Jeff Cohen is a Nine-time Emmy Award winner with 30 years of experience mixing live events and broadcast productions. He told us why he chooses Waves plugins and SoundGrid systems for the NFL broadcasts.
Nine-time Emmy Award winner Jeff Cohen (the Super Bowl Pre/Post, Orange Bowl Halftime, NCAA Basketball) is owner and Senior Engineer at DigiMAXX Productions and has over 30 years of experience designing and mixing audio for live events and broadcast productions. We got to hear from Jeff as he explains why he chooses Waves plugins and Waves SoundGrid for the NFL Broadcasts.
Discussing his setup Jeff says, “I mix an NFL game every Sunday, starting with a preseason game and in alternating years, one divisional playoff game. This year we will go until week seventeen. Most of the Waves equipment in the truck is owned and rented to FOX by DigiMAXX Productions, and we use Waves in two different ways in our NFL show. One is for post-production and includes ProTools, which is used for editing packages built by our onsite video editor, and the other is for real-time, on-air mixing.”
“The first system setup includes ProTools 12.4 running on a 15-inch MacBook Pro (16GB, 500GB SSD, 1TB, 512GB HD’s), Waves SoundGrid Mobile Server, Waves Mercury bundle, Waves DTS Neural Surround Collection™, a Dante Virtual Soundcard and a Focusrite RedNet 6 Dante to MADI converter. The second setup is a Lenovo Think Center Windows 10 Pro PC (64GB, 500GB HD), Waves SoundGrid Extreme Server, Waves Mercury bundle, Waves DTS Bundle, Waves SSL 4000 Collection, the Dugan Automixer and a Calrec I/O card in the Artemis Beam Console.”
He adds, “In audio, we also have an additional Lenovo PC running Spot-On music software and an additional MacBook Pro running other music and sound effects from Soundboard. The Mac is also running a Dante Virtual Soundcard and the Lenovo is going AES through a Digigram Cancun. Additionally, there is a Windows computer with the Calrec. It also runs RTS ADAM AZedit and IPEdit software for communications, as well as the Calrec Artemis operating system. In this truck, the monitors are Neumann KH-120 with a Genelec 7050 Sub. There are also additional speakers for PFL, hot mics and overhead speakers. It was built to be ready for immersive monitoring.”
“The truck is running multiple Dante networks, a Calrec Hydra 2 network and a Waves SoundGrid network. One Dante network is with the truck and runs all of the communications using RTS Omneo and Studio Technologies communications devices as well as microphones connected directly to the Calrec through a Dante I/O card. We are using Studio Technologies’ Dante Announce Consoles and OnAir Belt Packs for our talent along with Shure Axient® RF for our field reporter, as well as for our six RF Klover Parabolic microphones with Neumann KM 183 and 184 microphones. Other field mics include Sennheiser 416’s, 8070’s, 816’s and MKH70’s, along with Shure VP88’s for the crowd. The second Dante Network includes the ProTools computer, Mac Music Computer, the RedNet 6 (connected to the Calrec MADI I/O) and a Calrec Brio effects submix console. The Brio is also connected through the Calrec Hydra2 Network. “
Describing his must-have plugins, Cohen comments, “For the announcers, we use Waves SoundGrid on individual inserts as well as group inserts. For each announcer we use the Waves Scheps Omni Channel, F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ and then the SSL E-Channel. I prefer to use the dynamic EQ’s for the announcers. In sports broadcasting, with announcers using the HMD 27 headsets, mic placement is very important to the sound quality. While at AES, I heard Andrew Scheps speak and do a demo with his Omni Channel plugin. He was describing using the de-esser in a way other than on the high end. He spoke of how it was purposefully full range and not limited to just the high end. I immediately put this into effect to reduce the excessive low mids, but only when above a threshold. If you use a standard EQ, you are removing the frequency no matter what. The use of dynamic EQ’s and the de-esser dramatically improves the audio quality in a very dynamic way. When something is out of bounds, it is adjusted.”
Jeff adds, “We also use the Waves Dugan Automixer on all of our announcers to minimize background noise coming in from the mics. The IFB (Interruptible Fold-Back) mixes are preprocessing and the inserts go to air. On the Announcer subgroup we use a Waves SSL G- Master Buss Compressor to hold things in line. The quality of this buss compressor is so good and a great addition to the signal chain. This is the final stage of maintaining announcer levels and delivering -24 LKFS (Loudness, K-weighted, relative to full scale) levels in a live environment. We also use the Waves WNS Noise Suppressor to try and remove a bit of the stadium ambiance as well.”
Jeff continues, “For the LFE, we use Waves’ Submarine for Subwoofer enhancement. We used to use a DBX 120a Subharmonic Synth, but it was not available to us any longer. I had to look for an alternative. Before Submarine came out, we used Waves LoAir and experimented with Renaissance Bass and MaxxBass. That worked OK, but Submarine is delivering exactly what we were looking for. We use it to add subharmonics to graphics, music and other enhancements. I am very impressed with the effect this has on our final product and the quality of the LFE. We also use the Waves WNS Noise Suppressor on the effects sub-mix to try to remove some of the stadium ambience. We look to get as much of the field sounds as possible. Hits, whistles and other sounds from the field bring the viewer into the stadium and closer to the action. We also fight with the PA. It is excessively loud in some stadiums now, and anything we can do to bring out the field sounds is highly desirable.”
“In the ProTools world, we use the DTS Neural Surround Collection™ up mixers to create a 5.1 mix from our stereo elements. This year is the first year we have gone to 5.1 for most tape elements and archival. So previous elements as well as the music and sound effects need to be upmixed to the 5.1 environment. If we stay in this environment, the quality of the surround product, delivered to the home, is much better and less of a distraction.”
Summarizing, Jeff says, “Using Waves has allowed me to use outboard processing that I do not have with the console by itself. It provides the ability to use devices that, in the past, had to be hardware. For example, we used to have an analog hardwired version of the Dugan on our show; now it is all software. Having all of these tools at my fingertips allows me to create a mix and solve mix related issues without the addition of external hardware. We now have all of the tools to create a consistent, high quality mix, bringing additional intelligibility and defined field sounds while creating the 5.1 surround canvas all in the box. “