To celebrate the 25th anniversary of video game franchise “The Legend of Zelda,” Nintendo commissioned an original symphony to tour the U.S., giving fans a nostalgic live experience of music and cinematic visuals.
To create the complex audio components of the live production, “The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses,” Producer Jason Michael Paul tasked the show’s Sync and Program Director, Alex Levy, to find the industry’s best personal monitoring systems that are durable and best suited for the job.
Levy needed a wireless solution to support 65 instrumentalists, 24 vocalists, and a conductor, while handling a variety of RF and logistical challenges. After testing several models, Levy determined the Shure PSM900 to be the winner, as it offers superb audio quality, rugged design, and a category-leading feature set.
The traveling symphony production is a collection of orchestral works based on the last 25 years of Zelda game music that is meticulously-timed with scenes of gameplay.
Directed and arranged by Chad Seiter, the two-hour show is powered by a click track system. This required Levy to find a wireless transmitter that could accurately reproduce the click track levels—which switch from extremely loud sounds to completely off within milliseconds—while still accommodating challenging RF environments.
The PSM 900 systems addressed this demand, as they produced accurate, consistent, and clean sounds for all orchestra members.
“The Shure [PSM 900] was the only system that allowed full frequency,” Levy said. “The sounds of the click in other products were muddy or soft. With the PSM 900, the orchestra’s audio could go from completely off to full volume, while still maintaining a high-quality sound. It was definitely the best sounding system out there.”
The musicians, who all wear Shure’s P9RA wireless bodypack receivers, were also impressed. “Every musician—from violinists to trumpet players—loves having their own volume control and freedom from wires, especially the percussionist, who moves around frequently during the performance,” commented Levy.
It wasn’t just the sound that sold Levy on using PSM 900.
“With more than 21 tour stops, I had to be able to find an available frequency upon arrival in each performance city,” he says. “And with a 90-piece orchestra, there’s no real wired option as a backup, so the wireless has to work.
“Before I used Shure, I remember I would go through three or four different frequencies trying to find a clear, available option. Now, with PSM 900, the front-end RF filtering lets me find a clear, open frequency quickly—saving my technical team valuable time prior to each show. It’s a huge, huge time saver and a feature that makes my job easier.”
In addition to PSM 900’s superior sound, durable design scored highly when Levy was investigating systems—and the gear’s quality has delivered. “The Shure gear is great; metal bodied and rugged,” he said. “It’ll be put on the floor, dropped by musicians and stepped on, but we haven’t lost or broken any units.”
A live sound production can always present unexpected challenges, especially when travel, accompanying visuals, and a large number of musicians are put into the mix. Fortunately, the PSM 900 enables Levy and his team to be confident in their performance onstage.
“Shure’s personal monitoring system is one of the most dependable pieces of gear in our tour,” continued Levy. “We wrestle with a lot of technology, and the wireless is one of the few things that gives us no trouble, it’s ironic actually.”
Conductor Eimear Noone was also in need of quality gear—a pair of reference headphones for hearing and cueing the click track. Levy chose Shure’s SRH440 professional headphones for their enhanced frequency response, accurate audio reproduction, and comfort. “The sounds the conductor hears need to be loud and really clean, and the [SRH] 440s will give you that.”