Masters Tournament Sound To Ride on a New Network

By Dan Daley

This week’s Masters Tournament (April 9-12 at the Augusta, GA, National Golf Club) kicks off golf’s 2009 season with what will be the largest contingent that CBS Sports has ever fielded at a single event. An estimated 500-plus crew members and staffers will be needed to accommodate the myriad distribution and format destinations for the signals, from the partnerships with ESPN and DirecTV to the near-real-time audio and video that will be fed to AT&T and FloMedia for distribution to personal mobile networks.

That complexity called for a new audio-routing system this year. NEP’s SS24 truck, covering the first nine holes, and the SS10, covering the second nine, will be sending audio via MADI to Corplex’s Iridium truck, where it will be mixed and sweetened, then routed to the ESU mobile unit for domestic distribution and to CobraNet for international distribution.

That’s compared with the more than 100 unmuxed copper DTs that criss-crossed the course last year. “Last year, there was no MADI, no CobraNet,” says Nick Muro, senior engineer for CBS Sports and project manager on the Masters Tournament. “We could do it this year, thanks to the availability of the right trucks and the fact that the international [control room] is about 400 ft. further away than last year, so the CobraNet lets us mux down to a single CAT-5 out.”

There will be Audio-Technica AT835ST stereo mics on all 18 tees and AT815STs on the greens, as well as 13 Sennheiser MKH816 shotgun microphones, 10 Sennheiser MKH70 mono mics on the minis, three Audio-Technica AT835ST “bird mics” — strategically hidden ambience catchers that will have a little bird seed scattered around them to ensure that, this year, the birds that viewers hear will be indigenous to Georgia. Also, two jibs with Sennheiser 416s, two Audio-Technica AT835ST crowd mics, and 17 Sennheiser HME25E announce headsets.

The sheer size of the staff and crew also means that there is less roaming necessary for field audio, which helps make the sound more consistent and predictable, Muro says. “We have a couple of ‘rabbits’ on the field, and that’s about it. The event has a ton of audio from fixed microphones, and, this year, it also has a very sophisticated network to route it on. It’s really become the technology flagship of CBS Sports.”