NBC To Broadcast 5.1 Channels of Sweat

NBC seems to be making all the necessary investments so that come August's opening ceremonies in Beijing, it can provide a high-definition coverage bonanza on audio and video. The broadcaster has already divulged its intentions to fan out around the sporting venues with 1,000 HD cameras and 60 HD mobile units - this should make for a record breaking 756 hours of Olympic high-def footage.

Now, NBC is announcing its plans to upgrade audio as well. The network said Friday it will buy five Calrec Omega Bluefin consoles for mixing high-def, 5.1 surround sound audio for broadcast. Each console has the capacity for 160-channel processing paths packaged as 48 stereo and 64 mono channels, which means NBC can record up to 24 5.1 surround channels.

Here's how NBC plans to use these heavyweight mixers: Two will be dedicated to coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies and athletic events (track and field). Two will be on gymnastics and trampoline duty. The fifth console will only record the sounds of beach volleyball. Grunt!

What, no console dedicated to splashes, echoes, and gurgles of diving and other pool events?

NBC knows that most people won't be able to take advantage of the 5.1 channels - a real tragedy - so NBC editors in the U.S. Will create a "downmixed" track for viewers with only the standard two audio channels. -Rachel Rosmarin