Poznan, Poland (November 30, 2020)—There are nautical enthusiasts who may row, row, row their boat gently down the stream—but they are nowhere to be found at the World Rowing Championships. The word “gently” doesn’t appear either, because the event draws the best athletic rowers from around the world and the competition is fierce. The three-day rowing regatta is the annual culmination of the sport, bringing with it all the drama and excitement that one might expect as boats tear their way across aquatic expanses in record time. Ensuring that all in-person spectators at this year’s edition, held on Lake Malta in Poznan, Poland in October, could hear the commentary and become immersed in the experience was audio engineer Marcin Baran of MTS Studio, who mixed the event on an Allen & Heath SQ-5 console.
Baran chose the SQ-5 to handle all live and streaming sound, including eight commentary channels in multiple languages, wireless mics for the medal ceremonies and music playback. The SQ-5 was fitted with an SLink card, giving Baran the extra SLink port needed to deploy independent GX4816 and DX168 I/O expanders. One expander fed the various zones of the lakeside complex, while the second fed the main PA in the medals area as well as multiple speaker zones in the stands, with help from the built-in delays on the SQ’s busses. Further mixes were sent to commentators’ headphones, to two separate livestreams and to an OB van.
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As heats started on the far side of the lake and ended 2 km from the spectators, a key challenge was to give fans in the grandstands and viewers at home a sense of immersion in the races. A submix of ambient mics captured the waterside sounds and starting signal from the start line, sent via old analog cables laid under the lakebed many years ago. The signal proved quite noisy, so Marcin connected a laptop running Waves X-Noise Native via the SQ’s USB port to identify and tackle the problem frequencies. Once the boats were underway, feeds from ambient mics from cameras mounted on a boat that followed the athletes, keeping the audience in contact with the action on the lake.
With so many different elements to stay across, automation and streamlining of workflows were essential, as Baran noted, “I created one group for all commentators that didn’t feed into any of the mixes, but triggered the duckers on all music inputs. I used an analog Bettermaker mastering limiter for the streaming and I used eight instances of SQ’s DynEQ4 dynamic EQ on all the commentator channels. With the mixer set up in this way, everything practically mixed itself, leaving my hands free to look after the music. For me, the SQ is a small, handy mixer with enormous possibilities. I love using this mixer on tour with bands, also SQ-5 is the heart of my mobile recording studio setup.”
Allen & Heath • www.allen-heath.com
Rowing World Championship • www.worldrowing.com