Long before digital downloads and numerous devices, music fans would make a copy of their favourite 33 1/3 RPM vinyl album on a cassette tape. Depending on the quality of the tape used the reproduction could be very good. One such cassette tape company would ask, “is it live or is it Memorex?”
Well apparently the days of Memorex have not gone by the wayside despite the digital world and instant live streaming. In the Olympic sports that involve fast moving competitors – boating, cycling, etc. - the broadcast crews use loud fast moving vehicles – speed boats, helicopters, etc. – to keep up with the competition. As a result, the “authentic” sounds of the competitors and their machines gets drowned out; so NBC has been manufacturing the “authentic” sounds of the action.
Using soundtracks recorded during practice sessions; audio engineer Dennis Baxter has 350 mixers, 600 sound technicians, and 4,000 microphones to help him create the “authentic” soundtrack that accompanies the competition.
One sound that is recorded live is the arrow as it flies toward the target in the archery competition. The sound engineers have placed microphones along the flight path to capture the sound of the arrow as travels toward its destination and the resounding thud at the end.
Sports and Olympic fans have spent untold thousands on getting to the Olympic Games in London to experience the events live, but thanks to Baxter and his thousands of microphones television watching fans are hearing far more than those who are hearing it live. Not just in Archery, but diving and gymnastics as well for that “is it live or is it Memorex” experience.