Wakefield, UK, March 2009: Event audio consultants Video Sound Services Limited (VSSL) have invested in SoundField’s DSF-2 and DSF-3 digital microphone and 5.1 digital surround-sound processor. Based in Kent, VSSL have for several years been advocates of the innovative SoundField approach to creating 5.1 surround-sound for HD broadcast. As a result of VSSL’s advice, several high-profile broadcasters have invested in SoundField’s technology to enable them to broadcast 5.1 audio alongside high-definition video coverage, including satellite broadcaster Sky, Switzerland’s TEAM Marketing AG, UEFA’s exclusive media partner, South Africa’s national broadcaster SABC and Host Broadcasting Services, the broadcast partner for the FIFA World Cup. Now, VSSL has purchased its own DSF-2 and DSF-3 system.
“SoundField’s digital microphone and digital 5.1 decoder have become part of our standard toolkit when we are asked to provide 5.1 audio for sports broadcasts,” explains Robert Edwards of VSSL. “We use the systems on a weekly basis when working on high-profile international football and rugby coverage for a variety of broadcasters, most recently on February’s Brazil-Italy game at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, which was viewed by 150 million people in 37 countries – but until now, although the systems have often been installed on our recommendation, they’ve always been owned by other companies. We decided the time had come to purchase a DSF-2/DSF-3 system of our own.”
“We can recommend no better way of originating audio for broadcast in 5.1,” adds Edwards’ VSSL colleague Ian Rosam. “In their supplied Rycote windshields, the DSF-2s are windproof, waterproof, and reliable – Sky permanently installed one at Chelsea’s ground three years ago and it’s still working. In terms of setup alone, SoundField’s solution is hard to beat. In the time it takes other broadcasters to argue about how many mics they’re going to use in their surround array and fiddle with protractors trying to position them, we can have a single-mic DSF-2/DSF-3 system installed and rigged, and be sure of high-quality digital 5.1 reaching the airwaves.”
Like the SoundField systems Edwards and Rosam have used previously, VSSL’s DSF-2 will no doubt see use on many HD sports broadcasts in the future, but in the short term, it’s being gainfully employed on light entertainment programming, such as ITV’s X-Factor and Harry Hill’s TV Burp (see images below), for which Edwards is an audio mixer. “Sport is driving 5.1 and HD in broadcast, and 5.1 audio for sport is a well-trodden path for us now,” comments Edwards, “but ultimately 5.1 sound will be introduced to other areas of broadcast, such as entertainment, so we think it sensible to gain experience of using the DSF-2 in other types of programming. We’d also like to spread the word about SoundField.” Although both the X-Factor and Harry Hill shows are broadcast in stereo, Edwards is using the DSF-2 to create simultaneous stereo and 5.1 audio streams of the audience reactions in both shows, and is recording the 5.1 audio to a Pro Tools digital audio workstation while the stereo feed is broadcast. “There are no libraries of audience reaction in 5.1, and I’d like to create some,” he explains. “Also, although the DSF-2 was designed as a multi-channel broadcast mic, it makes very good stereo recordings. I’m recording a recital with it in a Christopher Wren church next week. Like the best tools, it’s very versatile.”