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Jaguar Revs Up Ad Campaign Sound With Lectrosonics

Lectrosonics transmitters in the engine bay, the air intake, and on one of the exhausts, with two more inside the car

U.K.-based sound recordist Bal Rayat utilized Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless technology to capture the sound of a prototype Jaguar XE S sports sedan, recorded at the company’s assembly plant in England’s West Midland for an advertising campaign.

“It sounded amazing, absolutely amazing,” reports Bal, who was hired by the advertising agency. “The client is very, very happy. They were nervous, because they’d never met me before and Jaguar is a big client for them, but as soon as they saw all my gear laid out they knew they were in good hands.”

The agency had completed the visuals for the campaign, he continues, but needed authentic sounds to bring it to life. “They called me up and said, ‘We need you to record the different sounds that come off the car—sitting idle, going full pelt, doing 30, 50, 70 miles per hour.’”

Bal assembled his kit, including four Lectrosonics SMQV beltpack transmitters and a pair of SR Series dual-channel slot-mount receivers, and headed over to the Jaguar Range Rover plant in Solihull, just outside Birmingham, England’s second-largest city. Over recent years the manufacturer has invested £1.5 billion in the plant, which will reportedly be capable of producing an XE car body every 78 seconds.

“In total I had 10 microphones on the car so they could pick and choose what they wanted for the edit,” he explains. “I put a Lectrosonics SMQ in the engine bay, in the air intake, because they wanted to hear the whistle of the supercharger. Then I had two Lectrosonics SMQ transmitters inside the car, in the driver’s position, in case they wanted that, and I had another Lectrosonics transmitter on one of the exhausts.” Bal uses a combination of DPA, Countryman and Sanken lavalier mics with his transmitters.

The four Lectrosonics wireless channels were supplemented by wired AKG, Audio-Technica, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser and Schoeps microphones, offering alternative coverage as well as backup in case of failures. All 10 channels were recorded into a Sound Devices 664/CL6 system.

“I was on my own and had six hours to get it all rigged and recorded,” says Bal, who recorded over four hours of engine, exhaust and tire sounds. “I only had two failures. One microphone got a little too close to the exhaust and at the end of the day the pop shield had a big hole in it.” The battery was in the rear of the car, where Bal had an SMQ transmitter located, and during one take the lav mic ended up dangling unnoticed in front of the other exhaust. “I was lucky—it just burned through the rubber shielding, but the microphone still worked. Had it stayed there another minute it would have been toast.”

Bal has more than 10 years of experience working on productions for the BBC, Endemol, Fox, Optomen and others, including the award-winning The Great British Bake Off and Countryfile, two of the most-watched shows on U.K. television. He has been using Lectrosonics equipment for the past eight years. “There are three reasons: reliability, sound quality and customer support. I’ve never seen such customer support,” he says.

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Next up for Bal is the latest season of Great British Menu, a reality show in which competing chefs prepare a multi-course banquet for hundreds of guests. “It’s a big show,” he says. “There are three different sound guys—and we’re all using Lectrosonics.”

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