Fred Aldous Talks Audio Careers

Fred Aldous Talks Audio Careers

Fred Aldous, who was recently inducted into the Sports Broadcast Hall of Fame, has been working closely with the Conservatory to help develop our Broadcast Audio Curriculum.

fred aldous audio career broadcast fox nascar

During one of our free AES events, Mr. Aldous spoke to our student body about his experience in the audio industry. From talking about his roots in his hometown of Ogden, Utah, he briefly discussed his childhood desire to become a musician.

“As fortune would have it, once I met real musicians, I knew my career as a musician was over,” Fred says. “Now about the only thing I play is the stereo.”

This passion for music led him to getting into the audio industry as a weekend news mixer. He discussed how he eventually grew tired of exclusively doing music engineering, and how his first experience with broadcast audio was for a skiing event being broadcast by CBS. After Fox started broadcasting football games, Mr. Aldous became one of the first freelance audio mixers for Fox. He went on to discuss his experience working with NASCAR, how he and one of his co-workers had pioneered the broadcast of the events by dedicating time specifically to allow broadcast viewers to hear the sound of the event without the announcers talking over it. This came to be known as a segment called “Crank It Up,” a segment which still continues to be shown to this day.

Fred was instrumental in getting microphones on referees for football games, and getting mics into the bases for broadcasts of baseball games at Fox Sports, allowing people to hear parts of the games that they had never heard before. These new ideas added a whole new level of intimacy to the events that previously had never been experienced. 

As his four decade long career continued, he eventually got involved with CRAS through meeting a seasoned instructor Robert Brock. Brock invited Fred to give a speech about broadcast audio at CRAS, and that led to the development of the broadcast curriculum at the school that launched in 2013.

Among Fred’s lifetime of achievements include his mixing of 16 NFL Super Bowls and numerous Daytona 500 races. There are a number of differences between broadcast audio and music production, mainly relating to the pace of the work and the unforgiving nature of the live show. He hasn’t seen many new faces coming up in the field of broadcasting, and with all of the big name broadcast audio guys coming to their golden years, there is a massive need for new, freshly trained broadcast audio engineering talent. There are numerous career possibilities in broadcast audio, especially when you consider that virtually every town in the United States has at least one radio or television station.

Fred entertained a Q&A session after outlining his history, answering many questions our future broadcast engineers had on their minds. After being asked if mixing for live events is still exciting for him, Mr. Aldous began talking about how much of a rush the entire experience provides. It can become very nerve-wracking if you stop to think about how many people are watching the event, who are guaranteed to hear any mistake you make. Fred also expressed his disappointment with the broadcast industry’s apparent lack of growth in the field of internships, and recommended just going out and getting involved with helping broadcast teams.

Many questions were specifically focused on his work with NASCAR. CRAS and our Mobile Broadcast Unit have been in attendance at many of the NASCAR events held around the Phoenix area. Recently CRAS students were even allowed to mix a live stem of a NASCAR broadcast. Fred briefly touched upon the importance of weather-proofing the microphones and other equipment, and how difficult it is to do so without affecting the sound of the microphones. He discussed several techniques for weather-proofing the microphones. One of the most common ways to weather-proof a microphone is to apply an un-lubricated condom around the microphone, with electrical tape around the base where it connects to the XLR cable. He also discussed the use of delays to counteract the distances between the cameras and microphones and make the audio and video align, similar to setting up and time aligning large PA systems for concerts.

Speaking of the microphones and equipment that he uses in the events, he talked about running a Calrec Apollo desk, which is the largest offered by the manufacturer. Some of his mic choices include the use of Audix D3 microphones for low cameras, DPA 4007s, and Audio Technica 825 STs on the fence in NASCAR broadcasts. On his console, he uses 210 analog inputs, 192 AES inputs, and 56 MADI streams.

Watch more of Fred’s seminar on our YouTube channel here!

CRAS Visits NAMM 2016

CRAS Visits NAMM 2016

namm 2016

NAMM 2016 (National Association of Music Merchants) is one of the hottest shows in the music production industry. This is where we get to see all the new gear that companies like Blue, BAE, SSL, Waves, UA, Slate, Hafler, Telefunken, iZotope and more bring to demo. If there is a place to find out what the next must-have studio gear is, this is the place!

david bowie blue bottle microphone

The David Bowie Blue Bottle Special

This year, much like years previous, CRAS had to make an appearance at NAMM in Anaheim, California. While our staff was out browsing the grounds, we of course ran into a number of CRAS Grads who have been working in all facets of the audio industry. Blue Mics, for example, has a number of our grads on staff, including Bailey Beechler, Jonathan Mireles, Elise Towery, and Allan Santa Cruz. Blue actually just visited CRAS a few months ago!

cras grads at namm 2016

CRAS Grads at the Blue Booth

One of the more interesting booths that we saw this year was Lauten Audio’s. Working in conjunction with Focal Monitors, they created a mobile iso booth (isolation room). They were able to bring in the necessary parts, and set up this iso booth right on the show room floor. Working with CRAS grad Darrell Thorp, they put a four piece band in the iso booth to demonstrate the quality of the materials and workmanship. They were even able to track this band right there at NAMM!

darrell thorp cras grad 2016

Darrell Thorp tracking a band in a mobile iso booth

namm 2016 custom iso booth

Lauten Iso Booth

Eiosis has created one of the most impressive plug-ins. Their de-esser plug-in is incredible, taking away only the annoying sibilance and harsh tones, while leaving the rest of the audio perfectly intact. We’ve never heard such an amazing quality de-esser! CRAS is looking forward to working closely with Eiosis in the near future to start incorporating their plug-ins with the CRAS program.

Eiosis AirEQ and De-Esser demos

Eiosis AirEQ and De-Esser demos

We also spoke with iZotope, whose plug-ins we’ve included into the CRAS laptop recording package. This year they’ve been working on a more creative approach to their plug-ins. In the future, we can look forward to seeing some new delay plug-ins from them, as well as a 7.1 surround specializer plug-in for post production. They are also coming out with a new mix plug-in – Ozone Mix. We can’t wait to see what our DSP future holds!

cras grad namm 2016

CRAS Grad Anthony T with Instructor Tony Nunes

We ran into a bunch of grads, including Anthony who currently works for Slate audio. We are hoping to bring Slate out for a CRAS visit this year! Among other visits we are planning, we hope to see more from SSL, iZotope, Telefunken, AEA Mics, Waves Plug-ins and RND.

CRAS is planning to have another gear showcase this year, similar to our CRAS Gear Expo in 2015! We are expecting to have a fantastic turn out. Last year we had over a dozen gear manufacturers come out to our Gilbert, Arizona location to show off their gear, and we are hoping to make it even bigger and better this year!

Grammy Award Winning CRAS Grad to Speak at Jan. 2016 Open House


During the Jan. 16 Open House at The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences’  Gilbert, Ariz. Campus, Grammy Award Winning CRAS Grad, Jeremy Parker and Others Will Share Their Experiences as Students and Interns that Helped Launch Their Careers in the Audio Industry

CRAS Open House

Integrating Music into Video Games with Wwise

Integrating Music into Video Games with Wwise

audiokinetic wise video game audio integration

Brock talking Wwise

Integrating dynamic music into video games was our latest AES student body presentation. CRAS instructor Brock spent a couple hours with us going over Audiokinetic’s Wwise Thursday night as one of our free extracurricular classes. Wwise is a middleware software that provides an audio pipeline solution for video games. Wwise is used in roughly 40% of the video game market, along side other softwares such as Fmod and Unity.

Our Cycle 9 curriculum is where CRAS students are first introduced into Game Audio integration. For the scope of our curriculum, the Game Audio classes cover how to integrate sound effects into video games through the use of Wwise. Students are able to experiment with the skills they have gained up to this point in the program by creating and recording their own sound effects, and them integrating them into the Cube demo provided to them with the Wwise software.

Virtually every video game has music integrated into it. Music provides an emotion, a theme, and having the visuals of a game supported by effects and soundtracks enhances the gaming experience exponentially.

Designing a music score for a video game can be a challenge though. As opposed to movies, where the film progresses from beginning to end at a constant rate, video games offer the freedom for the player to change the experience at their will. In some cases, the music may need to repeat for extended periods of time, without changing. Or, in other cases, the music will need to change to a completely different composition based on a player’s actions in the game, such as dying or completing a level.

Audiokinetic’s Wwise software allows audio engineers the ability to use triggers found in the game’s code to be used to adapt the dynamic musical score. It can be configured to randomize musical pieces, or change to different entire musical libraries, all based upon what happens in the game, in real time.

Wwise is one of the most popular and powerful softwares available for this sort of sound effects and music integration into video games. Many games use this Wwise middleware, including:

  • Alien: Isolation
  • Angry Birds Trilogy
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Batman: Arkham Night and Arkham Origins
  • Bayonetta
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Borderlands
  • Destiny
  • Dishonored
  • DMC: Devil May Cry
  • Grid Autosport
  • Guitar Hero Live
  • Halo 5
  • Killing Floor 2
  • Metal Gear Solid V
  • Payday 2
  • Peggle
  • Plants vs Zombies
  • Rocket League
  • Rocksmith
  • Saint’s Row IV
  • Sim City
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth
  • The Witcher 3
  • Titanfall
  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5

In the following video, Brock gives an incredible rundown on how to integrate dynamic music into video games using the Wwise software. Check it out!

Full video of the entire event yet to come…


Students Win! CRAS Partners with Slate Digital


Students Win! CRAS Partners with Slate Digital

Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences Labs, Studios, and Instructors Have Recently  Been Provided with Licenses for Slate’s “Everything Bundle”; Slate Also Offers all CRAS Students the Opportunity to Access Slate’s Entire Inventory for a Reduced Fee

Studio G - Tempe