Dugan Automixing Brings Order to Presidential Debate Chaos

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Sound Engineers depend on smooth automatic microphone mixing to ensure all candidates are heard in the heat of a debate. Recently-introduced products from Dan Dugan Sound Design helped make this possible.

The early Republican debates in the current election cycle posed a challenge not only to the moderators but to the sound engineers. This cycle's debates have featured not only a large slate of candidates, but unruly candidates who have wanted to make themselves heard throughout the debates. Automatic microphone mixing from Dan Dugan Sound Design, including recently-released automixing technologies for Yamaha mixers, have made it possible for sound engineers to stay on top of the challenge.

“Seventeen wireless candidate lavalieres, eleven podium microphones, four wireless moderator lavalieres, and THIRTY-TWO channels of Dugan automatic mixing. That’s how this season of Presidential Debates started,” says Dave Tennant, a freelance audio engineer based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dan Dugan invented the automatic microphone mixer four decades ago to address the problem of managing multiple live microphones. Now in his 70s, Dan Dugan is still actively inventing new products. In addition to the automixing technology incorporated in selected Yamaha consoles, automixers with MADI and Dante interfaces were recently introduced, along with an updated control surface for tactile control of Dugans. Dugan also announced licensing of his technologies to Sound Devices in April 2016.

Dave Tennant says, “Thinking back to ‘pre-Dugan’ corporate events when mixing live panels, to say I was mixing on ‘pins and needles’ is an understatement. Nonstop fader moves, squeaks, squeals, EQ tweaks, missed comments when someone jumped in unexpectedly, comb filtering… it was enough to make me wish I had stayed in the Army digging foxholes. The thought of 32 channels of condenser microphones all open at the same time with all faders at unity was at best a pipe dream but more likely a nightmare.

“Thankfully, today I can say, “Bring it on!” with absolute confidence. I’ve been lucky enough to get involved with the political season and have mixed the live house mix of seven debates (Five for CNN and two for FOX News) and two CNN Town Halls. Though both networks have their own way of doing things, my basic plan stays the same: Yamaha CL5 consoles with two DUGAN-MY16 plug-in cards fiber-optically linked. The object of the house mix for nationally televised events like these is to keep as much of the room out of the broadcast while providing sufficient coverage to the audience through the main PA and also to each candidate via a mix-minus fold back monitor directly behind them.”

Dugan automixing was also used by CNN engineers for the broadcast feed on several of the debates. The mix of the candidates for live broadcast utilized the Dugan E-1A automixer, an external product that patches into the insert points of a mixing console. For additional sets including the outdoor “game day” anchor set, “spin room” set and “crow’s nest” set inside the debate hall, CNN sound engineers used Yamaha QL1 consoles with integrated Dugan mixing.

And, as the political cycle continues, Dugan automixers will continue to be present, both at the Republican and Democratic conventions and in the debates leading up to the election. “Dan Dugan automixing has revolutionized the industry,” says Dave Tennant.


Note to writers and editors: For additional images associated with this release, please contact Elaine Jones Associates.

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