Live Sports Announcer Audio Help

Bassman2003

Well-known member
Hello,

I was wondering if the community could help me solve an issue with live streaming sports and announcer audio. I have been involved with music/audio for 40 years, so the territory is comfortable for me. This situation is bound by size, weight and budget!

1) Problem - the announcers during broadcasts stay at a normal level until something big happens, then they raise their voice and end up clipping their mics. If I lower the preamps to account for the high levels of the excited times, the majority of the game ends up being low in level. We do not always have the ability to ride the levels up and down in real time. So i need some signal processing assistance.

2) Current Gear - Mackie 4 input board. Two broadcaster headsets (via XLR) & headphone return for monitoring.

3) Hopes - I would love to have a brickwall limiter & some compression on just their mics. I can not find a small mixing board that has compression & limiting in the list of effects. Most are reverb etc... I spoke with B&H & Sweetwater and the closest equipment was a digital mixing board which has a lot of DSP built in. This is very useful but these board are not really designed for field use. they have a lot of menus and LCDs instead of knobs.

I would love to find a dedicated two channel preamp that had compression/limiting built in so the signal would be safe before ever arriving at a board. But it has to be small because we always are on location and rack mount sized gear is more difficult to implement. Any ideas?

It is not ideal but if it were easy we would have solved it already! Thanks for your help.
 
Bring back Marv Albert!

Maybe this is why back in the day, pro football announcers like Ray Scott, Curt Gowdy, Pat Summerall were low key and even in their spoken manner of delivery.

I don't know, I thought 32 bit was intended to solve this problem. the same thing happens at weddings with the groom mic'd for capturing the subtle whispers of the bride making her vows, when at the conclusion on the audience erupts in cheers and applause, or in speeches, or dj, music.
 
1) Problem - the announcers during broadcasts stay at a normal level until something big happens, then they raise their voice and end up clipping their mics. If I lower the preamps to account for the high levels of the excited times, the majority of the game ends up being low in level. We do not always have the ability to ride the levels up and down in real time. So i need some signal processing assistance.

This is not uncommon for sports. Inline compression is the standard solution, or better, a full channel strip.

3) Hopes - I would love to have a brickwall limiter & some compression on just their mics. I can not find a small mixing board that has compression & limiting in the list of effects. Most are reverb etc... I spoke with B&H & Sweetwater and the closest equipment was a digital mixing board which has a lot of DSP built in. This is very useful but these board are not really designed for field use. they have a lot of menus and LCDs instead of knobs.

This is the way. A lot of streaming, live sound, and live broadcast work now is mixed on digital consoles. I haven’t owned or operated an analog console in many years.

I would love to find a dedicated two channel preamp that had compression/limiting built in so the signal would be safe before ever arriving at a board. But it has to be small because we always are on location and rack mount sized gear is more difficult to implement. Any ideas?

It is not ideal but if it were easy we would have solved it already! Thanks for your help.

Not sure that avoiding rackmount gear is possible for you without getting a digital console. Not sure which Mackie you have, but if you have insert points on the inputs, you could patch a two-channel compressor into the inputs of the headset mics. But I’d honestly recommend the dbx 286s channel strip. You’d need two of them, and they are rackmount (1 space each), but they are full channel strips with preamp, compression, and de-essing. The 286s is also pretty easy to set up.

The other option, if you really want to avoid rackmount gear, is to get a 500-series lunchbox and pack it with a couple of channel strips, or a couple of preamps and a couple of compressors. This is an expensive way to go, though.
 
I remember being mortified the first time I had to do a live OB on a basketball series out of a flyaway kit, not a fully kitted truck. Where the commentators were on their feet going absolutely ape at the top of their voices, no offence to apes. When the games were tight and the scores were going back and forth, we had commentators who were absolutely screaming. I couldn't find a mixer, desk or portable of any kind from anywhere that could really handle the massive plosive extreme peaks that were being generated. I rang a few sound guys I knew and a couple of them said. "Get yourself three or four analog Behringer MDX4600 4-Channel Expander/Gate/Compressor/Peak Limiter units because they compress and limit very smoothly." This was years ago, and I still use these for sports commentary work. I'll tell you now, they work well when set up correctly, which is fairly easy. The amazing thing is they are dirt cheap.

Though, even these 4600s were being driven to their limits with some of the peaks we had. Hard limited peaks don't sound nice. These high peak levels were still causing me some issues. Again, mentioning this to one of the guys who suggested the 4600s he said "I'll tell you a trick."

The trick he taught me, and it really works. Make sure the unit is in mono mode. Now take commentator #1 into Ch #1 of your Expander/Gate/Compressor/Peak Limiter and set your peak level limiter setting a bit lower so that it handles about 70-80% of your major peaks without going to a hard limit. Now take the output of Ch #1 and put it into Ch #2. Adjust the limiter settings of Ch #2 more aggressively to control any of the real highs coming in from channel #1. In effect, daisy-chaining your limiters to give you a much smoother wide range of limiting. Been doing that ever since and have been confident and totally happy knowing I could handle any major event, sport or rock 'n roll event without too many issues or drama.

So just loop each commentator through two channels and away you go.

Chris Young

 
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Thanks for your input everybody! Great stuff. Yes, I try to coach but they lose it and you can't stop them... :)

I guess we have some decisions to make - carry a little extra gear or clip! The MDX4600 looks like a very low cost solution along with the other choices which are great as well. I will look into them and see if we can go with one. Thanks again!
 
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