Microphone Solutions for Recording Live Sports

You may think a live sporting event is made entirely of constant noise and excitement from a buzzing, rowdy crowd, but in reality they are made up of many specific situations, with varying degrees of ambience and atmosphere, which makes capturing the audio a challenging and varied task.

To effectively capture all the action you may need multiple microphone solutions, designed to tackle each task as a unique, isolated event.

We were lucky enough to be invited to a live basketball game by our home-town Sydney Kings, to capture all the sights and sounds and put some of these microphone solutions to the test.

Pre-Game Audio

Prior to the game, the foyer of Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney Olympic Park was buzzing with excitement. Live Music was playing, a noisy crowd shuffled in, and enthusiastic fans shouted over each other to snatch up the last available t-shirt or jersey in their size.

Addressing the camera in such a loud environment was a difficult task, as the go-to solution of the Reporter Microphone, with it’s omni-directional polar pattern picked up too much of the surrounding background sound. For this reason we opted for the NTG4 shotgun microphone, with it’s highly directional polar pattern, and low handling noise it was an ideal replacement as a hand-held microphone which would also focus on one specific sound source, and ignore the surrounding unwanted noise.

To not get in the way of bustling patrons, and ensure we were free to walk amongst the crowd, we opted for the RØDELink Newsshooter Kit as a wireless solution to get audio to camera.

The Newsshooter kit is the perfect companion to the NTG4 shotgun, whether used hand held or on a boompole, with it’s direct and lockable XLR connection, 48v phantom power provided (which the NTG4 requires) and multiple gain options to ensure a healthy signal is sent to camera.

In-Game Audio

Capturing the game sound requires the complete opposite approach. We wanted to immerse our audience in the sounds of the game, and the 10,000 strong crowd gathered in the arena to cheer on their local team.

For this type of immersion we opted for our duo of Stereo on-camera microphones, the Stereo VideoMic Pro and Stereo VideoMic X.

As we were situated close to the court, therefore literally surrounded by the crowd and with all the on-court action passing us from side to side, the stereo microphones, with their matched pairs of cardioid capsules positioned in an X/Y configuration did a great job on capturing a wide, natural soundscape of this environment, placing our audience right in the middle of the action.

Pre-recorded sound is also played through the arena’s massive PA system, including loud drums and chants, containing lots of low frequency information. Both the SVMP and SVMX, with their full frequency response of 20hz-20kHz were capable of recording such sounds with clarity and no audible distortion. If low end became an issue, both microphones are equipped with an 80hz roll off, or high pass filter, to ensure low frequencies could be tamed and not cause any audible distortion.

During the game the crowd was encouraged to make as much noise as possible, with sound pressure levels reaching 100db inside the arena. Again both microphones captured these levels with ease, with a max db SPL rating of 134db and 143db SPL respectively.

Post-Game Audio

Following the game (and a Sydney Kings win via Kevin Lisch buzzer beater) we were invited to the post-game Press Conference to capture commentary by Head Coach Andrew Gaze and team Captain Kevin Lisch.

For this situation focusing on the sound source was paramount, so we opted again for the NTG4 shotgun microphone. As the NTG4 is highly directional, we needed two microphones, one for each speaker, placed directly in-front of them mounted on the DS1 table top stand.

For a clean looking, cable-free setup we opted again for the RØDELink Newsshooter kit, as a wireless solution to get audio to camera. As we needed two microphones, two kits were required, with each microphone connected to it’s own TX-XLR transmitter, and both RX-Cam Receivers mounted on the camera.

The RØDELink System operates on the licence free series II 2.4GHz spectrum, and offers 8 available channels to ensure you can use multiple systems in the same vicinity with no interference issues.

 All three scenarios presented a unique audio challenge with vastly different approaches required. From presenting in a noisy foyer, to capturing immersive game audio, and finally recording clear dialogue in a quiet press conference we were able to meet the needs of each situation by adapting our approach and using a different microphone for each situation.