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Award-Worthy Audio

LOS ANGELES, CA—Earlier this year, Sweetwater’s Cobalt remote truck made its regular stop in downtown Los Angeles for the annual Emmy Awards telecast.

LOS ANGELES, CA—Earlier this year, Sweetwater’s Cobalt remote truck made its regular stop in downtown Los Angeles for the annual Emmy Awards telecast. This year, the broadcast was from the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, where production mixer Mark King worked on the truck’s Studer Vista 8 digital console while Paul Sandweiss mixed the music in a temporary control room at the venue.

Harman audio products were prominent in the broadcast mix, with King also relying on JBL 4300 series monitors in Cobalt, and Sandweiss monitoring through JBL 6300 series speakers. Sandweiss used the same speaker setup at his Hollywoodbased Sound Design Corporation while preparing the music packages prior to the broadcast. In addition, Sandweiss reports, he even made use of the downtime on his daily commute to and from the venue to check mixes on his in-car Harman speaker system.

King, on his third consecutive Emmy Award show in the Cobalt truck, was tasked with integrating all of the audio elements from the video servers and other machines together with the 5.1 music stems from Sandweiss and the live announce mics, and providing continuity to the 5.1 image. “That’s part of the challenge,” he said. “As a production mixer, I get to take all of the elements into my console, and then I have to put it out on-air in the right measure.”

King enjoys the audio quality of the Vista 8: “It’s a very analog-sounding digital console.” Getting around on the desk is relatively easy, too, he continued. “You can achieve things rather easily with it, and the learning curve is not terrible at all.”

This being a digital console, desk-wide setting templates can be stored from previous year’s shows, although that can be of limited benefit, he noted. “What you’re really recalling is basic routing, inputs and things like that.” Of course, EQ and gain settings change from one year to the next, but, he observed, “It’s great to have that starting point, to be able to recall a basic template of a show and modify it if you need to. That’s very helpful.”

Sandweiss reported that the music packages were all mixed at his facility using JBL monitors, specifically the 6328 model: “Those packages come onsite, and then the talent comes into my room and I replace the announcer voiceover with the actual talent.”

For example, he shares, “Clair Danes comes in if she’s doing the package. When she’s up there onstage live, and she says, ‘And the nominees are,’ they then roll the package that I’ve mixed out in my trailer with her voiceover. That way there’s no chance of [the presenter] screwing up a name or getting out of timing.”

He continued, “Usually, the Neumann TLM 103 works pretty well for most people; I haven’t found many people that can’t sound pretty good on that mic.”

The fun part for Sandweiss, he said, is the 5.1 music mix that he performs for the live broadcast. “We go into these trailers they set up for us, treat them as best we can and set up in there. I have three [Yamaha] 02Rs built into custom mahogany that are interfaced via MADI to two redundant Fairlight 64-channel recorders; a recorder and a backup. It gives me 72 faders on each layer. I love to see everything on one layer, because not only so I see all my faders but I also see all my metering for that layer.”

Being onsite at the setup for the broadcast for four or five days, Sandweiss had an opportunity to listen to his mixes in his car on his daily commute. “My car has become my template,” he explained. “I bought a BMW so that I would have a Harman system in it. I can mix in my studio, on location, and listen in my car, and I know how all three integrate.

“For me, it’s priceless. I’m on the freeway two hours a day, so if I’m on location, I make a CD, play it in the car on the way home, make a few notes, and tweak the automation when I go back the next day. That way, that hour drive each way is well spent doing homework.”

King, too, appreciates the accuracy of his setup. “What I like about the combination of the Studer and the JBLs, especially in Cobalt, is that without exception what I’m hearing at home is what I heard in the truck. For good or bad, that’s really all you can ask for.”

As it turned out, there was nothing but praise for the sound quality of the show this year. “I had a couple, three text messages from friends saying how really great it sounded on air, and how much they enjoyed the show,” reported King. “That’s always a good sign.”