Flypack-Audio Startup Looks To Expand Into Sports

The growth of sports genres like videogaming and extreme sports is stretching the capacity of the traditional media infrastructure to cover them. That’s creating opportunities for small startups to enter the market and help keep audio for those events at the edge of the envelope.

Los Angeles-based Drop Ship Audio has been sending its flypack mixing and recording system out on entertainment projects since it was founded nearly two years ago. For example, it provided the broadcast-audio facilities for the road auditions and callbacks for Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance reality competition show.

Drop Ship Audio’s flypack provides 96 audio channels in a unit weighing less than 200 lb.

Drop Ship Audio’s flypack provides 96 audio channels in a unit weighing less than 200 lb.

Its flypack is built around a Calrec Summa package, including Hydra 2 networking. Other integrated platforms include Sound Devices 970 multitrack MADI interface for Avid Pro Tools, as well as equipment from DiGiCo, Cobalt Digital, and Brainstorm. Monitoring is Genelec and Neumann; microphones are from Sennheiser and Audio-Technica.

Drop Ship Audio owner Sean Prickett believes that the equipment complement and experience will let him expand the venture into sports. The first show in that domain was an EA Sports videogame competition adjacent to the 2014 Super Bowl in Arizona, for which Drop Ship Audio provided the audio mixing for the streamed distribution of the event.

Prickett says the flypack’s equipment is scaled well for expansion of online sports events as well as for the growing inclusion of streaming channels augmenting traditional broadcast channels for sports.

“It’s easy for us to piggyback onto a large show and do a stream of it, giving the streamed channel its own separate mix,” he says. “The use of fiber also makes flypacks even lighter, so they’re easier to transport and set up. I don’t have to buy a bunch of DT-12 [multipin connectors].”

The first flypack the company has assembled thus far reflects the power that digital and networked-fiber signal transport offer: the system fields up to 96 channels of audio in a unit weighing less then 200 lb. and is configured to fit through the doorways of temporary onsite production facilities.

The console choice was calculated, Prickett explains. “Because Calrec desks are in the majority of OB trucks in the U.S., most of our rental customers already know how to use them. Calrec has done a great job of making sure the user interface and operation are the same across all its desks, so it’s easy for any engineer to jump on the Summa and go.”

He adds that he’s building alliances with other systems and services providers, such as Bexel and VER. He figures that he can augment their onsite audio-mixing requirements with equipment and his A1 expertise and they can act as a rental resource for such items as additional microphones and recording machines that he needs.

“Even the biggest companies need additional support at time,” he says. “There’s a lot of sports out there. That’s where we’re seeing potential.”

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