Recording and Studio
The telecast of the 45th Annual Grammy Awards from Madison Square Garden on February 23 marked a major step forward in the sound and look of television: the broadcast was the first-ever network broadcast prime-time awards program to be shown in HDTV and heard in 5.1 surround audio. On board was the Lexicon 960L Multi-Channel Digital Effects System, the critically acclaimed digital audio processor capable of handling up to eight channels of discrete digital audio simultaneously. CBS distributed HDTV's 1,080 lines of picture resolution and 5.1 channels of CD-quality surround sound in a number of major markets on its High Definition Television Network.
The HDTV/5.1 broadcast was mixed and monitored by a combination of top-tier remote facilities, including Effanel Music's renowned L7 remote recording truck, Effanel's new OSR1 truck, as well as All Mobile's "Resolution" high definition production truck. The 5.1 mix was supervised by the legendary Phil Ramone, Chairman of the Recording Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing, and Hank Neuberger, Advisory Council Member of the P&E Wing. Effanel President Randy Ezratty was the official 5.1 Sound Designer. Music mixers included John Harris and Jay Vicari. The production mixer was Ed Greene. The Effanel L7 mobile unit handled the 15-plus music performances during the show. The truck's AMS-Neve Capricorn Digital Console allowed the audio teams to generate both a purpose-built stereo mix and a separate 5.1 mix simultaneously. The stereo mix from L7 was routed directly to one of the stereo control rooms in the All Mobile Resolution production truck. The 5.1 mix from L7 was fed to Effanel's new OSR1 mobile recording truck, where Ezratty added other mono and stereo elements and "sweeten" the audio using the Lexicon 960L. He then relayed the final 5.1 surround mix to the All Mobile Resolution truck where it was sent over fiber-optic cable for broadcast.
As stellar as the line-up of technical talent in the trucks and the artistic talent on the stage were, the Lexicon 960L was able to meet the challenge, assuring the broadcast lived up to the promise offered by HDTV. As Randy Ezratty explained prior to the event, "The 960L is being used on the 5.1 broadcast to enhance the room microphones that we are already using in Madison Square Garden. There are some room anomalies in that space that we do want, and some we would like to minimize for the sake of musicality. Because the 960L has an extensive number of 5.1 surround halls and room presets, we can use those programs and 'feather' them into the 5.1 mix. In addition, I'm using the 960L's LOGIC7 algorithm on some of the stereo pre-taped elements. Using LOGIC7 on a few of these prerecorded stereo snippets will help keep the continuity of a 5.1 show as well as increase the audio's impact. The 960L room programs are superb and we have had a tremendous amount of experience with them. Because it's a live show and we're going to be thinking on the fly, I need to use equipment with which I'm very familiar. Effanel has used the 960L on many previous projects, including DVDs for Tony Bennett and U2. It's really the tool of choice for a project like this."