ACC Baseball Goes Network – Audio, That Is

The Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Tournament May 18-24 is a regional step on the way to the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. But, this year, it’s also an incremental step toward a fully networked audio infrastructure for broadcast sports.

For the Fox Sports South show covering games at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, A1 Steve Fisher deployed a Lance ADX networked audio system that runs fiber between Raycom’s HD-2 production truck and ADX-140 boxes in the two dugouts and the ADX-120 boxes in the announce booth. The system also extends to the IFB and partyline communications for the show.

“We used to run copper, usually DT-12, all over the field for this kind of show,” says Fisher, who also mixes NFL games and the US Open tennis tournament. “On this series, there won’t be a stitch of copper.”

A diagram of the audio network implemented for the ACC Baseball Tournament

A diagram of the audio network implemented for the ACC Baseball Tournament

Fisher says the benefits are in the speed and efficiency of the setup process, thanks to far less cabling, and the quality of the audio signal. Microphone inputs on the ADX-120 and -140 boxes allow more-effective deployment of effects mics, such as the Sennheiser 416 and 816 shotguns used to pick up bat cracks near the plate and pick-off moves at first and third bases. The mics have also made coach interviews easier and better able to be integrated into the show mid game. A Sennheiser MD 25 or MD 26 headset is positioned at each dugout and can be plugged into the ADX-140 box for communication between the dugout and the booth, all on a single strand of fiber.

“It’s prearranged — the A2 is there to hand the coach the headset — but you get really nice banter in there,” Fisher says. “It’s right in the middle of the game, the fifth or sixth inning, so you’re getting some nice insight into the play. It really engages the viewer.”

But, he adds, being able to also integrate the IFB and PL signals into the overall network is significant in terms of overall system efficiency and operability.

“The great thing about this is that it scales beautifully,” he says, noting that he set up a similar network system for the field and booth at the last five Super Bowls.

“Everything is a node on the network,” he explains. “The dugouts are nodes, the truck is a node, the booth is a node. The network itself can handle thousands of circuits. It’s a lot simpler than analog. Instead of running more cable to expand the audio system, you just add another node. This is where it’s going.”