Traveling to more than seven cities for 16 episodes per season, the demands of the show’s production team require robust gear that can move from location to location, while seamlessly delivering flawless programming. Recently charged with upgrading the production’s audio gear was Gordon Hall, Executive Vice President of Showtime Sports, who worked alongside Paul Tarter, a technical manager for the network. Understanding ShoBox’s needs, Tarter sought advice from wireless microphone experts at Soundtronics and began to demo potential new systems. The Shure ULX-D™ Digital Wireless Microphone System stood out.
“Everything about ULX-D impressed me, which is why I knew the system was the right fit for Showtime,” said Mark Barbuti, partner and operating officer at Soundtronics Wireless Las Vegas. “In demonstrating the ULX-D gear to the ShoBox team, the system’s ability to fit four channels in a single rack space was key, integrating perfectly with the demands of the program. This ergonomic design, combined with the rechargeability features and sound quality, presented the best possible wireless system—and not only did Gordon and Paul agree, so did Fred Domagoni, the production’s lead sound engineer.”
After seeing the success of the ULX-D Digital Wireless System for ShoBox, Barbuti knew the gear would also work well for Showtime Championship Boxing, a live boxing program that has broadcasted some of the most memorable fights in boxing history, including “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler vs. John “The Beast” Mugabi in 1986, Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo in 2005, and the Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez matches in 2007 and 2008.
“We were impressed with the turnkey performance of ULX-D for ShoBox and naturally knew we needed it for the Championship series,” noted Barbuti.
Barbuti worked with Greg Calvin, the lead sound engineer for Showtime Championship Boxing, to add eight channels of ULX-D for use during each match. In-ring announcer Jimmy Lennon, Jr. and Jim Gray, the program’s roaming reporter, both rely on ULXD2/KSM9 mic capsules. Referees and trainers are mic’d with ULXD1 wireless bodypack transmitters, combined with lavalier mics.
For Showtime Championship Boxing, the ULX-D receiver integration of Dante digital audio networking is a big highlight. “We initially overlooked the benefits of Dante, but now in speaking with Greg’s team about their gear use, we’ve learned how Dante has really eliminated a lot of headaches for them,” Barbuti continued. “Having reliable, low latency audio transport that can coexist safely on the same network as IT and control data has been a great way to simplify set up. Tim Arden, the show’s RF operator, works with Greg to distribute the ULX-D signals to FOH, monitors, press rooms, and more.”
Going beyond the ring, Showtime’s ALL ACCESS series, which gives an intimate look at the lives of fighters as they prepare for the Championship Boxing match, also uses ULX-D systems.
“The Championship Boxing matches draw close to a million viewers. There is simply no room for error. I know Greg and his team feel confident using ULX-D, knowing it will perform without a glitch, match after match,” Barbuti commented.
Calvin and the Showtime Championship Boxing team most recently relied on ULX-D for the much hyped match between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, which aired live on Saturday, September 14.