10/04/2011 New York
New shotgun microphone captures action during most watched program in American television history FOX Sports’ broadcast of Super Bowl XLV on January 28, 2011 was the most watched television program in American history. The championship game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers drew approximately 163 million viewers around the world, and also marked the debut of the new Sennheiser MKH 8070 shotgun microphone, which was deployed on eight handheld cameras on the field for the duration of the game.
Fred Aldous, FOX Sports audio consultant and senior mixer, is a veteran broadcast engineer who has supervised audio for the last five Super Bowl broadcasts for FOX Sports, including Super Bowl XLV. He relies on shotgun microphones to pick up every detail of what is happening both on the sidelines and on the field – from the pre-game festivities, to voices in the huddle to hard-hitting, physical impact. For many years, he has relied on the classic Sennheiser MKH 816, which he considers “one of the best microphones ever built for the application”. This year, at Super Bowl XLV, Aldous and his crew got an exclusive chance to preview the new MKH 8070.
“I put all eight of the MKH 8070s on my handheld cameras, and it was just fantastic,” Aldous says. “The microphone was able to handle very high sound pressure levels with absolutely no distortion, and I was impressed with its overall definition and reach. I was able to pick up things I would not have been able to capture previously; for example, I was able to focus on a play happening 20 to 25 feet away with minimal extraneous noise.”
Sonically, Aldous describes the MKH 8070 as “warm and natural sounding”, and he appreciates the balanced frequency response: “The midrange on many shotgun mics typically sounds washed out, but not on this microphone. It actually sounds like a nice condenser with a cardioid pickup – but it is of course a lobar. It sounds like a shotgun microphone should sound.”
Aldous believes that by deploying the best audio tools on the field, he is not only making his own job easier, but also improving the overall listening experience for fans at home. “A microphone with great frequency response, definition and reach improves the mixing process,” he says. “I am able to concentrate on the mix itself rather than finessing a microphone into the mix by using excessive EQ and dynamics. Also, as listeners at home acquire more sophisticated A/V equipment, they expect a more intimate audio experience. The new MKH 8070 will help us achieve this.”
All in all, Super Bowl XLV was a huge success for Aldous and his crew, as well as an entertaining experience for the millions and millions of viewers glued to the screen: “This is my 10th Super Bowl, and the smoothest one I’ve ever done,” says Aldous. “Technically, the production was fantastic, and one of the things that made it go so smoothly – both in the set up and the mix – was the MKH 8070. In this line of work, it is all about the people and the equipment, and I knew the MKH 8070 was going to perform.”