Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Revolabs Introduces Hybrid HD Microphones & XLR Adapter
Designed specifically for Revolabs HD wireless audio systems
Revolabs has announced the release of new Hybrid HD microphones and XLR adapter, designed for conferencing installations requiring a powered audio solution.
Constantly powered and located around the conference table, the wired Hybrid microphones and XLR adapters provide optimized audio pick up during meetings.
For meetings where wireless operation is required, the microphones can easily be removed from the power source and placed where required around the table.
“Responding to feedback from our key integration partners and customers, we are pleased to announce the Hybrid HD microphones and XLR adapter for applications requiring little or no user intervention,” says Marc Cremer, COO at Revolabs. “The Revolabs Hybrid HD products combine the best of both wired and wireless microphones into one versatile solution. And no matter how long a meeting may last, users never have to worry about a microphone losing power.”
Offering plug-and-play functionality, Hybrid HD microphones and XLR adapter simplifies the administration and installation of audio systems in any room. Power is available at conference room tables, and the wireless audio connection insures that installers do not have to run new microphone cable.
Powered yet functioning wirelessly, Hybrid HD products also provide ease of use for unfamiliar users, alleviating the need for any setup prior to the beginning of a meeting or the need to return microphones to a charger tray after the meeting has concluded.
Designed specifically for Revolabs HD wireless audio systems, the Hybrid HD microphones and XLR adapter utilize “Designed for Speech” HD audio technology to provide crystal-clear audio.
Integrated RF Armor technology makes audio impervious to GSM noise from cell phones, avoiding unwanted audio interference. To keep meetings private, the microphones also offer secure 128-bit encryption technology.
Hybrid HD microphones are available in omnidirectional and directional tabletop versions, and come complete with a power supply.
The Hybrid HD XLR adapter provides audio coverage for any dynamic gooseneck microphone (sold separately) with an XLR connection. This allows for the easy installation of gooseneck microphones in any room without having to run audio wires.
To reduce the number of power outlets required for the Hybrid HD solutions, Revolabs offers users the ability to power four microphones with one power supply with its Hybrid 4 Multi Microphone Power Adapter Kit, sold separately.
Posted by Keith Clark on 10/24 at 05:11 AM
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Audio-Technica Mics Continue To Capture Sound For Presidential Debate Series At October 16 Town Hall
A-T mics chosen for all four debates (three presidential, one vice presidential)
Audio-Technica supplied microphones used for both candidates, the moderator and audience participants at the third debate in the 2012 presidential campaign on October 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.
Larry Estrin of Best Audio, Studio City, CA, who serves as audio and production communications director for the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), chose A-T for each of the four debates in the series.
Products used included A-T’s 5000 Series wireless with AEW-T5400a condenser handheld transmitters and AEW-R5200 receivers for President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney (allowing the candidates to freely roam while answering the evening’s questions), while AT898cW subminiature cardioid condenser lavalier microphones with AEW-T1000a bodypacks (doubled for redundancy) were provided for moderator Candy Crowley.
In addition, AE6100 hypercardioid dynamic handheld (wired) microphones, connected to an Audio-Technica AT-MX351a SmartMixer 5-channel mixer, were supplied for audience members asking questions of the candidates. A-T BP4071 Line + Gradient condenser microphones captured room ambience.
Candidate backup mics, required for redundancy, were additional AT898cW units with AEW-T1000 bodypacks and AEW-R5200 receivers.
Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless Chosen To Upgrade Audio Quality At Finland Theatre
A total of 22 channels of wireless for a variety of productions
Designed by Alvar Aalto and built in 1982, the Jyväskylä City Theatre, in Jyväskylä, Finland, is the largest venue of its type in this city of roughly 132,000 people, and as such, it is home to a broad assortment of cultural activities, including concerts, musical theatre, and opera.
The venue recently sought to upgrade its audio presentation, choosing to do so with Lectrosonics wireless microphone systems incorporating the company’s Digital Hybrid Wireless technology. Noretron Broadcast Ltd of Kirkkonummi, Finland, handled the sales and installation of the theatre’s new wireless system, a process headed by company owner Timo Vilmi.
“The Jyväskylä City Theatre has two rooms, with the main stage having seating for 551 people and the secondary room being far more intimate in character—with seating for 98 people,” Vilmi explains. “As the premiere facility of its kind in this region, we wanted to ensure the best possible audio quality and the highest level of reliability. Mika Filpus, the theatre’s chief sound engineer, evaluated several brands and, based upon his findings, ultimately selected Lectrosonics.”
Specifically, the Noretron Broadcast team deployed 22 Lectrosonics SMDB/E01 super miniature beltpack transmitters and two HH/E01 handheld transmitters. On the receiver side of the equation, there are four Lectrosonics WRMWB Venue Series/E01 receiver mainframes—with all but one of the 6-channel systems fully stocked with VRT receiver modules for a total of 22 channels.
Lectrosonics ALP650 skeletal design Log Periodic Dipole Array antennas augment the system, as do RM remotes, which enable audio technicians to modify audio input gain, RF operating frequency, lock/unlock the front panel controls, and enable/disable Sleep Mode on the SMDB/E01 transmitters.
“Audio quality was the first and foremost concern,” states Vilmi, “and this is precisely why the Lectrosonics gear was chosen. Lectrosonics’ Digital Hybrid Wireless technology sounds exceptional and exhibits none of the sonic artifacts one typically encounters with systems using a compandor. The SMDB/E01 transmitters are extremely small and, as a result, are easy to hide among wardrobe, so they’re a great choice for theatrical applications—and with the RM remote, an audio tech can make changes to the transmitter without interfering with the talent’s wardrobe. Combine these factors with first-rate build quality and it’s easy to see why Lectrosonics excels in this type of environment.”
The first event to avail itself of the new Lectrosonics wireless microphone system was the Finnish musical Myrskyluodon Maija. “The show opened September 9th and was very well received,” Vilmi states. “The combination of the Lectrosonics wireless equipment with the DPA 4061 lavaliere and d:fine earset mics makes a terrific setup.”
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Shure Introduces New Rechargeable Battery Accessories
Compatible with several Shure wireless system components
Shure Incorporated has introduced new rechargeable accessories: the SBC210 portable charger and SBC-DC bodypack power insert.
Coupling solid reliability with improved efficiency, the new solutions offers intelligent power management for extended usage times and battery life.
The SBC210 has a compact, rugged design and is available in a convenient desktop unit. Built with a rapid charging function, the portable accessory can charge two SB900 batteries to 50 percent capacity within one hour.
A full charge for both batteries can be achieved within three hours. SB900 batteries are compatible with the Shure P9RA and P10R wireless bodypack receivers, the ULX-D digital wireless handheld transmitters, and the UR5 portable diversity receiver.
Compatible with SB900-powered devices, the SBC-DC bodypack power Insert connects to a PS41 power supply for consistent and continuous operation without batteries. The SBC-DC can be used with P9RA and P10R wireless bodypack receivers, the ULXD1 wireless bodypack transmitter, and the UR5 portable diversity receiver.
In designing the SBC210 and SBC-DC, Shure built on the benefits of the company’s existing rechargeable products. All Shure rechargeable products have precision metering, enabling users to track remaining battery life on the transmitter and receiver displays in hours and minutes—accurate within 15 minutes—for increased reliability and more definitive monitoring.
Additionally, they combine Lithium-ion chemistry with Shure battery circuitry, resulting in zero memory effect. Batteries can be recharged at any time, and a complete discharge is never necessary.
“Our research showed that, historically, rechargeable products didn’t necessarily have the best reputation among audio professionals because of their perceived lack of reliability. We were determined to change that with these new accessories,” said Stephen Kohler, director of product marketing, Shure Americas Business Unit. “Because Shure’s new solutions provide a highly accurate display of remaining battery life in hours and minutes, users can now have the high level of confidence that they did not have before.”
Pricing and Availability:
SBC-DC DC power insert for SB900-compatible bodypack—$118
SBC210-US dual portable rechargeable battery charger—$289
SBC200-US dual docking charger with power supply—$274
SBC200 dual docking charger (power supply not included)—$200
SBC800-US eight-bay battery charger—$548
SB900 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery—$118
SB900-8 eight pack of Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries—$820
Posted by Keith Clark on 10/16 at 03:42 PM
Monday, October 15, 2012
AKG Provides Global Rockstar Song Contest With Studio And Live Sound Prize Packages
Fans will choose winners and recipients of multiple AKG prize packages
AKG has partnered with the Global Rockstar Online Song Contest to provide fan-voted favorites a package of AKG microphones and wireless systems.
From October through November, independent rock artists from 196 countries can upload their videos to the Global Rockstar Contest, where fans will choose winners and recipients of multiple AKG prize packages.
In establishing the contest, Global Rockstar creators Christof Straub and Ronny Steibl were searching for a way to showcase music they believed had more potential for international recognition.
“As music producers and songwriters we know how important it is for artists to get maximum international visibility. Global Rockstar guarantees this to our winners and will continue to shine the light on lesser-known artists around the globe,” the founders state.
On January 1, 2013, the votes will be tallied and combined with input from an expert musical jury on wildcard placement. The first place AKG live set contains a C214, a C451 condenser, four D40 dynamic mics, a D112 kickdrum mic and two handheld D7’s.
The alternate first prize studio set includes a Perception 820 Tube, C414, two sets of K702 and K240 headphones and a C451.
Global Rockstar also provides AKG prize sets for second and third place.
“AKG is proud to be a part of a program, supporting musicians of all levels of professionalism, with a reach as wide as Global Rockstar,” said Philipp Sonnleitner, product marketing manager, AKG. “With quality and reliability underscoring AKG’s mission to provide the best equipment to artists, the first, second and third prize winners from the Global Rockstar contest will be able to take a sonic step up in their recordings and live performances. We wish all participants good luck as their peers vote for the best original songs in the world.”
Global Rockstar Online Song Contest
Friday, October 12, 2012
Audio-Technica Microphones Capture Sound For Vice Presidential Debate
A-T mics for both candidates and moderator, and also to capture room ambience
Audio-Technica microphones were utilized for both candidates as well as the moderator at the 2012 Vice Presidential debate on October 11 at Centre College in Danville, KY.
Products used included A-T’s Engineered Sound ES935ML6 MicroLine condenser gooseneck microphones on vice president Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan.
Two AT898cW Subminiature cardioid condenser lavalier microphones with 5000 Series wireless were used for moderator Martha Raddatz, while BP4071 Line + Gradient condenser mics were used to capture room ambience.
Backup mics at the event included AT898cW wireless lavaliers and AEW-T5400 handheld transmitters with 5000 Series wireless for the candidates, and AT898 wired lavalier mics for Raddatz.
Larry Estrin of Best Audio in Studio City, CA, serves as audio and production communications director for the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) and has chosen to use Audio-Technica microphones at these landmark events.
Posted by Keith Clark on 10/12 at 03:53 PM
Lectrosonics Wireless with “Beverly Hills Nannies” Reunion Show
Keeping up with the action meant having a substantial number of wireless microphone systems that offered the sound quality, flexibility, and dropout free performance necessary to capture it all. That’s precisely why LA-based Production Sound Mixer Scott Jason Farr, CAS, relied on an assortment of transmitters and receivers from Rio Rancho, NM-based Lectrosonics.
In early September, ABC Family Television (in conjunction with Evolution Media) aired Beverly Hills Nannies: Nannies Tell All, a reunion of the popular reality show that focuses on a group of young nannies working for the higher-class wealthy in the world’s most unreal neighborhood.
Keeping up with the action meant having a substantial number of wireless microphone systems that offered the sound quality, flexibility, and dropout free performance necessary to capture it all. That’s precisely why LA-based Production Sound Mixer Scott Jason Farr, CAS, relied on an assortment of transmitters and receivers from Lectrosonics.
Farr has provided Production Sound Mixing services since 1996 and he has an impressive list of credits and travel under his belt. Recent projects include commercials for Cadillac (STS and XTS), the Super Bowl 2012 commercial for the Samsung Galaxy Note, and Season Two promos for the TV sitcom Wilfred on FX Network.
For Beverly Hills Nannies: Nannies Tell All, Farr’s Lectrosonics arsenal included 2 HH handheld transmitters outfitted with Shure Beta 87A capsules, 10 SMV super miniature beltpack transmitters with Sanken COS-11 lavaliere microphones, and 8 SMQV dual battery super miniature beltpack transmitters with Sanken COS-11’s.
In the receiver department, he used 16 Lectrosonics UCR411a compact receivers and 4 VRMWB Venue receiver mainframes with VRT receiver modules. All equipment employs Lectrosonics acclaimed Digital Hybrid Wireless technology.
Farr discussed the challenges of the project, “This show required a minimum of 18 systems—16 body mics, 2 handhelds, and backups. The vendor, Bexel ASG (Audio Specialties Group) and Audio consultant Jess Contreras really came through on this job,” explains Farr. “It was very important that we have the flexibility to go from the backstage dressing rooms to the on stage area and have the mics work with both the main stage system and the ENG crews following all the ‘behind the scenes’ action with two roving reporters for the show’s website.
“In addition to production-grade audio quality, this required dropout-free performance and the RF agility necessary to make quick frequency adjustments, should we find ourselves competing for open frequencies. The Lectrosonics gear excelled on all counts.”
In addition to the equipment Farr supplements for various projects, he owns 12 Lectrosonics MM400c beltpack transmitters, an HM plug-on transmitter for wireless boom, a T4 and UM400a IFB transmitter with two R1a IFB beltpack receivers for boom operator feeds, eight UCR411a compact receivers for his sound bag, two SRa dual slot ENG receivers with two UM400a transmitters for wireless feeds to ENG cameras, a D4 4-channel wireless system for wireless console feeds, and a Venue system fully stocked with VRT receiver modules along with three SNA600’s and an ALP620 for his cart.
With all this gear and the nature of his work, quality customer and technical support services are essential. In this regard, Farr knows he can always count on Lectrosonics.
“I recently had all of my Lectrosonics equipment serviced including upgrading the hardware and firmware to match the current shipping versions,” Farr reports. “Some of my UCR411a’s are almost nine years old. Lectrosonics continues to provide support and develop firmware which includes new features.
“That’s pretty amazing considering other brands typically drop support after a few years—all of which reinforces my brand loyalty. My Lectrosonics gear does all my heavy lifting because I know I can always count on it.”
Before turning his attention back to preparation for an upcoming project, Farr offered these parting thoughts, “I’ve been using Lectrosonics equipment since roughly 1997 when I started with four UCR210D diversity receivers in a Quadbox and four UM250 transmitters. The systems performed flawlessly although I started replacing them in March of 2004 with the UCR411a’s.
“I think the UCR210D was one of the best receivers ever made. I get lots of positive feedback from my clients and crew for providing great sound recordings in difficult conditions. It is such a rarity for anything to go wrong that, if it does, it’s normally something completely out of my control. It’s this type of performance and reliability that keeps me firmly in the Lectrosonics camp.”
Posted by Keith Clark on 10/12 at 10:57 AM
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
Professional Wireless Systems