Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Professional Wireless Systems Tackles Frequency Coordination At Super Bowl XLVII
Wireless Management and Equipment Package Provides Interference-Free Coverage for the Game’s Entertainment Segments
As football fans gathered at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and in front of television sets around the world for Super Bowl Sunday, Professional Wireless Systems (PWS), a Masque Sound Company, was on location in New Orleans to provide its expert frequency coordination and RF management for referee microphones, as well as pre-game and halftime entertainment.
For the company’s 17th consecutive Super Bowl, PWS once again partnered with ATK Audiotek and Versacom for the big game. Recognizing that preparation is extremely important to ensure interference-free RF management on game day, PWS project manager Jason Eskew and his team began their work almost five months prior to the game.
“I did a site survey at the Superdome in October and submitted our frequencies in November for approval,” says Eskew. “When doing so, I had to be sure to pick equipment that covers multiple manufacturers’ frequency ranges.
“Each performer has his or her equipment of choice, along with endorsement deals that require us to use a specific wireless system, so we needed to be able to easily adapt to this, along with any changes the scheduled performers might make on site.”
This year, Grammy Award-winning recording artist Jennifer Hudson was a late addition to the lineup, joining 26 students from Sandy Hook Elementary School in singing America the Beautiful during the Super Bowl XLVII pre-game show.
“Thanks to the flexible plan I designed and the excellent bench skills of John Garrido, the team was able to accommodate her needs without any problems,” says Eskew. “The people over at Shure and Sennheiser once again did a good job providing the gear that supports the performers.”
In order to provide an interference-free show and ensure all wireless activities went off as planned, PWS utilized the Shure Axient Wireless, UHF-Rs and PSM-1000 series IEMs.
In addition, the team employed 3732 receivers with 5200 transmitters, as well as a range of wireless gear from Sennheiser. An added benefit of the Axient system was its ability, in the body pack diversity mode, to provide automatic fail-over protection for the referees’ microphones.
Versacom provided a mixture of wireless intercoms, including HME PRO850 and BTR800s from Telex, for the event.
PWS utilized its Domed Helical Antenna on the field. A new standard in wireless antenna performance and physical presence, the Domed Helical Antenna combines the highly successful circular polarization configuration pioneered by the company’s original Helical, but with the unit sealed within a unique new compact “domed” design.
This provides robust and uncompromised multichannel wireless microphone, in-ear and intercom wireless connectivity. Constructed from rugged polycarbonate, PWS’ Domed Helical is designed to hold up to considerable abuse on the road. A combination of Domed Helicals and original PWS Helicals were used for all of the ATK wireless systems on the field.
In addition, PWS’ expert crew of Eskew, John Garrido and Brooks Schroeder were onsite to keep the high volume of RF signal usage in check and to ensure frequencies maintained solid signals. They were also available to troubleshoot any potential issues.
“When faced with the clutter of several hundred frequencies in use, it is our job to stay on top of it and be ready with backup frequencies and equipment,” adds Eskew. “This year’s Super Bowl was bigger than ever and the crew at PWS once again did an incredible job making sure that the pre-game festivities, including the National Anthem, America the Beautiful and the incredible half-time show featuring Beyoncé, went off without any fumbles, even with the power outage.
“Thanks to our uninterruptible power supply (UPS), we were able to maintain power for the referee mics, which was still important at that time even though play was halted, until the rest of the power was restored within the Superdome.”
Capturing The Moment: Microphone Approaches For Live Recording
With some careful placement and EQ, they can put you well on the way
Remote recording is exhilarating. Musicians, excited by the audience, often put on a stellar performance. Usually you only get one chance to get it recorded, and it must be done right.
It’s on the edge, but by the end of the night, especially if everything has gone as planned – what a great feeling!
Challenges abound. Monitors can feed back and/or leak into the vocal microphones, coloring the sound. Bass sound can leak into the drum mics, and the drums can leak into the piano mics. Then there are other mic-related gremlins such as breath pops, lighting buzzes, wireless system glitches, and more.
How to get around the potential problems? Let’s have a look at some effective mic techniques that work well when recording in the live realm. And note that these are tailored more to “pop-style” music performances.
Position omnidirectional mics close to the source. Close miking increases the sound level at the mic, so less gain is needed, which in turn cuts background noise and leakage.
Use unidirectional mics. Cardioid, supercardioid, hypercardioid models reduce leakage and feedback by attenuating off-axis sounds. Also, their proximity effect boosts the bass up close, without boosting the bass of distant sounds.
Use direct boxes and guitar pickups to eliminate leakage. Or use pickups mixed with mics.
Use a pickup for the stage monitors and a mic for the house loudspeakers. Here’s a trick to reduce feedback while attaining quality sound. If miking an acoustic instrument that has an internal pickup, send the pickup signal only to the monitor loudspeakers, and send the mic signal only to the house loudspeakers.
Specifically, in the mixer’s pickup channel, turn up the monitor send and turn down the fader. In the mixer’s mic channel, turn down the monitor send and turn up the fader. That way, the pickup prevents feedback from the floor monitors, while the mic provides a natural sound to the audience.
Try headworn noise-canceling mics on vocals. A noise-canceling or differential mic is designed to cancel sounds at a distance, such as instruments on stage or monitor loudspeakers. These mics can provide very good gain-before-feedback and isolation. Note that the mic must be used with lips touching the foam windscreen, or otherwise the voice is cancelled.
Use wireless mic systems correctly. If dropouts can be heard, move the wireless receivers (or remote antennas) where a stronger signal can be picked up. It may also help to put the receivers on stage. If distortion occurs with loud yelling, turn down the gain-trim pot in the affected mic.
Prevent hum and buzz. Keep mic cables well separated from lighting and power cables. If the cables must cross, do so at right angles to reduce the coupling between them, and separate them vertically. If hum pickup is severe with dynamic mics, use models that incorporate humbucking coils. Routinely check cables to make sure shields are connected at both ends. Tape over cracks between connectors to keep out dust and rain.
Try mini mics and clip-on holders. Nearly all manufacturers offer miniature condenser models, and sometimes these tiny units offer sound quality comparable to larger studio mics. If clipped on musical instruments, they reduce clutter on stage by eliminating boom stands, while also allowing performers to move freely around the stage. And because a miniature clip-on mic is very close to its instrument, it picks up a high sound level.
Often, omnidirectional mics can be used without feedback, and generally, they offer a wider, smoother response and pick up less mechanical vibration than unidirectional models.
As always, there is no one “right” way to mic voices and instrument for live recording purposes – or any other application for that matter. The suggestions here are techniques that have been proven to work, but never hesitate to use what feels best for your situation.
Vocal. It’s usually best to stick with a cardioid dynamic or condenser, maybe with a presence peak around 5 kHz, and perhaps with a foam windscreen to reduce breath pops. Lips should touch the grille/foam for best isolation. Aim the rear of the mic at stage monitors to reduce monitor pickup and feedback.
Also, try using a 100 Hz low-cut filter and some low-frequency roll-off to reduce pops and to compensate for proximity effect.
If more isolation and gain-before-feedback is needed, try a hypercardioid model such as an Audix OM7 and aim the mic horizontally.
Acoustic guitar. Consider using a cardioid condenser positioned about 3 inches to the neck side of the sound hole, a few inches away (Figure 1). Roll off excess bass. Aim the mic downward to pick up less vocal.
Another approach is a direct box on the guitar pickup. In addition, some mini mics are specially designed to clip onto a guitar. And, taking the feed via DI box is another possibility.
Figure 1: One way to mike an acoustic guitar. (click to enlarge)
Electric guitar. To add some guitar amp distortion, mike the amp about 1 inch from its speaker cone, slightly off center, with a cardioid dynamic model. A leakage-free alternative is to use a DI box and process the signal during mixdown through a guitar-amp modeling processor or plug-in.
Electric bass, synthesizer, drum machine. Go with a DI box.
Leslie organ speaker. Place a cardioid dynamic with a presence peak a few inches from the top louvers, then add another mic on the lower bass speaker.
Grand piano. Tape a mini or boundary mic to the underside of the raised lid in the middle. For stereo, use two mics: one over the bass strings and one over the treble strings. For more isolation, close the lid and tweak EQ to remove the tubby coloration (usually cut around 125 Hz to 300 Hz).
Figure 2: Two methods for miking a grand piano. (click to enlarge)
Or, raise or remove the lid. Place two flat condensers 8 inches over the bass and treble strings, about 8 inches horizontally from the hammers, aiming at them (Figure 2). One other approach is to put the bass mic about 2 feet nearer the tail, aiming at the sound board.
Upright piano. Place two cardioids facing the sound board, a few inches away, dividing the piano in thirds.
Drums (toms/snare). Place a cardioid dynamic with a presence peak – or a clip-on cardioid condenser – about an inch above the head and 1-2 inches in from the rim, angled down about 45 degrees to the head.
Drums (cymbals). Using one or two boom stands, place cardioid condensers (flat or rising high-frequency response) 2 to 3 feet over the cymbals. The mics can be spaced 2 to 3 feet apart or mounted “XY” style for mono-compatible recording. A stereo mic can also be used effectively.
Drums (kick). Remove the front head or go inside the hole cut in the front head. Inside, on the bottom of the shell, place a pillow or blanket pressing against the beater head. This dampens the decay portion of the kick drum’s envelope and tightens the beat.
Place a cardioid dynamic with a presence peak and a deep low-frequency response inside a few inches from the beater. For extra attack or click, use a wooden beater and/or boost EQ around 3 kHz to 6 kHz. Cut a few dB around 400 Hz to remove the “papery” sound.
Drums (simple miking). For jazz or blues, sometimes great results can be had with one or two large-diaphragm condensers (or a stereo mic) overhead, and another mic in (or in front of) the kick. There may be need to add another mic near the snare drum.
As an alternative, clip a mini omni to the snare drum rim, in the center of the set, about 4 inches above the snare drum. With a little cut around 200 Hz or so, the sound can be surprisingly good. This can be enhanced with another mic in the kick.
Bongos and congas. Place a cardioid dynamic near each drum head.
Xylophone and marimba. Deploy two flat-response condensers 18 inches above the instrument and 2 feet apart.
Acoustic bass. There are several options. For the best isolation, use the player’s pickup if available. Plug it into a DI box. Or mike the player’s amp up close up (if one is being used). A mini mic just inside the instrument’s f-hole provides excellent isolation but tends to sound “hollow,” while taping a mini near the f-hole can work if excess bass is rolled off.
Figure 3: An AMT S25B for acoustic bass. (click to enlarge)
Another approach is a flat-response cardioid a few inches out front, even with the bridge. The Applied Microphone Technology AMT S25B clamps onto the bass body and mounts a directional mic on a gooseneck (Figure 3). One more: wrap a cardioid dynamic in foam and stuff it in the tailpiece aiming up. Cut EQ around 700 Hz for tailpiece miking.
Banjo. Tape a mini omni to the drum head about 2 inches in from the rim, or on the bridge. Or, place a flat-response condenser or dynamic 6 inches from the drum head, either centered or near the edge.
Fiddle/violin. Some mini mics are specifically designed for violin. Another approach is to use a cardioid dynamic or condenser about 6 inches over the bridge.
Mandolin, bouzouki, dobro, lap dulcimer. A flat-response cardioid condenser about 6 to 8 inches away from a sound hole is often the best option.
Saxophone. Mount a shock-mounted cardioid on the instrument bell (Figure 4). Or, try a mini omni or cardioid condenser clipped to the top of the bell, picking up both the bell and tone holes a few inches away.
Brass. Place a ribbon or cardioid dynamic about 8 inches from the bell, or attach a mini gooseneck mic to the bell.
Woodwinds. Use a flat-response cardioid condenser placed 8 inches from the side – not in the bell.
And again, a clip-on mic from a source such as AMT is another approach.
Flute. Try a cardioid with a foam pop filter near the mouthpiece, or, use a mini omni clipped on the instrument resting about 1.5 inches above the zone between mouthpiece and tone holes.
Harmonica. A very closely placed or handheld (literally) cardioid dynamic is usually the way to go.
Figure 4: An SD Systems LCM 8g clipped securely to the bell of a sax. (click to enlarge)
Accordion, concertina. Employ a cardioid about 8 inches from the tone holes on the piano-keyboard side. Tape a mini omni near the tone holes on the opposite side (because it moves).
Audience. This is an interesting one! It can be done with two spaced cardioids on the front edge of the stage aiming at the back row of the audience (Figure 5).
Another method is the use of two spaced cardioids hanging over the front row of the audience, aiming at the back row.
Or, try two mics at front-of-house. To prevent an echo between the stage mics and FOH mics, slide the waveform of the FOH mics to the left (earlier in time) until it aligns with the waveform of the stage mics.
Figure 5: Getting the audience into the action. (click to enlarge)
In other words, look for high signal peaks and align them in time.
Keep in mind that each of these techniques involves some compromises in order to fight background noise and leakage, but with some careful placement and EQ, they can put you well on the way to a quality recording.
AES and SynAudCon member Bruce Bartlett is a recording engineer, audio journalist, and microphone engineer (http://www.bartlettmics.com). His latest books are Practical Recording Techniques (6th Edition) and Recording Music On Location.
Kaltman Creations Invisible Waves X RF Command Deployed On Peter Gabriel Tour
Helped insure 32 clean wireless frequencies at each tour stop
Engineer Jimmy Nicholson of These Go To Eleven Ltd. recently deployed his newly acquired Kaltman Creations Invisible Waves X RF Command for the recent North American tour by Peter Gabriel that saw him performing his 1986 album “So” in its entirety, with the band members that made up the original tour 25 years ago.
Nicholson was responsible 32 wireless microphone and IEM systems, and due to the nature of the stage set and lighting truss layout, had a very limited time window at each tour stop to get 32 clean frequencies ready for line check. Intermodulation calculations were done pre-show with Professional Wireless IAS software, and as is invariably the case, the database is sometimes out of date (a reminder provided by the program itself).
“The Kaltman IWx gave me the opportunity to quickly scan the local conditions and verify what the database had told me. What could, at times, appear to be a crowded spectrum according to the database, turned out to be mercifully clear. And at other times, what looked to be favorable local conditions had obviously acquired a new set of digital TV stations recently.
“The speed at which it’s possible to scan and verify the local RF conditions with the RF Command Center and adjust your intermod calculations accordingly is invaluable in a situation like this.
“After initial setup and fine-tuning of the day’s frequencies, I connected the audio output of the IWx scanner into our crew shout system and sent it to my IEM mix. This gave me two very useful functions: firstly, it allowed me to use the Click-To-Listen feature to check out any new local frequencies that might appear during the day (or indeed the show), and secondly, it gave me an audible warning when a key frequency (main vocal, wireless instrument systems etc.) stopped transmitting.
“This second feature is like a sixth sense for RF techs. If, for instance, you are at the other side of the stage and a wireless instrument pack gets accidentally switched off – hearing the signature ‘bong’ sound of the RF Command Center let’s you know it’s time to hot-foot it back to RF world and grab
a spare pack.
“In addition to its capabilities in the world of radio mics and IEM systems, my version of the IWx can scan frequencies all the way up to 3.5GHz. Our backline team was using several wireless MIDI systems operating in the ‘2.4Ghz’ band that consumer wifi devices occupy. I was able to scan the rest of the tour’s ‘2.4Ghz’ equipment, including a selection of wifi devices and wireless comms equipment, and advise the backline department where to re-tune their systems for interference free operation.
“The next challenge for my IWx would be substantially simpler, but the same features that make it so useful on Peter Gabriel would apply here too. This would be a three-week UK tour with upcoming UK pop artist Conor Maynard, where I would be mixing monitors for Conor and his 5-piece band. Eight IEM systems and a pair of radio mics made up the RF requirements for this show. Not quite on the same scale as PG, but there are no wedges on this tour either, so we would be just as reliant on the RF.
“RF licensing regulations are different in the UK than North America, so most of the coordination with local TV stations is done for you by the license issuers JFMG. Our radio mics would be operating in the so-called ‘Shared UHF’ range, however, so would still require a scan and coordination each day. On PG I had been running the IWx from my flight-case computer workstation, but this tour would be traveling light, so the portability of the IWx really came into its own.
“Many of the UK’s large club/theatre venues, which this tour would be covering, have multiple venues in the same building, and while the vast majority of the UK spectrum is regulated by JFMG, not everyone follows the regulations. The IWx lets me see what’s really going on at a particular location.
“Having done plenty of touring with other RF scanning options, and plenty with no option at all, I can safely say the IWx RF Command Center is now a permanent resident in whatever size toolbox I’m carrying – in fact, my minimal ‘briefcase gig’ toolbox is now the RF Command Center in its custom built case, with my IEMs, a couple of USB sticks and a Sharpie.”
Combine Shure sound and performance with simple operation
New Shure BLX Series wireless microphone systems present a solution for individuals who want the benefits of wireless systems without the set-up obstacles.
They come in a variety of receiver options, including a half-rack size for installed applications. For complex environments, RF interference can be avoided with Shure’s one-touch QuickScan frequency scanning feature, which quickly locates the best open frequency channel.
“BLX is about making great performance available to everyone. The audio in BLX is engineered to match the tailored, refined sound of Shure’s high-end analog wireless systems, and it includes significant improvements in wireless stability,” said Erik Vaveris, category director for wireless products at Shure.
“BLX also offers a choice in receiver form factors,” he adds. “The light weight and ultra-portable BLX4 and BLX88 are perfect for musicians on-the-go. The BLX4R uses Shure’s durable half-rack chassis with removable antennas and includes everything you need to install it in an equipment rack.”
BLX wireless systems have a performance range of up to 300 feet, with up to 14 hours of battery life from two AA batteries. Systems are available in a wide offering of bodypack and handheld configurations with multiple handheld, lavalier, instrument, and headset microphone choices.
BLX1 Bodypack Transmitter: —TQG connection for use with Shure lavalier, headset, earset, and instrument microphones and guitar cables —Tactile on and off switch —Adjustable gain control —Light weight, rugged construction
BLX2 Handheld Transmitter: —Integrated microphone capsule options, including Shure’s PG58, SM58, and Beta58A —-10 dB gain attenuation —Lightweight, rugged construction —Color ID caps, available separately
BLX4 Single-Channel Receiver: —One-touch QuickScan frequency selection quickly locates the best open frequency —Up to 12 compatible systems per frequency band —Two-color audio status LED indicators —LED display —XLR and 1/4-inch output connectors
BLX4R Half-Rack Receiver: —Rack mount kit included —Adjustable output level —Removable antennas for quick antenna distribution —One-touch QuickScan frequency selection quickly locates the best open frequency —Up to 12 compatible systems per frequency band —Two-color audio and RF status LED indicators —LCD display with detailed RF and audio metering —XLR and 1/4-inch output connectors
BLX88 Dual Channel Receiver: —One-touch QuickScan frequency selection quickly locates the best open frequency —Up to 12 compatible systems per frequency band —Two-color audio status LED indicators —LED display —XLR and 1/4-inch output connectors
Note that system configurations vary globally.
BLX wireless system prices begin at $374 MSRP/$299 MAP and will be available in mid-2013.
The ins, outs, ups and downs of IEM as well as observations and techniques based on experience
Like wedge-based monitoring, each in-ear mix is very personal, but unlike with wedges, the only way to hear something is if it’s sent to that mix.
Stereo generally works better than mono. By leaving the listener’s inputs centered and panning other vocals or instruments, it’s easier to hear all the elements of the mix at a lower volume and this is crucial to hearing conservation over time. This is easily demonstrated by listening to a track in mono and then in stereo.
One drawback to wireless IEM is that due to the stereo multiplexed signal’s reduced separation, sources don’t pan as widely as with a hard-wired mix, so an input that would normally be panned hard at “5 o’clock” or “7 o’clock” now sounds like “9 or 3.”
A bigger drawback is the higher noise floor. If you don’t need to move around much, your IEMs will sound better with a hard-wired mix, but many musicians don’t want to give up the freedom of wireless.
I recommend an Aphex HeadPod 454 headphone amplifier for hard-wired mixes. It has a master volume and separate volume controls for up to four sets of headphones, allowing other musicians or technicians nearby to easily hear the same mix.
It has dual balanced quarter-inch line-level inputs, so you likely need a couple of XLR-female to TRS-male adaptors, and perhaps mini-TRS adaptors for each output. Its improved sound quality reduces hearing fatigue.
The Aphex HeadPod 454 headphone amplifier – a good choice for hard-wired mixes. (click to enlarge)
Even if all the inputs in a mix are panned center, a reverb return will always sound better in stereo.
Singers benefit from reverb in their mix and especially if each one can have their own dedicated reverb that can be tweaked to suit their taste, and not have another singer’s voice mixed into it.
Often, additional effects sends require additional mix outputs, so the tendency is to put background singers on mono mixes or even have them share a mix.
In modern digital desks, a dedicated reverb can be sent from a channel’s direct out or insert point, saving a mix bus that can then be used as the second send to that singer’s mix, to provide it in stereo.
Some musicians get confused by panned inputs, especially if they are “popping one ear out” occasionally or all the time. Listening with only one ear creates higher listening levels, which over time contributes to hearing loss.
Again, you can prove this to yourself, or others, by simply comparing the two methods. Most musicians who don’t get a good soundcheck before a performance are unsatisfied with their in-ear mix and often compensate by taking one ear out. Don’t give a musician who “pops one out” a mix with panned inputs until they begin consistently leaving them in.
One solution is clear. If you don’t have a monitor operator or time to make sure each musician has a good balance in their mix, the only other option is for each musician on in-ear monitors to have a small personal mixer to adjust their mix themselves.
If you don’t have a dedicated system like an Aviom A-16, Roland M-48 or Digidesign PQ, there are less expensive solutions.
Future Sonics Atrio ear buds. Using higher quality buds will only help to preserve your hearing. (click to enlarge)
For drummers or keyboard players, this can be a small analog mixer with line level feeds from the main console, supplemented with direct or mic inputs for their own instruments, perhaps an input for an iPod, click-track or a metronome, plus maybe a talk-back mic from the sound person or music director.
Another common problem is musicians trying to use inexpensive, low-quality iPod ear phones or other generic ear buds. They provide poor isolation from ambient sound and their inferior frequency response and distortion makes it harder to hear and contributes to hearing fatigue.
Better generic ear-buds can make a big difference, and quality products include Future Sonics Atrio, Westone UM-2, Monster Turbine and Shure SE530, depending on tonal preferences. Demo a pair and use them to listen to music you’re familiar with to see if you like them.
If you can only afford a cheap pair of buds, you may be better off getting a nice pair of closed, over-the-ear headphones, but the ears you save will definitely be yours.
Mark Frink is a professional monitor engineer and long-time writer and editor in professional audio.
IK Multimedia Announces iLoud: Portable Speakers Designed For Musicians
The range of portable speakers that sound like studio monitors from IK Multimedia.
IK Multimedia is proud to announce iLoud, portable stereo speakers designed for musicians. The battery-operated iLoud loudspeakers combine power, frequency response and amazing low-end in an ultra-portable form factor that make them the perfect alternative to studio speakers for music creation and composition on the go.
The iLoud line consists of two models, iLoud and iLoud MINI, both of which provide musicians with sonic accuracy that’s on par with professional studio monitors, making it possible, for the first time, to compose, record, and mix from a mobile speaker system.
Despite their diminutive size, both iLoud speakers are indeed very loud. In fact, they’re 2 to 3 times louder than comparable size speakers. The iLoud model offers a blasting 40W RMS of power, and it’s little brother, iLoud MINI, a robust 12W RMS.
Both iLoud models provide highly accurate reproduction of a wide range of musical styles from rock, hip-hop and electronic dance music, to more nuanced and sonically demanding genres like classical and acoustic. The speakers are equipped with onboard DSP, for maintaining accuracy and efficiency at all volume levels, and high-quality, custom-designed neodymium loudspeakers. iLoud is equipped with a bi-amped 4-driver array, and iLoud MINI with a pair of full-range speakers. The enclosures feature bass-reflex and passive radiators construction, which helps create their superior bass response, with tilted profile for perfect listening position.
iLoud also offers the possibility to connect a guitar, bass or dynamic microphone directly to the speaker and process the sound with a multitude of real-time effects apps. Featuring the same circuitry as IK’s iRig – the most popular mobile interface of all time – the input allows users to plug in an instrument and access AmpliTube or other audio apps on their mobile device for practicing, performing and recording. The input also accommodates dynamic microphones, making it possible to run an app such as IK’s VocaLive for realtime vocal effects and recording.
In addition to their impressive response, volume, and features, the iLoud speakers are surprisingly small, exceptionally portable, and can be used everywhere. iLoud MINI, the smaller of the two, is only about the width and height of an iPad mini while iLoud has the size of an iPad. Only 6cm / 2.3” thick, either model can easily fit in a laptop bag or backpack. Both iLoud and iLoud MINI are also equipped with a high-performance Li-Ion rechargeable battery with smart power-management features that reduce its power consumption, making possible to go long periods without recharging, an important factor for mobile users.
Both iLoud models support Bluetooth operation, which adds even more to their mobility. Users can stream music to them from any compatible mobile device such as an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad for casual listening. For sound sources like MP3 players that don’t have Bluetooth capabilities, the iLoud speakers each have a stereo 1/8” mini-jack input for connecting line-level devices such as home stereos, DJ gear, mixers, MP3 players, and more.
Pricing and Availability:
iLoud will be priced $299.99 / €239.99 and iLoud MINI $199.99 / €159.99 (excluding taxes) and they will be available in the second quarter of 2013 from the IK network of music and electronic retailers around the world.
Sennheiser MKH 8060 Shine on the Set of ABC’s Modern Family
MKH 8060s Provide Excellent Isolation, Versatility and Natural Response, Helping Technical Crew Deliver Outstanding Audio in Noisy On-Location Environment
Now well into its fourth season as a major hit ‘mockumentary’ series on ABC, Modern Family is regularly viewed by millions of viewers across America each Wednesday night.
The production crew regularly overcomes often daunting challenges to ensure the highest quality audio and video is captured. Recently, the team has begun to rely on several Sennheiser MKH 8060 microphones for many of its on-location shoots.
Stephen Tibbo, production sound mixer for 20th Century Fox Television, is responsible for capturing audio on the set for Modern Family — most importantly, capturing clear and pristine dialog among the characters. Since joining Modern Family in 2009, he has captured two Emmy Awards for his outstanding work as sound mixer.
The production set of Modern Family is anything but predictable. Therefore, from a production perspective, Tibbo and his crew need to be ready for just about anything.
For example, unlike a controlled studio environment with indoor sets that are more or less acoustically sealed, on-location shoots can present many challenges such as unwanted ambient noise and unexpected interruptions — such as impromptu truck deliveries. During this season, Tibbo recalls that the set of Yard Sale (episode six, in which there is a charity fundraiser for Manny and Luke’s school), was a particularly challenging one:
“This shoot took place at Jay and Gloria’s house, where the entire family is together and they are bringing things to the yard sale,” Tibbo recalls. “We had three days of shooting in front of their home but there were two construction sites literally across the street.
“There was also a local delivery truck bringing in pallets of drywall and wood - this was intermittently going on all day. ”
He says that achieving proper isolation from ambient noise was critical for the success of the shoot: “There was quite a bit of noise going on in the neighborhood, so we brought the Sennheiser MKH 8060s out — I have to say, they really shined and it was amazing.”
Following a meeting with Sennheiser’s Dave Missall last spring, the MKH 8060s have since earned a permanent spot in Tibbo’s mic pack. “Dave said, ‘Try these, I think you’ll like them,’” Tibbo recalls. “We were interior, and we saw a couple takes where we could put them through their paces to see how they sounded. And they ended up working quite nicely.”
“I now use them on a regular basis, and they come in really handy in high ambient environments — especially outside,” he continues. In Modern Family — as any other high profile, prime time television show — there are simply no ‘second chances’ or ‘retakes’: “We have to shoot every single scene as a one-er,” Tibbo says. “You will have two or three cameras going and you get what you get. I have to pick one microphone for a given scene and make my choice on the spot.”
His primary mic choice for Yard Sale, and other episodes requiring isolation from background noise, has typically been the Sennheiser MKH 8060. “These are very versatile microphones, especially for rejection. I usually set them up on a boom, anywhere between 1 to 6 feet away from the actors.”
Tibbo also appreciates the low noisefloor and tight polar pattern of the MKH 8060s.
“Sometimes we do these very whispery scenes and I am really cranking it up,” he says. “The MKH 8060 is very quiet, and this is one of the reasons I use it outdoors. With other mics, you may hear a fan on in the distance, but with the MKH 8060 you only hear what you want to hear.”
In terms of its sonic character and response, Tibbo says the MKH 8060 is ‘punchy and warm,’ and a predictable performer: “It is a very natural sounding mic, both on or off-axis. On a show like ours where you have actors ad-libbing quite a bit, that is vital.”
In future episodes, Tibbo knows he can rely on the Sennheiser MKH 8060s —especially in noisy locations where multiple mics are required. “This is a great piece for my kit. In the case of the Yard Sale episode on Modern Family, we gave post-production a track they could work with. And in television, that is the name of the game.”
FOH sound engineer Ian Barfoot specified a DPA large selection to ensure the best results across eight concerts in three South American countries
DPA Microphones were present in abundance at the Gran Rex Theatre in Buenos Aires when world-renowned keyboardist and composer Rick Wakeman played two concerts featuring his best-selling albums Journey to the Centre of the Earth and The Six Wives of Henry VIII.
The concerts were the culmination of a South American tour that also included six band-only shows in Brazil, Chile and Argentina.
The final two sell-out concerts in Buenos Aires involved two different full orchestral shows, complete with a five-piece rock band, a choir, narration and solo singers.
Front-of-House Sound Engineer and Co-Production Manager, Ian Barfoot, who has worked with Rich Wakeman on numerous occasions since 1985, was given the task of specifying the audio equipment for the tour.
“The two orchestral concerts in Buenos Aires involved more than 90 channels, of which more a third used DPA microphones,” says Barfoot. “Although some of the equipment I wanted was not available in South America, I did insist on DPA Microphones, especially for the orchestra.
“I used DPA IMK4060 Instrument Microphones for the harp and all the high strings such as violas and violins, while for the cello and bass we used DPA d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones. We needed so many, over 30 in total, that we couldn’t source them all locally and had to ship the majority of them with us from the UK.”
For this tour, Barfoot and his Co-Production Manager, Erik Jordan, also specified DPA’s d:facto Vocal Microphone, which was used by the two main vocalists Ashley Holt and Cecilia Barba.
“The DPA d:facto Vocal Microphones were supplied by DPA’s UK distributor Sound Network, who I often work with and always get great service from,” adds Barfoot. “The d:factos were simply great and didn’t give us a moment’s trouble.
“They are very honest microphones and, to my ears, quite uncolored. They don’t suffer from proximity effect and they coped just as well with the restrained orchestral shows as they did with the full-on band shows, which were very old school Rock-and-Roll.
“Once the monitor engineers got used to them, they were more than happy to use them in stage wedges. During the last two orchestral shows, the delicate and highly accurate nature of the microphones could be fully appreciated by the singers and the band as who switched to in-ear monitoring to assist me in keeping the stage levels down to a minimum.”
Barfoot adds that Rick Wakeman’s long-time vocalist Ashley Holt was especially pleased with the DPA d:facto’s performance.
“Ashley was a little reluctant to use one at first because it was ‘different’ and not what he was used to,” explains Wakeman. “But, after a couple of rehearsals, he became a firm fan and I think he is now wishing that Santa Claus had delivered one to him on Christmas morning.”
As a firm fan of DPA Microphones, Barfoot says he always insists on having a good selection available for every show he does because they consistently deliver a great sound and are also incredibly durable, especially on tour.
“In an ideal world, I would have liked a few DPA 2011 twin diaphragm cardioid microphones to scatter around these orchestral shows,” he concludes. “But, as I couldn’t source them locally, we managed with what we had.
“Making sure the strings are properly covered is always my main concern with orchestral shows. Since we were using DPA IMK 4060s on those, I knew I wouldn’t have any problems.” DPA Microphones
Lectrosonics Excels On Location With Production Sound Mixer David Kelson
Wireless technology helps in overcoming surround noise, digital RF interference and little time for experimentation
Los Angeles, CA-based production sound mixer David Kelson is constantly challenged with the uncontrollable variables that come with his job, including surround noise, digital RF interference and little time for experimentation, which he overcomes with assistance from a range of Lectrosonics wireless products.
Having worked in location sound for the TV and film industry since 1982, some of Kelson’s recent projects include The Walking Dead on the AMC network (American Movie Classics) and the TV movie Steel Magnolias, and he is currently working on a feature film entitled Last Vegas with Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline.
Specifically, he utilizes an assortmant Lectrosonics SM Series super-miniature transmitters, HM plug-on transmitters, Venue receiver systems (fully stocked with VRT receiver modules), UCR411 receivers, and for his IFB/Comm system, a T4 IFB transmitter and R1a IFB beltpack receivers. All of these units employ the company’s Digital Hybrid Wireless technology.
“I’ve been using Lectrosonics wireless microphone systems since 1992,” Kelson says. “I’ve always been very impressed with the sound quality, rock solid build quality, RF agility, and compact form factor of the gear.
“I also augment all of my Lectrosonics equipment with the company’s ALP500 shark fin and SNA600 dipole antenna systems, which go a step further toward ensuring the range and dropout-free performance so essential in my line of work.”
Currently, on the Last Vegas project, Kelson has been using a combination of SM, SMV, SMQV, and HM transmitters with his two Lectrosonics Venue receiver systems, which are set up in true diversity mode, where two receivers are set to work with a single transmitter.
He gave the example of a Steadicam shot that presented some real challenges on the motion picture.
“There’s an evening scene in Last Vegas where Douglas and Mary Steenburgen are walking on Las Vegas Boulevard in front of the Bellagio Hotel, and there was a phenomenal amount of RF interference from all the nearby shows in the area,” Kelson explains. “I used Lectrosonics’ one-touch SmartTune auto frequency selection feature on the Venue receivers to identify available frequencies in blocks 21 and 22.
“Once we identified those frequencies and locked them in, we achieved superb range with terrific audio quality. We set the transmitter power at 250 mW per unit, and using the Lectrosonics amplified antennas, we achieved very strong signal modulation, a surprising amount of range, and no dropouts whatsoever. The gear really delivered.”
To communicate with his two assistants, Kelson described his private communication system setup.
“My boom operator and utility tech each wear an SM transmitter that is outfitted with the company’s belt mounted mute switches,” he details. “These transmitters feed a pair of UCR 400A receivers that are summed by a small mixer and sent to the comm-in feed of my main mixer.
“I use my Lectrosonics T4 IFB transmitter to communicate with their R1a IFB beltpack receivers. This is a closed loop system where all three of us can communicate with one another privately, on the fly, and it’s been very effective.”
Emmanuel SDA Church Steps Up With Line 6 Digital Wireless
After several years of struggles with outdated, karaoke-style wireless systems, church PA Director Michael Edmeade consulted with Jason Block at Guitar Center Pro to find a modern alternative that would improve sound quality while eliminating interference. Together, they determined the Line 6 XD-V75 digital wireless system would meet all their needs.
Located in suburban Lithonia, Georgia, east of Atlanta, Emmanuel Seventh Day Adventist Church offers traditional gospel music as part of its Sabbath services.
Each Saturday, solo vocalists, choir and praise team join Pastor Kenneth Boswell and Praise Team Leader Dale Brown in raising their voices to a congregation of about 450.
After several years of struggles with outdated, karaoke-style wireless systems, church PA Director Michael Edmeade consulted with Jason Block at Guitar Center Pro to find a modern alternative that would improve sound quality while eliminating interference. Together, they determined the Line 6 XD-V75 digital wireless system would meet all their needs.
“We use up to 10 systems at once, so avoiding interference was an important consideration,” said Edmeade. “We requested a good microphone that would last us for years to come and be superb in quality.
“We wanted mics that were solid, physically—and reasonably priced compared to some of these other microphones. So we were looking for quality, but at a good price.
“Jason Block took a look at our situation and recommended Line 6 for us, and it has worked out very well.”
The Line 6 XD-V75 family of digital wireless handheld, lavalier, headset and bodypack systems operate in the 2.4GHz band, which is license-free and not subject to interference by TV stations, conventional wireless systems or cellular phones.
With 14 channels, XD-V75 proved to be a perfect fit for the needs of Emmanuel SDA Church. Upon installation, the sound quality Edmeade had hoped for was immediately apparent.
“As soon as we put the Line 6 mics in, there was a big improvement compared to the sound of our old systems,” he noted. “We felt it right away—we had made a good decision.”
As PA Director for the church, Edmeade appreciates the full feature set that Line 6 wireless offers, such as a battery-saving low power mode and the ability to select various popular microphone models.
“It’s good, because I prefer to have a lot of control of the sound,” he said. “Line 6 gives me plenty of options, yet the operation is very easy. All you have to do is turn it on and follow the menu.
“Changing channels is easy, and being able to monitor the battery status from the mixing console is very nice. I also really like the fact that we can run all ten systems through one set of antennas.”
Reaction from the vocalists and choir has been similarly positive.
“We all have handhelds, and everyone likes them very much. Not just the sound, but the mics themselves. They are very easy for me to operate when I’m setting up, and also for the actual presenter,” Edmeade reported. “They are very solidly built and have some substance, but aren’t too heavy either, so they are comfortable to use.
“We also like the mute control, which our vocalists use when they are not singing.”
Emmanuel SDA Church sees its purchase of Line 6 wireless as a long-term investment.
“The quality of the system is apparent,” said Michael Edmeade. “They are built smartly in every aspect, and we expect to be using them for years to come.”
Recording The Unique Film Sound Of Les Miserables With DPA
Award-winning Production Sound Mixer Simon Hayes discusses how he used DPA 4071 Lavalier Microphones to capture live audio for this innovative film.
DPA Microphones played an integral part in recording the audio for the film version of the hit musical Les Miserables, which features an all-star cast including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Samantha Barks and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Nominated for nine BAFTA Awards, including one for Sound, Les Miserables used an innovative technique that involved recording vocals live on set with the cast singing to a live piano accompaniment played to them through earpieces. The orchestra was recorded later in post-production, with the musicians taking their lead from the performances of the cast.
This break with tradition enabled the director Tom Hooper to create a truly emotive experience for audiences watching the film. Production Sound Mixer Simon Hayes, who was responsible for capturing the film’s entire audio content, says it was a truly unique way of working and one that would not have been possible without exceptional microphones, in particular DPA 4071 lavalier microphones.
”When judging different lavaliers I had always considered the differences in sound between various brands of lavalier to be a matter of taste rather than a clear cut situation of one brand being superior,” Hayes says. ”That was until I listened to a DPA up against the competition. In my opinion the DPA is better, more open sounding, less chesty and sounds more like a boom mic than any other lavaliers I have heard.”
Hayes had 50 DPA 4071 lavalier microphones at his disposal during the filming of Les Miserables, all of which were supplied by Richmond Films in conjunction with DPA’s UK distributor Sound Network.
“Normally when I am recording a film I prioritize boom mics, especially if the scene is being shot with a single camera. But with Les Miserables, Tom wanted all the angles covered from all sides to capture the perfect performance.
“This meant we couldn’t rely so heavily on the booms because the wider angle coverage would stop them getting close enough. Our solution was to come at the recording from a different angle and make lavalier microphones our priority.”
Abbey Road engineers checked the sound quality of the DPA 4071 lavaliers to make sure they were the best choice for vocals. Hayes says they were impressed with the results.
“We tested various models and found the DPAs were clearly the best. In fact nothing else came close. The sound quality, frequency response and dynamic range were easily good enough to master and they were able to handle very high SPL levels from vocals without sounding harsh as they approach their maximum SPL.
“I have never heard a vocal make them square off, yet such is their dynamic range and sensitivity that they can faithfully reproduce even the smallest ‘breathed’ vocal.”
With Abbey Road happy with his choice of lavalier, Simon Hayes’ next task was finding a way of using them that gave the best sound but still allowed them to remain invisible to audiences.
“We collaborated with the costume designers to conceal cables within the clothes and to disguise microphones that were positioned on the outside of the costumes,” he says. “DPA’s mini concealers allowed us to mount them perfectly so they were virtually undetectable. This solved the problem of clothing rustle and, on the rare occasions when they were in shot, we were able to paint them out afterward using post production techniques.”
Le Miserables took 15 weeks to shoot and an additional seven weeks were spent rehearsing with all the actors miked up so that the audio could be sent to Abbey Road for feedback. Simon Hayes says he is delighted with the sound and believes what was achieved wouldn’t have been possible without the DPA lavaliers.
“They are the only lavaliers that could cope with what we were trying to do,” he says. “Apart from their exceptional audio quality and dynamic range, they were also incredibly durable and gave us no problems, not even when we got them soaking wet during the scenes we shot in the rain. We simply swapped them around and dried them out with a hair drier before using them for the next take.
“Normally I record dialogue, not music, so this was a very different kind of project for me, but I absolutely loved it. Lots of people thought what we did wouldn’t be possible, but we pulled it off and I am very proud of what we achieved.”
New RF-intermodPRO From Kaltman Creations Aids With Wireless System Intermodulation Problems
Refines and simplifies the process of identifying intermodulation distortion (IMD) frequencies in a given RF spectrum
Kaltman Creations has introduced RF-intermodPRO, a new software product that aids in calculating, predicting and identifying intermodulation interference of wireless devices.
The PC-based product refines and simplifies the process of identifying intermodulation distortion (IMD) frequencies in a given RF spectrum and is available as a stand-alone PC-based software product or as a plug-in option for the Invisible Waves RF Command Center.
The intermod software is designed for professional audio wireless microphone users, AV installers of wireless devices, frequency coordinators, and broadcasters.
Intermodulation distortion is created when two or more transmission frequencies mix together and form new additional signals. Sometimes referred to as “spurious emissions,” these newly created frequencies are harmonic as well as the sum and difference of the original frequency.
And, these newly generated frequencies may be strong enough to cause interference to any transmitter that tries to occupy the same RF-spurious emissions space.
The new RF-intermodPRO graphically displays onscreen the predicted locations of these intermod components and assists in the frequency coordination process. Based on the user’s selection of transmitter models from a device library or custom inventory list, the software will advise the user on the best selection of transmitters/frequencies.
Additionally, based on zip code entry, the software automatically defines and identifies unusable RF spectrum spaced around local DTV channels and other local interference.
The software provides intuitive ease of use, “one click” group calculations, click, drag & place spectral graphical representation, custom TX inventory profiles, DTV blocks, and stable reliability.
As a plug-in, the RF-intermodPRO works in conjunction with the RF Command Center’s Frequency Coordinator, scanning the local RF environment in real-time, identifying open and usable RF spectrum, and at the same time performing real-world intermod calculations. When the RF-intermodPRO is used as a plug-in with the RF Command Center, the combination becomes a powerful RF coordination solution.
The RF-intermodPRO standalone version is $450 and the RF Command Center plug-in version is discounted for new and current RF Command Center users at $275.
Countryman Microphones Key For Willow Park Church Services
E6 Omni Earset mics assume key roles in church’s 21st Annual Living Nativity and weekly services
For more than two decades each Holiday Season, Willow Park Church has staged their Living Nativity. For this year’s 21st annual endeavor, they pulled out all the stops: music, dance, and ancient history came together to tell a Christmas story that was unparalleled.
Audio quality was crucial to the Living Nativity’s success and, to ensure the highest level of vocal reproduction, the show relied on multiple Countryman E6 Omni Earset microphones.
Chris Neufeld serves as Technical Director at Willow Park Church. Tasked with providing leadership to those volunteering within the technical ministries, including sound, lights, and media across the four locations within the church network, he is also responsible for the purchasing and maintenance of the church’s equipment.
Neufeld reports that Countryman E6 earset microphones have been a staple for both weekly services and the church’s special presentations for approximately ten years.
“Our services can best be described as contemporary with an emphasis on music and a Bible focused message,” Neufeld explained, “so the Countryman E6 Omni Earsets are a very effective microphone choice for both weekly services and our various productions.
“We use E6’s on all our preaching pastors, as well is in any drama productions we do for Christmas and Easter. This Christmas, we had nine E6’s on stage and, in past years, we’ve deployed as many as sixteen. Our first E6 purchase dates back to within weeks of its initial release to the public, so we have considerable experience with the microphones.”
Neufeld discussed those attributes that make the Countryman E6 microphones such a viable choice for the church’s varied activities.
“The thing that attracted me to using an earset mic initially was the excellent high gain before feedback it would provide. Until the E6, I couldn’t get a pastor to wear a headworn mic,” he explains. “Now that we’re using the E6, I have come to appreciate the consistency in the volume when the pastor looks up, down, and around—as compared to a traditional lavaliere mic.
“Because it rarely feeds back, the E6 requires very little EQ and, therefore, sounds far more natural. With the E6, we encountered no issues at all having Mary (mother of Jesus) singing an emotional solo, which really added to the quality of our production.”
As an earset microphone, the E6 carries the advantage of remaining in a fixed position relative to the user’s mouth and, as such, provides excellent consistency of sound. And because of its close proximity to the mouth, the microphone also affords superior isolation from ambient sounds.
These characteristics have made a strong impression on Neufeld. “In the drama setting,” he said, “we used to have a lot of challenges with one actor’s mic picking up another actor in close proximity. When actors were close together, such as shepherds around the fire or Joseph nose to nose with the innkeeper, we would get into a feedback situation quickly without warning. This never happens with the E6.”
“I consider the replaceable cable on the E6 a very important feature,” Neufeld adds. “Fast costume changes in the dark can cause some pretty bad abuse. I have tried competitor’s microphones, and when that cable gets damaged in a costume change, the mic becomes garbage. With the E6, I simply keep a couple extra cables back stage, so a damaged connector takes only a second to swap out, and the show goes on.”
The current senior pastor at Willow Park interjects a lot of humor during his sermons, so he uses the E6, as he feels it makes him look more dignified and less like a stand-up comic. “None of our pastors would consider using the bulkier headsets that were commonly available prior to the E6,” Neufeld explains.
Before redirecting his focus to forthcoming events, Neufeld summarized his experience with the Countryman E6 Omni Earsets. “I occasionally get asked to help other churches in the area with their sound issues,” he reports, “and, typically, they want me to help them upgrade their loudspeaker system. I always take an E6 with me, and once they hear how their pastor can sound with a proper microphone, they often decide against costly upgrades.
“A good microphone may seem expensive on the surface, but money spent on the right microphone is always money well spent. When we bought our first E6, I would carefully place it on the actor with the most lines, or the one who sang a solo. Now, I wouldn’t consider using any other microphone on any actor, which is why we had nine E6’s in use this year.”
The worship mixer’s job is executed in the mix position during worship, but its success is mostly established outside the mix position, prior to worship.
1. Know The Music Beforehand
Get whatever rehearsal music media is available to the worship team for review (legally). Learn the arrangements by listening during the week. Not only will your mixes come together quicker for each song, you’ll also anticipate things like guitar solos or false endings before they happen—not just after they’ve already begun.
Does it really make sense when everyone on the stage knows the songs and arrangements thoroughly, but the sound tech does not?
2. Host A Pre-Production Meeting
Meet with the music/worship and production teams well in advance of each planned service. Reviewing plans and expectations can ensure an appropriate audio setup, and can avoid potentially tough sound reinforcement surprises.
Example: the worship department requests three wireless lavalier or headworn systems for a worship service. At sound check, they are placed on three actors and the tech quickly finds they’re not actors at all… they’re singers, and they’re asking for their vocals in the monitors! If they are omnidirectional it’s a tough situation at best, and practically impossible in many environments.
Now, the worship department may have requested the drama-style mics because the presentation or mood doesn’t suit the normal handheld vocal miking approach. But they didn’t anticipate the technical disaster that comes with their request. (Is it really their job to understand all the tech stuff?) Heading this surprise off at an advance meeting allows the audio tech to suggest a better miking technique, such as normal handheld vocal mics or possibly cardioid headworn mics.
Our point here is not about which mic technique is right for this application, it is that regardless of the chosen solution or compromise, it can be sorted out in advance – not at sound check.
3. Check RF Performance
If any wireless microphones, wireless personal monitor systems, wireless assistive listening systems or any other RF devices are used in the worship space, they must be properly installed and their frequencies coordinated for compatibility. Assuming proper installation, antenna orientation, and frequency coordination have been accomplished, it remains wise to periodically check RF performance. New sources of interference and other surprises are better found during testing—without an audience!
To properly check the systems, turn on all RF devices that will be on during worship, and turn on any equipment in close proximity to the RF devices. Portable transmitters and receivers should not be clustered together for the test—piling them together on a desk or other surface at the sound booth is convenient, but a common mistake. They should be at least several feet apart, and located onstage or in a general area where they will be used.
The outputs of all devices should be auditioned over the PA or with headphones (RF mics), on headphones or earphones (wireless personal monitor receivers), or the receiver/transducer that will be used by the worshipper (assistive listening device).
Note: It can be alternately argued that piling all portable RF devices together for an RF test/sound check can actually be a wise move as it creates a worst case scenario.
4. Perform System Checks
Verify the PA system is in working order before Sunday morning. A brief walk/listen check a day (or a few) in advance can confirm that all PA zones/loudspeakers are working with no failures, and it’s wise to check other output zones too, like lobby, overflow and monitor sends. A blown horn driver in the main PA cluster is not easy to resolve at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday!
5. Optimize Microphone Technique
Review the microphone selection and placements onstage. Choosing appropriate mics and optimizing placement can influence the PA mix notably by reducing leakage, increasing gain-before-feedback and capturing better sounding sources.
6. Make Or Obtain Cue Sheets
Get a copy of whatever cue/tech sheet or order of service outline is available or draw one up. Clearly mark mic and roll-in cues, and any other important audio notes, in advance of sound check. Mixing notes can be added during sound check.
If mixing on a suitable digital platform, it may be possible to pre-program some or all of the cues and mix changes. But manual control should always be available, and the cue sheet should always be visible, whether in paper or electronic form.
For very busy events, such as dramatic pageants, enlist an assistant to manage and announce the cues.
7. Remember That Sound Check Is Not Set-Up
Clearly distinguish between set-up and sound check. Sound check is the time for the audio team to dial in the mixes, with the elements (gear and musicians, etc.) working exactly as they will be during the worship service.
Complete all audio set-up work in advance of sound check, so that sound check really is just that—sound check!
8. Perform I/O Checks
Some worship audio techs add an input/output (I/O) check procedure prior to sound check. This is highly recommended. I/O check takes a sound source (such as a CD), one person on stage, and one person at each mix position (two people in many church applications). Every input and output is briefly tested over the PA system (inputs) and over wedges or earphones (outputs).
It’s a 5- or 10-minute effort at most, and this procedure verifies the entire signal paths from sources to worshippers (FOH) and sources to artists (monitors). And the occasional I/O that doesn’t work is identified and hopefully resolved before the worship team hits the stage—preserving sound check.
9. Review Mixes
If you record your mixes, review them. If you’re making a classic “board tape” right off the console’s PA mix, review it with the knowledge that it is mixed for the house sound and it does not include the live acoustic portion of the listening experience (which affects mix balance). If you multi-track your services, you’ve got a great practice and training tool—play the tracks back through the FOH console.
And if you’re fortunate enough to own a digital mixing platform that offers “virtual sound check” technology, you’ve got the ultimate tool for practicing, training and fine tuning the sound reinforcement mix.
10. Train Your Ears
Good mixing requires good listening skills, which require training and practice. Listen to great mixes that are relevant to your worship style, and “take them apart” mentally.
Discover the details that make good blends and mixes. Train your ears to identify frequency ranges. This skill is critical for sound reinforcement mixing. There are a number of useful training tools on the market. Or, simply practice with a tone generator and real-time analyzer (RTA).
For more worship audio tips and techniques, go to Sennheiser.
Shure Announces Enhanced Tech Support For Wireless, Software & Conferencing Products
New Systems Support Group responsible for providing applications support and technical training to installers and users
Shure Incorporated has announced that is is expanding the technical support resources for its customers beyond its existing Product Technical Support department.
A new Systems Support Group in the company’s Americas Business Unit will be responsible for providing applications support and technical training to installers and users of Shure high-tier wireless systems, software-enabled products, and networking products.
These include the Axient, ULX-D, and PSM 1000 wireless systems. as well as the DIS line of conferencing systems.
“Software and networking technologies are an integral part of these products, and are essential to delivering key features and providing the ability to interconnect with a wide variety of non-Shure products,” said Stephen Kohler, director of product marketing. “By establishing a dedicated Systems Support group, we are providing our customers with even higher levels of expertise before, during, and after the sale.”
Led by manager Gino Sigismondi, the Systems Support Group will include Doug Totel and Tim Vear. The Product Technical Support department will continue to be led by Michael Pettersen, and will be responsible for the support of entry- and mid-level products.
To support the rollout of Shure’s DIS-branded conferencing products, the company is devoting more resources to this significant and growing category.
Effective January 1, 2013, Luis Guerra will assume the position of product marketing manager for Conferencing products. In this role. he will lead Shure’s go-to-market activities involving DIS conferencing systems and other Shure products used in conferencing applications.
“Luis has developed deep expertise in the installation and conferencing market and has worked closely with A/V system designers and integrators,” said Kohler. “By focusing his attention exclusively on these opportunities, we are helping our channel partners to succeed in the conferencing market.”
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