IFB Audio: Why It’s Essential for Video Production and Broadcasting

FACTS CHECKED BY  Jose George​

If you have ever participated in video production, you know how difficult it is. That’s especially true if you are doing live events. Before IFB audio channels appeared, the producers had to improvise. They couldn’t talk, or they risk ending up on the audio recording of the video. Therefore, crew communications included waving hands and writing on paper pieces. Once access to audio appeared, the job became more manageable. The broadcast headsets ensured that film crews could talk to each other. So, if a director wanted a cameraman to change the angle, they would tell them. Now, keep reading to learn all details about IFB audio!

What You Should Know About IFBs

An audio mixing console

Caption: An audio mixing console

IFB is a broadcast term that stands for interruptible foldback. You’ll usually find it in the entertainment industry, such as broadcast stations or filming. And it plays a vital role in ensuring fantastic sound quality.

According to experts, you program IFB to cover three things. That includes:

  • One or more people use an earpiece to listen to the audio.
  • The audio contains a program feed, depending on the broadcast.
  • The director or producer can interrupt the audio feed to talk to the person wearing the earpiece.

So, IFB is a one-way communication that enables a continuous program. The director uses this discreet channel to give instructions to participating production members, such as the anchor in broadcast television or the rest of the crew.  If the producer wants to send a message to the host, they “interrupt” the feed to say it. That’s the main difference compared to simple one-way dinners.

IFB audio is suitable for wired and wireless systems, and many find the latter neater because it doesn’t involve cables. Unlike amateur radio stations that use the 900MHz range, these sound devices use lower frequencies. Depending on your choice, they could be at 50-100MHz, but also at 450-700MHz.

News commentators adjusting their earphones

Caption: News commentators adjusting their earphones

Steps to Converting a Wireless Microphone into an IFB System

A wireless microphone

Caption: A wireless microphone

If you need to program IFB, you can do that with any wireless microphone. High-end types of productions use premium IFB audio. On the other hand, this affordable conversion can secure quality audio for most uses.

Please note the audio output impedance might cause the sound to be wrong. If the circuitry isn’t suitable, your IFB might not even work. On the other hand, it might be worth a shot to avoid the expensive rental of audio. Here are the steps to convert your wireless mic to an IFB system!

Step 1: Test the Sound with the Camera

First, connect the headphone to the video camera. Next, check the device’s mode. The microphone should be active. If it isn’t, that means there’s no remote audio output format. That’s important because you need to monitor it to check if the IFB works.

Step 2: Get Everything Ready for Remote Monitoring

Now, it’s time to connect the camera headphone output to the mic input on your Wi-Fi transmitter. However, you’ll need to have the right gear. Some portable transmitters have non-standard input jacks, and therefore, you might need a patch cable.

You can consider using beltpack receivers and transmitters. All communications with the talent can occur via earphones, and the on-air talent can hear you as long as they wear an eyepiece.

Now, activate the transmitter after attaching it to the camera’s headset output. If it’s necessary, check its battery life. Next, connect the headphones to the portable Wi-Fi receiver, and make sure the device has one first. Finally, check if there’s a volume control station. If yes, start with a low level and increase it slowly.

Step 3: Can You Hear the Audio?

You now have everything ready, so the only thing left is to check the audio signal. If everything works, you’ll hear the camera audio via the headphones, which will confirm the devices have no impedance or other issues.

Caption: Man using a sound mixing desk

What If You Don’t Hear the Audio?

Here are some tips if the sound doesn’t work:

  • Check the camera’s volume level for the headphones if you don’t hear the sound at all.
  • If the audio sounds weird, try lowering the headphone volume. Alternatively, adjust the transmitter’s input level.
  • Can the problem be with your headphones? If possible, try another pair.

Caption: Headphones at a recording studio

Conclusion

IFB audio is essential for broadcasts and video production, and it simplifies the entire process and enables crew communication. Do you need any help with a cabling set-up in your filming location? At Clooms, we are experts at cable assemblies. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need high-quality and reliable equipment!

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