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What, Me Worry? Ruminations On Potentially Troubling Developments
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Both Sides
One of the effects of having this equipment available so widely and cheaply is that it may not seem special in any way.

And it may also not be obvious to the aspiring musician, producer, engineer, tech, etc., that this stuff is not pro.

By the same token, of course, using “real pro gear” does not make someone good at their craft. The two go hand-in-hand: improvements in the quality of the gear can only be fully utilized by the improved skills of the operator.

Unfortunately, as we’ve all seen, clients often don’t know the difference either. They ask to “borrow a microphone” and then are taken aback when “there’s no way to get the sound out.” (Oh, you meant the PA system?)

In general, this is an effect of globalization. Should we really expect to get a toaster for $9.99 or a printer for $29.99? How about a 24-channel mixer for $199? If you know anything about manufacturing, you’ll recognize that the toaster costs about $2 to produce and the mixer costs about $40. Difficult to comprehend, isn’t it?

Of course, this is a complex issue with many facets, and I don’t profess to have the answers, but at times, thinking about it does deprive me of sleep. That is, unless I’ve been hitting the bottle of Laphroig18 I received for Father’s Day…

Lack Of Balance
Another troubling subject: the government of the United States is currently hard at work on possibly further screwing things up for wireless microphone systems.

Didn’t we just get through a decade of warnings, misunderstandings, deliberate obfuscation, fear and panic over the 700 MHz issue?

Now it looks like the FCC wants to take even more spectrum from broadcasters. They want 500 MHz overall, and claim to expect about 120 MHz or so to come from broadcasters. Say what?

It’s all part of the “National Broadband Plan,” and the FCC is hoping that the broadcasters voluntarily “give up” this spectrum. In fact, they’ve proposed that the broadcasters share in the auction proceeds when it’s sold off to broadband network providers.

Yes, these are the same broadcasters that A) had to invest heavily in DTV technology just a few years ago, and B) already had to vacate the 700 MHz band. I can’t imagine that they’re too happy with this proposal. The government hints that if the spectrum is not given up voluntarily… well, you get the idea.

So what about wireless microphone systems? The vast majority of these systems, whether analog or digital, share the spectrum with the broadcasters.

What’s troublesome about all of this? It’s not that there aren’t efforts by wireless manufacturers to develop new products and new technology platforms - in fact we’ve even seen products that work outside the broadcast spectrum brought to market by an intrepid few.

And it’s not that everyone involved hasn’t already made significant sacrifices - from TV broadcast equipment makers and users to wireless system makers and users - because they have.

No, what is really troublesome about all of this is that the government still does not seem to understand that there must be a balance between content creation and content distribution; they’re seemingly only concerned with the latter. 

It begs the question: just how is content going to be created? Clearly, the message that major sports, casino showrooms, Hollywood, theme parks, TV production, Broadway, churches, major tours, and so on rely heavily upon wireless systems has not sunk in with these folks. Even political debates and campaign tours benefit from this very same technology!

Why is this so difficult to understand? No wonder more scotch is required for me to sleep. Preferably at least 15 years old, Islay. Thank you.


Source: Live Sound International

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