A 9-In. Parab Set To Capture the Music of March Madness
March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day arrive at the same time, but the basketball games will almost certainly be louder. This round of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games will have lots of ambience and effects microphones deployed, and a gadget most often found in baseball and football will make its major-league B-ball debut.
Dave Grundtvig, who has been mixing college hoops for both Turner Sports and CBS Sports for close to two decades, is looking to capture even more sound this year. For the regional games at the Pittsburgh and Los Angeles venues, he is using a Klover Products’ 9-in, parabolic dish to capture court effects. Attached via a Manfrotto Magic Arm, the dish sits about 5 ft. behind the glass backboard and is aimed down and toward the court.
“We spent a lot of time experimenting with placements,” says Grundtvig, “but a combination of using the 9-in. parab and where it’s placed on the backboard perfectly mimics the three-point circle on the court.” He tried using a larger parabolic, he adds, but discovered that the smaller dish is better suited to the higher-pitched effects sounds of the sport. “This combination gives you the air in between the bounces when the ball is being dribbled. It’s that nuanced.”
He has used parabolic dishes on other sports and once experimented with them on basketball, using Sony parabs in the mid 2000s. “At that time,” he recalls, “we were using them handheld in the area behind the baskets. The problem with that was that those areas are shared with the press and with other staff and crew members, and it was hard to keep the parabs in the right places all the time. So we scrapped that and just went with the usual array of shotgun and other mics for effects.”
Grundtvig discovered the Klover 9-in. parabolic when Klover Products President Paul Terpstra demonstrated it at Wrigley Field last year. “I’d been using parabs for bat cracks for baseball for a while, but Paul had this smaller, 9-in. one mounted on a camera,” he says. “That’s not how I would use it, but it gave me the idea to try it in a fixed position.”
That led to some experimentation with the smaller parabolics during the NBA Summer League, which was broadcast on Turner. “It’s pretty mind-blowing what you can hear through them: the chatter and the ball sounds and the air in between them.”
Working from NEP SS24 in Pittsburgh (the same truck he used to mix the NBA All-Star Game two weeks ago) and NEP SS16 in Los Angeles, both fitted with Calrec Alpha consoles, Grundtvig will be laying out a large number of effects and crowd mics as usual. Although shotguns will be placed facing the court for effects, he prefers music-grade microphones for the NCAA crowds. That’s because the crowds often include college bands and large-diaphragm condenser microphones, such as the Shure SM 81 and Neumann 184 microphones he’ll be using, capture the music and the sonic nuances of the venues better, he says.
“I think of those sounds as the instruments in an orchestra, and I’ll capture them as though I was recording an orchestra,” he explains. “Shotguns are good for a lot of effects sounds, but they’re also very tightly focused and slow [to react]. This is a great mix of microphones for a show like this.”