An Allen & Heath SQ-5 console was recently at the heart of the live and streaming sound action at the World Rowing Championships, held on Lake Malta in Poznan, Poland in October.
Audio engineer Marcin Baran of MTS Studio (based in Tulce in west-central Poland) chose the SQ-5 for the application, which included eight commentary channels in multiple languages, wireless microphone systems for the medal ceremonies, and music playback.
The SQ-5 was fitted with an SLink card, giving Marcin 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 loudspeaker zones in the stands, with help from the built-in delays on the SQ’s buses. Further mixes were sent to commentators’ headphones, to two separate livestreams and to an OB van.
As heats started on the far side of the lake and ended 2km 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 analogue cables laid under the lakebed many years ago.
The signal proved quite noisy, so Marcin connected a laptop running Waves X-Noise Native via 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 following the athletes kept 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 Marcin explains, “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.”
The championships ran over three days, with The Netherlands heading the 17 nations represented on the medals table.