A Mixer’s View of Lacrosse: Like Soccer but Faster and Quieter

By Dan Daley

In mixing the upcoming Men’s Lacrosse Championship, Chris Allan finds that he draws heavily on his experience mixing broadcast audio for soccer and football. “Lacrosse is like them,” he says, “only faster and less choreographed.” With 10 players plus league officials on the 110- x 60-yard field, there’s a lot to cover.

To cover most of the field from the sidelines, Allan assigns four RF parabola operators fitted with Sennheiser MKE-2 microphones and SK-250 transmitters. “They’re working freestyle because the game is so fast, but I give them very precise instructions about what I want to hear,” he says. That list includes as much stick noise and field chatter as possible, particularly in the end zones, where the goaltenders loudly try to guide their teammates’ strategies.

“Lacrosse is a relatively quiet sport, compared to football or basketball, for instance,” Allan explains. “So you have to look for the sounds that convey what’s going on.”

Goal nets are equipped with Sennheiser MKE2 omni lavalier microphones to pick up the sound of the solid rubber ball hitting the net or its frame. They’re backed up by a Sennheiser MKH-816 long shotgun microphone behind the net.

“The lav picks up the action around the net,” Allan says. As the action moves farther away from the net and the goaltender goes out of the frame, Allan backs off the lav and raises the shotgun’s fader.

That same kind of smooth transition is how he mixes the surround field — ESPN has broadcast lacrosse in 5.1 since last year — using a fan POV and cross-fading parab and camera-mounted 816 shotgun microphones as the action moves up and down the field.

“I don’t want to leave too many mics open at a time,” he says, noting that only the Shure VP-88 microphones facing the stands and the lavaliers on the referees remain on throughout the game. “I only use the [field] microphones that are closest to the play. I use the faders, not VCA groups. It keeps the sound more localized.”

Crowd sounds are mixed mostly left and right, and the surrounds contain “specialty” sounds he draws through 416 short shotguns to give the audio a little color, like the shouts of food vendors in the background. The surround field is processed by SRS Circle Surround, which cancels out the surround elements in the decoding process for stereo.

Lacrosse gets a bit more EQ than most sports. Allan will honk around 1 kHz to emphasize the clacking of the sticks against the goals and each other. “And the ball is pretty dense, so it makes a nice ‘thump’ when it hits the net,” he says. “It’s really a blast to mix.”

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