Anyone experiencing the 5.1 broadcast of the World Series on Fox may have noticed the realistic sound of the ballpark. That is due, in no small part, to audio mixer Joe Carpenter’s use of Sennheiser's new MKH 8000 Series microphones for critical field and crowd coverage, enhancing both the surround mix and the stereo downmix.
Carpenter first used Sennheiser MKH 8020 omnidirectional and MKH 8040 cardioid pattern microphones on-air during the American League Championship Series playoffs between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox on TBS. "I used the MKH 8020 with parabolic microphone reflectors behind home plate for the bat cracks and field effects," says Carpenter, an independent audio mixer who has worked in sports broadcasting for many years. "I used the MKH 8040s as an X-Y stereo pair in center field for the crowd in my surround channels." A smaller parabolic reflector outfitted with a Sennheiser MKE-2 lavalier mic was also positioned behind home plate.
Carpenter reported that, while he might typically use a narrower pattern mic, the omnidirectional MKH 8020 was better suited for pairing with the parabolics, especially at Fenway Park. "In Boston, the parabolics are mounted up on a screen behind home plate. If foul balls go back there and knock them slightly off axis, cardioids are not as forgiving." The MKH 8040 microphones in center field have improved the sound of the crowd in the surround channels while improving the downmix to stereo. Carpenter typically notches out crowd noise in the 710Hz-820Hz range from the parabolic mics positioned behind home plate to focus on the crack of the bat and the pop of the glove in the front channels.
A crowd submix of microphones in the announce booth, above first and third base and on cameras positioned in the crowd, are available to feed into the front speaker channels. "But I don't always have those mics open when I have the bat crack mics open. I try not to feed too much into the front. What's happening naturally in the downmix is that the bright rear crowd is keeping my crowd mix brighter and more natural. The natural out of phase information from my rear channels that folds back into the front is brightening up my crowd bed, so it doesn't sound so hollow with only the parabolics open. That's something new that I haven't tried before."
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