When the US Air Force Academy Hockey and Basketball games were picked up for broadcasting to cable tv, they knew they had to up their audio game and called Lambda AV. AFA hockey and basketball have been historically fun attractions for those local to the Colorado Springs area and with the success of the Avalanche in the Stanley cup even more attention was gained by local teams. Altitude Sports wanted to pick them up for distribution and while Adam and Brian at AFA had all the video gear needed to broadcast, they were lacking proper audio.
A site visit is always our first step so we can look at what is needed and help set goals for broadcast. The AFA had already spent a good amount of money on fiber backbone, so we had a great infrastructure in place to work with. The general building layout had a Hockey arena on one side, a basketball court on the other, and press box in between. The Staff needed to be able to use one sound board to mix either sport for broadcast. The Staff would also need to move from mixing one sport to the other all with only an hour from the end of the first game to the start of the other. Another important feature was having a multitude of flexible io options.
In designing an audio system for AFA our team drew on their professional experience with broadcast and stream systems and conducted research on several options. Ryan, our Owner, knew input and output counts get high very quickly in broadcast as different records need different feeds. This can be compounded by all the feed options needed by the broadcaster. Trevor, our lead Audio, knew that broadcast feeds need flexible processing and routing. They would need a lot of it to get the final product to an acceptable level of quality. An additional challenge the team knew they would have to design around was not being able to use the flexible audio over IP technology of Dante due to industry product shortages. With these things in mind, Ryan and Trevor settled on Allen and Heath and the Avantis platform.
The Avantis mixer itself is built with a mastery of routing and integrated IO plugins. The channel layouts and card provide the ability to work with both a high input and high output capacity. Allen and Heath’s S-LINK digital IO setup normally provides connectivity via a category cable connected directly from the remote IO box to the mixer, but in this case, because of existing fiber, we couldn’t do that. The S-LINK protocol however is compatible with fiber by using two network converters. These converters allow the use of direct fiber connections. With this we were able to drop remote IO to both the hockey and basketball courts. The use of an additional S-LINK card in the mixer brought it all together. The Avantis does a great job of allowing “Shows” to be built on logical IO groupings. This allowed us to easily jump between setups for both sporting sides.
The Allen and Heath infrastructure created our mixing backbone and IO groupings, but we still had to collect audio. On the hockey side we used a mic requested by the AFA that is used in many NHL setups: an AKG boundary microphone. These directional flat microphones attach to the glass surround of the rink and use the glass to create directional mic pickups in the rink itself to capture the action. Add in some fancy panning, gating, and expanding with the Avantis mixer and you have a truly immersive hockey experience.
On the basketball side, we used Sony ECM hanging mics near the baskets and over the court to pick up reflected noise from the court floor. As all these mics are a long distance from the remote IO boxes we had to manage interference and floor noise to keep the audio levels as clean as possible. All the mics used shielded, and foil-covered install lines with Elite Core twisted pair Cat-sass adapters for the last distance.
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