New studio technology - non-broadcast
USTA’s National Tennis Center distributes audio
Reliable, noise-free audio signals have always been important to the United States Tennis Association (USTA), which sponsors the U.S. Open that ran from August 29 to September 11 at the National Tennis Center. CBS Sports and USA Network broadcast the event, which is one of the highest attended annual events in sports, with as many as 24 foreign broadcasters providing coverage to their home countries. The 2005 championship match set several new records for attendance and Web site traffic and generated significantly higher TV ratings than prior years. The facility includes three stadiums, 15 field courts and numerous smaller buildings.
With the growth of the event, however, problems with audio feeds began to surface due to the increasing number of reporters and broadcasters plugging into the audio system with a wide variety of recorders, mixers and other electronic equipment. Grounding, crosstalk and backfeed noise issues were occasionally created. The essence of the problem is the magnitude of the event — audio feeds serving 40 broadcast commentary positions and a primary interview room accommodating 140 people. The challenge was to accommodate everyone, even those taking the feed with less than professional grade equipment, with a clean, consistent signal.
AVVIT Consulting in New York City, consultants to the USTA since 1992, are responsible for designing all of the audio, video and television systems at the facility. AVVIT selected the Network Electronics analog audio distribution amplifier system to provide the audio signals coming from the court, umpire and stadium announcer microphones to the press booths and interview rooms. The Network Electronics equipment met a variety of criteria all at once.
The fact that the outputs were isolated and buffered was critical to the application. In addition, the compact card form factor of the DA, how the redundant power supplies fit into the cardframe, the circuit design and the cost were significant parameters in the choice of the product. The system included a six-frame (FR-2RU-10-2-F frames) network with 37 DA-AA distribution amplifier cards and three PWR-AC 15/5/5/5V redundant power supplies. Custom breakout cables were provided by Gepco.
Norcon Communications, a company involved with USTA and the U.S. Open since 1977, served as the system integrator for the project, installing the frames and contributing wiring and cable management. The final result: six channels of distributed audio running all over the place for 14 days flawlessly.