As he kicked back at home, audio technicians from a Red Hook-based company worked feverishly, operating elaborate equipment to produce crowd noises, attempting to convey the emotions of a would-be audience while synchronized with the action on the court. In doing so, they helped create a virtual reality of sorts, one in which viewers seldom were reminded of what was missing. “From home, the sounds made it feel like a regular game in an arena,” said Justin Cooper of Pine Plains, a former college basketball standout who now coaches the sport. “I’m sure for the players it was great to have some type of noise, so it didn’t seem like they were just playing in an empty space.”
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In each of the three Wide World of Sports arenas that hosted games, a 10-channel immersive sound system with 130 speakers was installed to produce sounds around the court. That was for the players’ benefit, to mimic a typical in-game atmosphere. A separate audio system was fed into the television broadcast for the viewers. “When we went online and put the sound onto the court, we started quietly,” Dittmar said. “But, soon, the players were like, ‘Turn that up. We like it.’” The sound producers worked in teams of four with an NBA game director, an arena disc jockey and two technicians called “sweeteners,” who operated the sound boards.