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Audio, the heart of the image

Microfono SennheiserThanks to the fact that Latin American productions are increasingly marketed abroad, channels have been paying greater attention to sound and now the migration to digital begins.

In recent years we have heard about the migration from analog to digital in broadcast, but this has been based on image and sound has been  neglected. Now we begin to talk about the digitization of sound.

By Richard Santa 

Using a digital audio system will avoid the problems of analog systems such as intermodulation, difficult handling of the spectrum of frequencies and distribution of wireless channels, just to name a few. In Latin America, the implementation of digital sound has been marked by the increase in the number of productions of international stature. In addition, it has generated a greater demand for professionals specialized in audio for broadcast by channels and producers.

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To better understand this process of digitizing sound in Latin America and what its benefits will be, TVYVIDEO spoke with Camilo Correal, one of the people in charge of Sennheiser's broadcast area.

TVV: What does a Latin channel prefer when looking for microphones?

Camilo Correal: In the long run, what it seeks in the long run is to have a way to handle information faster (audio and video), make it more efficient, more effective and with higher quality. The audio quality of the digital, as it does not accept interference and is compressed, tends to improve compared to analog. Therefore, the channels sooner or later will have to migrate there because a single network will handle everything, but being new technology is a little expensive. 

TVV: Is price still the deciding factor for the purchase?

Camilo Correal: Channels are not always based on price. Sometimes they are based on the advantages of having digital systems. But we are in the process of transition, not everything is digital yet. Even the servers if we put digital audio in them do not have the capacity to process it. It's something that has to do with the whole network process. In about two three years, everything is going to end up being digital.  

TVV: Is broadcast digitization thought to be in image, for sound it has been lagging behind?

Camilo Correal: Yes. The priority in terms of channels has been the image. But for some years now they have realized the importance of sound. In an interesting study, two groups of people were given a video. Both had the image of excellent quality, but one was distorted by the sound. The group with good image and sound, had no criticism about the image. The second, despite having the same images, manifested defects in framing and lighting. With this kind of thing people began to realize that audio is the heart of the image. 

- Publicidad -

TVV: Can I continue working with analog audio?

Camilo Correal: The move to digital technology everyone will have to do. It is already being done in terms of video and networks, the last step is that of microphones. It is a very new technology, it came out this year, that is to say that before we did not have the possibility of handling digital microphones.  

TVV: Are the producers and channels aware of this?

Camilo Correal: That's already in people's heads. Before audio was very undervalued but today there is much more awareness that audio is the heart, which makes the viewer vibrate when he is seeing an image. There are more specialized people and they are putting much more seriousness into the audio. In addition, all the products that are being made in Latin America are going through international cable channels, they are competing with gringo products, and that is why they cannot show products that are not up to those channels.  

For a few years now people are giving it the importance that audio deserves. Although it is a little missing because we do not have the experience. But in terms of equipment and human capacity we are already close.  

TVV: Can the viewer perceive the flaws?

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Camilo Correal: Yes, right. The audio of an American production was very different from a Latin one. And when companies begin to realize the importance of audio, they begin not only to invest, but also to hire people who are very specialized in audio. And when there are very specialized people in the production companies, they begin to produce better, with better equipment and to comply with the standards. They're already very focused on that. 

TVV: How far is digital audio progress being made in Latin America?

Camilo Correal: Digital audio is already invented. We already know how to handle and produce. What is being done is to launch systems that are more in terms of price to the industry. Large television channels in Latin America have them, every time it will become more popular, but every time a new technology comes out it always has a high cost. Sooner or later everyone is going to use digital audio technology.

TVV: What is missing in Latin America to have good audio?

Camilo Correal: We still lack things, we have to meet certain parameters. For example, in Latin America something happens, there are very few countries that can transmit in surround and we are not recording with this technology. But when we export the series, we begin to simulate the surround and you can see the difference. In things like this we are below, but because we are exporting a lot, people are adapting.  

TVV: Can audio issues be fixed in post-production?

Camilo Correal: If the audio is not captured as it should be, then it cannot be processed in post-production. The most critical thing is the moment in which the television is recorded and is that the audio has to be recorded with very good standards, with a very clear cleaning because no matter the process that is done later, it will not look good. It is very difficult to correct the audio in post-production, those corrections do not generate good quality audio.

If the audio arrives bad, from then on everything comes out very regular. That is why you need very good quality microphones and sound engineers who know very well what they are doing and have in their head the subsequent process, who have the idea of how the audio is going to come out at the end since it is being recorded. 

TVV: And do we have sound engineers specialized in broadcasting in Latin America?

Camilo Correal: We still lack audio specialists with an emphasis on broadcast. Although there are a university with sound engineering and people who have in mind the audio in its theoretical part, in practice there is not a good offer of technical training especially for broadcast in Latin America. If it is very necessary because it is not the same to do a concert, record in a studio or scenes for broadcast, because they can be recorded in very different spaces and conditions that require tailor-made solutions for each situation.  

The techniques and situations for broadcast always change a lot and that has to do with the creativity and technical knowledge of the sound engineers. But we have very good engineers in Latin America who, along with the increase in productions of international stature, have been creative and have sought training, even online.  

TVV: Is anything being done by manufacturers to train them?

Camilo Correal: We have something called Sennheiser Academy, where a lot of the use of systems is explained, whether wired, wireless or boom, also why and why we create them and in what situations they should be used. It is a theoretical part that engineers must know to solve the problems that may arise when it is being recorded. We focus a lot on explaining the characteristics of the products and how they can be used in different situations.  

TVV: Does wireless analog audio have many myths about how it works, how far are they unfounded?

Camilo Correal: Wireless analog audio works very well as long as there is a pre-study of the radio frequency landscape where it is going to be recorded. The problem with many sound engineers is that they believe that wireless microphones, whether digital or analog, are plug and play. But when you arrive at a location, an analysis of the radio frequency landscape must be made and depending on the situation, the microphones must be squared so that there is no interference with the natural interferences of the place and with the microphones themselves. Many times the problem is not of the technology but of its use. In general terms, wireless microphones work very well, as long as you know how to use it.  

Sennheiser technology for broadcast

Camilo Correal commented that Sennheiser is currently promoting its 9000 series digital microphone system. It is a totally digital series that seeks to keep the entire audio chain digital from the microphone, through the console, processors, all digital until the final product is already made, either for transmission or recording. Its great feature is that it does not generate intermodulation, so it has a much easier frequency handling than analog series.  

"The fact that you can handle the entire audio chain, especially right now that all the channels are networks and from the same network you can send the signal to any studio, so the fact that it's all digital is supremely useful and easy for the whole structure that's being mounted on the channels," he added. But there are also two lines that are most used in the world for broadcast. For the studies they have the evolution 100, 300, and 500 series. And for the big studios there's the 2000 series.


Richard Santa, RAVT
Author: Richard Santa, RAVT
Periodista de la Universidad de Antioquia (2010), con experiencia en temas sobre tecnología y economía. Editor de las revistas TVyVideo+Radio y AVI Latinoamérica. Coordinador académico de TecnoTelevisión&Radio.

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