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Audio-Technica brings surround sound to the Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver will be the first Olympic Games to be totally broadcast with 5.1 surround sound. To accomplish this challenging task, more than 3000 Audio-Technica microphones will be used in the production.

NBC will use several Audio-Technica microphones, headphones and related products for its HD broadcasts (with full surround sound). The models include the AT405 multipattern condenser microphone, which will provide the discrete 5.1 audio bed from the venues for surround-sound broadcast, and the BP4027 stereo shotgun microphone set to the X/Y mode, which will act as primary camera mics. Other models include the AT825 X/Y stereo field-recording microphone and the AT892 MicroSet omnidirectional, condenser head-worn microphone.

“For 5.1, we choose to mic each channel separately with the AT4050,” said Bob Dixon, director of sound design for the NBC Olympics. “For the camera mics, the BP4027’s work well in stereo settings, like coach/athlete conversations on the sidelines. Those mics really give a natural, active feel for the sound in the space the camera is capturing.”

Olympic Broadcast Services Vancouver (OBSV) is the host broadcaster and is responsible for producing and distributing audio and video coverage of the games to all rights-holding broadcasters. OBSV will use the AT4050 and BP4025 X/Y stereo field-recording microphones to capture the 5.1 surround sound.

In Vancouver, there are several different audio environments, each requiring different mic setups. Within events, there are different segments for miking surround, from event preparation to the crowd sounds of the event itself; all of this will be in 5.1 surround.

In addition, Audio-Technica’s AT898 subminiature lavaliere microphone with individual body packs will be used as well as up to 48 channels of simultaneous wireless custom A-T boundary mics to capture the sounds of hockey competition.