Monday, May 05, 2014
Rick Camp Brings Earthworks WL40V Capsule On The Road With Jennifer Lopez
Deploying WL40V capsule on Lopez’s Sony DWX digital wireless system
Veteran front of house engineer Rick Camp is taking the Earthworks WL40V wireless microphone capsule on the road with Jennifer Lopez as she heads out for another world tour.
Camp, who has has also worked with Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, The Temptations, Mary J. Blige, and Kelly Clarkson—among many—first learned about the Earthworks WL40V capsule from Tim Kidwell, who does sound for Frankie Beverly and Maze.
“Tim showed me how well the WL40V rejected sound,” recalls Camp. “During a performance Frankie would always turn around and walk straight toward the drum set, and his stage volume was always incredibly loud. The Earthworks capsule just rejected all of the sound from the drums.”
About a year later, Camp had an opportunity to use the WL40V capsule himself on Lopez’s Sony DWX digital wireless system. “I’m an endorser of Sony wireless microphones, and in talking with my rep from Sony, he told me how the new Sony DWX series wireless mics were designed to use interchangeable mic capsules,” explains Camp. “He mentioned that one of the interchangeable capsules was the Earthworks WL40V. I told him that I had actually heard one of the Earthworks mic capsules in action, and that I wanted to try it.”
He continues, “The thing that impresses me with the WL40V is that the pickup pattern is really tight, which rejects all the stage noise coming in from the rear and sides,” explains Camp. “When a singer turns toward a drum set or guitar amp, it rejects all of that. The rear rejection is just great.
“I also love the sound of the Earthworks capsule. It’s crystal clear and sounds like a studio mic on stage. The WL40V has a very smooth response and I love that, especially when Jennifer is on a ramp, 50 feet out in front of the PA speakers.”
Friday, May 02, 2014
Kaltman Creations RF-Vue RF Analyzer Adds Dell Touch Tablet and Intermod Software
Integrated RFVue Dell tablet offers better and faster finger gesture control, faster sweep speeds, and larger memory and hard drive size
Kaltman Creations has announced that starting in June, the Invisible Waves RF-Vue touch tablet RF analyzer will ship with a Dell Latitude 10-inch tablet. In addition, for a limited time, all RF-Vue models will include integrated RF-intermodPRO intermodulation software at no additional charge.
Introduced last year, the RF-Vue portable tablet-based RF analyzer allows the user to master and control wireless transmitters, IEMs, and visually navigate around RF interference, all with full-finger on-screen control. The newest integrated RFVue Dell tablet offers better and faster finger gesture control, faster sweep speeds, and larger memory and hard drive size than previously available.
“The Dell tablet/computer represents a significant improvement in technology yet with no price increase for our customers,” says Mark Kaltman, president of Kaltman Creations. “Maintaining our low price was due in-part to the initial success of the RFVue and our subsequent ability to make a large buy-in on these tablets.”
RF-Vue is also offered for use with a customer’s own tablet or laptop. “One of the pluses of a tablet-based RF analyzer is its portability,” Kaltman adds. “Compared to rack mount or bench top models, the ability to walk a venue or facility and track interference, locate RF dead spots, find best antenna positions, etc., is a real advantage.”
Main features of RF-Vue and its new Dell tablet include a broad frequency range of 50 MHz to 2.5 GHz; current, average, and peak spectral traces; Touch-to-Listen (the only analyzer to offer listen-in capability); an RF Congestion Scale to gauge the severity of local RF; customizable screen markers; and insta-save custom profiles.
As an added bonus and for a limited time, RF-Vue will also include RFintermodPRO software at no charge (normally a $275 value). The RF-intermodPRO is a “one-click assignment” intermodulation predicting software which can be used either as a stand-alone software or integrated with RF-Vue.
When integrated with the RFVue, RF-intermodPRO incorporates the analyzer’s real-time spectral data right into the intermodulation calculation process, providing exceptionally accurate frequency coordination.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
RF Venue Releases RF Explorer RackPRO Spectrum Analysis Platform
Designed to manage and monitor any size wireless audio system from a USB-connected laptop or directly onboard a wireless equipment rack
Boston-based wireless audio manufacturer RF Venue has released the RF Explorer RackPRO, a unique hardware/software spectrum analysis platform designed to manage and monitor any size wireless audio system from a USB-connected laptop or directly onboard a wireless equipment rack.
The RackPRO is an easy to use, affordable RF spectrum analyzer in a standard 1RU housing with included RF coordination, monitoring, and management software.
“The ability to visualize, monitor and manage RF has never been more critical as the wireless spectrum becomes a more hostile and unpredictable place for wireless mics and IEMs,” says RF Venue CEO Chris Regan. “To date this capability has been limited to expensive test equipment and the expertise of trained RF system coordinators. We are thrilled to finally bring this capability to the broader wireless audio market in a system tailored for live production and installed sound.”
The RackPRO can provide a quick assessment of RF activity in standalone mode via an onboard LCD screen and front panel hardware controls, or connected via USB to a Windows or Mac computer for expanded functionality.
With the included Clear Waves software, users can see spectrum activity in their venue, calculate sets of intermodulation distortion-free frequencies, and export it all to PDF report files or to compatible Shure Wireless Workbench® and Professional Wireless Systems IAS file formats. Individual transmitter frequencies can also be labeled and monitored to catch dropouts or interference before they ruin a performance.
“Clear Waves strikes the right balance between ease-of-use and powerful functionality for Windows users. We will also soon be releasing a RackPRO compatible native application for Mac OSX,” continues Regan. “For our dealers and customers routinely frustrated by the unpredictable nature of wireless audio systems, the RackPRO will provide greater reliability and long overdue peace of mind.”
The RF Explorer RackPRO is now shipping and is priced at $849 MAP. For ordering information or to join the fast growing community of RF Venue dealers, go to www.RFVenue.com or call 1-800-795-0817.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
DPA Microphones Allow Accordionist Jure Tori To Move Freely On Stage
Company’s d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones give internationally acclaimed accordionist ability to fully express himself live
Slovenian accordionist Jure Tori is using DPA Microphones’ d:vote 4099 instrument mics to bring extra energy and quality to the sound he achieves on stage.
The internationally acclaimed musician recently bought two d:votes from DPA’s Slovenian distributor, Sonus, and is now using them for all of his live performances.
A unique and charismatic musician, Tori has performed on stage all over the world, both as a solo artist and in collaboration with other musicians, such as Austrian double bass player Ewald Oberleitner and guitarist Ariel Cubria.
He also plays as part of the group Orlek and recently established the Tori Trio with Oberleitner and percussionist Ganesh Anandan.
“When you’re playing an accordion, the whole body is involved,” says Tori says. “Therefore, I need mics that enable me to move and express myself without limitations. With the DPA d:vote 4099 instrument mics attached to my accordion, I am able to pick up the sound of the entire keyboard and really capture the sensitivity of my music.”
Tori’s reputation as an accordionist is so well established that his songs are now part of the curriculum for accordion students and his compositions have been published by the Slovenian Music Information Center.
His music has also been used to accompany animations by Dušan Kastelic (Bugbrain Institute), in movies by Metod Pevec and in various Slovenian and Austrian documentaries.
“My compositions express my personality, traumas and pleasures – sometimes in a funny way and sometimes in a sad way,” Tori explains. “DPA mics have brought real progress to my music, especially the work I am doing with the Tori Trio. With DPA, I have achieved more live musical energy, improved the quality of the sound and found it much easier to play my instrument.”
The DPA d:vote 4099s are renowned for their audio quality and versatility. Despite their tiny, discreet size and lightweight design, these clip mics are rugged, stable and perfectly suited to the rigors of touring and live performance.
Intended for fast-paced settings, the mics can easily be unclipped and repositioned or moved to another instrument with only one hand. Additionally, the d:vote’s mounting system is designed to be extremely gentle, never marring the finish of an instrument.
“On an accordion, the constant sound of the bass is very important and these microphones enable that sound to be properly picked up,” continues Tori. “They also make it much easier to record live concerts. I have managed to find a good solution for fixing and positioning the mics on both sides of the instrument and, as a result, I am really enjoying the sound these mics are deliver.”
Monday, April 28, 2014
Shure Micorphones And In-Ear Monitors Capture Crystal-Clear Audio During Rainforest Recording
Shure BETA and KSM Microphones paired with PSM In-Ear Monitor Systems Capture Tijuca Forest Ambiance for Unique Production
When the owner of creative content and social impact company Content-OS, Andres Levin, was presented with an opportunity to collaborate on an awareness campaign for The Rainforest Alliance, the producer knew he wanted to take the project to a new level.
To offer viewers a true-to-life snapshot of the environment, he traveled to the depths of the Tijuca Forest to record a unique musical and cinematic production.
Aware that he would face extreme temperatures, high humidity, limited space, and less than four days to record, Levin knew rugged, reliable gear, that could withstand the harsh conditions and consistently record professional-quality sound, would be imperative to his success.
Based on his decades of experience using Shure microphones, he packed a selection of KSM and Beta microphones to record his recently completed piece, I’m Alive—Rainforest Alliance Sessions—Foresta de Tijuca, with GRAMMY Award-winning artists Caetano Veloso and Lenine, and renowned Brazilian artists Criolo, Emicida, and Pretinho da Serrinha.
Chosen for the products’ legendary performance and extreme durability, Levin was impressed by both the Beta and KSM microphones’ flawless performance throughout the trip.
Using the Beta 98/AMP, Beta 181/C, and Beta 181/S, Levin recorded the percussion instruments played throughout I’m Alive. Thanks to the Beta mics’ extreme versatility, Levin also used them to record the natural ambience of the rainforest—including insects, animals, and other environmental sounds.
“The combination of extreme environmental conditions, a very brief window of time to record some of today’s top artists, and many moving parts, created a situation that had the potential of becoming a nightmare, had we not selected the right gear,” Levin shared. “The Shure Beta and KSM mics were exactly what we were looking for—rock-solid and extremely reliable. There’s not much more you can ask for, especially when recording in the middle of the rainforest.”
When it came to mic’ing vocalists, Levin relied heavily on the Shure KSM42, KSM32/CG, and KSM32/SL Large Diaphragm Microphones. He found that the mics’ excellent frequency response and extremely consistent performance were key to creating a quality piece, especially within such a limited amount of time.
With a large, noisy generator on-site and a crew of more than 40 people, Levin also needed an in-ear monitor system that would allow each artist to focus on his or her own music without the distractions of nearby noise.
“This was a very extreme situation, especially given the extreme temperatures, humidity, and the large generator nearby,” Levin stated. “I’ve always used Shure, which is why I chose the Shure PSM900 personal monitor system. I knew I could rely on the system, and it performed perfectly.”
Levin found that each component of the PSM900 system—including bodypack receivers, stereo transmitters, and a UA802G10 1/2 wave antenna with the PA421A antenna combiner—not only withstood the rigors of travel and humidity in the rainforest, but performed flawlessly.
In celebration of Earth Day, the six-minute production of I’m Alive debuted April 22 on YouTube and can be seen below:
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Heartbeat Of Home Chooses Shure
Acclaimed New Dance Production Uses UHF-R, PSM1000 for Head-to-Foot Wireless Coverage
Featuring an on-stage cast of 39 outstanding dancers and musicians, Heartbeat of Home fuses Irish, Latin, and Afro-Cuban dance to create an exhilarating theater experience.
Created by a production team led by producer Moya Doherty and director John McColgan of Riverdance, Heartbeat of Home combines exciting, original live music and exuberant dance with state-of-the-art projection and video effects in a celebration of global multi-culturalism.
Production RF Engineer Amir Carmel is charged with the task of managing the show’s considerable wireless needs, and also handles power distribution for the production.
“My background is being a system engineer, which has always included RF and power distribution,” Carmel says. “In the past few years, especially with the loss of bandwidth, having a dedicated RF engineer has become much more important on major productions.
“For Heartbeat of Home, we chose an all-Shure infrastructure for both wireless mics and in-ear monitors. We’ve got 49 channels of UHF-R bodypacks and 16 channels of PSM1000 in-ears.”
The wireless microphone and in-ear systems co-exist with 18 channels of intercom. To help handle the task of coordinating more than 80 RF audio channels, Carmel uses Shure Wireless Workbench 6 and IAS software from Professional Wireless Systems with two scanners. The system, including Shure antenna combiners, splitters, and PWS combiners and helical antennas, is supplied by Cleveland-based Eighth Day Sound.
“I’ve been using the beta version of Workbench 6 for a couple years now,” says Carmel. “It’s very reliable, very sturdy. That’s especially important in America, where we have a lot less spectrum to work with for frequency coordination than in Europe, where we can go up to 790 MHz, which gives us a lot more options.”
The show features several unique wireless applications, the most obvious of which is the miking of the dancers’ feet. A miniature microphone is attached to each foot, with the signals being combined before entering the UR1 bodypack transmitter.
“It’s a proprietary system that we developed for Riverdance,” notes Carmel. “The mics are custom wired and positioned on each dancer’s shoes to minimize cancellation and capture the sound the producer is looking for.”
The production also uses wireless to facilitate stage movement among instruments that are notoriously difficult to mic, or that are not normally mobile. Within the band’s substantial percussion section, for example, one percussion set sports a UR1 bodypack transmitter secured to its stand for quick movement from the band riser to a downstage position.
Similarly, the Irish bodhrán hand drums have UR1 transmitters with miniature microphones secured beneath its frame. There is also a Shure UR5 portable receiver incorporated into the guitarist’s pedal board, receiving the guitar signal from the UR1 bodypack to feed the guitar effects and, in turn, the system’s DI box.
“It cuts the amount of wiring, and so we don’t need to have a rack unit on stage. I have that UR5 receiver frequency copied in my rack backstage for monitoring,” Carmely adds.
The entire wireless installation is networked through Shure Wireless Workbench 6 software, enabling the monitoring of every RF input channel and any IEM mix.
“I have different groups set up for dancers, vocals, instruments, and in-ears, etc., so I can be sure that all the RF inputs are reaching the stage box,” he says. “We monitor battery, RF, and audio for all inputs and outputs, so the monitor engineer doesn’t have to worry about anything but the mix. During the show, we check every system before it goes on stage, including all the dancer and singer mics after costume changes. It’s a very active approach.”
Heartbeat of Home is using 16 Shure PSM 1000 in-ear systems, which are used primarily for the musicians, audio, and backline crew.
“This is the first tour we’ve used the PSM 1000, and, I must say, we are very happy with the RF platform,” says Carmel. “Myself and Steve (Branson, Monitor Engineer), as well as other crew members, use our PSM 1000 receivers in Cue Mode.
“That lets me scroll through all the mixes to monitor. My own in-ear mix is fed from the Cue Out of the Midas DL431 stage boxes for listening to any input channel.”
To optimize reception of the in-ear and microphone systems, Carmel has taken the extra step of customizing the position of each bodypack on each performer.
“All of the musicians on wireless have two packs, one receiver and one transmitter, and both the distance between the packs and their positions in comparison to the antennas can affect reception,” he explains. “So, each performer has a personal belt with the packs positioned for where that individual will be on stage relative to the antennas.”
The production team is constantly looking for other ways to fine-tune the show.
“We experiment, trying new ideas to help the flow of everything on stage,” says Carmel. “We are looking into adding more Shure UR1M micro bodypacks for both instruments and performers, and we were recently testing a Shure Axient system for a possible future upgrade. I’m also looking at moving the comms to higher or lower spectrum in order to free that frequency range for the RF mics and IEMs.”
With the critical success that Heartbeat of Home has garnered in Ireland, China, Canada, and the U.S., the production appears to be headed for a long life.
Monday, April 21, 2014
McFadden Sales Celebrates 75 Years With Shure
Ohio-based company has served as a Shure sales representative since 1939
The first meeting between McFadden Sales and Shure occurred in 1939, when founder Bill McFadden met S.N. Shure and decided to strike a partnership. This year, Shure is celebrating 75 years with McFadden Sales as a Shure sales representative.
“When you look back at the history of our company, there are a number of factors that have contributed to our success,” says Mark Humrichouser, general manager for the Shure Americas Business Unit. “One of those success factors is the strong relationship we have with all of our distributors and sales rep firms, like McFadden Sales. We greatly appreciate their efforts to not only sell our products, but also to represent and champion the Shure brand.”
McFadden Sales has been a premier sales and marketing company since 1938, serving the Midwest in representing professional audio equipment and musical instrument manufacturers. The company’s longstanding mission is to provide, maintain, and sell the best available products, with an emphasis on building long-term, profitable business relationships, reinforced by honesty and ethical business practices.
Based in Westerville, OH, McFadden Sales is headed by president Gary Dunaway, with Jay Dill serving as vice president, Carrie Walker providing senior sales support and Steven Sutherland serving as director of digital media. Territory managers include Dave Ray, Scott VanEaton, Mike Love, Mike Somerville, Andrew Yost, Andy Kerr, and Jeff Allen.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Getting It Right: Crucial Facets Of In-Ear Monitoring
Ten important things to be aware of in the quest for optimum results with in-ear monitoring:
Coordination. TV broadcasts are the dominant feature of the local RF spectrum. Online resources like the Sennheiser Frequency Finder, which uses a ZIP code, and the FCC’s database to provide a list of local TV broadcast stations and their signal strength, helps users tune wireless systems to interference-free frequencies, removing much of the guesswork.
Antennas. Most wireless in-ear monitoring transmitters come with a simple quarter-wave whip antenna, which is fine for single systems at close distances.
Multiple systems benefit from both an antenna combiner as well as a directional antenna that also provides RF gain.
A Log-Periodic Dipole Array (LPDA ) antenna, called a “shark fin” or “paddle,” can provide 6 dB of gain and is thin enough to slip into the back of a rack.
A Helical antenna provides about 10 dB of gain plus the advantage of circular polarization.
Molds. Custom molded earphones provide a snug, comfortable fit with a tight seal that not only improves low-frequency response, but also provides up to 26 dB of isolation, allowing performers to monitor at lower volumes, which aids hearing conservation and reduces hearing fatigue. Inexpensive generic earphones can be uncomfortable, don’t provide enough seal in the ear to ensure good low frequency response, and their reduced isolation can contribute to higher monitoring levels.
Both Ears. Using just a single earphone leads to higher monitoring volumes, as performers raise its volume to match the ambient stage sound in the other ear, removing any hearing conservation benefits.
Stereo. Listening to stereo-panned mixes contributes to lower monitoring levels because it is easier to hear individual instruments that are panned across a stereo field than by listening to a mono mix. Lower monitoring levels contribute to hearing conservation.
Dynamics. Since many performers employ a fairly full mix, dynamics management can help build mixes that can sail smoothly through the relatively narrow dynamic range of analog wireless systems. Compression on a singer’s microphone in their own mix can contribute to vocal strain, but compression on instruments keeps them from clipping a wireless transmitter’s input. Multi-band compression on each monitor mix can allow the mid-range to be better heard, while keeping low- and high-frequency transients from clipping the transmitter.
Reverb. Helpful to singers, reverb contributes to their ability to hear their own pitch correctly at lower volumes. Monitoring at lower volume further contributes singing on pitch. Individual dedicated reverbs ensure that each singer can focus on their own voice without having to listen to others sharing their reverb. Reverb sounds better in stereo than in mono. When short of console aux buses, dedicated reverbs can be driven by input channel direct outs.
Pre-Built. Many performers don’t have patience for creating monitor mixes from scratch, adding and adjusting one input at a time. Providing personal monitor mixes that are already assembled, with gain, high-pass filtering, EQ, compression and reverb adjusted for each input greatly improves confidence in both equipment and engineer.
Communication. In-ear monitors create on-stage communication challenges. Adding vocal mics to the input list that are dedicated to band and crew communication greatly improves the experience. Whether it’s just a single spare mic that is muted at the house console and everyone on stage can hear, multiple stage mics, or even mics for backline crew to talk back to their performers, the ability to easily communicate on stage improves sound checks and shows. An Optogate PB-05 can be used to hands-free mute these communication mics when not being used by performers.
Optogate PB-05 (click to enlarge)
Reference. Wireless analog stereo transmissions are subject to reduced separation and frequency response. Monitoring a wireless pack instead of cuing directly from the console provides a better representation of what performers are hearing, especially when using the same model of earphones. Employing a spare pack for every mix isn’t practical, but using a wireless cue mix that can serve as a spare in a pinch solves two problems. The Shure PSM 1000 allows engineers to step through up to 20 mixes in the same frequency group from a single pack using its unique CueMode.
Mark Frink is an independent engineer and free-lance tech writer.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Multifaceted Performer Carlos Elizalde Works Seamlessly With AKG Wireless & IEM Systems
WMS4500 wireless system outfitted with D7 microphone, plus an IVM 4500 in-ear monitoring set
As an integral member and founder of Ruckatán, a Latin, Reggae and World music group, percussionist/singer/songwriter Carlos Elizalde is currently using a Harman AKG WMS4500 wireless system with a D7 microphone plus an AKG IVM 4500 in-ear monitoring set.
“Having booked 75 shows already for 2014, I’ll be using the AKG WMS4500 system for all of them,” sasys Elizalde. “There’s a lot of movement in my shows, where I jump off risers, dance and perform hand percussion at the same time. We require a solid wireless system, and AKG delivers on that need.
Not only does Elizalde create an artistic fusion between English and Spanish in each Ruckatán act, but he also provides vocals and percussion for Caravanserai, a Santana tribute band. For both acts, the WMS4500 has been key to his ability to produce lively and creative shows.
“I’ve also been using the wireless system in the studio and it sounds killer,” continues Elizalde. “When you transition from wired microphones, the wireless ones tend to sound a little thinner. However, these AKG microphones have such warmth to them. The WMS4500 is a really nice system, as it has the D7 capsule in it, so I know it shares that technology.”
The AKG D7 reference dynamic vocal microphone is a powerful tool for vocalists, as it provides an extraordinarily crisp and clean sound via the dual-layer Varimotion diaphragm. It is extremely durable, and as the very first AKG product that Elizalde became familiar with, provides an unhindered degree of reliability as well.
“I first saw and sampled the D7 wired microphone two years ago at The Secret Studio in Alamedia, California. The next week, I bought one for myself,” he says. “I fell in love with this product and started touring with it to every location. It is so reliable and easy to operate, since I can just plug it in and start the show.”
The AKG IVM 4500 IEM system maintains stable signals with a new reference radio electronic design, resulting in top audio monitoring quality, which Elizalde notes is “very cool. It represents accurately what the monitor mixer is giving you.
“As I’m a part of the Latin community, I’m excited to help raise AKG’s exposure in the Latin market,” Elizalde concludes. “Since these products are both affordable and also high in quality, I believe they deserve more presence in this space.”
Church Sound: Well-Earned Advice On AV System Maintenance
When it comes to the upkeep of sound and A/V systems, I suspect that we often confuse or misuse the terms maintenance, service, repair, replacement and other related words. Here are a few of my definitions:
Maintenance—General care and cleaning done at regular intervals that helps equipment and systems last longer and continue performing at their best;
Service—More comprehensive than maintenance, this is usually performed by a trained professional with the purpose of addressing minor performance issues before they become worse;
Repair—Always done by a trained professional who’s purpose is to fix a specific problem that is severely compromising equipment performance or halting it all together;
Replacement—Usually/always done by a trained professional when there is an equipment problem too tough or expensive to solve, making it necessary to replace a defective unit with a new or refurbished substitute.
All of these aspects are important and necessary to keep your system performing optimally. But the most significant point is to always be aware that this “care and feeding” must be done regularly, with the associated costs included in your annual systems budget.
At some churches, I’ve seen figures of as much as 10 percent per year of the total system cost (when it was purchased) allocated for equipment upkeep. During the first two to three years of the life of a system, 10 percent is probably too much. But then again, it might be a bit too low as the system approaches the end of its usefulness.
This figure should include the costs of contracting professional assistance, such as having your sound system contractor come by twice a year to check things over and address any problems. But note that far more of it is “standard clean-up and awareness” activity, so with a bit of time and effort, the average sound operator at a church should be able to do much of the work themselves.
Every situation is different; again, just remember to always include an realistic amount in the budget to handle anything within reason that might come up.
Many parts of an audio system actually have relatively short life expectancies (less than three years). This is simply inevitable, regardless of your level of care. A good example is microphone cables, which take plenty of abuse (bending, twisting, being stepped on repeatedly), and thus they can become unusable fairly quickly.
Other equipment that falls into the short life-span category can include microphones and wireless system transmitters (in both cases due to dropping, mishandling, sweaty hands, makeup, dust, dirt, etc.), as well as mic stands, monitor loudspeaker cables, CD players and others.
Back in my “Re’Generation” touring days, we had to send our Neumann KM84 mics in for service and/or repair at least once a year, including replacing the outer metal shells, which regularly deteriorated due to sweat and handling. These are fine microphones and really enhanced our audio production, so the added effort and expense was worth it.
Once at my church, I found some vintage AKG C451/CK1 mics that were not being used because they had become “noisy.” I tightened up the tiny screws around the capsule, and the problem was cured. (I had learned about these tiny screws when touring with “Truth,” since I used these same mics and had to tighten up those little screws every week to keep the mics working at their best.)
And how many wireless system problems could be cured with routine service by a qualified RF bench technician? The point is to keep “care and feeing” of your system firmly in mind and devise common-sense strategies to stop problems before they start.
While we’ve established that some components have a relatively short life span, other components, with reasonable care, can be expected to last 7 to 10 years, especially with the performance of regular maintenance. If equipment has moving parts (such as knobs and faders), lubricate them—suggest a method or someone will go out and spray the entire board with WD-40.
If it has a cooling fan, clean out the filter by washing it in hot water and leaving it out in the open air for 24 hours to thoroughly dry, and if possible, carefully clean out the entire unit with a soft toothbrush and vacuum.
When was the last time you went to your rack room and vacuumed out the dust in the racks and around the power amplifiers? When was the last time that you checked to make sure that the fan was still operational in your system processors? Broken or failed fans are the number one cause of catastrophic failure on heat producing electronic devices.
Just remember to take your time and be cautious: if you really feel like you could be causing damage to a component, you likely are. And this is the time to seek the services of a professional. Better safe than sorry.
Bill Thrasher, Sr. heads up Thrasher Design Group, based in Kennesaw, Georgia, and he has provided audio services for many Christian tours and organization, including Billy Graham Crusades and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Pedal To The Metal Captured With Lectrosonics
Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless microphone technology is a key component to capturing sound for Pedal to the Medal.
George - Aris Anastassopoulos, one of the location sound engineers for Back2Back Productions’ Pedal to the Metal, is tasked with capturing the roar of the engine as the car passes the camera—challenging work with little margin for error. In order to accomplish it he relies on Digital Hybrid Wireless microphone technology from Lectrosonics.
Anastassopoulos has been working in professional audio for better than fifteen years—starting as a recording engineer for classical and orchestral recordings in addition to handling live sound reinforcement for open air festivals as well as surround sound system installations.
His location sound work has taken him to Germany, Spain, Italy, Brussels and the Greek islands for fourteen feature films, commercials, TV shows, and documentaries.
“Pedal to the Metal showcases host Brian Johnson’s expertise on specialty cars and driving and also gives viewers a glimpse at his personal life when he’s not performing on stage,” Anastassopoulos explained. “There’s a wide range of shooting scenarios. For this project, I’ve been using Lectrosonics SMB single battery and SMDB dual battery transmitters as well as an HM plug-on transmitter.
“On the receiving end, I use two SRb dual channel slot mount ENG receivers outfitted with the Lectrosonics Quadpack power and audio interface. I also use the Lectro RM app for Apple’s iOS-based smartphones and tablets, which lets me adjust transmitter level, change frequencies, or just put the unit into sleep mode.”
“I’ve been working with Lectrosonics gear for about one year and I’ve become very fond of the equipment,” Anastassopoulos continued. “The sound quality is excellent and nothing beats the rugged build quality.
“The transmitters’ Safety Combo Menu Locks offer protection from accidental menu selection and their backlit LCDs are a godsend during night shoots and in other low light conditions. I also love the fact that the HM plug-on transmitter is a great tool for wireless boom operation and for 48V phantom feeds.”
Anastassopoulos notes that Lectrosonics’ RF Scan and precise RF tuning steps add a great deal to RF agility and make the system very flexible and versatile in crowded RF environments. These features make the equipment very well suited for use in the UK.
“The UK has the world’s most crammed PMSE RF block (Block 606),” he adds. “Further, being able to use the receivers in true diversity mode or as dual single receivers is extremely useful. For one specific shoot, there was a lot of on-the-fly improvisations and a lot of unexpected performances—requiring on the fly decision making and flexibility from the crew.
“Being able to accurately monitor the receivers’ antenna reception strength provided considerable peace of mind and enabled strategic placement of my receivers for the best possible reception.”
Lectrosonics build quality gives Anastassopoulos peace of mind for what is unquestionably one of the most important chains of the location sound engineer’s setup—radio systems.
“Their constant upgrades and tweaks on the SRb means the company is constantly fine-tuning their product, improving the unit’s performance and value, and at the same time making it even more future proof,” he concludes. “I’m very happy that I made the switch to Lectrosonics.”
Posted by Julie Clark on 04/16 at 09:52 AM
Monday, April 14, 2014
The Naked And Famous Pick Telefunken M81 Mics For World Tour
Alternative rock band The Naked and Famous tour with Telefunken microphones.
New Zealand’s hit alternative rock band The Naked and Famous is touring the world with their Telefunken M81 dynamic microphones. Following their performance at the Coachella Festival in April, the band tours Australia before returning to the States in May and June.
“We discovered the Telefunken M81 while rehearsing at Bedrock Studios in LA,” recalled Aaron Short, who plays keyboards in the band. “The big challenge on stage is getting the right rejection from the mic. We’re very loud onstage and the vocals can be very dynamic and then suddenly quiet. We needed to find one microphone that could be sensitive and clear, but at the same time still have very strong feedback rejection.”
The Naked and Famous formed in 2008 when Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith recorded two EPs “This Machine” and “No Light” with Aaron Short, a fellow student at Auckland’s MAINZ music college, sharing engineering duties with Thom. The band took their name from a line in the English artist Tricky’s song “Tricky Kid,” “everybody wants to be naked and famous,” that questions the notion of celebrity.
The band settled in Los Angeles after completing the tour for their first full length album “Passive Me, Aggressive You” which featured the US Gold selling single “Young Blood”. They had performed over 200 shows in 24 countries between 2010 and 2012. Sharing a home in LA’s Laurel Canyon, they began work in earnest on writing and demoing their second album. Their intention was to record an album that could be played live, not relying on backing tracks.
“When we got the Telefunken mics we A-B’d them with our touring mics and there was just an elemental difference,” explained Aaron Short. “The top end especially opened up, almost like a condenser microphone. After rehearsing a bit we realized they really made a big difference with live vocals. We also used a Telefunken M80 dynamic on the snare drum for the album we recorded in LA with Billy Bush at Sunset Sound.”
Friday, April 11, 2014
Shure Axient Delivers Premium Wireless Performance At Sports Authority Field At Mile High In Denver
Spectrum Management helps overcome challenging RF environment
For years, a chaotic RF environment and severe weather conditions had compromised wireless microphone system performance for AV services manager Jeremy Wecker and his team at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the home stadium of the NFL Denver Broncos. That changed this past season with the implementation of a Shure Axient wireless management network.
Seeking a solution, Wecker tapped the expertise of Mark Graham, audio consultant at Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW) of Dallas, and Dave Potts, field systems engineer at Parsons Technologies, an engineering, construction, technical, and management services firm.
“They’ve got a severe RF nightmare at that stadium,” Potts states. “After running into so many issues during mission-critical situations, it’s easy to understand why the team had almost ‘zero confidence’ in wireless microphone technology.”
However, that changed with the implementation of Shure Axient prior to the kickoff of the pre-season schedule last year. Following a demo of the system, Wecker realized it would provide a solution years of wireless headaches that he and the team had encountered.
“At one point, we made the decision to abandon wireless almost entirely,” Wecker notes. “It just wasn’t worth it anymore. We had to manually switch every frequency, and things can get especially crazy on game days — we just didn’t have time to tweak the frequency settings or swap out handhelds due to system failures.”
After using Axient’s Spectrum Management feature, Wecker knew that he needed to have the system on his rig full-time. “The fact that I can input a list of frequencies approved by the game day RF coordinator and it can manage itself, change frequencies when it needs to, and constantly have a back-up channel ready is exactly why I chose Axient,” he says. “Also, the resulting peace of mind I now have knowing that I can confidently keep every microphone on the air is worth every penny.”
Axient’s Spectrum Manager and Frequency Diversity features offer detailed scanning, calculation, coordination, and deployment, all while simultaneously transmitting on two separate frequencies to ensure seamless, uninterrupted audio. To maximize the system’s value and usability, Wecker leverages the integration of Shure’s Wireless Workbench 6 software, which provides him with a graphical interface for viewing the surrounding RF environment and the optimal frequencies for all wireless channels.
Additionally, by incorporating Axient’s ShowLink Remote Control feature, he can remotely manage and make crucial changes to microphone transmitter and receiver settings without leaving the control booth. “Being able to keep an eye on the status and health of the rechargeable batteries in each mic has been a huge improvement,” he states. “The rechargeable accessories themselves also present a big advantage—we’ve completely eliminated the need to run out and buy fresh batteries mid-game. In just one season, we’ve already seen substantial cost savings.”
After deciding to install Axient, Potts worked with Wecker and his team to get the system up and running months before the NFL season began. “We wanted to make sure the system was performing at its best for the Broncos. Since we installed it, they have been very pleased; everything has gone-off without a hitch.”
Posted by Keith Clark on 04/11 at 11:14 AM
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Sennheiser Supports Dante Multi-Channel Audio Networking Standard
First product to make use of the network technology will be the company’s Digital 9000 wireless microphone system
At NAB 2014 Sennheiser has announced its support for the Dante multi-channel audio networking standard.
“By joining this standard, we will be able to optimally cater to our customers in the broadcasting and live sound worlds,” explains Claus Menke, head of portfolio management pro for the Sennheiser professional division.
The first product to make use of the network technology will be the company’s Digital 9000 wireless microphone system. A Dante-enabled expansion card for the receiver will be launched in summer 2014.
Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG signed the Dante License Agreement with Audinate Pty Ltd at the end of March, just ahead of NAB. In 2013, Sennheiser had signed the RAVENNA Partnership Agreement with ALC NetworX GmbH, following in the footsteps of its subsidiary Georg Neumann GmbH. Sennheiser has also been a member of the AVnu Alliance since 2010.
“The future belongs to digital networking. We see the digital distribution of audio and control signals becoming more and more widespread in all areas of production,” Menke notes. “The flexibility and modularity of our Digital 9000 wireless system allows the seamless integration of networking technologies, making this and subsequent microphone systems a future-proof investment.”
“Sennheiser is recognized globally for its uncompromised performance,” states Lee Ellison, CEO of Audinate. “The Sennheiser Digital 9000 microphone receiver combined with Audinate’s Dante networking further enriches the broad suite of Dante products available for audio over IP networks in broadcast, live sound, theatre, and professional audio markets.”
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Cathedral Of Faith In San Jose Relies On Countryman H6 & E6 Microphones
Headset and earset mics deployed in conjunction with extensive wireless system inventory
Cathedral of Faith in San Jose, CA, is relying on an assortment of Countryman H6 Headset and E6 Earset microphones in conjunction with its wireless system inventory.
“Cathedral of Faith is a multi-generational, multi-ethnic, contemporary Christian church,” explains Roberta Starr, director of audio at the cathedral. “Our services are contemporary and multi-sensory. We utilize a variety of media, including a live band, worship vocalists and choir, special effect lighting, live drama, dance, engaging props and illustrations, multimedia, and video.
“It’s essential that all dialog and vocal performances reach the congregation with a high level of speech intelligibility and, for singing, a natural, musical sound quality,” she continues. “To achieve this, we depend on our Countryman microphones.”
Over the past 10-plus years, the church’s wireless microphone inventory has grown to encompass three Countryman H6 Headsets and 20 E6 Earsets. “We use our H6 microphones for our weekly services and also utilize them for any dramas that are performed throughout the year,” Starr notes. “I love the fact that, with their dual ear loops and adjustable headframe, they provide a really comfortable, secure fit that enables one to focus on the message, or in the case of a theatrical presentation, their lines, as opposed to being distracted by an uncomfortable fit.
“These mics are also extremely low profile, so they’re practically invisible. Most importantly, they sound very natural.”
“I’m also very fond of the E6 Earset mic,” she adds. “Our E6 microphones are used for our large dramas. Each year, we perform an elaborate Easter Drama that frequently involves as many as 300-plus cast members, live music, special effects, dancers, live animals, and multimedia. For these productions, we typically use all three of our H6 microphones plus all 20 of our E6’s, and sometimes more. With their detachable cables, it becomes very easy to outfit the microphones with the proper connectors for our Sennheiser, Shure, and Audio-Technica wireless systems.”
In addition to her preference for Countryman microphones, Starr is also pleased with Countryman Type 85 direct boxes. “We have eight Type 85 DI’s that we use for our various instrumentalists. They’re a great tool for interfacing various instruments with the house mixer because they provide a strong, clean signal to the board without adding any noise or distortion. Further, these versatile little boxes are really rugged, built like a tank.”
Cathedral of Faith