TORONTO, CANADA – APRIL 2010: CTV is the most popular television network in Canada, and its audio production – of everything from documentaries to voice-overs to music recording – is enjoying the functionality of Neumann digital microphone technology.
CTV’s forward-thinking post sound supervisor Michael Nunan attributes CTV’s increasing use of the cutting-edge technology to features that are essential to broadcasters and unmatched by analog technology: failure-proof fidelity and consistently easy setup. One of CTV’s marquee Neumann digital microphone productions was the re-recording of “The Hockey Theme,” often lovingly referred to as Canada’s second National Anthem. The recording used an amazing thirty Neumann digital microphones, one of the largest such recordings ever.
“It was a high pressure recording,” recalled Nunan. “Our work would be scrutinized by a nation of hockey fans who had been listening to the original version for forty years! Failure was not an option.” Despite the importance of the session, Nunan and his collaborators still faced tremendous constraints. Without a sufficiently large scoring stage, they sat the 52-piece orchestra at a local concert hall and rolled their remote truck up to the back, well aware of the unexpected technical demons that can plague a remote session. They had only three hours to track over a dozen cues.
“Despite the fact that our remote truck has a wonderful SSL C200 console with remote mic preamps, we decided to bypass them and conduct the session exclusively with Neumann Solution-D digital microphones,” said Nunan. “We would rely on their fantastic dynamic range as well as the peak limiter feature to shorten soundcheck. The transparent peak limiter allowed us to be aggressive with gain settings without risking a lost take due to ‘overs’.” CTV is also using Neumann Solution-D mics for audience pickup for its in-studio productions and remote coverage of award ceremonies. The same peak limiter feature allows them to face the first thunderous round of applause with confidence, while still providing enough noise-free gain to capture the subtle reactions that really convey a live feel to viewers at home.
To record The Hockey Theme, Nunan and his crew used Neumann KM 183 D omni-directional mics for a classic Decca Tree with KM 183 D outriggers. They used two surround pairs: a set of KM 183 Ds for conventional surround and a set of KM 185 D hyper-cardioids pointing away. “With the second pair, we could effectively turn the orchestra ‘inside out’ to give an ‘acoustical zoom’ to, say, the brass,” explained Nunan. Although many of the final mixes didn’t require spot mics, the team covered themselves with top picks from the Neumann mic locker: large-diaphragm D-01s for the contrabass; TLM 103 D for French horns; and various assemblages of omni, cardioid, and hyper-cardioid KM 183, 184, and 185 Ds.
Nunan and his team had a scant six minutes to soundcheck the orchestra for The Hockey Theme. “Using Neumann’s RCS software on laptops connected to the microphones through sixteen Neumann DMI-2 interfaces, we were able to control all thirty mics from our distant control room,” said Nunan. “The speed with which we were able to fine tune the mics proved critical.” Nunan has used the inherent remote control of Neumann digital mics in other applications as well. When CTV’s main network announcer moved 500 km away from the studio, a Neumann Solution-D setup allowed engineers back at the studio to manage sessions from his home with the same level of control that they were accustomed to when he was only fifty feet away! In other applications where he was a crew of one, Nunan has exploited the Neumann RCS software by using VNC software to take control of his MacBook, and then controlling the RCS software remotely using his iPod Touch!
Attending the recording session in its entirety was the President of Neumann’s Global Sales and Marketing, Wolfgang Fraissinet. “I was delighted to be invited to the largest Neumann digital microphone recording session to date. I flew to Toronto to witness the Neumann technology in action and was honored to contribute to the interpretation of the score and the implementation of the AES-42 digital technology,” says Fraissinet. “For decades, Neumann has enjoyed being the leader in the analog world. Now we have that position in the digital domain. Our digital microphones are totally clean, crystalline and truthful. The conclusion from everyone involved in the production was that the mics performed flawlessly and the orchestra sounded tremendous. The imaging was absolutely stunning and impossibly accurate. The Neumann recording of the Canadian Hockey Theme will be heard by millions of fans weekly for many years to come.”
Not only has Neumann digital technology helped avoid the hostilities of remote sessions in the relatively controlled environment of a concert hall, they have helped Nunan come away with splendid audio in the most hostile environment he has ever faced. “Early in 2009, I had the opportunity to spend some time aboard the USS Nimitz, a U.S. Navy super-carrier,” he said.”The powerful radar systems aboard Nimitz and her aircraft combine to create an enormous amount of electromagnetic ‘pollution,’ which induced all manner of annoying and awful noise on virtually every recording I made once I was on deck. It would have been a total loss if it weren’t for the Solution-D microphones – they were completely impervious to the noise and degradation. If they can deliver aboard the Nimitz, they can deliver anywhere!”
“From the straightforward function of providing stunning fidelity to the remarkable way in which they allow us to vastly simplify our technical setup, Neumann’s Solution-D digital microphones excel,” concluded Nunan. “In a marketplace where a desire for better quality is seldom considered sufficient grounds for spending additional money on the audio portion of the television signal, the Solution-D’s tremendous flexibility and functionality has allowed me to make a compelling case to dramatically improve our fidelity without a correspondingly significant impact on budgets.”
Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in sixty countries around the world through long-term distribution partners and subsidiaries in France, UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Russia, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Japan, China, Canada, Mexico and the USA. Sennheiser’s technology is produced in manufacturing plants in Germany, Ireland and the United States. Their pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy and the Scientific and Engineering Award (of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). The Sennheiser Group is proud to be affiliated with Georg Neumann (world leading studio microphones), and the joint venture Sennheiser Communications that brings their award winning technology to headsets for PCs, offices and contact centers.
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