A mult box is "a metal box with multiple outputs of a single audio source (one microphone connected to twenty jacks so that twenty people can record that microphone)." A mult box is sometimes called a 'press box', but that term is usually reserved for the sports media's section of an arena. It may also be called a press mult box or press bridge. The sound engineer connects several microphones to allow all of them to get clean, high-quality audio.
Reporters use a mult box frequently at press conferences, especially when politicians give such interviews in small spaces, where not all the reporters in a press pool can access the interviewee.
A whole set of etiquette and mores has developed amongst journalists governing the use of mult boxes. Because it is often difficult to get a good sound recording from a digital recorder for later broadcast or transcription for newspaper reporting, journalists have developed informal rules for their use. For example, the media should treat the sound engineer well, because while reporters can be selfish and competitive with each other, and the equipment can go wrong in many ways, the engineer allows all of them to get a good signal. It is also extremely important to show up early to press conferences; this "early bird gets the worm" habit allows one to test equipment, to avoid problems caused by the chaos of most press conferences, and to work cooperatively with the engineer.
United States government agencies usually provide a mult box for media use at press conferences. However, they are not always consistent; the United States Department of Energy sometimes makes a mult box available, but then does not make a "media avail with speakers"; yet at other times does not allow a mult box but follows it up with a "press availability". Some state government agencies or courts also may provide such equipment for free to media, but charge a fee to rent it for private events held on state property.
Some colleges and universities provide the use of a mult box gratis to media who need it to record large academic events such as commencement, speaker, or funeral, but charge for leasing to certain organizations. Larger houses of worship, such as a basilica or cathedral, may provide a mult box for certain religious services, but not others, depending on their policies and the nature of the mass or eucharist. Large media events, such as the Grammy Awards, Alamo Bowl, etc., often provide a mult box for media at their press conferences as a convenience.
A mult box can be an extraordinarily expensive piece of audio-visual equipment to purchase, so many organizations rent them from a communications company or government agency. Larger venues may make them available to the media for free, but rent them to private parties.
In 2011, the United States Mission to the African Union donated a state of the art mult box to the cash-starved African Union in a formal ceremony, in which they also presented new interns who will be trained to use it.
- Greenhouse, Mark (July 7, 2007). "Audio Terms of Endearment". NPR. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
- Palamara, Gary (June 20, 2007). "The View From the Back of the Room - II: Tips for Reporters and Others Covering Press Events". Radio World. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- "Mult Box Set Up for Press Feed". September 29, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
- Shushanna Walsh and Michael Falcone (February 15, 2012). "Rick Santorum's Way to Win? Run a Campaign on a Shoestring Budget". Yahoo News. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
- "Johnny Dangerously" (pseudonym) (June 16, 2008). "Mult box procedure and etiquette". Sportsjournalists.com. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- unknown (2016). "NCAA Championship (News, Media and Press Conferences)" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved Oct 3, 2016.
- See e.g., http://www.ntsb.gov/news/2012/120323.html NTSB press release; accessed May 10, 2012.
- "TOMORROW: Secretary Chu to Visit South Carolina to Attend Small Business Summit, Highlight Clean Energy Innovations With Rep. Clyburn (press release)". United States Department of Energy. August 22, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- See, e.g., in Ohio, Supreme Court of Ohio's Guidelines for News Organizations Broadcasting, Televising, Recording and Photographing Sessions of Court, Ohio Statehouse's webpage on "Your Event at the Statehouse", and Ohio Statehouse's webpage on "Use of Tape Recorders at the Ohio Statehouse For News Media and Others"; all accessed May 10, 2012.
- See, e.g., Vanderbilt University press release, The Culinary Institute of America press release Archived 2013-03-10 at the Wayback Machine., and Virginia Tech press information web page Archived 2012-08-05 at Archive.is; both accessed May 10, 2012.
- See, e.g., University of Washington Classroom Support Services "Rental List" web page Archived 2010-06-20 at the Wayback Machine. and University of Washington web page listign which groups are charged what rates; see also New York University web page for Events Media Services Rates and New York University policies web page; all accessed May 10, 2012.
- See, e.g., Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia press release Archived 2012-07-03 at the Wayback Machine.; accessed May 10, 2012.
- See, e.g. Valero Alamo Bowl media schedule & info web page Archived 2012-04-14 at the Wayback Machine. and Grammy Awards press release; both accessed May 10, 2012.
- "United States Mission to the African Union donates Audio Visual Broadcast Media Mult Box to the AUC". United States Mission to the African Union. September 22, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- Example of a Communications firm that rents a mult box or press box
- Example of Another communications firm that rents a mult box or press box, with an image of one