MLB Home Run Derby Offers Rich Stew of Audio Sources

The Home Run Derby (Monday July 9, ESPN) will be a fielder’s choice when it comes to audio. For A1 Scott Pray, what sets the event apart is the high degree of microphone placement available for audio: batters, umpires, and catchers will wear either Quantum QX5 or Sennheiser SK250 lavalier microphones, with the latter generally nestled in the umps’ and catchers’ protective padding.

“It gives you tremendous coverage of the home plate area,” Pray says.

The mics will be buttressed by shotgun microphones attached to robotic cameras placed along the first- and third-base lines, which Pray says are crucial to getting a clear “crack” of the bat.

As much coverage as there will be for the batting area, the abundance of sources calls for a more complex mix strategy. That’s compounded by the fact that, since catchers will change often, not all of them will be wired, constantly changing the balance in the home-plate area. Pray says submixer Jonathan Freed will be staying on top of that.

“He does a great job of finding the best combination of sources for each moment,” says Pray, who will be mixing on a Calrec Alpha from the NEP SS25 truck B unit while Freed mixes effects from the CP RF5 unit on a STAGETEC AURUS, also mixing all RF mics and RF cameras for both ESPN and Fox. Freed will also be mixing in a Holophone surround microphone and several digital shotgun mics to create the surround field ambience for the show.

“We really have far more sources than we’d have on a typical MLB game, and that’s where you have to be aware,” Pray points out. “If you have too many microphones open at the same time, you can get slap-back,” a reference to the slight time-delay differences between microphones at different distances from the ball hitting the bat that can result in flam-like echoes. It’s an effect that’s great for snare drums but not for baseball.

“We get a lot to work with,” he continues, “and that makes for an interesting event in terms of the sound.”

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