Shure MX391 Boundary Mics Featured at NBA All-Star Game

Shure Microflex MX391 boundary microphones once again made the transition to professional basketball during the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, played this year at US Airways Center, home of the Phoenix Suns.

David Grundtvig, senior audio engineer, used a dozen MX391s taped directly to the floor around the court perimeter to build his broadcast mix. Orchestrating his efforts from behind a digital console, he is one of the originators of the audio blueprint, having refined it over the years to bring an added element of realism to viewers at home.

“What we’re putting over the air is essentially the same as the real, live experience that you would get if you were sitting right here in the arena,” he explains. “Taking that concept one step further, actually, you are gaining an experience that you could only find in a few seats here in the house around the center-court line.”

Offered with interchangeable cardioid, supercardioid, and omnidirectional cartridges, the MX391s at the All-Star Game were outfitted with cardioid capsules to bring a tighter focus to the action. With Shure large-diaphragm KSM32 mics standing in to capture crowd ambience, Grundtvig’s mix delivered all the nuances and fine details of the game, from the bouncing of the ball and squeaking of shoes to the players’ talking among themselves and calling plays. As an aid to managing the inputs from all the mics, submixes were created before reaching Grundtvig’s mixing console.

“When we tape those mics to the floor, the whole court becomes the boundary they’re operating within,” Grundtvig adds. “Everything is reinforced, and there’s an incredible amount of coverage. The game is quick, and that’s where your skill as a mixer comes into play. This is definitely not a set-it-and-forget it situation. We’re working these mics constantly.”

Is there ever an occasion where the audience at home is hearing the game maybe a little too closely — say, when a player misses a critical shot and utters a word less than suitable for broadcast?

“Well, that’s part of it, yes,” Grundtvig admits with a chuckle. “Those things make it to air occasionally. But that’s part of it all. If some of the best seats from an audio standpoint are right in front of your own TV, you’re going to hear it all, for good or ill. But we have a large degree of control. You get good at anticipating such things and compensating at the console accordingly. It’s not like someone’s yelling right into a mic onstage.”

Halftime entertainment at this year’s NBA All-Star Game featured a performance by Colombian pop sensation and Shure endorser Juanes and R&B singer John Legend. Singing Legend’s 2008 hit “If You’re Out There” backed by the Phoenix Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church Gospel Choir, both used Shure KSM9 microphones.

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