Comcast SportsNet Tackles 5.1 With SSL C100

Philadelphia, PA--Comcast SportsNet, which owns the cable rights and is the production entity for all of the local telecasts for the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) and Philadelphia Phillies (Major League Baseball), recently installed a Solid State Logic C100 Digital Broadcast Console to handle 5.1 surround mixes of major sports events. The C100 is the audio hub for the two stadium locations, The Wachovia Center basketball/hockey arena and Citizens Bank Park, the new major league baseball stadium. The console generates Dolby E surround, stereo and mono mixes for production and distribution.
"A few years ago, Comcast decided to make SportsNet an HD channel that would market [the] product as full HD 5.1 Dolby Digital audio," said Mike Giacalone, digital audio consulting engineer for Comcast SportsNet. "Since we started using the C100, we can easily create the multiple 5.1 mixes we need for each event. We also have the added benefit of SSL’s superior stereo/mono fold down algorithm that yields a great stereo and mono version of a mix automatically. We believe that the C100 is the only console capable of realtime, live 5.1 production for broadcast."
The audio installation set-up employs a fiber optic cable run of 6,000 feet connecting SSL’s remote stagebox technology in the Citizens Bank Park, and the C100, which resides within the Wachovia Center.
"Having SSL’s stage box located across the street at the ballpark is a new technological venture for us," said Bob Ayars, vice president of technical operations for Comcast SportsNet. "It really has worked out great that the operation is seamless to the audio engineer. The baseball stadium connection operates just like it was installed next door, even though it's 6,000 feet away. The performance is great and rock solid."
"We are mixing everything in 5.1," said Giacalone. "Even with the NBA, where certain games have to go out over broadcast and not over cable, we still approach the show as a 5.1 mix. We typically do a pre fade and post fade effects mix in 5.1, a program 5.1 mix and an additional mix to outside sources such as a split for both NBA (NBA TV) and MLB (INHD) where they need a mix minus of certain elements. Our experience with the C100 has been satisfying, as it allows us to handle this very complex signal routing and mixing situation with ease. More importantly, our clients are very happy with the audio production and the very positive feedback they receive from the television audience. From the integration of the remote stage box to the extraordinary mixing capabilities, the C100 is a big winner."
Solid State Logic