Emmy Award-winning "The View" Upgrades to Meyer Sound
"The View," winner of 20 Daytime Emmy awards, has received critical acclaim since its 1997 debut. Now in its tenth season, the show is hosted by ABC news icon Barbara Walters, entertainer Rosie O'Donnell, comedian Joy Behar and former "Survivor" star Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and offers a wide-ranging menu of news, celebrity interviews and live entertainment.
The intimate 199-seat Manhattan studio from which the show is broadcast live recently received a high-end audio upgrade courtesy of Yonkers, N.Y.-based Sound Associates. Sound Associates sound designer Timothy Mazur specified a unique and highly focused system featuring multiple zones using a total of 26 Meyer Sound M1D ultracompact curvilinear array loudspeakers and 17 MM-4 miniature wide-range loudspeakers.
Mazur, a 12-year audio industry veteran with credits ranging from live music and industrial sound to Broadway theatre, points out that sound for live television is an art form very different from others he's pursued, presenting a singular set of challenges. "Traditionally, audio in the studio has been a secondary consideration in TV productions," he observes. "It's very different from theatre sound, where we're accustomed to the audio being one of the most important aspects of the presentation. One of the cardinal rules of TV is that you cannot affect how the mix sounds on air, and that limits the amount of level we can put through the system."
Mazur's experience in designing theatrical sound led him to create a system based on a number of very small, localized zones, using several M1D arrays of two and three cabinets each. One of the key elements of TV sound is making the audience feel close to the action, Mazur explains. "In theatre, we try to make it sound like there are no speakers and all of the energy is coming from the stage," he says. "In TV, there's less thought toward system transparency, per se, and more of an effort to make it sound very intimate, so that anywhere you sit, the presence is right there."
The M1D's exceptional directivity provided the tight pattern control Mazur needed for the hall's intimate design. "We effectively created 19 separate delay zones in order to have the highest degree of individualized zone control. By getting smaller groups of speakers closer to the audience, we cut down on reflectivity and create very focused, intimate coverage zones. That's exactly the reason we went with the M1D: it's got a tight, laser-direct coverage pattern. That's the object of the whole design — to throw sound where you want it, and only where you want it."
Another issue unique to the TV studio was that of frequency range. "Intelligibility is key," Mazur explains. "It's very important that the jokes get out there, because the show really feeds off of the audience reaction. To that end, we took pains to avoid any buildup in the low-midrange frequencies that would start to color both the studio audience mics and the host mics." In what he describes as essentially a "pre-emptive strike," Mazur and Sound Associates Executive Vice President Domonic Sack, with the assistance of Bob "the Builder" Hanlon, used the SIM 3 audio analyzer to intentionally overcompensate in the attenuation of the low-mid frequency range. "The sound in the room is not as flat as we would have it in the theatre," he observes, "but it's exceptionally intelligible, and is exactly what's needed in that environment."
In addition to the main system, Mazur also recommended adding a pair of CQ-1 wide coverage main loudspeakers. "We've essentially got two separate systems," he observes. "The CQ-1s are really the music system. When a musical guest comes on the show, I wanted to give the visiting engineers something they could work with."
The CQ-1 system is also an asset for the show's warm-up host, who comes out with a handheld mic and, with the aid of dance music compilations, gets the crowd on their feet. "With the CQ-1s, the warm-up is rocking and the audience is pumped."
Mazur created and presented his system design with the aid of Meyer Sound's MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction program. "We used MAPP extensively in the planning stages to show the customer what the system would be capable of: where we would throw the sound, and, more importantly, where we would not throw it," he recounts. "MAPP is an incredibly valuable tool. It really makes it easier for us to give the customer a clear understanding of the system we're proposing to them."
Mazur also points to the self-powered aspect of Meyer Sound systems as a tremendous asset. "We were originally going to have nine zones of two M1Ds each, but when Domonic went in and evaluated the room and their needs, we determined that some zones required three or more M1Ds. The ability to easily reshape the sound and make those changes without a major hassle is huge from a sound design perspective."
Reactions to the sound from the TV production staff have been overwhelmingly positive. "Everyone recognizes what a difference the sound system has made to the quality of the show," reports Mazur. "I have to really commend the show's producers and technical directors for having the foresight to say 'yes, let's invest in a new sound system because we do care what it sounds like in the room.' Even though it's only a couple of hundred people, if there's not that sizzle in the room, it's going to be hard to portray it over the airwaves."
"TV studio sound has been somewhat overlooked for many years, and it's been a great experience for us to work with 'The View's' production people," Mazur concludes. "We've been able to introduce them to some new ideas, and we've learned a lot ourselves. And we've all been impressed by how well the Meyer speakers have worked in this environment. Meyer is generally known for larger applications like concert and theatrical sound, but their extensive product array is ideally suited for TV."