Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Road Test: Lectrosonics Venue Wireless Receiver & HH Transmitter

Assessing a wireless microphone system

To me, the true measure of any wireless system is sound quality. Features are nice, but can I tell if what I’m hearing is wired or wireless?

Based upon the use of the Lectrosonics Venue wireless microphone receiver and companion transmitters on numerous live gigs over the course of an evaluation process that has lasted about three weeks, I can confidently state that this is a family of products that really pushes the limits of wireless sound quality.

The Venue receiver offers a modular approach that is designed to provide a very high audio signal quality combined with lot of flexibility in dealing with the congested RF spectrum.

Venue is comprised of the master rack mount host chassis that accommodates up to six individual receiver modules, as well as built-in antenna multicoupler with loop-thru output. The company’s LecNet2 software is supplied for setup and control.

Operating in the UHF band (470.1–691.1 MHz, 537.6–767.9 MHz, and 640–861.9 MHz frequency groups), Venue uses the company’s proprietary Digital Hybrid Wireless technology for transmission. Briefly, a patented algorithm encodes the 24-bit digital audio information in the transmitter into an analog format, and then the encoded signal is then transmitted over an analog FM wireless link. At the receiver, the signal is then decoded to restore the original digital audio. It’s a process designed to eliminate compandor artifacts and produce frequency response flat to 20 kHz.

As previously noted, as many as six channels of wireless receivers can be packed into the 1RU chassis. If offers a centralized menu system and readout for all six channels, and a headphone monitoring system is also built in.

Front and back view of the Venue receiver, including antenna and loop-thru connectivity. The individual receiver modules can also be seen on both sides of the unit. (click to enlarge)

If you’re using more than six channels, you can jump the antenna leads out of one Venue chassis into the next, thereby eliminating the cost of a separate antenna distribution system. Phantom power for remote antenna amplifiers is available from the multicoupler antenna inputs using internal jumpers.

The receiver frame also provides bias voltage for active antennas. Since six channels share the receiver chassis the cost of owning one or two channels is fairly high; however the system becomes quite economical if you plan on buying in multiples of six.

What’s more, the Venue receiver can operate in a “compatibility mode” that can receive signals from older, analog transmitters as well as the new digital hybrid series. This offers a great deal of value to rental houses that already own Lectrosonics gear.

Flexible Transmission

For my evaluation, the Venue receiver was supplied with an HH handheld transmitter as well as an SMQV beltpack transmitter.

The flexibility concept also extends to both of these transmitters. Lectrosonics offers one thread-on capsule for the HH, the HHC cardioid condenser, while thread-on capsules using a 1.25-inch/28 thread pitch can be used, including those from manufacturers such as Electro-Voice, Shure, Blue, Earthworks, Heil Sound and Telefunken.

The ultra-miniature SMQV beltpack (2.3 x 2.4 x 0.64 inches, and weight of less than 4 ounces) is equipped with a standard TA5M type jack for use with electret lavalier and dynamic mics, or line-level signals.

Proprietary servo bias circuitry on this input eliminates the need of some mics to introduce pads to prevent overload of the input stage, divide the bias voltage down for some low voltage mics, or reduce the limiter range at minimum gain settings.

The beltpack is minimalist in design. Seemingly made from a solid chunk of aluminum, it’s then clear hard-anodized for protection against oxidation and moisture. Membrane switches offer control without leaving a space for water intrusion. The battery door is closed via a nicely machined thumbscrew and sealed with a pair of O-rings.

If you enjoy the industrial design of “function dictates form” then you will love this transmitter. It feels like a precise, yet heavy duty tool.

I used this transmitter and the included HM172 earset mic on a child actor in a musical play. In the eight performances there were zero RF problems, and it was easy to hide due to it’s small size.

Battery performance was sufficient to get through two shows before a battery change using standard alkaline batteries. The musical was about two hours long, so four hours total. After that I didn’t feel confident using the same batteries for another show.

The HH transmitter, which can accommodate a wide range of capsules, joined by the SMQV minature beltpack transmitter. (click to enlarge)

Talkback Capability
The imaginatively named HH transmitter (“HH” means “handheld”) is also loaded with useful technology, not the least of which is a battery eject lever. This item alone is worth it’s weight in gold when there is 30 seconds to change a battery with large fumbling hands like mine.

A group of membrane switches under the battery cover offer power switching and access to a menu offering a plethora of options.

One unmarked black button on the outside of the mic, conveniently operated with your thumb, can be set in the menu system to do nothing, be a mute, or to engage a talkback. In mute mode, it toggles the output of the mic off or on but still broadcasts RF.

In talkback mode, it’s a momentary switch – when depressed, the receiver will route the mic’s output to a second channel while also muting the primary channel. This can be used by an artist as a talkback mic to call out the next song or changes in a monitor mix.

Along with the HHC cardioid condenser capsule, I also tested a Shure Beta 87a and an Earthworks SR40V.

The difference between them was as clear as if I was changing mics on an XLR cable.

The wireless component seems to have been removed from the sound quality discussion. This is great because you can use some truly high-end mics and get every last bit of performance out of them that you paid for.

The HHC is a condenser element that behaves very much like an SM58. It’s cardioid pattern works best for singers that move around a lot. The top end is well defined but not overly hyped. I like this capsule, but using it with louder monitors takes a bit of work.

The Beta 87a sounded exactly like an 87a should. Very crispy and hyped high frequency response is better suited for talking heads or quiet stages.

The Earthworks SR40V provided to be the jewel, residing between the other two when it comes to top end. I would call it extremely accurate;  however it never gets harsh. The rejection is fantastic, with proximity effect almost nothing.

Genius Of Simplicity

Lectrosonics included a pair of SNA-600 antennas with the package. These are especially useful if you have a large inventory of wireless systems because they’re tunable over a range between 550 to 800 MHz, meaning you don’t have to carry a large inventory of different frequency antennas.

A handy battery eject lever and control buttons are housed inside the HH transmitter. (click to enlarge)

To adjust them, you simply loosen two screws, slide the element out to the length needed (which is printed right on the antenna body), and tighten the screws. A fantastic yet simple idea.

I do have a few caveats to point out. Both the HH and SMQV go through batteries pretty fast. You can easily get through a concert or a play, but if it’s an 8-hour conference, you’ll want to change the batteries at the halfway point.

In addition, caution should be used when pushing buttons on the SMQV beltpack, particularly if you have large hands. If you’re not paying attention, you can hold down two buttons simultaneously and turn the unit off. 

And, the menu system in the receiver chassis is a little awkward to navigate. It uses a rotary encoder to scroll through menu choices and to go down the list you have to turn counter-clockwise. It had me going the wrong way while scrolling through menu options.

Note, however, that these are not mission critical issues, and I found – as with almost all gear – that I got used to them the more I worked with the system. And while these things are worth a mention, I’m thoroughly happy with this wireless package.

As noted, it sounds superb, I have had zero RF issues, and having it ready to use is as simple as turning it on and scanning for a free frequency.

In fact, I’m going to be specifying Venue for my next band project, where it will fit in perfectly. The band has two lead singers that both play acoustic guitars, so I’ll use two HH transmitters for the vocals and two SMQV transmitters for the guitars. The HH transmitters will be using the talkback function so that both of the singers can communicate with the monitor engineer without leaving the stage –  and all of this will fit in a single rackspace. Perfect.

The VRMWB chassis lists for $1,920; VRS standard receiver modules list for $475 each; HH transmitter lists for $1,500; SMQV transmitter lists for $1,932, and the SNA600 antenna lists for $125. All prices are U.S.

To read Tim’s full review of this Lectrosonics wireless package, and check out other comments from the community as well as to ask questions, go to the Road Test Forum here on PSW.

Tim Weaver is the owner of Weaver Imaging, an audio, lighting, and projection provider based in College Station, TX. He has been a professional sound engineer for 18 years, working across all genres.

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/09 at 05:24 PM
Live SoundFeatureProductReviewMicrophoneSound ReinforcementSystemWirelessPermalink

Friday, October 05, 2012

Church Sound: Clearing Up The Most Misunderstood Aspect Of Your System

Get it right and the rest of your mix will come together much, much easier
This article is provided by ChurchTechArts.


A typical console may have dozens, even hundreds of knobs and buttons and faders.

Each one has a specific function, but one is more important than all the rest. It’s typically at the top of the channel strips and it’s called “gain” (or sometimes “trim”).

It is perhaps the most misused and misunderstood control on the whole board. Get it set wrong and no amount of fading, EQ or outboard processing will fix it. Get it right and the rest of your mix will come together much, much easier.

So, how do you get it right? Well, it depends. (Great - thanks Mike!) Seriously, it depends—on your board. I wish I could tell you to turn the gain up until you get to 0, then you’re done. That may work, but it may not be optimal. You have to do some experimenting and listening.

Follow along and I’ll walk you through the process, then we’ll look at some specific things to listen for.

For starters, adjusting gain needs to be done in a methodical manner. If you’ve ever been to a concert early and watched a sound check, you’ve seen how it’s done. Turn all the faders down on the board, and start with the gains all the way counter-clockwise.

Start with one instrument, say the kick drum. Ask the drummer to kick, kick, kick, kick. He keeps going until you tell him to move on. If your board has a PFL or Solo button on the channel, push it for the kick drum (or whatever you’re starting with).

The PFL should route that channel to your main meters (check your manual), so keep your eye on it and gradually bring the gain up. When it starts to peak around 0, you are close. Now you can start brining up the monitors, and then house fader.

Repeat this process with all the other instruments on stage. Then move on to vocals. At the end of this exercise, you should have all the instruments and vocals hitting 0 or a little more. At this point, you may be done. Or not.

It all depends on your board. Some boards have a lot more headroom than others, and if you cap the levels at 0, you are not fully utilizing all the gain they have available, and are not maximizing your signal to noise ratio (the difference in signal level between the noise floor and the signal or music).

Other boards are pretty much spent at 0, and if you send 10-16 channels all at 0 to the main buss, it will overload and you will distortion. Or you may just be on the verge of clipping all the time.

This is where you need to listen and pay attention to your board. The console we have at our church will take +8 inputs all day long, mixed into groups and to the mains with no hints of saturation or distortion. So we can run stuff hot, and maximize our signal to noise ratio. On the other hand, I once used another board at another church that would be completely out of headroom if you ran all the inputs at 0.

Play with your board, try different levels and once you settle on a level that works, stick to it. Make it systematic so everyone uses the same gain structure. Once it’s repeatable, you’ll have better, more consistent sound every week.

Another Part Of The Picture

This weekend I was reminded of another gain setting that is just about equally important (perhaps even more so), and that would the gain on the wireless mic the pastor is using. Here’s what happened.

I have been in the process of revamping our entire wireless microphone family over last few months. The new wireless systems have been really great. I’ve also been making the switch to new mics for said wireless systems.

The challenge is that we have some speakers (“talkers”) who like the new mics, and one (turns out he’s the new Sr. Pastor) who doesn’t so much. Since he’s new, I’m cutting him some slack and letting him use a lav (for now…).

And that’s the rub. We have one body pack that is “assigned” to the speaker for the weekend. Sometimes we’ll plug in a lav, other times an 892, and each mic has a different sensitivity rating; some speakers are loud, others are quiet. If you read the first part of this article closely, you know where this is going.

Just like the input gain on your console, the bodypack also has an input gain setting (at least it should – if it doesn’t go order a new one that does). Sometimes it’s a rather coarse “0”, “-10” switch; other times it’s a little control in the battery compartment that needs a tweaker; sometimes, it’s a handy thumbwheel on the side of the transmitter.

The problem is, too often we sound engineers get so busy, we jack in a mic, drop in a battery and hand it to the speaker who is already running to the stage for a sound check. We crank up the gain on the board as he says, “Check one, two…are we done?” and hope for the best.

It’s not until he’s up on stage at the beginning of the message that you hear the familiar crackle of some sound gremlins having a bad day. You check your console gain, everything is fine; you may even check the compressor, the EQ and everything else.

Check the wireless receiver. If it’s a good one, it will have an audio level meter. A less good one will have a clip light. If you see clipping, or the meter is maxed out, you’re in a world of hurt. You’ve gone and done it – you’ve used up all the headroom in that little bodypack.

And it’s not like you can run up on stage during the message, reach into the pastor’s back pocked, grab the mic and tweak the little dial down a bit. Oh no, you’re hosed.

Something I’m trying to get my engineers to be more cognizant of is the wireless mic gain. We used to put the mics in a tray and put them in the green room for the “on stage” folks to just pick up. Now, we’re keeping them at the house console.

That way, we can help them get the mic fitted properly, show them how to use it if it’s new to them and most importantly, adjust the gain on the pack before they’re 100 feet away on the stage (and while we can lay eyes on the receiver so we know what we’re doing!).

So here’s my procedure (which will soon become the law of the land at the church). Speakers and actors must pick up the mic at the sound board. Before they will strap on said mic while standing there and give us a realistic level while we adjust the gain on the pack.

They will then proceed to the stage at the appointed time for sound check and we’ll do the gain trimming and level adjusting for the house (and monitors if necessary).

At the end of the service, the mics will be delivered back to the sound board so that batteries can be recharged and so we don’t have to chase people all over the church looking for them.

Yep, that input gain control is the most important setting, whether it’s on the bodypack or the console. Getting this right just makes your day go so much easier. Get it wrong and you’ll hear, “Why was Jack all crackly and distorted for the whole message – it was really distracting!”

And that, my friends, is not good sound (apologies to Alton Brown).

Mike Sessler is the Technical Director at Coast Hills Community Church in Aliso Viejo, CA. He has been involved in live production for over 20 years and is the author of the blog, Church Tech Arts . He also hosts a weekly podcast called Church Tech Weekly on the TechArtsNetwork.

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/05 at 02:52 PM
Church SoundFeatureBlogStudy HallConsolesMicrophoneMixerSignalSound ReinforcementWirelessPermalink

Kaltman Creations Introduces IWxCPA Wireless Microphone/IEM System Antenna

Incorporates directional “circular polarization” (CP) technology for both receiving and transmitting pro audio wireless applications

Kaltman Creations LLC has introduced the IWxCPA Invisible Waves antenna, which incorporates directional “circular polarization” (CP) technology for both receiving and transmitting pro audio wireless applications.

The IWxCPA is intended to reduce interference and drop outs, eliminate “swishing” noise artifacts, improve RF signal to noise, and enhance reception of signals propagated through and around objects.

Traditional paddle and rod antennas used for wireless microphones are either horizontally or vertically polarized (usually vertically, as a mic is usually vertically oriented). When a microphone transmitting antenna changes its orientation in reference to the receiving antenna (as wireless mics and belt pack transmitters always do) the phase relationship changes.

Also, as a transmitter moves behind objects or the RF reflects off of surfaces, the phase orientation can change. This out of phase or non-polarized condition results in reduced signal level at the receiver and leaves the transmission susceptible to interference.

The new IWxCPA antenna uses advanced circular polarization technology which produces a ‘drop-out free’ transmitter and receiver combination that is never out of phase. This technology, along with the antenna’s directional attributes, helps to guarantee as reliable of an RF signal link as possible. 

According to Kaltman Creations LLC president Mark Kaltman, “The IWxCPA antenna strengthens one of the weaker links in the RF chain - the transmitter to receiver link. Interestingly, in the pro-audio wireless world there is little consideration given to the profound effect polarization can have on the performance of our wireless gear. 

“Just like in the audio world, where you always consider the weakest link in the audio chain, the same considerations should be given to your RF signal chain.”

The antenna design is unique in many ways, the most obvious being its low-visibility flat panel sign. Unlike paddle and helical antennas that point into the performance area and, therefore, expose their large sides to the audience, the theatre black IWxCPA panel faces the performance area leaving only a 1.3 inch edge visible to the audience. 

One reason that CP antennas are not very common in the pro audio wireless related environment is cost. Many true CP antennas (not to be confused with cross polarization antennas) can run close to $1,000 each and in some cases are large and fragile.

The new IWxCPA is sold in a 2-antenna package for $499 and is guaranteed. It is passive with a 60-degree beamwidth, and the pattern is circular polarized in the 470 MHz to 960 MHz range. For use with in-ear-monitor transmitters, the IWxCPA has plenty of room to spare with a maximum input power rating of 3 watts.

The 10 inch x 10 inch x 1.3 inch, 2.5-pound antenna includes a swivel mic stand mounting capability (optional truss mount available) and are painted theatre black with a 50-ohm low-loss BNC connection.

Kaltman Creations LLC

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/05 at 01:14 PM
AVLive SoundChurch SoundNewsProductMicrophoneMonitoringSound ReinforcementWirelessPermalink

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Audio-Technica Offering Wireless Systems Rebates Through End Of Year

Mail-in rebates on 4000 Series, 3000 Series or 2000 Series wireless systems in the U.S.

Audio-Technica is offering rebates on its professional wireless gear, including the 4000 Series, 3000 Series and 2000 Series wireless systems, from October 1, 2012, through December 31, 2012.

All customers who purchase systems from these three series from an authorized U.S. A-T dealer during the rebate period will be eligible for either a $40.00 rebate on the 4000 Series, a $30.00 rebate on the 3000 series or a $20.00 rebate on the 2000 Series.

Audio-Technica’s 4000 Series wireless systems provide outstanding clarity and versatility for live performance, regional touring, fixed installations and more. Features include 996 selectable UHF channels per band, dual compander circuitry, IntelliScan (which finds and sets the best available frequencies on linked receivers) and True Diversity operation.

The 3000 Series is specially designed for wireless users ready to step up to an advanced system. Features include 996–1001 selectable UHF channels per band, nine pre-coordinated frequency scan groups for simplified multi-channel wireless system setup, and True Diversity operation.

The 2000 Series provides easy setup, clear sound and automatic scanning. All 10 channels are compatible, with no confusing frequency groups. Other features include True Diversity operation and automatic frequency scanning.

The rebate details can be found online at audio-technica.com. Claims must be received by January 31, 2013, to be valid.

For the sake of convenience, faster payment and real-time tracking, buyers may register online at http://audio-technicaus.4myrebate.com.

Alternatively, buyers can manually complete and mail in the rebate form with the required documents, which include the original sales receipts for the Audio-Technica wireless products with the store name, date of purchase, model number and price paid clearly legible, along with the original UPC code cut from the carton of each product purchased.


Posted by Keith Clark on 10/03 at 05:56 AM
AVLive SoundChurch SoundNewsProductAVBusinessManufacturerMicrophoneWirelessAudioPermalink

Monday, October 01, 2012

Outside The Cable: A Creative Wireless Audio Distribution Solution

“I may use gear in an unorthodox fashion at times, but the net result always clears a path to the desired endpoint.”

As a long-time audio engineer based in Southern California, Paul Beach has earned a reputation for doing things outside the norm, lending his system design and mixing talents to performances on a number of levels, including large-scale outdoor events.

“It seems that I have a knack for working my way into situations that require going beyond what many traditionally expect of technology,” he says. “I may use gear in an unorthodox fashion at times, but the net result always clears a path to the desired endpoint.”

An example of his methodology is an audio rig he’s configured for use with regional fireworks shows that brings choreographed soundtracks to a number of outdoor zones as well as a main viewing area. Ranging in size from 500 to 10,000, crowds gathered for these events sprawl like a serpent over landscapes teeming with buildings, trees, and countless other obstacles standing in the way of providing even or just about any coverage.

“The delayed loudspeaker runs to satellite viewing areas at these shows are just about impossible for cable, mainly because of the labyrinth of routing required to get through all the twists, turns, and other impediments found in the environment,” he explains. Seeking a solution, he decided to chart an signal delivery path to secondary viewing areas directly as the crow flies by going wireless.

Developing The Idea

The wireless delivery design was first enabled a number of years back with the assistance of long-time friends and collaborators Jon Bart of Quiet Voice Audio from nearby Fallbrook, CA, and Mike Cromer of Huntington Beach, CA-based Audio Geer. The two had been encouraging Beach to develop the idea for some time prior to his actual decision to make it reality, and they helped in fulfilling gear list requirements.

He began pursuing his vision for the system about five years ago. It was to be straightforward and bulletproof, requiring little more in the way of hardware than a music source, compact mixing capabilities, loudspeakers, and some sort of wireless transmission/retrieval scheme.

He started with a Shure PSM700 UHF frequency-agile, 2-channel system as the heart of the wireless aspect. While designed for personal monitoring applications using beltpacks and earbuds, in Beach’s mind there was no reason the PSM700 couldn’t be tweaked to serve in a much broader capacity as the foundation of a larger-scale wireless sound reinforcement component.

The wireless receiver mounted inside of the dry box. (click to enlarge)

On the loudspeaker end of the equation he brought in a pair of 2-way Mackie SRM450s and placed them on Ultimate Support stands to serve his intended area of delayed coverage.

A 16-channel Mackie 1604-VLX Pro Series mixer managed mixing chores, while wireless operation was made completely weatherproof by mounting the PSM700 system receiver inside of a Pelican dry box (acquired from the local Fry’s Electronics store), outfitted with a rubber lining and rubber seal. The box was simply attached to the side of one of the self-powered loudspeakers.

Utilizing Shure paddle antennas at both the receiver and transmitter ends of the PSM700 system, his goal was to send quality sound over 1,000 feet filled with other potentially interfering RF signals and the aforementioned trees and buildings.

While traditional cable runs for the loudspeakers would have exceeded as much as 1,200 feet, Beach lucked-out in his initial use of the new system in terms of AC sources for the loudspeakers, which were located a mere 15 feet away from each cabinet next to some planters in the landscape.

Mother Of Invention

Once Beach powered-up for the debut of the rig, the PSM700 receiver took readily to its new home inside the Pelican box. Two flush-mounted XLR connectors were added to the box.

The receiver’s antenna connector was also made easily accessible, and connected to a 25-foot long cable leading to a paddle antenna mounted atop an eight-foot tall boom stand.

The PSM700 receiver’s output left the Pelican box traveling in stereo on standard XLR mic cables to the loudspeakers. Later, Beach switched to mono mode to basically double the power and obtain a more stable signal. (Stereo isn’t a primary concern with this application anyway. And, all connections are balanced.)

From the receiver – which was held in place with velcro inside the Pelican box – a 1/8-inch TRS cable terminated with soldered connections at the flush-mounted XLR connectors. Beach built a cable with a Lemo connector on one end and a BNC connector on the other to run between the receiver and a flush-mount BNC connector mounted in the Pelican box chassis. A standard Shure antenna cable ran from the Pelican box out to the paddle antenna.

“When I first tested the system with Mike (Cromer), we just had a shorty antenna on the receiver like you’d use onstage,” Beach notes. “On the transmitter we had an 1/8th wave antenna. The system worked with those, so we figured performance would only get better with paddles at both ends, and it did – boosting our range to distances unbelievably beyond factory specs. The first time I used the system for a show, I set the receiver’s volume at about 75 percent.”

The dry box attached to the side of the loudspeaker, ready to go.(click to enlarge)

Control Central

Fast-forward to today, and we find that Beach’s wireless outdoor system has morphed and changed with the times, evolving to keep pace with the changing needs of the shows.

While in its earlier incarnations the system called upon a Denon DVD-2910 DVD player as the medium of choice for playing the soundtrack, delivering SMPTE for lighting effects, or a time code called FSK favored by pyrotechnicians, 2012 finds the rig subscribing to a design philosophy emphasizing as few moving parts as possible. Central to the control scheme these days in an iPad, which stores all elements of the soundtrack.

“All of my music files were rendered and edited in Sony Vegas Pro,” he adds, “then I created a playlist in iTunes for export to my iPad. Using one of two apps I downloaded, the files are assigned to touchscreen buttons providing me with the ability to load my show quickly, and change it just as fast on the fly if I have to. It’s a flexible, fast, and stable design—everything you want in other words.”

To better facilitate the use of the iPad – which is configured for left channel audio and right channel time code for the pyro – Beach chose an Alesis IO dock that provides pro audio quality output as well as charging capabilities for the little tablet computer. The apps in use on the iPad are LiveTrax and SoundCue. \

The iPad in the Alesis IO dock that’s configured for audio as well as time code for pyro. (click to enlarge)

While both offer random access features and assignable icon-based control, LiveTrax also provides Beach with a linear approach to file management, within which he can view track lists as they play in sequential order. 

Beyond the tracks, the system today has moved to a small-format Allen & Heath mixer, and added Shure PSM900 systems to its available inventory of IEM transmitters and receivers. “I’ve discovered that the 900 is a stronger component in terms of giving me higher audio fidelity and really decent range that exceeded any practical expectations I had,” he reports. “I can reach my receiver at distances of over 1,500 feet with obstructions all along my path and still maintain a good, strong signal.”

Never one to rest upon his laurels, Beach is looking for ways that the unconventional system can be taken to yet another level. “I’m looking forward to the day when I can actually send a digitally-encoded multi-channel audio signal out from the Alesis or some other type of iPad audio interface,” he says. “That way I can either get 5.1, or in more practical terms, just the ability to run stereo out to my main arrays at FOH and stereo out for channels three and four, which are traditionally reserved for rear surround and my delay…”

This type of creative thinking is a staple of his world. Onstage as a musician, the Southern Californian has played bass with the Mamas & the Papas, as well as a host of other 1960s pop rock icons such as Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, The Association, and Spanky and Our Gang. And offstage, it’s pretty obvious that he’s been endowed with similarly creative, albeit more technical, capabilities.

Gregory A. DeTogne is a writer and editor who has served the pro audio industry for the past 30 years.

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/01 at 11:11 AM
Live SoundFeatureBlogConcertInterconnectLoudspeakerSound ReinforcementWirelessPermalink

Production Sound Mixer Bud Raymand Chooses Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless

Deploys VR FIELD battery powered, modular receiver system stocked with six VRS receiver modules and a VRMWB Venue receiver system

Bud Raymond, a location sound professional who works in TV and film, has been utilizing Digital Hybrid Wireless technology from Lectrosonics on a wide range of recent projects.

Raymond got his start in film work as a utility sound technician and boom operator roughly 12 years ago, and for the past three years, he’s been working as a sound mixer for TV and film and counts his contributions to the comedy film A.C.O.D. (Adult Children of Divorce) and Lifetime TV’s Drop Dead Diva among his most notable credits.

His most recent project was for an independent film shot in Atlanta, GA called Plus One.

For all of these applications, Raymond utilizes a Lectrosonics VR FIELD battery powered, modular receiver system stocked with six VRS receiver modules and a VRMWB Venue receiver system with three VRT receiver modules are always close by.

His transmitters include three Lectrosonics UM450 beltpack units, three UM400a beltpack transmitters, one SM super-miniature beltpack transmitter, and an SMV super-miniature beltpack transmitter.

He also notes that he’s become very fond of Ambient Recording’s iPhone app called Lectromote for use with his SM series transmitters, “I love having the ability to adjust levels on my SM transmitters. It’s really handy and I use this feature frequently.”

According to Raymond, “Every film I have ever worked on, starting in my days as a utility sound technician, has been done with Lectrosonics. After 12 years of use, I have a comfort level with the gear that I simply don’t have with any other equipment.  And despite the changes the various products have gone through over the years, there’s never a steep learning curve with the newest generation products.

“Fidelity and sound quality are the most important factors. Lectrosonics gear sounds fantastic. There’s none of the disturbing audible artifacts that are frequently encountered with wireless systems that use compandors. The second most important feature is their strength and build quality. Wireless transmitters go through a ton of abuse on a film set and they are frequently handled by less than careful actors.

“Equally important is the ease with which I’m able to identify and lock down available frequencies. Being able to surf the channels for open RF space is an absolute necessity these days and Lectrosonics makes this process quick and easy.”

Lectrosonics build quality came to the forefront of Raymond’s attention during the filming of Plus One. “We had a dialogue scene where the sprinklers went off during a party inside a house,” he explained, “and I was concerned about how we were going to record the dialogue.  I knew the SM’s are water resistant, so I combined them with a Countryman B6 waterproof lavaliere mic in hopes that we might be able to pull the scene off.  We ended up shooting that scene for two days. During this time, I wrapped the SM in some extra latex protection to be safe, and it worked flawlessly.”


Posted by Keith Clark on 10/01 at 07:27 AM
AVLive SoundNewsAVEngineerMicrophoneWirelessPermalink

Friday, September 28, 2012

Line 6 Now Shipping New Relay G55 Digital Wireless Guitar System

12 channels of 24-bit audio, full 10 Hz–20 kHz frequency response and 117 dB dynamic range (A weighted)

Line 6 has announced shipment of Relay G55, a tour-grade digital wireless for guitarists in a compact, half-rack format.

Relay systems do not employ signal companding to compress and expand the signal, and therefore have the ability to deliver full dynamic range.

With 12 channels of 24-bit audio, full 10 Hz–20 kHz frequency response and 117 dB dynamic range (A weighted), the Relay G55 digital wireless has a range of up to 300 feet.

Proprietary selectable Cable Tone functionality simulates the subtle frequency roll-off characteristics of a standard 25-foot cable.

Relay G55 operates in the 2.4GHz ISM band, which is free from audio interference from TV broadcasts, white space devices and countless other sources that plague analog wireless systems.

In addition, Line 6 digital wireless systems use encoded DCL (Digital Channel Lock) technology to distinguish and protect signals from third-party sources.

Relay G55 is easy to set up, with users able to simply pick any of the 12 available channels and the transmitter and receiver lock together instantly. Worldwide, license-free operation eliminates worry about fees or compatibility issues.

All Line 6 digital wireless products share the same technology platform, making it easy for customers to mix and match instrument and vocal systems to suit their needs.

Up to 12 Relay G55 systems can be used simultaneously, or combine Relay and XD-V products, to create a versatile rig.

The bodypack transmitter, with metal body, is rugged, reliable and ready for the road. The receiver is housed in a solid aluminum chassis and fits easily on top of an amplifier—while the optional rack mount kit makes it easy to adapt Relay G55 to any professional installation.

“Proven on countless stages worldwide, Relay guitar wireless systems are the only option for musicians who really care about their tone,” says Steve Devino, live sound product manager at Line 6. “The new Relay G55 system brings the superior audio quality and reliability of the patented, fourth-generation Line 6 digital wireless platform to touring musicians who need a compact form factor for amp-top or rackmount use.”

Relay G55 is now available at a USMSRP of $629.99.

Line 6

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/28 at 03:36 PM
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PWS Provides Equipment, Technical Services For Startlight Theatre’s First Indoor Production

PWS, working in conjunction with Vista Productions, provided 32 wireless microphones and antenna systems for the show

When Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre produced its first summer musical indoors at its new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, it turned to Professional Wireless Systems (PWS), a Masque Sound company, to supply audio equipment and technical services for the Elton John and Tim Rice musical spectacular Aida.

“Since the 1950s, the Starlight Theatre has been known for its outdoor wireless performances,” says Brooks Schroeder, project manager, PWS. “So when they came to us to help provide audio equipment and technical services for its first indoor show in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, we wanted to make sure its loyal subscribers would be able to hear the performances just as well, if not better, than they had become accustomed to at the outdoor amphitheatre.”

During Aida’s 13-show run at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, which began last August PWS, working in conjunction with Vista Productions, provided 32 wireless microphones and antenna systems for the show. Propriety gear included Masque Sound’s AF8-X antenna distribution system and Masque Sound LM series to monitor all the mics. In addition, PWS utilized a remote to handle the opposite end of the stage.

The 1,800-seat Muriel Kauffman Theatre includes multiple balconies and box seating on either side of the theatre, placing attendees much closer to the stage than in most other auditorium-type venues. With a 5,000-square-foot stage, an orchestra pit that can house up to 90 musicians and a 74-foot-tall fly tower, it is the performance home of the Kansas City Ballet and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, as well as the site of many other theatrical, musical and dance productions.

“For the past five seasons, Starlight has allowed PWS and Masque to really combine our strengths as a company. Having the support of Masque Sound as a leading sound provider for Broadway certainly gives us an advantage,” adds Schroeder. “The show looked and sounded absolutely amazing.”

As part of PWS’s services and solutions, Schroeder remained on site during the two-week run to oversee all of the show’s audio and wireless coordination as well.

Masque Sound
Professional Wireless Systems

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/28 at 11:42 AM
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nady Introduces 16-Channel Plug-In Micro Wireless Series

Building on the popularity of Nady's MGT-16 UHF wireless system (introduced in 2010), several new models have been added to expand the system’s numerous applications and instrumentation.

Building on the popularity of Nady’s MGT-16 UHF wireless system (introduced in 2010), several new models have been added to expand the system’s numerous applications and instrumentation.

In addition to the MGT-16 plug-in system for guitar and bass, the new Micro Wireless (MW) Series now includes the MHT-16 (for brass and woodwinds), the WHM-16 headset system, and the Link-16 for microphones.

All models are available with either the compact, portable “pedal style” MGT-16 receiver (powered by DC adapter or AA batteries), or the “pocket size” MRX-16 receiver (AA battery operated only). 

All systems feature 16 user selectable PLL frequencies for interference-free operation, up to 250’ operating range, and ASC (Auto-Sync Channel) infrared wireless download that pairs transmitter to selected receiver frequency for quick, easy setup. 

The miniature, lightweight MT-16A/MT-16R instrument transmitters plug directly into a guitar, bass, or portable keyboard; the MH-16 woodwind/brass transmitter clips directly onto the bell of the horn; the compact and comfortable WH-16 headset transmitter fits snugly on the back of the head; and the LK-16 plug-in transmitter easily converts wired dynamic microphones to wireless.

With a built-in audio connector, no cable or bodypack transmitter is required for any of the models…these systems are truly “plug and play”.

The MW Series’ selectable channels fall within the TV channels-free UHF 902-928MHz band and the systems are available with any combination of transmitter/receiver.

All models of the new MW Series are now available.


Posted by Keith Clark on 09/26 at 12:47 PM
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Monday, September 17, 2012

Lectrosonics Wireless Microphones Integral To Filming Of “Trash Dance”

For independent filmmaker Andrew Garrison, C.A.S., an assortment of challenging conditions put his Lectrosonics wireless transmitter and receiver systems to the test during the filming of his documentary feature TRASH DANCE.

Few production environments are harder on electronic equipment than those commonly encountered by location sound professionals. From sun and sand to snow and ice, the gear must keep working—failure brings a project to its knees.

For independent filmmaker Andrew Garrison, C.A.S., an assortment of challenging conditions put his Lectrosonics wireless transmitter and receiver systems to the test during the filming of his documentary feature TRASH DANCE, the story of a choreographer who finds beauty and grace in garbage trucks, and against the odds, rallies reluctant city trash collectors to perform an extraordinary dance spectacle.

Working with a Lectrosonics UM400a Digital Hybrid Wireless beltpack transmitter mated with a UCR411a compact receiver, along with his trusty CR185 receiver and M185 transmitter (two early products that put Lectrosonics on the audio pro’s shortlist), Garrison brought TRASH DANCE to life.

Since then, the film has gone on to win a Special Jury Recognition at SXSW (South by Southwest), the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Full Frame Documentary and Silverdocs Documentary Film Festivals, as well as the Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary at the Woods Hole Film Festival. Garrison talked about the audio challenges of the project.

“Most of TRASH DANCE was shot in 2009, with some segments done as far back as 2008 and extending into 2010 before the film’s premiere at SXSW in March of 2012,” Garrison reports. “We shot the film using the Lectrosonics gear recording directly to a Sony PMW-EX1 high definition camcorder, occasionally swapping out one wireless system for a camera mounted mic or a Schoeps with an MK41 capsule on a boom.

“While I don’t recommend it, I was often a one-person crew working both camera and sound. I needed performance I could count on. What was particularly notable in terms of the audio production on this project was the fact that we shot in extremely hot weather and in close proximity to all sorts of potential electrical interference.”

“With TRASH DANCE,” he continued, “we shot in 101-degree plus weather for months at a time—hopping in and out of trucks in order to capture all that we needed. At times, we worked from a distance while at other times, we were right up close.

“I was very impressed with the fact that the Lectrosonics gear delivered excellent range performance for those takes shot from afar. Equally impressive was the fact that when we were working in or right around the trucks—where all sorts of electrical fields were generated by the trucks’ motors—the equipment continued to work flawlessly. Simply put, the Lectrosonics wireless systems proved very rugged, had great signal, and sounded terrific.”

“From the favelas (hillside shantytowns) in Brazil to the frigid Chicago winters, I’ve used my Lectrosonics gear seemingly everywhere” he said. “These are my workhorses.  I’ve used these systems for everything from dramatic shoots like ‘SLACKER 2011’ to MTV’s ‘I Hate My Hair’ and the gear consistently delivers solid performance.

“The company’s support is equally impressive. Lectrosonics is one of the best models for any industry of prompt response and their customer service department always provides useful information. I am always impressed by the wealth of information available on the company’s website.”

With all the critical acclaim TRASH DANCE has received, Garrison has much to be proud of. Reflecting on the project and the manner in which the film’s audio was captured, he offered these parting thoughts. “It is amazing how clean and full the Lectrosonics 411 series sounds. I always captured the dialog I needed—even under the most difficult situations. This project literally would not have been possible without my Lectrosonics gear—especially the UCR411a.”


Posted by Keith Clark on 09/17 at 10:56 AM

PWS Provides Rock-Solid RF Coverage At Lollapalooza 2012

For the second year in a row, Professional Wireless Systems (PWS) was hired to handle frequency coordination for the wireless microphones, in-ear monitors and communications for all of the performance stages and media at the annual Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago's Grant Park.

For the second year in a row, Professional Wireless Systems (PWS), a Masque Sound Company and experts in supplying and supporting wireless systems for live and broadcast events, was hired to handle frequency coordination for the wireless microphones, in-ear monitors and communications for all of the performance stages and media at the annual Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago’s Grant Park.

Despite severe weather and the delays it brought along with it, careful preparation ensured the team could successfully coordinate three days worth of performances.

PWS’ crew of five was responsible for managing 400 frequencies per day between the eight stages and on-site media at the festival. To help coordinate all these activities, PWS worked closely with the production company C3, the media organizers and stage managers.

“Chicago is the third largest broadcast market in the United States, making this one of the most challenging environments from an RF point-of-view besides New York City and Los Angeles,” says Brooks Schroeder, project manager, PWS. “With the location of the festival between Willis(Sears) and Hancock Towers, there is not a lot of bandwidth. Add 300 bands into the mix, along with all of the media present for Lollapalooza, and we really have our work cut out for us.

“Pre-planning an event of this size is critical to its success, especially in the case of this year’s unexpected delays and cancellations due to the weather and necessary evacuation.”

To ensure proper frequency coordination, PWS sent out coordination forms to the Lollapalooza stage managers and media reps one month prior to the festival. The stage managers and media reps then forwarded the forms to all the entities attending the event. According to Schroeder, “We try to get as much information about the RF needs of the performers and media ahead of time. This minimizes the potential for problems. It’s a challenging event, but our team of experts has extensive experience in coordinating large events and does a fantastic job.”

In addition, the company’s Helical Antennas were utilized by PA companies 8th Day Sound and Crossroads Audio. PWS’ Dome Antennas were also utilized by many of the bands to reduce the risk of drop-outs and guarantee the strongest possible signal for microphones and in-ear monitors.

Lollapalooza is an annual music festival featuring popular alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock and hip-hop bands, dance and comedy performances and craft booths. It hosts more than 100,000 people per day of the three-day event. Lollapalooza has helped expose and popularize such artists as the Beastie Boys, Coldplay, Stone Temple Pilots, Depeche Mode, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, The Cure, Rage Against the Machine, The Strokes and many more.

Masque Sound

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/17 at 06:27 AM
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shure Named One Of Chicago’s 101 Best And Brightest Companies To Work For

Award honors companies that recognize associates as their greatest asset

For the fifth time, Shure Incorporated has been named one of “Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies To Work For” by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR).

The award was established to honor companies that recognize associates as their greatest asset.

As the only audio company to be honored on the list, Shure was selected because of its commitment to excellence across human resources practices and employee enrichment programs. The company won the same award in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2011.

“Sidney N. Shure often said he was building an organization of people, not an organization that built products,” states Sandy LaMantia, president and CEO of Shure Incorporated. “Thanks to his philosophy, our company has dedicated and creative Associates across the globe.

“Today we are celebrating an award that honors companies that recognize employees as their greatest asset.”

In May 2012, Shure Associates were chosen at random and invited to complete an online survey through a website administered by the NABR. The survey covered various areas of employer excellence and included companies whose programs and policies are considered best practices.

The evaluation included ten categories that Associates value in a company: communication and shared vision, community initiatives, compensation and benefits, diversity and inclusion, employee education and development, recruitment and selection, strategic company performance, employee achievement and recognition, employee enrichment and retention, and work/life balance.

“I am especially pleased that we have received this recognition so many times,” said Paul Applebaum, executive vice president, human resources, and general counsel. “It reflects the hard work and devotion of many Associates, including our Human Resources professionals, who work tirelessly to ensure that our Company remains a great and rewarding place to work.”


Posted by Keith Clark on 09/12 at 01:30 PM
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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Road Test: Kaltman Creations Invisible Waves RF-id SOLO

If working with wireless is part of what you do for a living, the SOLO deserves a place in your toolkit

Along with a “greenie” screwdriver, needle nose pliers, and polarity checker, a new tool from Kaltman Creations is ideal to have in an audio production kit.

The Invisible Waves RF-id SOLO immediately and accurately determines the frequency of virtually any wireless transmitter, saving the time and hassle of numerous measurements when you have a group of wireless equipment that needs to work together.

The compact handheld unit instantly reads both analog and digital wireless single-carrier frequencies, from 50 MHz to 2.5 GHz, for wireless microphone and instrument systems, in-ear monitor systems, assisted hearing systems, intercom systems, walkie-talkies, and more.

To determine the frequency of a new transmitter being added, or to confirm its current frequency setting, simply turn on the transmitter and hold it near the RF-id SOLO for a reading that is accurate to within 10 Hz. 

Form & Function

The unit measures only 1.9 x 3.3 x 0.75 inches, and includes a switchable backlit LCD screen. Three membrane buttons, labeled Light, Menu, and Hold, provide access to all features and functions. When in Menu mode, the buttons perform up, down, and select actions.

The RF-id SOLO from Kaltman Creations. (click to enlarge)

A lithium-ion rechargeable battery is installed, and the unit is supplied with an external 5-volt DC power supply that plugs into the side of the unit via a small barrel connector.

Power consumption is low for many hours of use before recharging. Use of the auto-off feature further extends operating hours. The screen’s battery level display advises when a recharge is needed.

The RF-id SOLO is supplied with two antennas. The near-field antenna is basically a short, threaded RF coupler covered with a rubber boot, effective for measurements when the transmitter is held within inches of the source. A 3-inch antenna can be substituted for moderately far-field measurements. 

Note that multi-frequency, frequency hopping, or spread spectrum transmitters do not emit a single carrier frequency, and are not read specifically by the RF-id SOLO; however, you may be able to iterate a frequency or frequency range from the display. 

The RF-id STATION is also available, consisting of a rugged plastic carrying case with shielded slots for up to eight wireless handheld or beltpack transmitters, and a backlit near-field frequency counter readout for each one.

Dry-erase strips are provided with each slot to identify the transmitters by user/function. With the STATION, the user can confirm the transmitter frequencies for each mic while still in the case, deploy them for the show, and store them for travel when done.

Menus & Settings
The basic menu headings are Range, Gate, and User.

The first two menu selections apply mainly to the actions of the internal RF scanner, while the User category opens a sub-menu for choosing button functions and other preferences.

Range adjusts the RF-id SOLO to scan in either the 1 MHz to 2.6 GHz, or the 10 Hz to 50 MHz band.

For all pro audio purposes, the first range is where it will be used, with the aid of the included antennas. The latter range requires a high impedance input source, and is included for specialized measurement purposes.

Gate provides a selection of time windows for the RF scan, with the default position being 0.064 second, which results in a reading to three decimal places (527.625 MHz) as is typically specified in wireless microphones and similar equipment.

A second setting – 0.64 – yields a reading at four decimal places, and is also recommended in the manual for a slightly finer resolution. Other settings include 0.064 milliseconds (ms), which resolves to the megahertz level (638 MHz, for example) and the slower 6.4 seconds, which goes out to five decimal places – a resolution to the nearest 10 Hz. 

User leads to a list of options for Save, Hold, View, Filter, and Auto-Off. Settings of Auto and Off are offered for Save and Hold, the Filter and Auto-Off are either On or Off, while View leads to a list of frequencies that have been saved.

Choosing Auto for both the save and hold functions will automatically save any measurement the user has made, just by holding an active transmitter close to the SOLO.

A rendering showing some of the RF-id SOLO screen functionality. (click to enlarge)

Otherwise, manually saving a frequency is as easy as pressing the Hold button when you have the desired measurement, and then pressing the Menu button to place it into a memory slot in the View menu for later access.
The normal setting for Filter is on, because when it is off, the unit seems to continually detect weak ambient frequencies and the display flashes through various readings; when a transmitter is brought close, the SOLO locks in to its frequency.

The Unit In Use

Using the RF-id SOLO is as simple as turning it on and holding a wireless transmitter close to it. Immediately, the frequency is displayed to up to 4-digit accuracy – 502.4257 MHz, for example. With the push of a button, this reading can be held on the display, and with a second push it can be stored for later recall.

In practice, the small nearfield antenna detects and reads wireless devices at a distance of 6 inches or closer – so you can be sure which device you’re detecting. The far-field antenna extends the measurement range up to perhaps 18 feet when is positioned so that it’s exactly polarized with the transmitter, and about 4 feet when it’s perpendicular to the transmitter’s RF output.

The signal strength bargraph meter that appears at the bottom of the LCD screen when a transmitter is detected can be useful to roughly detect the relative strength of the transmitter, though no numerical scale is provided. With the near-field antenna, only the first bar is typically visible when an accurate, consistent reading is displayed, because the signal is highly attenuated. 

Using the far-field antenna exercises the signal strength meter, and when a transmitter is nearby, most or all of the bars appear; the frequency is accurately displayed at one bar. This meter might be useful in detecting the polarity of the transmitter’s signal, since as you rotate the SOLO, the displayed level changes.

Moving through the displays and menus is fairly simple once you get the hang of it. A quick click of the Menu button leads to the main categories, and a second quick click leads to the selections. To get back out to the main screen, hold the Menu button for a couple seconds.

The exception to this rule is in the User menu, where two click-and-holds to return are required. In addition, waiting 20 seconds without pushing a button will return to the main screen.

Flexible Options

The Save bank has 99 memory slots, and saved frequencies are entered into the slots in the resolution in which they were measured.

Data entry into the slots is sequential, and runs from 01 to 99 and then returns to 01 and rewrites over that slot.

To read the measurements, go to User > View, and use the up and down buttons to scroll through the list one at a time. 

A clear function is not provided for the memory slots, so the user has three options to pinpoint the current set of saved measurements.

You can check the View menu and determine the first open slot number and remember it; not as satisfactory a solution. Or, you can save a 0.000 reading as a marker. Finally, you can reset the SOLO to its default settings, which empties the memory slots. 

One useful note is that the RF-id SOLO is calibrated to be accurate to within 10 Hz. The user will typically find that the measured frequencies differ from the nominal carrier frequencies on which the wireless transmitters are said to operate – often by 2 kHz or more, either lower or higher. Wireless device operating frequencies are usually rounded to the nearest 0 or 5 kHz.

The RF-id STATION with slots for eight wireless transmitters. The backlit near-field frequency counter readout and corresponding dry-erase strips reside along the front edge. (click to enlarge)

If desired, SOLO can be user-calibrated so that the measurements match your nominal wireless frequencies, basically introducing a slight degree of measurement bias into the tool.

Useful Tool
The RF-id SOLO and STATION are part of the Invisible Waves line of RF measurement tools that also includes the Invisible Waves X RF Command Center. This hardware/software blend combines radio spectrum analysis with the ability to select/monitor wireless channels and other frequencies of interest, as well as detect and identify potential interference, listen to the signals, seek clear spectrum, and set various alarms to warn of impending RF problems. It’s a solution that interfaces with a PC for processing and display of the signals.

In conclusion, the RF-id SOLO provides a simple and accurate way to read the frequencies of your wireless audio and communications equipment, gain information to troubleshoot frequency problems, aid in frequency coordination, and otherwise render the invisible visible.

If working with wireless is part of what you do for a living, the SOLO deserves a place in your toolkit. The RF-id SOLO retails for $225, and the RF-id STATION for $899. Find out more at www.kaltmancreationsllc.com.

Gary Parks has previously served as marketing manager and wireless product manager for Clear-Com Intercom Systems, and has also worked with Electro-Voice and Meyer Sound. He is currently with EDX Wireless and is also a free-lance writer.

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/06 at 04:10 PM
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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Shure Axient Raises The Calgary Stampede To New Levels

Audio for theCalgary Stampede event was handled by the Calgary office of Sound Art, who chose to use the new Shure Axient wireless system to better manage the complex RF environment at the Stampede.

Celebrating its 100th year in 2012, the Calgary Stampede is a 10-day event that includes everything from a major rodeo and chuck wagon races to stage shows, concerts, and carnival activities.

Audio for the event was handled by the Calgary office of Sound Art, one of Canada’s leading production and sound rental companies. It chose to use the new Shure Axient wireless system to better manage the complex RF environment at the Stampede.

One of the event’s longstanding traditions and biggest attractions is the TransAlta Grandstand Show, a fast-paced theatrical variety show with music, comedy, dancing, and acrobatics, which concludes each day’s festivities.

As he has for the past 16 years, Sound Art general manager Dan Frerichs took responsibility for coordinating wireless frequencies.

“It’s not Broadway or Las Vegas, but the Stampede’s Grandstand show is a pretty big deal,” he says. “It’s an outdoor show that occurs while other stages are still running nearby, like the Nashville North area.”

To celebrate the Stampede Centennial, the 2012 Grandstand show featured country music star Paul Brandt along with perennial cast members The Young Canadians. “

To make sure nothing went wrong, we decided to use four channels of Shure Axient wireless for Paul Brandt – three for his various vocal positions and one for his guitar. And they were flawless for all 10 show days,” states Frerichs.

Shure Axient is designed to ensure uninterrupted wireless transmission through a suite of technologies, most notably its ability to detect and avoid interference. It also handles frequency coordination through its Wireless Workbench software and the AXT600 Spectrum Manager.

In addition to the four channels of Axient, Sound Art also supplied 16 channels of Shure UHF-R wireless for the Grandstand show, along with various in-ear and intercom systems.

“Between mics, in-ears, and comms, I was coordinating over 100 frequencies,” reports Frerichs. “In the past, I’ve always relied on my own scanner and third-party software. This year, I used the Axient Spectrum Manager and Wireless Workbench 6 software.

“The new version is really well integrated. It’s compatible with the UHF-R, and allows you to enter the information on devices from other manufacturers and still get an accurate list of available frequencies. It’s pretty impressive.”

That capability is critical when dealing with an ever-changing wireless spectrum over the course of a 10-day event like the Calgary Stampede.

“With video crews from the CBC and bands showing up at the other stages with their own wireless systems, you never know when one of your frequencies is going to be stepped on,” notes Frerichs. “During the Stampede, we had two instances where Axient detected a conflict on Paul’s microphone, and the system changed frequencies automatically. With any other system, those incidents could have been disasters. With Axient, you didn’t hear a thing.”

With transmission distances of up to 300 feet involved, Frerichs set up Paul Brandt’s main vocal mic in high power mode.

“Paul makes his entrance on a platform that flies over the back of the stage, so there’s a lot of trussing and plywood sets between him and the antennas, which are mounted to the grandstand. But I was picking him up with full RF bars on the receiver. It never wavered.”

In addition to Axient systems for his mics and guitar, Brandt also used the new Shure PSM 1000 personal monitor system. “Paul was very happy with everything – his vocals, his guitar sound, and his in-ears,” says Frerichs. “And for me, it was very nice to be able network it all, including all the UHF-R systems, and monitor everything through Wireless Workbench.”

Another Axient feature that Frerichs appreciates is the rechargeable batteries.

“First, there’s no sacrifice in system performance with the Shure rechargeables,” he reports. “Battery life and headroom are both excellent. When you consider that my battery order for the Stampede Grandstand show is roughly 3,000 AAs, you’re talking about a significant cost. It’s great to see a system that addresses that.”

The 2012 Calgary Stampede was a major test of Axient’s abilities for Sound Art. “With two weeks of setup and 10 days of shows, we really got to see how well the system works. This business is all about results, and I must say, Axient delivered exactly as advertised. I really think it’s a game-changing product,” concluded Frerichs.


Posted by Keith Clark on 09/05 at 09:03 AM
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CAD Audio Debuts StagePass Frequency Agile 16-Channel VHF Wireless System

Scan-Link technology instantaneously scans all channels and selects clearest one

The new StagePass WX1200 wireless system from CAD Audio provides 16-channel frequency agile VHF operation for increased operating range and the flexibility to scan, select and link to the optimum channel in any performance setting.

In addition to diversity operation that minimizes multipath interference, StagePass features CAD’s unique Scan-Link technology that instantaneously scans all of the channels in the RF environment, then selects the clearest one.

The receiver then automatically looks for and links to the transmitter to lock in that channel.

The series systems are available as the WX1200 handheld, WX1210HW condenser hypercardioid headworn system, WX1210LAV cardioid condenser miniature lavalier system and WX1210GTR body pack guitar system.

StagePass WX1200 handheld (TX1200) and body pack (TX1210) transmitters have soft touch multi-function On-Off/Mute/Low Battery/ScanLink status switches with multi-color LED indicators.

High quality alkaline double AA batteries provide more than ten hours of battery life for the transmitters.

The WX1200 receiver is housed in a metal chassis for durability and effectiveness as a formable RF enclosure with 1/4-inch and XLR outputs for additional flexibility.

Pricing for StagePass wireless systems is $199 (street).

CAD Audio

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/05 at 07:17 AM
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