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A useful reminder always to pull the fader down on unused microphones

A very embarrassing example of what can happen when you don't.


One of the first things I was taught when I entered the hot sweaty world of professional audio was always to pull down the faders on unused channels.

I probably didn't need telling this because the logic seems so obvious. But often it doesn't hurt to state the obvious, just in case.

And here's a case where someone didn't follow this golden rule. I have to warn of bad language.

The setting is a press conference where several UK members of parliament announce that they have resigned from their political party and have formed their own group.

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The audio was terrible from the start and although the main speaker doesn't sound so bad in this clip, at other times the distortion was severe.

Let's listen...

As you can hear, there are some people muttering. Not in the background, but clearly very close to a live mic.

"Not going to lie, between this and Brexit we're actually ******."

Someone forget to pull a fader down. The embarrassment, for the audio operator and for the MPs and their new political group must be extreme.

My point is that people who are involved in pro audio care about what they do. It's likely that, in this case, some unfortunate underling has been assigned the role of setting up the public address kit and giving the broadcaster a feed. And since their heart isn't really in audio, they didn't bother to monitor the feed.

Still, mistakes like this are instructive. No-one in this world is incapable of making a mistake, and sometimes it's the obvious things that are there to trip you up.

Back to the distortion I mentioned, how about this? You won't need to listen to more than a few seconds...

I watched this live on the BBC News channel and the distortion really was that bad. There are now cleaner versions available on the web, so there must have been another recording made with better control over level. Even so, I would have expected better in very nearly the third decade of the twenty-first century.

By David Mellor Tuesday February 19, 2019