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HEAR Brings Elevated Experiences and Audio Excellence to 2024 CMT Music Awards

AUSTIN, TX, April 24, 2024 — The CMT Music Awards is one of the most important live broadcast events in country music every year. ​ Broadcast live from the Moody Center in Austin, Texas and driven by the genre’s loyal fanbase, the show brings together country’s biggest stars for a night of award recognition and unforgettable musical performances. To ensure that the wide variety of music on display for this year’s performance received an audio presentation befitting the occasion, CMT Audio Producer Tom Davis brought on trusted collaborators John Harris and Rob Macomber of HEAR to bring their unique expertise to bear on a musical experience shared with millions of country fans around the world.

HEAR's John Harris and Rob Macomber
HEAR’s John Harris and Rob Macomber
Gemini set up on site at the 2024 CMT Music Awards
Gemini set up on site at the 2024 CMT Music Awards

Elevating the experience of broadcast audio
With sixteen performances across the three hour broadcast by artists like Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn, Trisha Yearwood, and Little Big Town, the 2024 CMT Music Awards was a compelling cross section of the sheer variety of sounds and styles that make up modern day country music. Doing justice to that variety in the broadcast live mix was forefront in the minds of Harris and Macomber. “Award shows like this have many styles of music and represent a range of emotional experiences for the listener,” explained Harris. “As a team, we have a great love of all music, and what we bring to a broadcast like this is the ability to elevate these experiences by creating the proper audio environment where they can flourish.”

“All of the artists whether they are industry legends or up-and-comers are equally important to us. We give everyone 100% whether they are a household name or not.”

To create the proper audio environment, tight coordination with Davis as well as the Front of House mixers for each of the acts enabled the HEAR team to dial in the right sound and feel for each act individually as well as create sonic cohesion between them. “Making it all work together on an emotional level can be challenging, which is one of the big advantages that HEAR brings to a project like this,” Davis explained. “John and Rob know how to build trust with artists by working quickly and delivering what each needs quickly while still having a sense of the larger goal of how the event should sound.”

“We achieved that cohesiveness very easily and it made the creative side of what we bring to a show like this that much easier.”

Gemini Control Room B
Gemini Control Room B

The tools and the talent
Operating out of the HEAR Audio Truck, Gemini, Harris and Macomber utilized the vehicle’s dual control rooms to cover multiple aspects of the show at once as well as provide Davis and his assistant with a full-featured office space from where he could monitor the broadcast and provide feedback where needed. “Gemini is ideally suited for shows like this because we can offer a seamless workflow between the duplicate rooms and provide a safe monitoring space for audio producers within the same truck,” explained Macomber. “It makes for quick, easy communication with the producers and also gives us additional redundancy in the event it’s needed.”

“Being able to work alongside the music mix in Studio A in Gemini was super convenient,” added Davis. “Communication during the show was seamless and my assistant and I were able to monitor everything without having to run back and forth to the venue.”

Although the technology behind the scenes allows Harris and Macomber to do what they do best, it is ultimately in service of the experience that they bring behind the desk. “What the HEAR guys do is a fairly unique service — not many audio engineers understand mixing to picture and what that truly entails,” Davis said. “They understand that it’s as much about watching as it is listening, and hearing the live broadcast mix reflects that. Is the stage setup dark and dreamy? Is it bright and punchy? They have that 6th sense of how the audio mix can enhance that experience and bring the music and visuals together.”

“It’s like improvisation, you’re interacting with the live musicians and being a member of the band,” explained Macomber. “You perform alongside them and connect what they are doing to the listeners at home in the broadcast mix. We know we’ve done our job when the performance transcends the elements of the live experience and crosses over into something that feels more like a studio recording and the elevated emotions that brings to a listener.”

The 2024 CMT Music Awards reached more than 5.4 Million viewers on broadcast night, and millions more as clips of its performances continue to be shared by country music lovers worldwide. Although Davis is quick to point out that there can be a lot of pressure when planning and executing an event like this, he says that the end results are well worth it. “Stakes are high with events like this,” said Davis. “They take a lot of preparation, so being able to trust that the professionals you work with can deliver under pressure is critical.”

“I never have to babysit the guys from HEAR. Their track record and musicality speaks for itself and they delivered an incredible mix for us.”

“We’ve honed our abilities as live broadcast engineers to make lots of important decisions very quickly to create these magical musical moments,” concluded Harris. “Being asked again to do the CMTs was an incredible privilege and we’re thrilled at the opportunity to use this experience to connect viewers with music that we truly love as both creators and fans.”

HEAR's John Harris, CMT Music Awards Audio Mixer Al Centralla, and CMT Music Awards Audio Producer Tom Davis
HEAR’s John Harris, CMT Music Awards Audio Mixer Al Centralla, and CMT Music Awards Audio Producer Tom Davis

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About HEAR
HEAR is a partnership between John Harris, Jody Elff, and Rob Macomber providing recording and mixing services, promoting awareness of the value of experienced audio professionals, and connecting content producers with audio specialists across the media spectrum. Harris, Elff, and Macomber have partnered to address the needs of an evolving media industry, providing recording, mixing and audio production resources that focus on the talent and experience of the engineers, coupled with hardware solutions to meet the needs of a new generation of content producers.

With over 70 years of combined professional audio experience focusing on (but not limited to) music, the HEAR team have worked in some of the most demanding audio production environments in the world, from high-profile international television broadcasts to field recordings in Africa, art installations to award-winning album productions, their experience spans the spectrum of what is possible when working with audio in the 21st century.