The inaugural Advanced Audio Symposium, presented by the DTV Audio Group and SVG and held in Detroit, Michigan, on July 13, 2017, was a resounding success, attracting attendees and presenters from across North America and Europe. The one-day event presented an opportunity for sports mixers, sound designers, and production engineers to familiarize themselves with emerging audio production and distribution trends and technologies.
The busy program included presentations and panels involving participants from major television and cable networks, remote production services providers, equipment manufacturers, and broadcast audio professionals. The symposium was made possible by Dolby Laboratories and co-sponsors Audio-Technica, Calrec/DigiCo, Dale Pro Audio, JBL by Harman, and Lawo.
Morning session topics, focusing on IP networking, included a review of the standards development work underpinning AES67 and SMPTE ST 2110, and the importance of metadata in networked distribution and production streams to address personalization, virtualization, and consistent cross-platform loudness control. There was also discussion of the potential for future IP-networked “smart” microphone products.
Presenters offered an update on the FCC’s latest rulemaking for wireless microphones and recommended strategies and best practices for operation now that the telecom companies have acquired significant frequency spectrum in the 600 MHz band and are ready to begin operations.
Dolby Atmos initially rolled out as an immersive audio format for presentation in the movie theater and at home. More recently, it has been adopted by streaming distribution entities for premium content and is now being adopted for next-gen broadcast services. Dolby Labs, the event’s premium sponsor, outfitted a Dolby Atmos demo room and showed highlights from live broadcasts of soccer and boxing in the UK. Members of the production and facility services teams behind those events provided insights into the creative and technological challenges of delivering object-based immersive audio mixes for live sports broadcasts.
There were presentations of various equipment and emerging technologies suitable for sports broadcast applications throughout the day, including Sennheiser’s digital, ambisonic, and beam-forming array mic products; Lawo’s Kick automated close ball tracking mix control system; Waves’ plug-ins and SoundGrid platforms; and JBL Pro’s Series 7 monitor system, which was also used for 9.1.4 playback in the Dolby Atmos demo room.
The day closed with a series of panel discussions on the related topics of evolving production infrastructures and in-house remote production (also known as at-home or REMI), and the challenges of modern audio production facing live sports mixers.