking the EQ or equalization most people would know it as like a car stereo you turn up your highs your treble and your bass well in our world it's a little bit more specific than that we can dial into actual specific frequencies so they'll tend to increase the high-frequency eq's and turn down the low frequency you don't want that Rumble do you want to hear the skate blades you want to hear the sticks you want to hear the pucks off glass you want to hear them off the post but all those efforts can be drowned out by the a one's arch-nemesis the PA system in the arena if I could find PA people and beat them with a wooden stick sometimes I would NBA is horrific because they run you know they run the PA during play you know the PA will bleed into all the mics in the building but the audio team is always there battling the noise on our behalf you should be able to hear the announcers follow what they're saying the game should be below that and you should be able to hear everything that's going on in the game without struggling it takes a lot of work to do that if we do it right if you're in the sports then you're probably already subscribes to SB Nation's channel but if not go check it out they've got tons of fascinating series including one called beef history which is about why all your favorite athletes hate each other go check it out and subscribe an SB Nation

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30 Comments

  • Reply Vox May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Big thanks to the Verge for letting us use footage from a great documentary they made years ago about NFL broadcasts. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/2HYSXFN And thanks to Phil Edwards for inspiring this video with a piece he wrote for Vox.com: http://bit.ly/2I2iVs8. If you’re interested in this topic, take some time to listen to this really lovely radio documentary made by an audio engineer who works on the Olympics: http://bit.ly/2jhyzlp -joss

  • Reply Nick Lambert May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Hey so I'm a studying theatrical audio design/engineering at college and was wondering if anyone in this comment section may know someone who does this and would be willing to talk about their job. We don't get exposed to this aspect of the industry and I just want to talk to learn more about this.

  • Reply mixstamike May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    I know this has nothing to do with what they're talking about but whenever I see older games and video of people in the stands. I cant help but wonder if the same people in that event were to come back and only the ones from that event. How many would still fill the stadium and how many are gone from then. Obviously would look totally different the second time and I'm not disrespecting people that passed away, may they R.I.P. I'm honestly just curious is all and have always wondered that when watching older sport videos. Like when you see all those fans cheering or if they show a cut of a couple people in a shot. Whether they're still here with us or not. And I don't mean like 30 to 50 year gaps cause that's obvious but say like 10 years later. Idk just have always wondered this when I see older videos of games, has anyone else ever thought the same?? And again I mean no disrespect at all, I'm not thinking like that in a evil or twisted way what so ever. I'm simply just curious is all. Hopefully people understand that. And again may anyone that has passed away rest in peace an actually mean that foreal.

  • Reply alcraig1 May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Andrew Stoakley. Back in the late 70s, when I worked for CCR, we did all the away games for the Blue Jays. I was the A1 and had NO assistants. Due to a limited number of inputs (and equipment and time), I'd put out commentary headsets, mount a Sony PBR330 parab on the guy wire holding up the protective fencing, a couple of EV DL42 shotguns on the low 1st and low 3rd cams (cabled mind you because the preamps in the Bosch cameras were useless), a crowd mic hanging out of the commentary booth and are VHF radio lapel on the Jay's 3rd base coach.

  • Reply Sorryごめんなさい May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    From now on let's call foot ball, handball.

  • Reply Drake Carroll May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Who’s the hot chick

  • Reply Jacob S May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    It’s a thankless job.. 😔✊🏻

  • Reply Meme May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Aaf needed this

  • Reply Freda Ke May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    I hope they get paid a lot this seems like a lot of effort.

  • Reply Branden Tello May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    ONE-80!!!

  • Reply Blake Benham May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    I always seem to have a hard time hearing the announcers on ABC during NBA basketball games

  • Reply GioTheAwesome11 May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    This just reached a million views

  • Reply Russell Moore May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    This was awesome, I learned a bunch! Thanks!

  • Reply Felipe Bier May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    You guys just left out the biggest sport in the world…

  • Reply Matthew Mcintyre May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Just liked and subscribed

  • Reply KirbyforNarnia May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    This is some tolerable Vox content

  • Reply Adhy Nugroho May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    American sports broadcasting has the best production value…. pre-game, in-game, post-game.

  • Reply Martin Dalkoff May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    this is So cool

  • Reply robertjames12 May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    So just put mics everywhere

  • Reply LTA PRODUCTIONS May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    MORE COWBELL!!!!

  • Reply Cara Eskins May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    I love LOVE hearing the quarterbacks’ audibles.

  • Reply Cara Eskins May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Football officials are called referees not umpires.

  • Reply Vloodz ! May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    E-Sport: What Mic ?

  • Reply Garrett Costi May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Idk if you guys have ever been on the field during a football game, but it's one of the best sounding environments out there. When you're playing though, you hardly notice.

  • Reply Saku Satola May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    It's because americans can't chant.

  • Reply Russ_Playz May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    0:44 2:10 4:58 Where my fellow Toronto Jays fans at? Straight outta Toronto!

  • Reply Thatonedeepseaguy Films May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    4:23 it’s fresh 😏

  • Reply Ellie Dombkins May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Why does 95% of stuff sound better in your living room… audio engineers.

  • Reply Macobi J May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    What kind of car radio allows you to turn up the bass? Cause I want that!

  • Reply Shadow_ Ninja2506 May 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Oh yuh Astros Win!!! H-Town🤘🤘🤘

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