When it came time to upgrade the audio capabilities at Toronto’s Young Centre for the Performing Arts, the desire for a high performance wireless microphone system that could easily move from one presentation space to another was considered essential.
Similarly, a viable solution to the ongoing challenge of mixing a variety of audio signals with minimal supervision was yet another concern.
As the venue is home to professional and student level productions, Young Centre management insisted upon broadcast level audio quality and also required the equipment to provide ease of operation to all who would use it. They found exactly what they were looking for in their new Lectrosonics equipment.
Toronto-based CinequipWhite Inc., an A/V sales, rental, and design/build firm that is firmly entrenched in the ENG (electronic news gathering), TV, video, motion picture, and A/V installation markets, was contracted to design and deploy the equipment for the Young Centre’s audio system upgrade.
CinequipWhite Project Manager Wayne Korhonen, who managed the engineering, design, installation, and customer training for the new system, discussed the challenges the project presented.
“The Young Centre is an RF rich environment,” explained Korhonen. “This facility is just over one mile from the CN Tower (a communications and observation tower in downtown Toronto), which has a lot of TV and other RF transmitters. Having the good, clean front end filtering and strong RF production characteristics that Lectrosonics wireless gear offers is precisely what made it the perfect choice for this project.
“Numerous wireless products from several manufacturers were tested, and the Lectrosonics equipment was, unquestionably, the best performer. We’ve also had very positive experiences with the company’s DM series digital audio processors, so we used a DM84 Digital Matrix Processor on this job as well.”
Ultimately, Korhonen deployed two independent, portable microphone systems with six channels each—housed in portable equipment racks. Each setup consists of two Lectrosonics UT handheld transmitters with VMC capsules and three UM400a beltpack transmitters.
On the receiving end, each system utilizes a Lectrosonics Venue Series VRM chassis that is stocked with four VRS modules coupled with SNA 600 dipole antennas to enhance signal reception.
One portable system is primarily used in the Michael Young Theatre (a multi-configurable theatre that seats up to 207 that is used most often in the standard proscenium configuration) while the other setup resides in the Marilyn and Charles Baillie Theatre—largest of the Young Centre performance spaces, averaging 315 seats.
“We’re actually running all twelve wireless channels within a single frequency block,” notes Korhonen. “As part of this system deployment, the client was thoroughly trained on the equipment. They were taught how to run both the VR panel software as well as how to use the SmartTune feature for identifying available frequencies. This way, if the RF situation changes, they are able to address the issue.”
Permanently installed in the Kevin and Roger Garland Cabaret, a multifunction space accommodating up to 90 people, is a Lectrosonics DM84 Digital Matrix Processor. Being primarily a presentation space that doubles as a dance theater, the set-it-and-forget-it nature of the DM84 is a good fit for this room, since it is frequently rented out for business presentations. The DM84 drives a four-channel amp system and PA.
“The DM84 runs their infrastructure audio systems,” said Korhonen. “This unit enables them to have preset mic levels as well as tie-ins for their audio consoles so they can handle live mixing when required. Since this is where numerous multimedia presentations take place, presenters can patch their laptop computers into the system and project their work onto the screen while audio for the presentation is handled automatically—without the need for an on-site technician.
“Presets are accessed via an Extron control interface, so there’s really no chance of the system being disrupted by an unauthorized person.”
With the new Lectrosonics equipment installed and fully operational, Korhonen commented on the end result. “The sound quality of the wireless microphones is excellent,” says Korhonen. “This equipment has an extremely low noise floor, which is critically important because you certainly don’t want to hear any kind of audio hiss or other noise during a play’s quiet moments. And in the presentation hall, the fact that the DM84 has an RS-232 interface made it the perfect choice for interfacing with the room’s control system.”