Audio@World Cup Q&A: HBS’ Christian Gobbel on four approaches to delivering sonic ‘quality and consistency’

The broadcast compound at Maracanã Stadium

The broadcast compound at Maracanã Stadium

It might have entailed “a lot of hard work by a lot of people”, but the quality of the broadcast audio being delivered from Brazil at the moment confirms that the Herculean effort was entirely justified. In the second of a two-part interview, HBS’ senior engineering manager Christian Gobbel highlights the various elements – from manufacturer support to IP-based operation – that could yet see the 2014 tournament hailed as the best-sounding to date.

Focus on consistency: “We put a lot of effort into ensuring consistency across different venues and production crews, and yet still deliver individuality out of the overall coverage. It might not be that everyone agrees with every last element, but the important thing is that we have a consistency of approach across all venues. And I think we have managed it.”

Engage first-rate manufacturer support: “We continue to have a key set of suppliers in the audio domain, which include Lawo on the mixing console side, Schoeps and Sennheiser for microphones, and Riedel for communications. We have a crew of engineers from Lawo at every venue, delivering support with regard to any failures, and the same applies to a separate support for the communications. Overall, the support at the venues comes from manufacturers and is running very smoothly.”

Utilise new equipment where it adds value: “We have some great new products in use this time around. For example, the new generation of Sennheiser MKH 60 shotgun microphones are a great improvement for everything we do around the pitch. Schoeps, too, have done some great improvements to the outdoor suitability of their kit, for example new raincovers, windshields and packaging in general. We anticipated that this would be quite a wet country, so a lot of effort was made to weatherproof the main microphones. And on the console side, the second mk version of Lawo’s mc256 console is working brilliantly for us: we have these located in the main and multifeed galleries, with the whole integration via MADI and Ravenna greatly easing the set-up process. I would also note that the new mc256s are much more user-friendly with incorporation of the touchscreens, and in general the learning curve for non-Lawo users is shorter than before. Also from Lawo, we are using the V__pro8 video processor at the venues and for embedding and de-embedding at the IBC.”

Embrace reliable networking technology: “We are using [increasingly popular ALC NetworX-developed audio over IP technology] Ravenna to link the local IO console to the core, which is achieved by Cat5. Meanwhile, the interconnection between the equipment room container [situated at each venue] and the room is basically three Cat6 cables: two for the redundant remote control of the console, and the third to connect local IO for speakers and the meters in the room. In addition, we are also using Ravenna for the tie-lines between the main and multi-feed cores. ESPN and ARD’s [radio operation] are using Ravenna, and highlight the fact that some broadcasters are really starting to commit to IP technology. I feel sure that the community of users will increase quite quickly in the future.”

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