DiGiCo Consoles, Stagetec Routers Get Traction at Summer X Games
The motocross riders weren’t the only ones showing some traction at Summer X Games 17. Console manufacturer DiGiCo had its SD10B mixers, as 5.1 effects submixers, at all three main events. A fourth console, an SD9, handled stereo-effects submixes for the international feed. That compares with one console at Summer X 16 last year and two SD8 consoles at this year’s Winter X Games. And router supplier Stagetec had its largest router at an X Games to date at L.A. Live’s transmission center.
All of the submix consoles were connected to the Calrec Alpha primary broadcast-audio mix consoles via MADI over fiber-optic cabling, which all the audio technicians were unanimous in praising for its significantly streamlined workflow. For instance, at Broadcast Sports Inc. (BSI), Technology Development Manager Clay Underwood delighted in showing how uncluttered the outside truck panels were, compared with using twisted-pair copper wiring.
The shift from copper to MADI on fiber combined with the ubiquitous use of digital mixers has virtually completed the digital-paradigm shift for audio-signal transport, control, and processing. That, says Chris Fichera, VP of audio at Group One, which distributes DiGiCo in North America, created an opportunity.
“For the past several X Games, submixers have been using a different board every year; they had to learn a new console every year. Now we’re trying to accomplish what’s already been done at the other end of the console chain: provide some consistency and predictability,” says Fichera, referring to Calrec’s dominance of the main broadcast-audio mix position.
Truck builder NEP has purchased a second SD10B, which was used to mix effects for both the Skate Park and The Street venues. Loaded on a wheeled dolly, it could be moved across a concrete perch in the parking lot above and in between the two venues.
DiGiCo’s Taidus Ballandi, manager of technical support for DiGiCo, said the submix consoles were running a total of 80 effects microphones across all the main venues.
“We’ve been seeing this kind of approach [to signal transport] in live sound for some time, and now it’s been migrating to broadcast audio,” Ballandi explains. “You could use a mic pre to boost the signal, but you’d still lose some power over the course of the cable run. This way, we have a zero-loss connection, and single-mode fiber can be run for 10 miles without a loss of signal,” much farther then the approximately 230-ft. limitation imposed with MADI over copper.
Rooting for Routing
At the transmission trailer, ESPN Coordinating Technical Manager Henry Rousseau was happy about how the Stagetec 900×900 I/O Nexus router was keeping the audio-signal path simpler than in previous Games.
“All the main mix consoles are fitted with MADI cards and are interfaced with the Nexus, and it’s routing all the signals between the trucks,” he explains. The Nexus was also used at the L.A. Live location earlier this year for the NBA All-Star Game broadcast, and Rousseau says it worked so well that, for Summer X Games, communications signaling through it was added, in conjunction with the IT infrastructure, with 35 managed switches circulating the comms over a VoIP network.
“We put all our [communications] eggs in one basket this year,” he says, “but it’s a very strong, steel basket.”
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