Lawo joins ex-Top Gear presenters on ‘The Grand Tour’

Netherlands-based outside broadcast service provider United recently specified two Lawo mixing consoles for the ‘The Grand Tour’ – the new Amazon Prime exclusive series featuring the three former ‘Top Gear’ presenters.

Starring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, the first episode of ‘The Grand Tour’, which sees the trio embark upon a “hilarious global adventure”, is reportedly the streaming site’s biggest premiere to date.

United’s requirements for the show resulted in the selection of a 16-fader Lawo mc²36 for FOH, manned by Martijn Kuiper, and a second, 24-fader, mc²36 for the OB gallery that is located in another tent.

As well as their cars and the road, the first episode featured footage from inside the show’s studio tent while recording in California. As the series unfolds, its presenters are set to become Special Forces soldiers, sign into a secret training base in Jordan, and enjoy a visit to the opera.

Sound supervisors Huub Lelieveld and Christian Postma wanted to match the high-resolution 4K video by creating the best audio quality possible for both recording and FOH, albeit in a compact solution for flying around the globe. “For us, there was no question about choosing a Lawo mc²36. I use Lawo consoles daily – as I do other brands of broadcast consoles – and, for me, they are the best choice for functionality, sound quality and reliability,” said Lelieveld.

“We connect one Lawo Compact Stagebox using RAVENNA, and the two consoles are connected digitally using the MADI port on the Compact Stagebox. All I/O is shared between the two Lawos,” Lelieveld explained. “The three presenters wear omni lavalier mics and are in a tent with the audience with a PA that, as always, needs to be as loud as possible to make sure the audience hears, and reacts to, the comedy. To get a direct and dry sound, we use Lawo Automix and Cedar Audio DNS8 noise reduction at both OB and FOH.”

The aim of the United team was to create an all-digital audio setup to deliver the highest level of detail and resolution, with the least possible vulnerability to noise, hum and buzz. This led them to Neumann KM184D digital mics feeding into Neumann DMI8 boxes for audience reaction – 14 microphones in total.

“The radio mics are from Wisycom, as we needed an RF system that can safely be used all over the world. Wisycom, with its very wide useable frequency spectrum, is ideal for that,” added Lelieveld. “To keep everything digital, these are connected via AES.”

The Riedel intercom system does not use any analogue I/O at all, being connected to the Lawo consoles via MADI, with all analogue connections going through the console.

“So far we’re really happy with the result,” Lelieveld concluded. “It’s a very challenging job audio-wise, with the acoustics and outside noise of the studio tent and it’s surroundings, but our compromise-free audio setup is doing very well!”

The second episode of ‘The Grand Tour’ was aired on Friday 25 November on Amazon Prime.