The National Basketball Association (NBA) 2019-2020 season, reformatted due to the pandemic, will have its playoffs and finals on three courts in the Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando that begain in late July, with all courts equipped with two sound systems, one designed to immerse the NBA players in crowd and live venue sounds mixed with DiGiCo Quantum7 consoles.
“It’s a beast,” says Firehouse Productions vice president Mark Dittmar, referring to the Quantum7, “and that’s an understatement.” The consoles –three DiGiCo SD7 desks each updated with new Quantum engines — are the hubs for all of the audio elements that are feeding these courts. Those elements include more than 1,500 individual audio clips such as cheers, boos, and other reaction sounds stored on media servers and collected from a variety of authentic sources, including originally produced content, foley, and content provided by the teams and the league. In addition, the Quantum7 creates a 5.1 version of the audience audio that is sent to broadcast for on-air use.
Dittmar says the Quantum7 assigned to the venue’s main arena was the first to be programmed and became the template for the other two Quantum7 desks. “Once we got all of our basic relative levels set there, the only mixing that’s done is on the systems that the people controlling these crowd and other sound effects are using during the games,” he explains. “The DiGiCos then become these big, reliable routers that are used for the live sound for the entire season.”
The identical configuration of each console means that any Firehouse Productions A1 can move between the venues and sit at a console and know immediately where each I/O — there are nearly 160 inputs in each venue feeding about 56 outputs — is assigned. “Every mixer will have the exact same experience,” Dittmar adds. “And that’s a huge advantage that that keeps the sound very consistent from game to game.”
The Quantum7 consoles and the three 32-bit I/O-equipped SD-Racks that each of the three desks uses to manage that input array, feed L-Acoustics PA systems in each venue, with sound focused on the field of play. The main arena system comprises 60 L-Acoustics K2 loudspeakers configured as 10 hangs of six enclosures each, buttressed by a dozen L-Acoustics KS28 subs, with a slightly smaller PA deployed in the Visa and HP venues.
The Quantum7 desks also provide monitor input to the mixers handling the crowd sounds and sound effects, and they additionally deliver a discrete 5.1-surround feed to the broadcast compound. “The Quantum7s reliably handle a huge workflow,” Dittmar says. And the consoles’ features are also making their presence felt, providing the slots for the Dante cards that are taking in the audio from those submixers, 10 channels each from three laptop sources per venue.
“No other console that I know of can handle that kind of huge input load,” he conclude. “It’s an awesome tool for the scope of this. These are extremely high channel counts feeding a unique PA system for a major-league sports event that’s never been done before. For its reliability under that kind of pressure, for its processing capability, and for its I/O capacity… that’s why DiGiCo’s Quantum7 was the only choice for this.”