JIMMY KIMMEL SHOW GETS TRUE
Less is more in broadcast audio, where the pressures associated with getting a daily show on the air make a simplified signal path almost a prerequisite for the task. Veteran broadcast mixer Bart Chiate has taken that philosophy to heart, installing 40 inputs of True Systems Precision 8 microphone preamplifiers in place of mixing console channels to streamline the recording path for live-to-tape music production on the Jimmy Kimmel Show on ABC.
“They’re the microphone preamps for the house band,” explains Chiate, who has worked in broadcast for many years, as well as music recording. “My setup is three cascaded Yamaha 02R-96V2s.” Chiate originally specified five consoles, he says, but, happily, Kimmel Show audio technician Dave Zeller suggested using the digital console setup’s routing scene capabilities, replacing two entire desks with just five rack spaces of True 8-channel mic preamps.
Paul Sandweiss, another veteran mixer, and his Sound Design Corporation, installed the audio system in Chiate’s control room at the El Capitan Entertainment Center, a former Masonic Temple at which the Jimmy Kimmel Show is produced Monday through Thursday. In fact, it was Sandweiss who first introduced Chiate to the True Systems mic preamps. “There’s a classical festival that I have recorded for 10 years, the Bellingham Festival of Music, near Seattle, and I borrowed one of the Trues when I needed more mic pres,” Chiate recalls.
“I was quite taken with it,” he continues. “For me, the real test is the classical stuff. They sound terrific. They’re great, and I love them.”
The True Precision 8 units are only used for the house band, reports Chiate, who is also typically mixing guest artists on any one of three performances areas: the theater lobby, a stage thrust or an outdoor parking lot. “If I could use the Trues on the guest band I would. But because of space considerations they are in a rack on my lower left, so I decided to use them on the house band, because that doesn’t change very much. Once in a while there’s a little tweak. But with the guest bands it’s guerrilla warfare, so I went with the onboard console mic pres.”
Elaborating on the routing setup at the Kimmel Show, he says, “I do both house band and guest band off the same console, off 48 channels. I can take the onboard mic pres, which I use for the guest band, or the True preamps, which are routed to analog cards, and route them through another routing scene to my recording chain.”
Chiate explains, “The way the routing scenes work, the 02Rs output 48 channels of 24 bit/48k AES into six Nuendo DDA8 format converters. Those output AES, which is returned via TDIF to the console, which then sends to an AMD Dual Opteron server running Nuendo 3.0, and outputs TDIF to 48 channels of Tascam DA-78 24-bit recorders. I run the tape as a backup; the Nuendo is my primary record/playback source. So everything is 24-bit/48kHz.”
The routing scenes and setup gives Chiate the flexibility he needs in the high-pressure lead-up to the broadcast. “I’m sending a pre-fader, pre-processed microphone signal to my record devices and I mix on the return side. If the production is behind schedule we can dive in, do a camera block, I record it, and then when the pressure is off I can spin back and tweak, remix or set effects.”
On a daily basis the Kimmel Show might be hosting artists as diverse as Slipknot, Erasure, Paul Vassar or Blue Merge. But as Chiate admits, his heart is elsewhere, with the festival in the Pacific Northwest, where he has recorded for the last decade. “If I could make a living doing that I would, but there’s not a great deal of money in it. It’s a labor of love; I go up in my vacation, because I love classical music.”