In a three-way technical collaboration, Fairlight, DTS and the University of Salford have devised a new means for sound engineers to manage live sports productions – the Spatial Automated Live Sports Audio (Salsa).

Salsa solution is a real-time automated mixing process that identifies the location of specific sound events from a grid of pitch microphones. The algorithm – developed by the University of Salford – identifies the type of sound event, its 3D location, and its duration, and automatically drives console fader movements to open the relevant mic(s). This became a real-world solution when Salsa was combined with the object-based audio live production system co-developed by DTS and Fairlight.

Leaving pitch microphones at a fixed level can result in off-pitch crowd noise masking on-pitch sounds in the broadcast mix. With the introduction of even more mics and immersive object-based audio, it will become even more challenging to manually create the best possible mix. Salsa helps address this problem by allowing different game sounds, such as ball kicks and referee whistles, to be processed automatically by the mixing console. Salsa can be adapted to search for different sounds, allowing the automated mixing to be applied to different sports.

By choosing to use the open object-based audio standard MDA (ETSI 103-223: Multi-Dimensional Audio), Salsa was able to easily be integrated by Fairlight into their next-generation live production systems, supporting both conventional and object-based broadcasts.

‘By combining cutting-edge technology from our three organisations, the Salsa Project automatically translates pitch mics into 3D audio objects,’ says Tino Fibaek, Chief Technical Officer at Fairlight. ‘This allows broadcast mix engineers to focus on the overall mix, whilst the system does the hard labour of extracting the best possible sound from the pitch for sports aficionados.’

‘We believe our Salsa software will bring a step-change in the quality of broadcast audio for sports and we’re excited to be working with Fairlight and DTS to showcase its capabilities in a practical workflow,’ adds Dr Rob Oldfield, Audio Research Consultant at the University of Salford.


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