When Dolby Laboratories made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, they wanted to make a splash that signaled the company’s expertise: in this case, ringing the opening and closing bells for the first time ever in surround sound. To do so, they called on Scharff Weisberg to provide the audio system.
"We wanted to do something special for the IPO and came up with idea of having the opening and closing bells ring in surround," comments Bill Allen, Dolby’s senior director of production services. "That would have required a multi-channel playback system, which did not exist (in the Stock Exchange building). Both the Exchange and Dolby have worked with Scharff Weisberg in the past; the company has an excellent reputation, and we knew they would get the job done."
"The Exchange was very cooperative and really embraced the idea of doing something different," Allen continues. "The combination of Dolby and Scharff Weisberg created a comfort level on their part that made the whole project possible."
Dolby created a custom multi-channel surround recording of the opening and closing bells. A Yamaha DM 2000 digital audio console was provided by Scharff Weisberg to route the discrete channels of audio to Apogee AE 5 speaker cabinets suspended on the cat walk above the Exchange floor. Mike Derosa was the account manager for Scharff Weisberg and Mike Alboher the audio engineer.
Live broadcasts of the NYSE Opening and Closing Bells are seen by millions of people worldwide. For the past 10 years, bell ringing ceremonies have been reserved for NYSE-listed companies celebrating a listing, a product launch or a significant milestone in their history. Additionally, world leaders, national heroes, notable celebrities and members of the armed forces are among the special guests privy to these bell ringings.
"We understand that this was the first time the opening and closing bell sound has been altered in the history of the Exchange. In addition, we captured the rooms surround experience and provided a ProLogicII feed to the Exchanges broadcast center that was routed to the world’s news services. Needless to say, the pressure was on," says Allen. "Everything went exactly as planned."
The setup was managed by Dolby engineers Ken Hunold, Tom Kodros, and Andrew Turner as well as Scharff Weisberg staff. "The teamwork was phenomenal," concluds Allen. "We couldn’t gain access to the Exchange until everyone left the floor the night before the event, but the setup and testing were done in a very efficient manner."