Calrec Brings Super Bowl XLIV to the Masses in full 5.1 Surround Sound

More than 100 million Americans tuned in to watch Super Bowl XLIV last Sunday, and each and every one heard it in full 5.1 surround-sound via five Calrec Audio consoles in NEP Broadcasting trucks on the scene in Miami.

“Consoles from Calrec Audio have two major advantages,” said Terry Kulchar, NEP Broadcasting design engineer. “First, they’re reliable and when you have 106 million viewers – more U.S. households than any other television program ever you – wouldn’t want to have a failure. Second, they are the predominant console for mobile production. That means you’d be hard pressed to find an audio operator who isn’t familiar with Calrec.”

Kulchar is spot on in terms of Calrec’s prominence among audio operators – according to recent SVG figures, Calrec now holds sway over 65% of the HD mobile production market in the U.S.

For the NFL’s biggest game, NEP deployed five trucks: SS-24 for the actual game, NEP/NCP-8 for the extensive pre-game and post-game shows, NEP SS-9 for tape-release mix and sub-mix of replay sources, NEP Denali Silver for pre-game and halftime musical shows, and NEP-SS 25 for the NFL Network and world coverage feeds.

For the musical portion of the Super Bowl coverage, NEP Broadcasting relied on a 1999 vintage Calrec Q-2 analog desk. As for the non-musical festivities, Calrec Alpha with Bluefin digital consoles presented the sounds of the Super Bowl.

In reality, the actual game was not the toughest part. More challenging was the lengthy pre-game broadcast with audio coming from every which way, including tailgate parties, announcers on a remote football field, and multiple studio sets. Then there were the replays, each of them with an associated sound that had to be coordinated by cross-fading among sources then feeding back to the main show mixer.

Relying on their MADI capability, the Calrec Alpha consoles made it possible to route multiple signals from one console to another without each source having to be represented on the control surface. Instead, the system’s digital architecture did the heavy lifting. In addition, MADI allowed NEP to employ a single coax cable, greatly simplifying the production’s set-up.