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Taking Care of Business With Lawo mc² Consoles and VSM

(Image credit: Lawo)

AUKLAND, N.Z.—Before COVID-19, most of my work was 50/50 in New Zealand and offshore at major sporting events. Nevertheless, earlier this year I was the audio supervisor for the 36th America’s Cup sailing regatta in Auckland. At the time of writing, I’m still in Tokyo where I’m working for OBS as part of a Kiwi production team that produces the sailing telecasts. Then I’m off to the US Open Tennis Championships in New York, to work as an audio/comms engineer in the TOC.

I was first introduced to Lawo in 2008, during the new studio and OB truck build for SKY TV NZ. Although rather new to our part of the world, Lawo was nevertheless chosen for its flexibility and versatility. I have been using almost the entire Lawo product range on most of my assignments ever since.

My favorite console used to be the mc²66 Mk2: it was so robust and a treat to navigate. Now, I mainly work with the mc²56 Production Console, and occasionally also an mc²36. 


I find the GPC (General-Purpose Channel) functionality particularly useful to achieve some mundane tasks behind the scenes that would otherwise require a separate operator. On the America’s Cup production, for instance, we utilized GPCs to pan the yachts around the race course. We created two faders that allowed us to take each boat as a whole and to move it around the sound image to create perspective for the viewer at home.

It meant that if one boat was firmly left of center, and the other firmly on the right, we could place them there. We hope to enhance this function further by using Lawo’s VSM broadcast control system to decipher GPS data for a 5.1 version at the 37th America’s Cup.

Immersive sound is clearly the future and being able to control it right at the sweet spot is key. The height speakers make a huge difference and provide you with the feeling that you are in the stadium. 

Similarly, WAVES plug-in integration has proved a lifesaver more than once. I was working on a studio show recently where the noise from the fans in the lighting equipment was extremely obtrusive, but WAVES solved our problem. I highly recommend it, especially for high-turnaround television.

Native AES67/RAVENNA/ST21010 support allows me to access audio on the network at any time, not least in rather novel workflows that went mainstream during the pandemic. One example is commentators working offsite, in a booth back at the network HQ, or directly from home.

The A__UHD Core makes accessing all audio signals on the network easy and is also great for a flypack solution, as everything can be preconfigured at base, with minimal cabling onsite.

In my line of work, I need to be flexible, think on my feet and leverage the technology provided by the tools at hand. There are a host of powerful functions in the mc²-series consoles, and when you add VSM to the mix, you can handle some cool tasks quite simply.

My favorite example is that with the help of some of our video engineers, we now leave audio routing for the submix truck to VSM. We use the mixer for monitoring and redundancy, and VSM takes care of the actual audio routing into the EVS machines. It has access to all direct outputs on the main consoles, providing intuitive touchscreen operation for the submix operators.

I’m extremely fond of the flexibility provided by Lawo—and also of the team’s availability. l

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Steve Hartley is a freelance audio director/engineer with over two decades of experience working in audio.