The author is digital media instructor/athletics video producer for Morgan County High School.
MADISON, Ga. — Prior to teaching, I was in radio. During that time products from Henry Engineering were everywhere. We used a ton of different tools depending on what we needed and they all seemed to be Henry Engineering. From analog to digital conversion to cough boxes, we used them all.
During a basketball broadcast, my play-by-play guy got choked up a bit and started to cough. Before I could mute his mic (I was producing that game), he snatched his headphones off and started coughing. As you know, there are very few things as startling and amateur sounding as someone taking off a hot headset but when you have to cough, you have no choice. I started researching inexpensive solutions and found more than I bargained for.
Henry Engineering Sports Pod is the solution I needed. The Sports Pod is an “announcer’s mini-console” that gives each announcer control of his (or her) mic and headphones. Each announcer can turn the mic on or off; talk-back to the producer; and custom-mix their headphone audio. Now my talent can not only turn their own microphone on and off but they can communicate with me off air anytime they need do.
Our previous setup required me to turn their microphone off and on as well as mute it to use back channels on the mixer for off-air communication. This is OK 90% of the time but if the talent wants something from the producer, they have to give a visual sign or some other means of communicating. Using the Sports Pod allows my air talent to simply hit the talkback button and ask for a stat or whatever else they may need.
The unit is about the size of a small book and can sit flat or be placed on an angle with the optional desk-mount. The front panel is simple — three buttons (mic on, cough, talkback), two knobs (local and return level controls for headphone mix) and two switches that allow you to choose left, right, or center headphone channels for local and return audio.
The rear of the unit is a bit more complex but still simple enough to wire correctly in no time. There are two 1/4-inch TRS inputs and two 1/4-inch TRS outputs. The inputs are local headphone audio (main mix from the board) and return feed (IFB for producer audio). The outputs are talkback (off-air communication with producer) and headphones for the talent. There are two XLR connections (input from talent microphone/output to audio mixer). There is also a 12 V power connection on the back.
The Sports Pod as a standalone unit is an incredible asset to our broadcast plan. We are able to have professional-level communication and a simple user interface for our broadcasts. For even more convenience and total audio control, we also use Henry’s SportsCaster, which combines all mixing, headphone audio distribution, and intercom functions into one comprehensive and compact 1-RU system.
The system is easy to set up. There are no problems at all getting it up and running in minutes. Henry now offers a retractable desk stand that can be folded-down for easy transport and storage.