Wednesday, April 11, 2012
RTS Presents VLink System At NAB 2012
RTS is pleased to present the VLink (Virtual Linked Intercom) system at NAB 2012, a new, fully interconnected, DHCP-compliant virtual communications solution for RTS intercom systems.
VLink enables remote users to interface with RTS matrix intercoms via the Internet using a simple PC-based application, allowing an unprecedented degree of control and flexibility from anywhere in the world. VLink supports SIP to provide enhanced connectivity.
Two VLink systems are available: the basic VLink-LE system comprises a standalone software/server-based intercom providing limited interconnect functionality into any existing audio feed; the premium VLink system provides intelligent trunking links into an RTS intercom matrix to provide full support for RTS intercom alphas and matrix access for standard communications workflows.
VLink is fully compliant with the EBU Tech 3347 Standard specifying the transport protocols; coding algorithms, encapsulation, and signaling required ensuring interoperability in audio-over-IP production intercoms.
• Anywhere, anytime access – The perfect solution for users that need secure intelligent access to their RTS matrix, from anywhere, anytime.
• Flexible configuration – Scale the system to any number of ports (in eight-port blocks). Purchase only the capacity you need.
• Full integration into RTS matrix intercom systems – Allows full mapping of all intercom alphas.
• Fully DCHP compliant – Operates over open Internet connections. Secure access can be employed with a standard VPN connection.
• SIP support – Full SIP support, to and from the matrix.
• Flexible connectivity – Provides a variety of connection methods, including MADI, analog, or Firewire connections.
• True mobility – Access an RTS matrix via the Internet, using a Wi-Fi/3G connection.
Posted by Keith Clark on 04/11 at 10:55 AM
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Lectrosonics Announces New WM Watertight Wireless Transmitter
Lectrosonics has introduced the WM Watertight Transmitter, the company’s newest addition to its line of Digital Hybrid Wireless microphone systems offering compandor-free audio.
An extension of the SM series Super Miniature transmitter family, the new WM Watertight Transmitter employs a specially designed aluminum alloy case with sealed battery doors, antenna port, and microphone connector.
This fully watertight transmitter with a feature set similar to Lectrosonics’ popular SMQV beltpack unit runs on two AA batteries and can take remote commands from the company’s RM remote control unit—enabling one to remotely lock/unlock the transmitter’s controls, adjust audio input gain, RF operating frequency, and Sleep mode on/off status.
The new WM Watertight Transmitter offers a backlit LCD and large membrane buttons that make it easy to operate, even with gloves on.
RF power is menu-selectable at 50, 100, and 250 mW for the U.S. version and 25 and 50 mW for the EU version. Digital Hybrid Wireless technology ensures a clean audio signal and an isolated RF output greatly reduces intermodulation issues between transmitters in close proximity to one another.
We’ve had requests from numerous theatrical and location sound engineers to produce a unit specifically designed for those applications where water seems to permeate everything,” says Karl Winkler, director of business development at Lectrosonics. “With the new WM, those audio engineers involved in documentaries, reality TV productions, feature films, and theatrical productions should find this a most compelling product. With its compandor-free audio performance and the fact that the housing is machined from aircraft-grade, solid billet aluminum for superior strength, I’m confident the new WM will find a home with many audio pros.”
The new Lectrosonics WM Watertight Transmitter includes a belt clip and an omni-lavalier microphone with a watertight connector. MSRP is $1,998. Delivery is scheduled for Q2, 2012.
Posted by Keith Clark on 04/10 at 07:52 AM
Monday, April 09, 2012
Lectrosonics Wireless Key For Location Sound Recordist Xanti Salvador
Xanti Salvador, a location sound recordist who is also a college level instructor of audio, relies on wireless technology from Rio Rancho, NM-based Lectrosonics.
“My professional life is divided between Europe and South America,” Salvador reports. “In addition to my faculty position at the Facultad Experimental de Artes FEDA-LUZ in Maracaibo, where I teach sound editing and other aspects of audio, I am also active as a location sound recordist for TV and film.”
Salvador’s credits include work on the short format La Casa del Lago, the made for television film La Cospiración, a documentary titled Cuidadores, and the film El Cazador De Dragones.
Salvador has a sizeable Lectrosonics equipment arsenal, which includes SMDa, SMQV, LMa, one HM plug-on, and UH400a transmitters. His receivers include two UCR411a’s, an SRa, a UCR110, plus a Venue system stocked with four VRT receiver modules. His setup also includes a Lectrosonics T4 compact IFB transmitter, two R1a IFB receivers, as well as two SNA600 adjustable dipole antennas.
Currently, Salvador is working location sound for a project titled Konuko, which is currently shooting in Venezuela, Spain, Colombia, and Cuba. For this project, Salvador reports using a 2-channel setup consisting of his HM plug-on transmitter, two SMDa super miniature transmitters, and his SRa two-channel slot-mount Digital Hybrid Wireless diversity receiver—a system comprised of the smallest and lightest pieces of his Lectrosonics equipment.
“Lectrosonics sound quality is, by far, the best I’ve encountered,” Salvador says. “The company’s Digital Hybrid Wireless technology eliminates the need for compandors, so the sound quality is very natural. I also love the compact size of this equipment. The sound quality and the compact size make this equipment very agile, so it’s well suited for a variety of jobs. I also find the range of my Lectrosonics equipment to be exceptional, which has been very helpful with a number of projects I worked on.”
While he’s not currently using his UCR411a receivers, Salvador made note of his fondness for the frequency tracking filters of that model.
“I find the frequency tracking filters do a remarkable job in crowded RF environments that enable me to use more channels, obtain excellent range and minimize RF interference,” he explained. “Again, it all boils down to great sound and excellent coverage.”
Salvador summarized his experience with his Lectrosonics equipment, “I’ve been using Lectrosonics equipment for roughly four years. The sound quality is exceptional, the equipment is extremely well built and compact, so it travels well. The equipment has been so good, there’s simply no reason to look elsewhere for wireless technology. No matter where I happen to be working, I know I can count on my Lectrosonics gear.”
Friday, April 06, 2012
Prosound Worx Deploying Line 6 Digital Wireless For Wide Range Of Applications
Located in Merrimack, New Hampshire, Prosound Worx is a sound company specializing in live theater, with owner Rich Loomer deciding to face the uncertainties of traditional wireless with XD-V digital wireless systems by Line 6.
“I had the opportunity to try Line 6 digital wireless last year and never looked back,” says Loomer. “I have a rack of 14 bodypack systems – eight V70s and six of the new V75 model – and they’ve been outstanding.
“In fact, we just won Best Community Sound Design at the New Hampshire Theatre Awards, for a show called The Dinosaur Musical that we staged with the Peacock Players at the Court Street Theater in Nashua last fall. Line 6 was a big part of our success.”
Having worked southern New Hampshire’s active theater scene for about six years, Loomer is well acquainted with the critical nature of wireless on stage. “Obviously, any audio problem is a distraction for the audience,” he notes. “With the Line 6 systems, I haven’t had the problems that I had with other systems. They’ve been extremely reliable.”
Line 6 digital wireless operates in the license-free 2.4 GHz band, which is the same range that Wi-Fi systems use. The system avoids interference through the use of Digital Channel Lock (DCL) technology. Loomer states, “The building I do most of my work in, the Court Street Theater, has five active Wi-Fi networks, but I haven’t had any issues with interference at all.”
Sound quality has been equally impressive. “The biggest advantage I’ve noticed with the Line 6 microphones is much better gain-before-feedback than your typical analog mic,” he reports. “So I’m able to run things a little louder, with more band sound in the house, and still get the vocals loud enough to be clearly heard.”
In addition to the 14 bodypack systems, Prosound Worx also has a pair of XD-V75 handheld mics. Loomer had the opportunity to use them in a couple high-profile New Hampshire Presidential Primary events. “Every four years, it’s great to be a sound and production company here,” he notes. “I was able to use the Line 6 mics for campaign stops by two of the presidential candidates.”
For those assignments, he used his XD-V75 handheld systems, employing the system’s onboard mic modeling to optimize the microphone’s response. “I usually use the ’58 setting, but if the mic is on a podium, I’ll set it up as a D5, so the speaker can be a little further away and I still pick them up clearly/ I had very positive comments from the national media at both events. They were impressed with the clarity of the sound and the lack of dropouts. You always worry that something will go wrong in front of the national press, but with the Line 6 mics, we had no issues. Everyone was very happy.”
In the theater, Loomer keeps his receiver rack at the front-of-house mix position, using two directional antennas with a clear line=of-sight to the stage. “It’s not a huge theater, and the Line 6 system has plenty of range,” he notes. “We haven’t had any issues with interference or dropouts, and have all 14 channels available all the time.”
Canegreen & SSE Supply UK Arena Tour By The Wanted With Sennheiser
The Wanted’s 2012 UK Arena tour drew to a close in Dublin in March, with audio requirements for the tour met by Canegreen and SSE Audio.
Ryan McLean served as monitor engineer and Andrew Thornton took on both front of house and production manager duties, and both engineers assert that Sennheiser microphones and in-ear monitors were the right choice for the band on the tour
“The main reason I use Sennheiser equipment is for its sound,” says Thornton, who has specified SKM 500-935 G3 for vocals, with a combination of e 904, e 901, e 906 and MKH 40 for backline. “We’ve tried these guys with all sorts of different microphones and the 935 sounds particularly good with their voices and gives me loads of volume before we have any feedback issues. Plus the boys like the feel, the way the microphone handles and the way it looks.”
“Sennheiser has been involved with The Wanted right from the very start,” adds McLean. “We wanted them to get used to the quality they could expect for the rest of their careers at the very beginning, with both microphones and in-ears. Today, as well as the SKM 500 mics, we’re using ew 300 IEM G3 for their ears.”
McLean emphasizes the importance of becoming familiar with the nuances of using in-ear monitoring. “From the moment we started the schools tour and playing nightclubs we’ve had in-ears, just to get the guys used to them and to using them in different environments - people think when they go onto in-ears it’s going to be exactly the same every night, but there are differences in the rooms and the acoustic environment. We’ve upgraded from the G2 to the G3 and they have noticed the change. They don’t necessarily know the specifics of why it is different, but everyone has commented on an increase in quality.”
In the venues where space allowed, a thrust stage was included, so distance was an important consideration. “One of the main issues when it comes to RF is the guys walking out of my site line. When that happens, I need to know that everything is still going to be OK. We didn’t have any RF problems throughout the tour,” McLean. “It was rock solid all the way through. There were a few anomalies in certain venues, but that happens and being able to rescan and select a different frequency that worked is very simple on the G3 system.”
“I have been working with Sennheiser for about 14 years now,“ adds Thornton. “I’ve tried out a number of mics for them. In fact, I tried out the prototype of the 935 capsule about seven or eight years ago. The sound quality and the support are the main reasons that I keep using them. I have a sense of loyalty towards them, of course, for the years of good service they’ve provided and for looking out for me. But even so, if the equipment didn’t sound good, I wouldn’t use it.”
Posted by Keith Clark on 04/06 at 07:33 AM
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Clearwing Productions Earns Shure Axient Certification
Clearwing Productions is now a certified dealer for the Axient System, the wireless system recently introduced by Shure.
The certification allows for Clearwing to sell and install Axient as well as complete on-site trainings for customers. Nick Dressler and Bryan Baumgardner both completed the Axient Dealer Certification Training program in Chicago, Illinois, on March 15th, 2012.
“When interference is not an option, this is the most innovative system on the market. It’s a step into the future for wireless systems,” says Bryan Baumgardner, Operations – Audio & IT for Clearwing Productions.
Axient employs several breakthrough technologies that work together to deliver interference-free audio in today’s hostile RF spectrum environment. The Axient Spectrum Manager not only captures a detailed scan of the venue and displays it graphically, it can also listen in on a particular signal or store the data to be used later. The Frequency Diversity enables audio transmission from a single source on two independent radio frequencies. With Frequency Diversity enabled, the Axient Receiver continuously analyzes signal quality. Axient Interference Avoidance technology enables engineers to move to a clean, compatible frequency – manually or automatically. When used in conjunction with the Spectrum Manager, back–up frequencies are constantly monitored, ranked and deployed automatically the instant interference is detected.
Axient delivers great sound and gives engineers new capabilities to adapt to poor or rapidly changing conditions during any size or type of event. Clearwing Pro Shop Manager, Nick Dressler comments, “Customers that require an incredible level of control and flexibility will appeal to the Shure Axient. Anyone who purchases this system can be confident that interference won’t ruin the show.”
Friday, March 23, 2012
Relacart Introduces HR30 Series True Diversity Wireless Microphone Systems
Relacart has introduced the HR30 Series, a line of powerful, stable true diversity wireless microphone systems.
Models include the HR30D (dual channel) and HR30S (single channel), each with 1280 selectable UHF frequencies.
PLL and true diversity design ensures reliable transmission and interference-resistant operation.
The receiver will auto-scan and lock on to the cleanest frequency from the preset 32 channels simply by pressing the AFS (Auto Frequency Selection) button for three seconds, then pressing the IP button on the transmitter to automatically automatically the pre-locked frequency from the receiver.
The HR Series can work with or without Relacart RWW1.0 software, which provides a way to operate all functions and monitor up to 64 wireless transmitters and receivers simultaneously via computer from up to 300 meters (more than 900 feet) away, particularly ideal for a large live stage show.
The rack-mountable receivers are constructed of metal and include high-visibility LCD displays. Bodypack transmitters also offer metal cases.
Both handheld and bodypack transmitters also offer an environmentally friendly circuit design, able to operate with just two AA alkaline batteries for up to 15 hours.
Posted by Keith Clark on 03/23 at 02:18 PM
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Neumann Develops Capsule Heads For Sennheiser 2000 Series Wireless System
At the ongoing Prolight+Sound 2012, for the first time Neumann is presenting the capsule heads KK 204 (cardioid) and KK 205 (supercardioid) for the Sennheiser 2000 Series wireless system.
The acoustic features of the KK 204 and KK 205 capsule heads are derived from the multiple award-winning wired Neumann stage microphones KMS 104 and KMS 105.
The KK 204, with a cardioid directional characteristic, ensures the best possible suppression of sound originating from 180 degrees to the rear, while the supercardioid KK 205 has greater directivity, and maximizes incident sound from the front as compared to sound from the rear.
Due to the “single polar pattern design”, the polar patterns are very uniform over the entire frequency range, thus providing the basis for excellent resistance to feedback.
Particular importance was placed on the effective damping of pop sounds and handling noise, as well as on an extremely low level of self-noise.
The design is adapted to the construction of the SKM 2000 handheld transmitter. The capsules, and the transmitter unit, are available in both nickel and black.
Included with the capsule heads is a large nylon bag, which can hold not only the capsule but also the handheld transmitter, battery packs and additional accessories.
Wolfgang Fraissinet, President of Neumann, explains: “Neumann capsules have already been used in combination with the Sennheiser SKM 5200 handheld transmitter for the past 10 years on some of the largest stages of the world, where the highest demands are placed on a high-resolution sound and transmission reliability.
“With the development of the KK 204 and KK 205 capsule heads, the Neumann sound is now also available for the Sennheiser 2000 Series. The synergies between the key areas of expertise of Sennheiser handheld transmitters and Neumann capsule sound permit us to offer our customers a wireless system of absolutely uncompromisingly quality, even for the most demanding live applications.”
Posted by Keith Clark on 03/22 at 02:28 PM
Friday, March 16, 2012
Wireless First/Clair Global Deliver Slam Dunk At NBA All-Star
This season’s NBA All-Star Weekend, which included “rising stars” contests, a slam dunk contest, and similar events in the run up to Sunday night’s big game, took place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
As they did last year, NBA Entertainment entrusted Wireless First/Clair Global with the monumental task of (1) handling wired and wireless audio for all of the performers and events and (2) delivering it to the house and to the broadcast feeds, in addition to providing behind-the-scenes communications.
“The challenges of the NBA All-Star Weekend really revealed themselves last year,” explained Jason Spence, president of J Sound, who consulted with Volume Inc. on sound design for the event and then mixed monitors on game day. “Audio distribution was – and is – a big issue. Last year, we had analog splitters – racks and racks of them, in fact – and they not only compromised the sound, they also made errors easy to commit and difficult to track down.”
Clair Global’s Paul Cervenansky, the systems engineer for both years, concurred, “Last year, I was in charge of a wall of copper, and all of the consoles had stage racks. The broadcast trucks dropped off fiber heads to which we successfully converted. It all worked and we delivered a great show, but it was a nightmare for me, especially when someone wasn’t getting a signal in a high pressure situation.”
This year, Wireless First/Clair Global brought a Stagetec Nexus system to the NBA All-Star Game.
With appropriate options, the Nexus hardware accepts inputs of any analog or digital format and then, via a software interface, routes them to any number of outputs with truly negligible latency and no loss of information.
“The Nexus system has taken patch changes to a whole new level,” declared Kevin Sanford, president of Wireless First/Clair Global Broadcast. “Instead of staring at five 80-input, four-way splits and devoting up to several minutes to any patch change request, this year, Paul [Cervenansky] sat behind four 19-inch displays and exercised his index finger to make error-free patch changes in the time it takes to click a mouse.”
“Moreover, he had a visual of the entire system on those screens with real-time metering information of cross points making it easy to fax lines and keep a good gain structure throughout the system.”
Although now an expert, Cervenansky was grateful for the help of ESPN mixer Jonathan Freed, Stagetec USA president Rusty Waite, and Stagetec VP of broadcast systems James Williamson for their assistance.
Wireless First/Clair Global also handled the wireless audio for performance microphones, personal monitors, and communications, coordinating with the NBA to avoid interference with other RF users.
“The biggest challenge was getting solid RF coverage throughout the whole arena,” said Josh Flower, RF and comms system engineer. “We were surrounded by LED screens in the walls and the deck of the halftime performance area, which make our lives easier by raising the RF noise floor.”
Where possible, Flower maximized signal to noise by decreasing transmission distances. For example, he had a directional IEM antenna just twenty feet away during the national anthem performances on center court.
The use of Clair Global’s new CF 1090 fractal antenna proved crucial.
“Jeff Briggette, RF engineer with Clair and I, tried a few other types of antennas, but they fell short because the noise from this particular LED wall had a distinct transmission orientation,” said Flower. “The CF 1090 fractal antenna is position insensitive. It transmits and receives across all orientations and thus provides more noise-free signal.”
Flower used a combination of CF 1090 fractal antennas, and a custom RF-over-fiber system to provide complete RF coverage in the arena bowl, the locker room, and the adjoining hallways.
Thirty-two channels of Shure and Sennheiser wireless mics, eight channels of Shure PSM 1000 wireless personal monitors, and eighteen channels of Telex BTR wireless intercoms kept the RF team busy.
In addition, there were six node Riedel system that provided communications between the broadcast compound to inside the arena and to the Sprint pre-game concert outside on the street. Noted Spence, “The Shure PSM 1000 personal monitors were exactly what we needed for this event.”
RF-over-fiber proved to be an effective solution for the RF challenges Wireless First/Clair Global faced.
“I know that everybody’s jumping on the RF-over-fiber bandwagon,” said Sanford. “We’ve been deliberately hanging back a bit to properly assess the advantages and disadvantages of the various systems that are out there. We found this worked so well at the NBA All-Star Game that we’re currently in the process of building a few customized systems to use in various circumstances.”
Wireless First/Clair Global
Posted by Keith Clark on 03/16 at 09:53 AM
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Golden Entertainment Group Elevates Events With Line 6 Digital Wireless
Based in Chappell Hill, TX, Golden Entertainment Group has been utilizing Line 6 XD-V digital wireless systems since company owner Peron Einkauf began using them at the 2011 South By Southwest Music (SXSW) Conference in Austin. They’ve been a mainstay in his events ever since.
“We provided production for six South By Southwest venues last year,” Einkauf reports. “Normally, we don’t bring any wireless to that event. There’s a venue every 30 feet, bands changing every 30 minutes, and it’s just such a mass of conflict, it’s not worth the trouble. But this time, we tried the Line 6 digital wireless and got great results.”
In fact, Einkauf used eight XD-V70 vocal mic systems in three venues, all in close proximity, throughout the show. “Four days in a row, from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m., we ran all eight mics at the same time,” he recalls. “And, they were flawless, no failures or dropouts, ever. And, the microphone’s feedback rejection was exceptional, better than the standard vocal mic we normally use. I have to say, I was impressed.”
Based on that success, Einkauf continued to deploy them throughout the year. “We do about 30 major events each year, major fairs and festivals throughout the state of Texas,” he says. “We see a lot of touring country acts and older rock acts, and we always bring the Line 6 wireless. Basically, we offer it to anyone who doesn’t have their own wireless, and every artist who has used it, loved it.”
Line 6 digital wireless operates in the license-free 2.4 GHz band, and the XD-V70 system offers a choice of 12 simultaneous channels (14 on the new XD-V75 version), all of which are always available due to Digital Channel Lock technology.
“The system lets you search for a clear channel, but frankly, we haven’t needed to,” notes Einkauf. “We set up our systems on channels one through eight in Austin last year, and haven’t had to touch the frequencies since.”
Einkauf also calls out the sound quality for praise. The 4th generation digital transmission platform does not using companding, fostering very wide dynamic range. The system also includes on-board microphone modeling technology, allowing the system to take on the characteristics of a wide range of popular mics.
“You can model several different popular vocal mics on the Line 6,” states Einkauf. “We typically use the ’58 model at events like SXSW. Compared to a standard wired 58, I would say the Line 6 modeling is slightly better. The sound quality is crystal clear, and feedback rejection was better.”
Einkauf adds that he’s also using the XD-V70 for his corporate events. “It’s a great system and an incredible value. It’s good for business,” he concludes.
Friday, March 09, 2012
Special Report: Wireless Interference Protections
An update on TVBD rules and geo-location database operations
Rules for the operation of Television Band Devices (TVBD) in the core TV bands (low VHF – channels 2-6; high VHF – channels 7-13; and UHF – channels 14-51) were finalized in January 2010.
One of the requirements of TVBD operations was the establishment of a working and real-time accessible geo-location database from which TVBDs had to receive a list of available TV channels based on the TVBD’s physical location and type.
It’s only as of January 26, 2012 that the first database (Spectrum Bridge) commenced operations after receiving approval from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Office of Engineering and Technology (OET), the bureau overseeing TVBDs and the databases. The first TVBD was type approved last December (KTS Wireless).
Although several fixed point-to-point and point-to-multipoint TVBD installations have existed for over three years operating under developmental licenses in generally remote areas having quite a bit of available spectrum, it should now be expected to see fixed TVBD installations coming online this year in both rural and suburban environments.
Like the developmental systems, almost all of these first deployments will be in the high VHF channels and in mostly rural areas, though suburban locations should be anticipated.
The reasons are several, and are due to the interleaved matrix of TVBD rules that consider the type of TVBD, as well as its effective radiated RF power (ERP), its height above average terrain (HAAT), its location, and market economics. Given these parameters, the white space community realized some time ago that major urban areas simply don’t have enough spectrum – or any, in some cases – to permit TVBD operations, especially in the UHF band.
In those major urban centers where there is a channel or two for TVBDs to operate in the UHF spectrum (which should not be confused with channels available for wireless microphones, IEMs, coms and queuing), it’s almost always limited to personal/portable devices operating at the lower RF power limit of 40 mW.
The first deployments will be VHF, due primarily to coverage requirements and type of terrain. These systems are for back haul to locations not serviceable by fiber or copper infrastructure. Whether a private data link used to interconnect a remote facility, or the backbone on which a WISP (wireless internet service provider) can deliver internet service to one or more subscriber homes, these deployments are often characterized by distances of many kilometers and partially obstructed line of sight; exactly the conditions best suited for high VHF.
Further, as the broadband nature of DTV transmissions doesn’t work well in VHF (for reasons that do not affect computer networking nearly as severely and why many TV stations have returned to UHF after the DTV transition), this spectrum is now less congested than prior to the transition.
The criteria that determines what channels are available to an individual TVBD at a given time and place are calculated in real time by the geo-location databases, of which there are nine provisional and one confirmed. Whereas Spectrum Bridge is the first to be confirmed, the other nine are Airity, Comsearch, Google, LS Telcom, Key Bridge*, Microsoft, Neustar, RadioSoft and Telcordia Technologies (*not a member of the White Space DataBase Administrators workgroup). Telcordia just completed its 45-day live test and appears to be on its way to being confirmed, though the comment period is not yet over as of this writing.
Each database may use an algorithm of their own design that utilizes the information in the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) and Media Databases to determine which channels are available to which type of TVBD, but all databases must return identical – and correct as determined by OET – available channels based on the same criteria. So no matter which database operator a wireless mic user chooses to consult, the channels returned will be consistent.
The database administrators are further looking into developing a common user interface for wireless mic users for both the basic channel versus location query and the channel registration screens.
Some databases (at this time Comsearch, Key Bridge and Spectrum Bridge) are considering offering additional information that wireless mic users might find useful at no charge, such as other nearby wireless mic users who’ve reserved channels and displaying the channel availability information in a table format so that one can see what channels are available to what type of device. This can better aid in choosing the best channels (beyond the two reserved) to minimize the chance of interference.
Getting In Sync
Database administrators have also agreed to what is essentially real-time synchronization between databases, far better than the FCC requirement of only once every 24 hours.
Asked how that translates into actual sync times, several of the database technical folk indicated all databases should be synchronized about every 10 minutes or so given vagaries with database calculations once the registration is received, server loading and internet routing.
However, this does not address how often TVBDs must attempt a query of a database for available channels; the rules call for only once every 24 hours and the TVBD is permitted a 24-hour grace period if the attempt fails. This could mean up to almost 48 hours for a TVBD operating without checking the databases, but there are a few factors in place to minimize interference potential due to this.
First is the requirement TVBDs check their location via GPS every 60 seconds, and if it’s determined the TVBD has moved more than 50 meters from the location it last attempted to query a database (whenever it made the attempt), it must do so again.
Second is the fact that when a TVBD does download channel availability information, that information is for the following 48 hours, not just for the moment of the query.
The final interference avoidance mechanism is possibly one where the TVBDs query the databases far more often; in fact this is something the database administrators are actually advocating and advising TVBD manufacturers and service providers to do. Having the TVBD query as often as every 15 minutes or so could permit it to take advantage of channels that have just been released from a reservation or channels that are open for the specific time of day or night the TVBD attempts to operate.
The Ground Rules
As wireless mic (IEM, intercom and IFB) users, it’s necessary to understand the ground rules for operation now that TVBDs will be sharing the spectrum. There are two classes of wireless mic users as of January 2010:
1. Unlicensed users operating under Part 15, Subpart H rules. In short, the maximum permissible RF power output is limited to 50 mW in both VHF and UHF, and there are some minimum requirements that must be met before an unlicensed user can register in the database for additional channels.
A) The unlicensed user must first populate the two reserved TV channels with 6-8 wireless frequencies;
B) Populate any other usable TV channels that are unavailable to TVBDs with 6-8 wireless frequencies;
C) Request on the FCC website (not yet active but in the advanced development stage) to register for additional TV channels in the database at least 30 days in advance. This 30 days provides for a comment period in case anyone has objections, though unless there is some major public detriment, it’s unlikely the FCC would deny the request. Once the FCC approves the request, the FCC will place the approval in the ULS for the geo-location databases to reference. Once the approval is granted, the unlicensed user can then register in one of the databases.
Aside from the fact that in most cases there simply isn’t 30 days advance knowledge of an event, a registration request on the FCC website concludes with the applicant certifying there will be 6-8 frequencies in each of the TV channels noted in A and B above. This certification will be the legal equivalent of signing a federal document, with all that implies. So claiming a large number of frequencies in order to warehouse additional spectrum when that will knowingly not be the case could lead to some unpleasantness should the FCC audit the registration request and find it to be knowingly false.
Part 15 users wishing to request registration will have to first acquire an FCC Registration Number (FRN), which is free and can be obtained from the FCC website in a matter of minutes. The FRN is a permanent identifier the user will reference whenever they request registrations, and it is recommended to acquire one now. (See the end of this story for the web site.)
2. Licensed users operating under Part 74, Subpart H. These are users that are also Part 73 broadcasters, content producers for TV and film, and cable studio operations. Although 50 mW remains the maximum RF power level for VHF equipment, these users can utilize UHF equipment up to 250 mW. These users can register directly in a geo-location database, at any time, and do not need to certify their use of the reserved channels or other channels unavailable to TVBDs first.
Effect Of Registration
It’s most important to remember a fundamental concept about wireless mic users registering in the databases.
The wireless mic user is not reserving TV channels for his/her exclusive use; rather the registration has the effect of removing a TV channel from the pool of available channels for TVBDs.
Once one wireless mic user registers and reserves a TV channel, any wireless mic user within the protected contour has the protection of that channel. Nearby wireless mic users must still coordinate among themselves to avoid interference just as they’ve always done.
Whether a Part 15 or 74 user, the second point is to know where the venue is located in terms of latitude and longitude coordinates. Google Earth is a useful tool here as well as any GPS unit or GPS equipped phone that can display coordinates of a current location. All of the databases will accept coordinates to identify a location, but not every venue may have an address that accurately reflects the event location; think large parks, golf courses, road races, parades, private or abandoned airports.
Once the coordinates are determined, the user should go to the database of choice, to the query page. Entering the coordinates and the type of device (wireless microphone) will then return pertinent information based on the user’s location: The two reserved channels for wireless mic operations and channels available and unavailable for TVBDs based on type. From this information the user can then determine the optimum channels to use first and which channels (if necessary) to request for reservation.
Site Scan Needed
After the two reserved channels, it will be best to choose channels completely unavailable to TVBDS of all types but which spectrum is in fact quiet enough for use. In other words, the user will still need to perform a site scan of the RF spectrum upon arrival.
Next choice would likely be those channels which permit only 40 mW personal/portable or only fixed TVBDs at less than 3 meters height above average terrain (HAAT) if far enough away. There is currently discussion whether the databases will have the capability to return relevant information on fixed nodes so wireless mic users could determine their interference potential.
Should a Part 74 user determine additional channels are required, they will go directly to the database of choice, go to the registration page and complete the form. They will need to know the call sign of the associated license, provide contact information, a day and time schedule of operations, the coordinates of the event (either a single lat/lon pair or a group of coordinates to create a polygon of protected area) and the channels being reserved. Fields for additional authorized persons to update the registration as well as for the password will also be provided.
Once the registration is submitted, the channel reservation is immediate and all databases should be updated within about 10 minutes, presuming no errors in the submission. Changes, additions and subtractions of channel numbers, schedule, even venue, are permitted any time by any of the authorized persons.
On The Other Hand
Part 15 users – presuming they have their FRN – will go to the FCC’s registration request web page no sooner than 30 days prior to the event and enter in the appropriate information, similar to that of the licensed user.
Aside from the certification, the other difference is that whatever number of channels is requested at this stage will be the limit when registering in the database, although which channels are to be reserved can be changed, as well as the schedule.
Again, it’s important for unlicensed users (and licensed users for that matter) not to “play it safe” and warehouse spectrum when registering. At some point, random audits will be performed and if it’s found that repeated abuse of the registration process has occurred, the individual or organization could find itself barred from future registrations.
Worse yet, if rampant abuse is found, that could result in a wholesale rethinking by the FCC about the rather generous protections it carved out for unlicensed wireless mic users from other Part 15 [TV band] devices.
In the end, it’s not only the FCC that afforded some meaningful measures of protections for wireless production equipment, but so too have many of the database administrators expressed apparently sincere desires to make the registration process as simple and effective as possible for wireless mic users.
They didn’t before, but many of them now do “get it” for the most part and understand that wireless mics, intercoms, IEMs and IFB are as crucial to the content creation machine as cameras and actors, and the delivery mechanism that is the internet.
Links For More Info
Geo-Location TVBD Database Administrators
Links To TVBD Hardware
FCC Registration Number (FRN)
TVBD Database Adminstrators Information
Henry Cohen is president and senior RF engineer/consultant at Production Radio Rentals. His work with several types of radio frequency equipment and in professional audio spans more than 30 years.
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Modern Marvels: A Real World Gear Look At The Latest Wireless Mic Systems
Manufacturers continue to find new and better ways to enhance sonic performance and insure solid transmission
The early history of the development of wireless microphone systems is a bit murky as to “who did what and when,” but it might be surprising to know that they’ve been around in various forms for more than 60 years.
In fact, back in the mid-1940s, publications such as Popular Science showed schematics and kits for making low-power wireless microphones that could transmit to a nearby AM radio.
The Shure Vagabond system, which debuted in 1953, most certainly was one of the first – if not the first – wireless microphone system created and “mass produced” for performance and production. Its field of coverage was a circle of approximately 700 square feet, which corresponds to a line-of-sight distance of about 15 feet from transmitter to receiver.
A few years later, Sennheiser unveiled a wireless mic system that was marketed through Telefunken. The pocket-sized transmitter, called the Mikroport, sported a dynamic moving-coil cartridge microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern, transmitting at 37 MHz with a specified range of 300 feet.
The first wireless mic system patent was filed in 1957 by Raymond Litke, an electrical engineer. Vega Electronics began manufacturing this system in 1959 (called the Vega-Mike), and it was first used by reporters on the floors of the 1960 Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Litke’s U.S. patent was granted in 1964, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted 12 frequencies for its use.
Also developing systems and technology during that time were Sony, beyerdynamic, and by the mid-1970s, Nady Systems introduced compander technology that improved dynamic range. The Rolling Stones were among the first high-profile artists to use these systems live in concert.
Today, despite the increasing challenges of RF congestion and changes in available frequencies, the use of wireless systems continues to proliferate in live sound and production, as well as in live broadcast. The majority of systems still operate in the UHF band (in the U.S. working around the 700 MHz ban enacted a couple of years ago), while digital systems, usually operating in the 2.4 GHz band, have gained in popularity.
A Shure Vagabond system in action in the 1950s. (click to enlarge)
Manufacturers continue to find new and better ways to enhance sonic performance and insure solid transmission, while also making systems much easier to use with features like automatic channel scanning, push-button synchronization, and more. Another notable development of late has been signal encryption that enhances security.
Even with all of the challenges, today’s wireless mic systems are modern marvels. Enjoy this Real World Gear Tour of the latest models, and note that several of them have hit the market within the past few months, including a few that have debuted just since January.
Craig Leerman is senior contributing editor for Live Sound International and ProSoundWeb.
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Shure Helps Tame Wireless At 2012 Detroit Auto Show
The Detroit Auto Show or, more formally, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), is the crown jewel of car exhibitions in the U.S. This year’s edition featured the debuts of 53 new models, plus a wide range of concept cars and special events. The stakes are highest at the show’s all-important press conferences, so the event producers call in trusted providers like On Stage Audio (OSA), Creative Technologies, Digital Black, and Eighth Day Sound to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
In Cobo Center’s challenging RF environment, that task is easier said than done. The wireless requirements for the show include about 445 channels of microphones, intercoms, IFBs, and in-ear monitors. In addition, each press conference is attended by roughly 3,000 members of the international media, many with their own undocumented wireless systems.
“On the RF front, the auto show is like the Wild, Wild West,” says Jim Risgin, Vice President of On Stage Audio. “Everyone’s success depends on cooperation among all the audio vendors. When the media arrives, our work is at best…a guess, as their RF usage is a complete unknown to us. It’s one of the more challenging events we do, and no better test of a wireless system.”
To gear up for the event, On Stage Audio brought more than 40 channels of Shure wireless to Detroit, including 32 channels of the new Axient wireless system along with several PSM1000 personal monitor systems.
Jeff Jones of Amazing Audio took the lead, coordinating the wireless needs of all providers and building an RF map of the convention hall. “The biggest challenge is actually before the show, when everyone is rehearsing at the same time,” he notes.
The Axient Spectrum Manager and Wireless Workbench software made it easier to create a frequency plan for Shure and non-Shure equipment and to pre-select backup frequencies. Mixing the Lincoln press event, independent engineer/designer Tom Jones of Waterloo Audio coordinated frequencies for 12 Axient systems, 10 channels of Shure UHF-R, and four PSM1000s, plus Telex wireless intercoms.
The Spectrum Manager and Wireless Workbench software were also able to quickly deal with the inevitable contingencies. “When the ENG crews came in with their own wireless, we were already online with Wireless Workbench 6 and used Spectrum Manager to see what was being broadcast, find clear channels, and deploy that to our wireless inventory,” says Tom Jones.
A unique feature of the Axient system is that backup frequencies can be deployed manually or automatically, depending on the user’s preference. Carmen Educate of OSA was the sound designer for the General Motors press event, where he used 16 channels of Axient in full frequency diversity mode for completely seamless and automatic switching.
“Axient allowed us to automatically switch between clean frequencies we had preset as backups, and Spectrum Manager gave us the ability to coordinate everything in one program.” At the Ford exhibit, OSA senior audio engineer Peter Wiejaczka chose the manual route for his 12 Axient systems. “I used Axient in a prompt-only mode, with the backup channels coordinated with the other booths,” he explains. “When the press came in with their own RF devices, I was able to switch to those backup frequencies as needed.”
Jim Risgin of On Stage Audio thinks Axient earned its stripes at this event. “Using new technology is always a risk, but we felt very comfortable going with Shure Axient. We love it. Nothing else has the features, the strength, and flexibility it has. Having mixed these shows for over 20 years, it’s an amazing feeling to know that, finally, there’s a wireless system that has my back.”
Professional Wireless Systems Returns To 24th Annual “Premio Lo Nuestro” Show
When the Latin music world gathered to honor its biggest and brightest stars for the 24th annual “Premio Lo Nuestro” Music Awards this year at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Professional Wireless Systems (PWS) was backstage coordinating wireless operations and working to resolve any possible interference issues during the gala.
Presented by television network Univision, “Premio Lo Nuestro” honors the year’s best Latin music. The awards show, which first aired in 1989, features famous Latino actors, musicians and show business personalities. The show is broadcast throughout the Americas, including to millions of viewers in the United States.
PWS has been working with Univision for 14 years to provide frequency coordination for its three annual awards shows, “Premio Lo Nuestro,” “Premio Juventud” and the “Latin GRAMMY Awards.”
For this year’s “Premio Lo Nuestro” show, PWS provided the wireless coordination for the main show as well as the red carpet and post-awards segments.
Working side by side with Acoutech, the show’s PA provider, PWS ensured that close to 200 frequencies remained solid and interference-free throughout the evening.
“Univision approached us a while back and asked us to package up and sell two 10-packs of wireless mics exactly as we would use them,” says Jason Eskew, project manager, PWS. “We have been using their wireless mics for the main show, supplementing them with specialized gear for the racks they purchased a couple of years ago.”
Since all wireless technologies, including artist and band microphones and in-ear monitors and wireless radios, must be carefully coordinated so that frequencies won’t interfere with each other, PWS strategized its frequency coordination weeks before the actual event.
Working with Louis Guerra from Shure, PWS utilized the Shure Axient systems wideband receivers, power management and remote control capabilities. Shure’s artist relations team provided chrome Axient handheld transmitters, using Shure PSM 1000 Personal Monitor Systems for all of artists. Comtek BST-25’s were used for the Host IFB’s.
What’s more, wireless intercoms for this production were Telex BTR-800’s. Tying everything together, Frequency management was performed with PWS’s Intermodulation Analysis System (IAS). IAS made it quick and easy to coordinate new frequencies and to share information between the inside and outside portions of the show.
“The Axient system allowed us much more flexibility to handle special artist requests, specifically chrome and decorated mics that were brought in by the artists themselves,” adds Eskew. “We were able to land them onto the Axient receivers—the flexibility of the Axient system allowed us to do that without our needing to make a lot of changes to the racks and the rest of the infrastructure.”
The PSM 1000 Personal Monitor System is a full-rack, dual-channel, networkable transmitter ideally suited for the demands of professional touring and installation applications. The diversity body pack receiver delivers pristine RF signal and audio quality.
According to Eskew, “The PSM 1000s afforded us the luxury to focus on all of the other things we needed to do. Knowing the PSM 1000 system was rock solid, low stress and maintenance-free is a huge weight off our backs. Even when the PSM 1000s get into a low-signal strength condition, they mute quietly and cleanly. It is much safer for the artist and makes our job a whole lot easier.”
When dealing with a live music show of this magnitude, there are bound to be some unique challenges. One that PWS faced was accommodating performers that brought their own decorated transmitters. As the Axient system is a wide receiver, and able to adjust to the specific frequency needed, it allowed PWS to quickly resolve any potential RF issues associated with the performers’ gear.
Another challenge the PWS crew handled was tracking down some interfering ENG crews that were shooting in the building and not coordinated. PWS’ ability to find these interfering sources and correct any potential issues quickly was another benefit of its RF service.
In addition to the Univision gear that was used, PWS utilized seven of its Domed Helical Antennas. Featuring a unique, new compact “domed” design, the Domed Helical Antenna provides robust multi-channel wireless microphone, in-ear and intercom wireless connectivity.
In all, the night was a huge success, with more than 10.8 million viewers tuning in to watch 21 musical acts perform—all without any RF issues.
Professional Wireless Systems
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Tour Supply Inc. And RFvenue Partner To Deliver RF Products To Touring Industry
Tour Supply, Inc. and RFvenue have announced a partnership to introduce RFvenue’s innovative RF products to the live touring industry.
RFvenue’s Chris Regan explains, “We were looking for a partner who could help us introduce RFvenue’s antenna products to bands touring in clubs, theaters, arenas, and stadiums worldwide. Considering their many industry relationships and rehearsal-based locations in L.A., New York, and Nashville- Tour Supply was the perfect partner for introducing RFvenue products to the live sound market.”
There are three unique products that Tour Supply will be focused on delivering to bands on tour: the RF Spotlight Antenna, Diversity Fin Antenna, and CP Beam Antenna. Each has its own special characteristics for various applications and RF range. Tour Supply CEO Lance Wascom commented, “One of the real advantages of RFvenue’s products is that they connect to any type of wireless equipment from any brand out there- in-ears, mics, production comms, whatever- these products are designed to improve RF performance for all kinds of live sound applications. The early response has been great- we can’t wait to get these on tour.”
All RFvenue products are now shipping through Tour Supply. and further information is available at http://www.TourSupply.com and http://www.RFvenue.com