Presenting in surround really makes the experience so much better. Jazz typically lends itself to doing surround, because you generally have a real audience and real musicians. It is not heavily post-produced. We have a tendency to be pretty conservative on how we mix jazz so soloists don''t go whipping around the room. There is a wide dynamic range, which can be a challenge when you want to gather all the nuances.
For our 5.1 broadcast at our Denver venue, our crew (including mixer Duke Markos) prepared the event setup with 5.1 in mind, including using a Neumann KU100 (Fritz for short) head mic for the rear channels. The Einstein mixing console in the truck wasn''t provisioned for doing surround, so Duke and I had to work our way around it. We sat down and talked out how we were going to create a center channel. So the first thing we did was figure out what would normally go into the center channel, such as the announcer, band leader and whatever was centered in the stage (in this case, the trumpet player and bass). In the left and right channels, we put everything else and set it so there was a hole to put the center channel in.
The downmix was created in the truck with a Neural Surround Downmix. The output from the console was converted through an A-to-D Converter into digital and fed in the Neural Downmix, which took the 5.1 mix and made it into watermarked stereo. The watermarked stereo was sent to a Neural NeuStar 4.0 for leveling and codec pre-conditioning, which fed the broadcast to the primary and backup ISDN links to NPR.
The Neural surround technology creates a very good downmix that inspires confidence although during the production we monitor both the 5.1 mix and the stereo downmix periodically for quality control.
Denver Equipment List
- HHB CDR Plus
- Neumann KM 140, KMS 104, KMS 105, KU 100, M 150, TLM 193, U87, M 147
- Neural Audio Upmix, Downmix
- Pro Tools
- Sennheiser MKH 50, MKH 70, MKH 800, SKM 100 G2
- Telos Zephyr Xstream