February 01, 2013, by PSW Staff
Engineer Jimmy Nicholson of These Go To Eleven Ltd. recently deployed his newly acquired Kaltman Creations Invisible Waves X RF Command for the recent North American tour by Peter Gabriel that saw him performing his 1986 album “So” in its entirety, with the band members that made up the original tour 25 years ago.
Nicholson was responsible 32 wireless microphone and IEM systems, and due to the nature of the stage set and lighting truss layout, had a very limited time window at each tour stop to get 32 clean frequencies ready for line check. Intermodulation calculations were done pre-show with Professional Wireless IAS software, and as is invariably the case, the database is sometimes out of date (a reminder provided by the program itself).
“The Kaltman IWx gave me the opportunity to quickly scan the local conditions and verify what the database had told me. What could, at times, appear to be a crowded spectrum according to the database, turned out to be mercifully clear. And at other times, what looked to be favorable local conditions had obviously acquired a new set of digital TV stations recently.
“The speed at which it’s possible to scan and verify the local RF conditions with the RF Command Center and adjust your intermod calculations accordingly is invaluable in a situation like this.
“After initial setup and fine-tuning of the day’s frequencies, I connected the audio output of the IWx scanner into our crew shout system and sent it to my IEM mix. This gave me two very useful functions: firstly, it allowed me to use the Click-To-Listen feature to check out any new local frequencies that might appear during the day (or indeed the show), and secondly, it gave me an audible warning when a key frequency (main vocal, wireless instrument systems etc.) stopped transmitting.
“This second feature is like a sixth sense for RF techs. If, for instance, you are at the other side of the stage and a wireless instrument pack gets accidentally switched off – hearing the signature ‘bong’ sound of the RF Command Center let’s you know it’s time to hot-foot it back to RF world and grab
a spare pack.
“In addition to its capabilities in the world of radio mics and IEM systems, my version of the IWx can scan frequencies all the way up to 3.5GHz. Our backline team was using several wireless MIDI systems operating in the ‘2.4Ghz’ band that consumer wifi devices occupy. I was able to scan the rest of the tour’s ‘2.4Ghz’ equipment, including a selection of wifi devices and wireless comms equipment, and advise the backline department where to re-tune their systems for interference free operation.
“The next challenge for my IWx would be substantially simpler, but the same features that make it so useful on Peter Gabriel would apply here too. This would be a three-week UK tour with upcoming UK pop artist Conor Maynard, where I would be mixing monitors for Conor and his 5-piece band. Eight IEM systems and a pair of radio mics made up the RF requirements for this show. Not quite on the same scale as PG, but there are no wedges on this tour either, so we would be just as reliant on the RF.
“RF licensing regulations are different in the UK than North America, so most of the coordination with local TV stations is done for you by the license issuers JFMG. Our radio mics would be operating in the so-called ‘Shared UHF’ range, however, so would still require a scan and coordination each day. On PG I had been running the IWx from my flight-case computer workstation, but this tour would be traveling light, so the portability of the IWx really came into its own.
“Many of the UK’s large club/theatre venues, which this tour would be covering, have multiple venues in the same building, and while the vast majority of the UK spectrum is regulated by JFMG, not everyone follows the regulations. The IWx lets me see what’s really going on at a particular location.
“Having done plenty of touring with other RF scanning options, and plenty with no option at all, I can safely say the IWx RF Command Center is now a permanent resident in whatever size toolbox I’m carrying – in fact, my minimal ‘briefcase gig’ toolbox is now the RF Command Center in its custom built case, with my IEMs, a couple of USB sticks and a Sharpie.”