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www.televisionsound.com / Thom Shafer

IFB - Working Live

One of my love's in the industry is working live. No take two's, you either get it right or you don't. I'm often asked to explain the wonderful world of IFB. It's a simple concept. Folding back program audio to the correspondents in the field minus their own voice. Hence the term mix-minus.

How best to explore IFB.... Perhaps some personal tales!

Back in 1995 I was covering the World Series for the David Letterman Show. This fine day we were on location just to put together a nice package piece when low and behold the show decided they wanted to do a live gag with 4 players and Sparky the young field reporter. The gag was to have Dave talk to the players and have them respond by hurling baseballs at the lens of the camera! Great bit but I had no IFB's with me! I ended up improvising to the 10th degree by converting Lectrosonics into wireless IFB's and utilizing 3 field mixers and splitters to get enough in's and outs to have a total of 5 wireless mics and 5 wireless IFB's! Well.... it started to rain, naturally, so I had to shove this whole jerry rigged wonder under an umbrella on the side of the field! It worked and not one player said a word to Dave.... but they could have!

The very next day I ordered my first set of Comteks!

I like to keep my old Shure FP-31 and FP-32 in my IFB kit to act as wonderful problem solvers. An example of this is how I rig into a sat truck. As you will find, not all satellite trucks are created equal. After you've had a bad one you'll always assume the worst!

There are two types of IFB feeds. Wet and Dry, these terms refer to the presents or absence of voltage on the line. Comteks don't like being hit with voltage so I request a Dry line for my rig. If the truck can't supply a dry line then the old Shure's come in to save the day! I rig the Shure anyways because it provides me with a great deal of control.

Example, Pam Oliver of Fox Sports wears two ears and likes to have her voice fed into her IFB so she can hear herself in the stadiums. This is easy for me on the field with the use of the Shure as a sub mixer. It also provides for hardwired IFB options with the additional outputs. Having control at your fingertips is a wonderful thing! (just remember to check all your batteries!)

Non Sat Truck IFB's are achieved with dialers. The rig is identical with the exception that now you're creating the telephone connection by use of a dialer. JK audio, Gentner Microtel and Advanced Communications Systems all make great products with internal dialers. The other avenue is the JK Audio That-2 paired with a normal telephone. In my opinion the That-2 is a must in any sound kit.

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I've done two of the Good Morning America Mothers Day Breakfast in Bed with Emeril Lagasse. Possibly the most challenging of all live hits! Detailed story coming soon!

I mix with program (IFB) in one ear and my feed in the other. The Sound Devices 442 allows you to send an IFB feed into your headphone amp and assign it to a toggle position if that is what you prefer. Mixing blind (only hearing one side of a conversation) is a disaster waiting to happen. Hearing program leads you down the road of audible cue's that we become accustomed to.

My Comteks are old but they sure do keep on trucking! In my package list to the right understand that the newer versions of various equipment is recommended by default.

IFB Kit

Comtek M72 Transmitter - Comtek MRC-82p Receivers

Audio Implements Ears

JK Audio Remote Mix C+ - JK Audio Remote Amp - JK Audio That-2

Standard Telephone - XLR to RJ11 Adapters

Advanced Communications Systems

Alcohol Pads

Old Mixer - Shure FP 31/32