In order to keep sight of the boats, broadcasters must follow them with chase boats and a helicopter. The result is that the sound of the rowing is drowned out by that noise. So, NBC elected to replace the live audio with a recorded soundtrack of rowing practices to deliver more accurate depiction of what the sport sounds like in its pure form.
Check out the difference between the sounds of live events as opposed to their TV equivalents.
Audio engineer Dennis Baxter has employed 350 mixers, 600 sound technicians and 4,000 microphones to create a viewing experience that is better than seeing the events in person.
Rowing is not the only sport in which the sound is enhanced for TV viewers. Archery is another sport in which TV audiences hear more than the folks in the stands. Microphones are placed on the ground between the archers and their targets, capturing the "whoosh" of arrows in flight, not just the thud of when it strikes the target.
Another event that takes TV viewers deeper into the experience is diving. "We have microphones on the handrails as the divers walk up. You can hear their hands. You can hear their feet. You can hear them breathing," Baxter told The Atlantic.
An underwater hydrophone is able to capture the sounds of bubbles as divers enter the pool, and give viewers a glimpse into the isolation divers encounter at the bottom of the pool.
[Photos: London Games Opening Ceremony]
Gymnastics is another event in which microphones are able to add a new dimension to the sport. When Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect 10 on the uneven bars at the 1976 Games, all that TV viewers could hear was the announcer and the crowd. Today, with mics on every corner of the bars, we're able to hear every sound of the action, right down to the breathing of the gymnasts.
The result of all this audio technology is an experience that draws us closer into the world of Olympic athletes, making our living rooms even better than a front-row seat.
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