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Sound 3’s Aurus takes bow for Proms debut

The 2010 BBC Proms season begins next week (16th July), continuing the 115-year old tradition of offering a wide and varied range of music. Making its debut this year is BBC Radio Resource's Sound 3 mobile studio, equipped with a Stagetec Aurus digital console.

The 2010 BBC Proms season begins next week (16th July), continuing the 115-year old tradition of offering a wide and varied range of music, with nearly 100 concerts, all of them broadcast live on Radio 3 and many shown on BBC television, writes Kevin Hilton. Making its debut this year is BBC Radio Resource’s Sound 3 mobile studio, equipped with a Stagetec Aurus digital console. The radio OB fleet is being reequipped and many will feature Aurus desks. Smaller general-purpose vehicles will have 32-fader models, while larger trucks, including Sound 3, have 40-faders and eight groups. Sound 3 is providing stereo balances for coverage on Radio 3 and the digital TV channel BBC4. Facilities for concerts shown on BBC Two and the BBC HD channel are supplied by SIS LIVE and include a video scanner with a Calrec Sigma console for the presentation and the Master Sound mobile, which has a Stagetec Cantus with B&W monitoring. Radio 3 is broadcasting all concerts, which include 76 from the home of the Proms, the Royal Albert Hall, and 13 chamber music recitals at the Cadogan Hall. BBC Two and the HD channel are showing the First and Last Nights, with selected concerts in between, all in Dolby Digital surround sound for high def. This continues what SIS LIVE sound supervisor Andy Payne describes as last year’s “big leap”, when everything for BBC Two and the HD channel is mixed in surround, with a fold-down for stereo. The signals are captured using a Decca tree comprising Schoeps microphones and a Hamasaki square made up of Sennheiser MKH30s. The televised concerts are live, deferred (recorded but broadcast while the performance is still in progress) or completely pre-recorded. In the latter case the audio is post-produced at Classic Sound in northwest London. Payne produces three MADI streams, running through a DHD router, with the surround passed around the site in linear discrete format. At the last moment it is coded into Dolby E for transmission. All Radio 3 broadcasts of the Proms are live and in stereo, with BBC4 a mixture of live and deferred. Neil Pemberton, senior studio manager with BBC Audio & Music, says preparations for the First Night include three days rigging at the Albert Hall flying approximately 32 microphones, with pairs of omnis for ambience, as well as mics slung over the different sections, including the strings and woodwind. Spot mics are also used on stage. The mics are a mixture of DPA and Schoeps, with Neumann K 100s used for choruses. Although R3 is not broadcasting surround Pemberton will be taking feeds from the SIS LIVE Hamasaki square, which will give the option for re-mixing in 5.1 for any future re-broadcast or DVD/SACD release. www.bbc.co.uk/proms/2010

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