Tuesday, May 12, 2015
JBL and Crown Provide Sound For Saddleback Church’s 35th Anniversary Celebration
Mixing more than 96 inputs, 70 channels of wireless and 70 different mixes inside Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA.
Saddleback Church is the seventh-largest church in the US, with headquarters in Lake Forest, California and nine regional and four international campuses. For its recent 35th anniversary celebration, the church wanted to get all the campuses together to commemorate this major milestone.
Although accustomed to thinking big, with the expectation of more than 20,000 people attending, Saddleback Church had to think even bigger – as in holding the event in Angel Stadium of Anaheim with a sound system including more than 150 Harman JBL VTX and VERTEC line array loudspeakers and 112 Crown I-Tech HD Series amplifiers.
Brentwood, Tennessee sound contractor CTS Audio handled the audio system design and installation, which involved constructing two 40-foot tall truss towers at first base and third base on the baseball diamond. As if to underscore the daunting logistics of the event, the motto “The Church That Dared” was emblazoned across the infield.
“With the start of the baseball season just a few weeks after, there was no way the stadium would allow us to bring a 50-ton crane onto the field. So we had to scrap our original plan and design and build custom towers,” said Mike Taylor, vice president of CTS. Since CTS could not use a crane in the construction, the towers had to be made of aluminum rather than steel.
However, even with designing the towers to be as large as they were, they could only hold so much weight, which meant CTS had to revise their plans, which originally included JBL VTX Series V25 line arrays, yet again. “With the weight limitation we couldn’t get enough V25s set up for stadium-wide coverage.” That’s when lead engineers Brooks Abbott and Jon Schwarz turned to the JBL Line Array Calculator software to determine if the VTX V20 smaller-format line array loudspeaker would work.
“We figured out that we could hang them 20 deep and would get excellent pattern control. The V20 provides 105-degree coverage so we were able to cover the stadium really well with just two main hangs per side, plus a small rear fill for the outfield.” A total of 96 V20 line arrays were complemented by 16 JBL VERTEC VT4881ADP arrays used as Lo/Mid-frequency loudspeakers and 40 VTX S28 dual-18-inch suspendable subwoofers – 20 per side, located between the main loudspeakers.
Abbott noted that the tallest seat in the venue is 115 feet high. “No other PA would have been able to provide the up-fill that the V20 was able to deliver at that height.” CTS placed a total of 20 of the V20 speakers tilted 12 to 13 degrees upward. “We achieved true coverage for the entire stadium by arranging the clusters in this manner.”
A total of 118 Crown I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers powered the loudspeakers. “The high power output and the ability to optimize the amps with the JBL boxes made them an easy choice for us,” Taylor said. The amplifiers feature a host of DSP sound-tailoring capabilities including V5 preset tuning support for VTX and VERTEC line arrays. A BSS Audio Soundweb London BLU-806 Signal Processor with BLU-link and Dante and BLU-32 I/O Expander with were employed as networked audio interfaces.
“We have been using JBL HiQnet Performance Manager software on all of our setups including this one,” Abbott pointed out. “It’s great because it allows us to set up an entire rig in the shop and then get onsite and everything is already configured, which saves us a lot of time.”
Certainly, time was of the essence for the Saddleback Church event. “Every second counted from the moment we started load-in. We had to build the entire system in one day. One day.” The load-in began on Friday – and CTS had to be ready for a sound check at 5:30 am Saturday.
They couldn’t take it any easier once the event started. “Because so many different campuses and groups of people were involved, there were a lot of different performances and many people moving around,” said Abbott. The front of house engineer, Jon Schwarz and monitor engineer, Joey Eaker, had to mix more than 96 inputs and more than 70 channels of wireless and 70 different mixes. “We had to make sure that everyone in the crowd could hear and see their church being represented.”
The angels must have been smiling on Taylor and his crew. “Overall it turned out to be a great event thanks to the ingenuity of our CTS team and the power and performance of the V20 boxes paired with the Crown I-Tech HD amps. With every tour sound installation it becomes more and more apparent to me that this combination can handle anything, and handle it better than any system we’ve ever used before.”
Listen Technologies ListenLoop Systems Installed At NIDCD Institute On Deafness
Two mid-sized conference rooms and two large multi-use spaces have been outfitted with the ListenLoop system.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), in Bethesda, Maryland, is an institutions for research into hearing and auditory health issues. The clinic has chosen not one but four ListenLoop assistive listening systems from Listen Technologies Corporation, designer, manufacturer and distributor of assistive listening products for over 16 years.
The systems were installed in late 2014 by CTSI, based in Chantilly, Virginia. The systems were integrated into two mid-sized conference rooms and two large multi-use spaces at the Institute, used for meetings, conferences and clinic trials. Each of the systems utilizes a Listen Technologies CLS2 Loop Driver to amplify the signals. Patients and others at the clinic using T-coil-enabled hearing aids or cochlear implants can now listen in at conferences, training sessions and other activities, without the need for external devices such as earbuds, ear cups or headphones.
Patrick Eason, senior account executive at CTSI, says that the ListenLoop fulfilled every requirement the clinic had: It can be deployed either from above, atop ceiling tiles or even within ceiling moldings, or from below, underneath carpeting or other flooring. In this case three rooms had their ListenLoop cabling run under the carpeting and one in a dropped ceiling.
The ListenLoop’s usable field can be precisely tuned in terms of area covered. That, says Eason, is especially critical in healthcare settings such as this one, where Federal privacy regulations such as HIPAA must be strictly enforced. “You don’t want patient or other strategic information to spill over into other areas and be able to be overheard by someone else,” he says. “That’s a huge deal in the healthcare sector, and a way in which the Listen Loop really makes a difference.”
Then there’s audio quality, and the ListenLoop delivers that with full-range sound, says Eason. “The sound is full and rich,” as he describes it, adding, “It also always delivers a very high degree of intelligibility.” He cites the CLS2 driver in particular as being an exceptional piece of technology — “very simple to install,” he points out, and capable of driving loop areas in excess of 4,300 square feet with clarity of sound for both music and speech for intelligibility.
In fact, says Eason, assistive listening systems from Listen Technologies are the only ones he’ll specify. “They’re the leaders in this field of technology, the support they give us is spectacular and unmatched in the industry, and we’ve had nothing but success with their products in every project we’ve used them in,” he says.
Listen Technologies Corporation
Posted by House Editor on 05/12 at 10:17 AM
Friday, May 08, 2015
Kaltman Creations Announces New RF-ResQ Wireless Antenna Processor
Antenna signal processor designed to help resolve congestion and "spectrum squeeze" issues by salvaging unusable frequencies
Kaltman Creations has announced the RF-ResQ (Receiver Enhancement System), an antenna signal processor designed to help with the RF congestion and “spectrum squeeze” issues that have plagued the pro audio industry in recent years.
“We secured the rights and ownership to advanced filtering technology that was previously used in military, nuclear plant and critical data communications,” states Kaltman Creations president Mark L. Kaltman, “and adapted it for the UHF bands used in pro audio wireless.”
Housed in a rugged single-rack space unit, RF-RexQ is a stand-alone wireless microphone filtering system employing multiple military-spec, high-Q bandpass filters. ResQ will clean up the received RF spectrum, allow for closer adjacent channel spacing (potentially doubling available channel counts without sacrificing power), remove the issue of intermodulation effects, and improve the reception of weaker transmissions.
RF-ResQ’s onboard 8-channel antenna distribution amplifier with RF router allows its filters to adapt to various receiver and distribution configurations. This provides one filter/frequency per receiver channel, which ultimately means that the user’s receiver only sees its assigned transmitter frequency and nothing else – with no out-of-band RF interference to bog down or de-sensitize the receiver’s input. Alternatively, users can select “combined signal routing” to feed integrated receiver/distribution systems, as found in some newer digital mic systems.
RF-ResQ assigns a single, frequency-cleaned-up, bandpass filtered feed for each transmitter’s frequency, and its eight amplifiers can maximize the individual RF signals up to 10 dB. This means that there’s no need for an amplified antenna. Or as Kaltman explains, “Why amplify all of the RF – including the RF noise – when the ResQ amplifies only specific frequencies as needed?”
DiverseQ, the RF-ResQ’s new antenna diversity technology, pre-filters the antenna A/B signals in the IF stage for fast, accurate and quiet antenna switching. This improved, ‘best signal detection’ function is performed within the RF-ResQ, so there’s no need for a two-antenna connection at the receiver input.
Installed between the antennas and receivers, the RF-ResQ works with industry-standard antennas, in analog and digital wireless mic systems in the 470 MHz to 928 MHz range; one model – worldwide. Frequency, gain and routing assignments are easily performed via a LAN or USB/laptop connection to the rack unit. With its router capability, the RF-ResQ can be used either as a direct replacement or in conjunction with existing antenna distribution system.
“The RF congestion solution is not at the transmitter or receiver,” added Kaltman. “For peace of mind in critical wireless applications, the solution is a RF-ResQ.”
Masque Sound Takes Musical Production The Visit To Broadway
Elaborate theatre production moves into New York’s Lyceum Theatre with full pro audio package.
The musical The Visit made the journey from the Williamstown Theater Festival to the bright lights of Broadway on April 23. Sound Designer Dan Moses Schreier collaborated with Masque Sound, theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company. Together, the two worked on a custom audio equipment package that would help the production work at New York’s historic Lyceum Theatre.
“There was enormous pressure in Williamstown to make sure the show was seamless, as we knew the potential to move to Broadway was a distinct possibility,” says Schreier. “At Williamstown, we only had three days to tech the show, which meant that the entire sound system had to be in place and working correctly at the start of rehearsals. Because of its success in Williamstown, the general managers shortened our schedule so that we only had one week of load-in and one week of tech. We had to be extremely organized and have the sound plot worked out beforehand so that we could hit the ground running as soon as we loaded into the theatre. Masque Sound was fantastic in coordinating this with me to ensure that all the equipment I wanted was ready and waiting in perfect condition for our arrival. It was very challenging, but it really turned out great.”
Due to the extremely tight schedule and fast pace of the load-in, Schreier relied on the same scene programming as Williamstown, which led him back to the Yamaha CL5 Digital Mixing Console. “There was a little bit of an unknown element, because this was the first time I used a CL5 for a Broadway show,” he says. “But I’m very happy with the way the show sounds and with how the CL5 has performed. Yamaha has definitely done its homework and came up with a board that sounds very good.”
For the PA system, Masque Sound provided a complete loudspeaker package from Meyer Sound, including UPQ-1P wide coverage loudspeakers along with UPA-1Ps and UPA-2Ps, a UPJ-1P Compact VariO loudspeaker and MM-4 miniature wide range loudspeakers.
“The sound we get from the Meyer speakers is unbelievably warm and feels very acoustic, which was the wish of John Doyle and our music director, David Loud,” he says. “Even though the story is extremely dark, they wanted it to sound very heartfelt and sincere, and with the equipment that Masque Sound supplied, we were able to achieve that.”
Additionally, Masque Sound supplied a Sennheiser wireless package for the show’s 28 wireless channels, as well as provided its expert frequency coordination services for the production. For the onstage talent and orchestra players, Masque Sound assembled a selection of DPA and Schoeps microphones, including DPA 4011s and 4061s, along with Schoeps MK 5 switchable capsules for the CMC6UXT body.
“The DPA 4061 lavalier microphones are very open and warm, so it’s easy to get a very natural sound out of them,” adds Schreier. “For the orchestra, we primarily placed Schoeps on the strings and woodwinds, as I believe these microphones are fantastic for emitting a wonderful, transparent sound. They are the heart of the orchestra rig.”
When designing the sound system for the show, Schreier was continually impressed with the theatre’s architectural build. “It’s a dream house to work in,” he concludes. “The theatre was built in 1903, when architects carefully thought out acoustical layout, as it boasts an entirely wooden interior. Even the back of the orchestra pit has a curved wall so that the sound projects outward. It was a pleasure to work with Masque Sound to bring my sound vision for this beautiful space to life. The crew offered my team incredible support and they knew exactly what equipment would keep us within our budget while making the show sound fantastic. I’d also like to acknowledge my team, including my associate, Joshua Reid; production sound mixer, Wally Flores; and A2 Brad Gyorgak, who all did a wonderful job.”
The Visit began previews on March 26 and officially opened on April 23 at the Lyceum Theatre, located at 149 West 45th Street in Manhattan.
Thursday, May 07, 2015
DPA Microphones’ d:screet Necklace Microphone Selected For Illinois Church
Christian Church of Clarendon Hills chooses DPA microphones for pastors and performers.
Looking for a solution that would allow them to more easily mic pastors and performers of all statures, the audio team at Christian Church of Clarendon Hills (CCCH) recently turned to DPA Microphones’ d:screet necklace microphone.
This marks the first known house of worship application for the company’s latest miniature mic, which recently won a TEC Award. In addition to its regular services, the church lends its auditorium to local schools for concerts and events, so the audio team also keeps a supply of DPA d:fine 66, d:fine 4066 and d:screet 4061 miniatures on hand.
Initially trying the DPA d:screet Necklace mic on recommendation from their local integrator, Robert Locklear, minister of worship and music at CCCH has become quite fond of the miniature mic.
“It has a lot of the same tonal qualities of a regular headset mic with a little lower-end, which was a welcome surprise because of the high-end frequencies boost,” he says. “We don’t have any of the whispyness that we have with most headset mics that are commonplace in houses of worship. We only have one Necklace mic right now, but it has such a great quality that we’re definitely going to purchase more.”
The size and durability of the mic also appealed to Locklear and his team, who have a limited budget for purchasing new mics.
“We do a lot of plays and talent shows, both through our church and for local schools that rent our space, and the biggest problem we were having was trying to mic the children and petite women,” he explains. “For instance, our Pastor’s wife is very petite and when she would wear the d:fine headset mics that we use for the male speakers, we couldn’t mount it to her head properly because we have the longer boom, so the d:screet Necklace is a better fit for this situation.”
It isn’t just the smaller presenters who are benefiting from the d:screet Necklace.
“It has been excellent for all of our speaking roles,” continues Locklear. “We had some doubts about it being placed down by the neck and behind the mouth, but those have really been unfounded. What’s more, our senior pastor is very comfortable with the mic. It’s especially useful for when he’s done with service as he spends a lot of one-on-one time speaking with people and found that it would often be off-putting for people sharing their life story with someone with a headset mic. With DPA’s d:screet Necklace mic, he just tucks the mic into his collar and sits it right where a tie might be, so no one notices the mic. This setup has given him and his congregation a lot more confidence to have personal conversations.”
Though the d:screet Necklace is proving to be the preferred solution for presenters, the church’s DPA collection began with the original 4066 Headset Microphone, now part of DPA’s d:fine line of headset mics. It was Locklear’s experiences with that mic that led him to purchase the d:fine 66 and d:screet 4061, in addition to the d:screet Necklace.
“We started purchasing the 4066s as we were replacing our competitor-brand headsets because we felt the DPAs were a lot sturdier,” he explains. “We purchased the dual-ear version, which was not available for most brands at the time. That solution has given our speakers a lot more comfort, confidence and security because the mic doesn’t move around when they are talking. The mics are also great for the students who use them, especially for younger users when we host outside events. The wire is a lot more pliable than most headsets.”
With the new whitespace laws coming into effect, Locklear plans to replace all of his older mics with DPA products.
“Over the next year, we’re going to switch all of our AKG beltpacks to Shures. This means we need to update our mic inventory to add more d:screet Necklace and d:fine 4066 microphones for increased options for our speakers. Everything at our ministry and what we do to serve the community is very fluid, so we have to have solutions to accommodate that fluidity, and DPA is a big part of that.”
Founded 50 years ago in the western suburbs of Chicago, CCCH’s congregation is roughly 750 people strong. With the ever-changing technological advancements, CCCH uses drama, videos and popular songs to provide compelling explorations of the Bible each week.
Matt Bacon Uses Lectrosonics On British Cooking Competition Show
Working with wireless in multiple zones, in real time, on the set of the Great British Menu.
Lectrosonics caught up with Matt Bacon on the set of the successful Great British Menu TV show, produced by Optomen for the BBC. Since 2005 Matt has been working as a freelance sound supervisor and sound recordist on television dramas, reality shows and documentaries as well as a variety of entertainment productions, including all ten series of Great British Menu.
The show is a prime time cooking contest in which the nation’s top chefs compete for the chance of cooking a course at the series banquet held for a topical cause.
“I use Lectrosonics pretty extensively on the show,” says Matt Bacon. “In this kitchen I use four Lectrosonics SMDB transmitters on block 606 (UK Channel 38) to feed SRb receivers which are housed in an Lectrosonics Octopack that uses a combination of ALP 620 and SNA 600 antennae. I also use a Lectrosonics IFB system (a T4 transmitter with multiple R1a receiver packs) to allow the director to speak to the cameramen via covert earpieces.”
While the set up for the show is not complex, it needs to be rock solid as the action is recorded in real time. Filming takes place in sets across multiple floors and covers five filming zones (kitchen, judges’ chamber, tasting kitchen, the 360 space and the green room) where the Lectrosonics system works well without the need for having antennae distribution in each zone. The three chefs all cook in the kitchen at the same time which often leads to a great deal of unscripted and unprompted banter so can be a challenge to provide a broadcast mix - especially when blast chillers, vacuum pack machines, dehydrators, pressure cookers and ice cream makers are all being used.
“On this type of show we can’t stop the whole kitchen for an interview because everything is so time critical so I often find myself having to mix two separate conversations at once which can be interesting at times,” adds Bacon. ”There are up to six cameras filming at any one time so they don’t miss a beat and neither can we in the audio department. In the finals week when all the eight regional winners return to compete against each other we are using around 20 frequencies so careful planning is taken to make sure everything is intermod free.”
“I was introduced to Lectro years ago when I worked as a boom op. Several mixers I worked with used T1 transmitters and R1 receivers as their IFB system of choice due to its rugged design, clear signal and reliability,” says Bacon. “Following OFCOM’s decision a few years ago to move the PMSE market from Channel 69 to Channel 38, I took the opportunity to refresh all my wireless equipment. After demoing a number of systems, I found the Lectrosonics SMDB/SR series shone above everything else as being light (big consideration when you carry lots of receivers in your mixer bag) and ultimately the most flexible as the dual receiver could be slotted into a broadcast camera to be used as a link. I like that the company has a European Service Centre in the UK (Raycom Limited) and I like how the transmitters can be totally controlled hands free using an iPhone app. No longer do we need to carry a screwdriver, put our hands down a contestant’s top or up their backs.”
“A lot of the shows I work on require me to work alongside other recordists and more often than not find they also have taken the Lectrosonics route. With bandwidth available for TV and Film use continually being reduced, it will be interesting to see what Lectrosonics comes up with next.” Bacon concluded.
Posted by House Editor on 05/07 at 11:59 AM
Taming The RF Beast
Wireless systems are a key component in almost every facet of live entertainment production, especially concerts and corporate meetings and events. The demand continues to increase as the supply of available bandwidth is both shrinking and becoming more congested.
As a result, pre-planning and wireless frequency coordination are becoming more important, particularly as the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is preparing to sell off more of the UHF spectrum where the majority of wireless microphones and monitoring systems operate (currently 470-698 MHz in the U.S.).
And, our systems already share portions of the broadcast spectrum with ever-proliferating TV band devices (TVBDs, formerly known as white space devices, or WSDs).
Add the problems of intermodulation interference (intermod) into the mix, and as audio professionals, we really need to focus on frequency coordination and wireless system design. Intermod happens when two (or more) transmitter signals mix in an active device (transmitter, active antenna, active splitter, receiver) and produce additional frequencies above and below each original transmitting frequency. These intermod products occur at the same spacing as the two original frequencies were apart.
Let’s say you need three wireless systems onstage – two mic systems and a guitar system. You select 498.000 MHz for one of the mic systems and 499.000 MHz for the other mic system. The spacing between the frequencies is 1 MHz, so don’t place the guitar system on 497.000 MHz or 500.000 MHz because that’s where the third-order intermod products will occur.
This is simple enough to figure out for a few systems, but every time another frequency is added, it must be coordinated with every other frequency in service. It gets pretty complicated on bigger gigs, and astronomically so on larger events where there can be hundreds of frequencies in use.
Frequency coordination tab of Shure Wireless Workbench 6.11.
There are several software programs that we can turn to for help with frequency coordination. Some are free, such as Sennheiser Intermodulation and Frequency Management software that provides rapid calculation of intermod-free frequencies, and Shure Wireless Workbench, with recently released version 6.11 also offering several new features to help manage wireless system performance over the network, from pre-show planning to live performance monitoring. RF Guru from Stage Research and IAS (Intermodulation Analysis System) from Professional Wireless Systems are two more programs that can help, available for a fee.
To make sure our wireless systems don’t get stepped on by TV transmitters and other high-power users (and/or cause any interference to them), we can turn to several websites that can help us steer clear of problems. The Shure Wireless Frequency Finder is a free tool where users can input their location, with the program selecting frequency bands and offering information on know TV transmitters in that region. Electro-Voice and Sennheiser are two more manufacturers that offer this kind of online help. Along with intermod calculations, the aforementioned software programs also pull in data from the FCC on active TV stations.
One way that manufacturers have adapted to the shrinking spectrum is to make their systems more efficient, with several systems now able to operate within the same amount of bandwidth that used to be occupied by a single system. For example, the Shure ULXD system can operate up to 47 active transmitters in one 6 MHz TV channel space (or 63 in one 8 MHz TV channel in high-density mode).
Another notable innovation is Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless technology, which utilizes a proprietary algorithm to encode the digital audio information into an analog format, which is then transmitted over an analog FM wireless link.
The receiver employs high-end filters, RF amplifiers, mixers and detector to capture the encoded signal and a DSP recovers the original digital audio. This hybrid approach enhances immunity to noise without compromising spectral and power efficiency, as well as operating range.
Lectrosonics Venue receivers also work in tandem with System Designer software that includes a spectrum scanner providing a visual display of RF activity within the tuning range of the system to quickly locate clear operating frequencies. In addition, a walk test recorder generates a visual of RF levels during a walk test of a project site.
Frequency-agile systems that can detect problems and automatically (and seamlessly) switch both transmitter and receiver to another (open) frequency represent another effective approach. The new System 10 Pro wireless from Audio-Technica (subject of a recent Road Test here) is a good example. The receiver and transmitter are actually transceivers that are constantly communicating with one another. If interference occurs, the units switch over to a clear frequency without a hitch.
Lectrosonics System Designer software that includes a spectrum scanner, walk test recorder and more.
One way to avoid a lot of the headaches in the UHF band is to operate outside of it. Many years ago most (if not all) wireless microphones operated in the VHF (TV band channels 2-13) spectrum from 150-216 MHz. My company still has a few VHF systems that work quite well because the spectrum is pretty empty.
Radio Active Designs (RAD) recently introduced the UV-1G wireless intercom system, which can help in crowded UHF environments. The system offers up to 30 base stations and 180 belt packs in the same footprint as one base station and four belt packs that use traditional FM technology. And the belt packs operate in the VHF band, freeing up valuable UHF spectrum for wireless microphones and IEMs. The system uses proprietary Enhanced Narrow Band technology, a unique modulation scheme that is more spectrally efficient than current FM (Frequency Modulation) technology. Each channel in a UV-1G system has an occupied bandwidth of only 25 kHz.
Several wireless manufacturers also offer systems that operate in the 2.4 GHz band, most commonly used by Wi-Fi. While it’s certainly true that there’s a lot of activity within the 2.4 GHz range, manufacturers have developed ways to make it work, including the aforementioned System 10 Pro that uses frequency agility to switch frequencies.
A Sennheiser evolution wireless D1 instrument system.
The Line 6 XD-V70 was an early professional caliber wireless system operating in the 2.4 GHz band. The system has proprietary technology called Digital Channel Lock (DCL) that distinguishes its own digital audio from any other third-party signal, including Wi-Fi. Up to 12 XD-V70 systems can operate in the band simultaneously, while the newer XD-V75 allows up to 14 systems.
The Sennheiser evolution wireless D1 is a recent addition to the 2.4 GHz club, with transmitters and receivers that automatically pair and select suitable transmission frequencies, while multiple D1 systems can automatically coordinate themselves.
Systems are also coming on the scene that operate in the 1.9 GHz range, such as the recently released Sennheiser SpeechLine Digital Wireless system with Automatic Frequency Management technology that searches and can switch to a clear frequency if transmission is disturbed. In addition, network integration enables the system status to be remote controlled and monitored using the Wireless System Remote (WSR) app, AMX or Crestron.
And that brings up another concept, which is monitoring. Particularly when using multiple wireless channels, this is a good idea, with many newer systems offering networking and the ability to link receivers together as well as remote monitoring of the system as a whole.
Soundcraft and Shure recently announced a new collaboration that enables native monitoring and control of select Shure wireless systems on Soundcraft Vi Series digital consoles. The new Soundcraft Vi5000 and Vi7000 digital consoles support Shure ULX-D and QLX-D systems as well as AKG DMS800 and WMS4500 systems.
There are some excellent third-party spectrum analyzers available that are also useful in keeping an eye on things. A spectrum analyzer monitors a range of the frequency band that is determined by the user. It sweeps across the range over and over, measuring the strength of the present RF signals and displaying the results. Users can see the background noise level as well as their own wireless system signals and any unwanted or unknown signals that may cause interference.
RF Explorer offers a compact, portable spectrum analyzer that’s available in different models depending on the frequency bands the user needs to view. The unit can also interface with a computer for data storage, control and monitoring.
Kaltman Creations offers several handy tools along these lines, including the RF Command center that interfaces with a computer and the portable RF-Vue that interfaces with a tablet allowing the user to walk around and take measurements. The company also offers a nifty unit called the RF-id SOLO, a small frequency counter that can identify the exact frequency a transmitter is operating on as well as confirming power output, which helps in identifying and troubleshooting wireless problems both onsite and back at the shop.
The portable RF-Vue from Kaltman Creations.
Another way to reduce the potential for problems is to use directional antennas, especially for transmitting with IEMs. Directional “paddle-style” (a.k.a., log-periodic dipole array) antennas can provide up to 6 dB of gain, and Helical antennas can provide up to 10 dB. With receivers, they can reduce the amount of unwanted noise picked up in comparison to an omnidirectional antenna, and offer forward gain that helps when they’re placed at a decent amount of distance from the transmitters.
Earlier I mentioned the importance of pre-planning. Along with monitoring the airwaves during an event, it’s really the key to a successful show involving wireless systems. Before every event where we’re using wireless, we check to see what transmitters are in the area and if any other wireless systems will be in use. Because we do a lot of work in Las Vegas casinos, it’s not uncommon for an in-house show in a theater that uses dozens of wireless to be located on the other side of the wall from a ballroom.
We also coordinate with the in-house A/V department and any other production vendors working in the building. Once we’ve selected clear frequencies that work well with each other (as well as a bunch of backup frequencies) we monitor the airwaves during the event, checking for potential problems.
Recently we were hired to provide some wireless systems at a general session. It wasn’t huge, just eight wireless mics plus four stations of wireless intercom, but there were more than 200 frequencies in use on three floors of meeting space in the facility.
It could have been a disaster, but fortunately the event manager contracted a wireless coordinator, who made sure all of the frequencies for our event, and the other frequencies in use at the property, all “played nice” together. On our end, I monitored with a spectrum analyzer during rehearsals and on show day, and had a list of backup frequencies we could switch to if needed. With this little bit of attention to the details, we had a great event with no wireless problems over the entire week.
Senior contributing editor Craig Leerman is the owner of Tech Works, a production company based in Las Vegas.
Wednesday, May 06, 2015
Listen Technologies Inductive ListenLoop System Installed In Historic Church
R.E. Lee Memorial Church upgraded to now accommodate T-coil-enabled hearing aids or cochlear implants
The historic R.E. Lee Memorial Church, located adjacent to the campus of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, recently upgraded its existing Listen Technologies assisted listening system from an RF system to an inductive ListenLoop system, using Listen’s CLS2 Loop Driver as the driver for the main sanctuary floor.
The project, part of a broader audio system upgrade, was done by Stage Sound, of Roanoke, Virginia. As a result, church members using T-coil-enabled hearing aids or cochlear implants can now connect to the services’ audio without needed external devices such as ear buds, ear cups or headphones. In addition, Listen Technologies LP-IL-1 Hearing Loop Receivers with Lanyard Packages were also installed, to accommodate those with hearing challenges but who do not have hearing aids or implants.
“It’s made a huge and positive difference for everyone with hearing challenges,” says Jay Ensor, system designer and project manager on the project for Stage Sound. “The previous RF system was great, and this is even better, because it makes getting connected to the church’s audio so much easier and simpler for those with T-coil-enabled hearing aids or cochlear implants. You walk in and you’re connected, just like that.”
Ensor says the installation of the inductive loop system was nearly that simple as well. The church rests above a basement on a floor supported by hand-hewn 2 X 6 beams, which facilitated the laying of the loop wire. Signal strength, already a major feature of the Listen Technologies inductive loop system, is exceptionally strong as a result of the all-wood environment, with strong signal up to 12 feet above the seating area.
“We’ve installed other brands of assisted-listening products, but we’ve always come back to the ones from Listen Technologies, to the point that we became a dealer,” says Ensor. “In addition to being a great product, it’s also extremely cost effective, which allows us to pass the savings onto our customers. We trust it and our clients get the performance they expect, every time.”
Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Sound Devices Weathers Extremes With Veteran Expeditionary Sound Mixer
Christopher Brown records audio in some of the most difficult situations and locations in the world.
When veteran sound mixer Christopher Brown finds himself on the edge of steep cliffs, with one chance to capture audio despite harsh elements, he relies on Sound Devices line of mixer/recorders.
With more than 23 years of experience, he has traveled to many remote places such as the jungles of Papua New Guinea, the desert of Timbuktu in Mali, Africa and the Galapagos Islands.
For years, his gear bag held a separate 442 field mixer and the 744T four-channel audio recorder, both by Sound Devices, specialists in portable audio and video tools built for the rigors of field production. However, a growing need to record more than four channels of audio led him in a new direction when he joined a crew headed to the sandy landscape of Turkmenistan for a National Geographic shoot at the edge of a flaming methane gas crater known by locals as the Gateway to Hell. For that project, he rented the Sound Devices 664 Production Mixer.
“That was my first experience with the combined mixer recorder,” he says. “With the 664, I had five people on wireless mic, and the boom, and so that worked well.”
After Turkmenistan, when he returned the 664, he learned about Sound Devices 633, a smaller six-channel mixer with integrated 10-track recorder with features similar to the 664.
“Basically, the 633 had the same menus, the same workings of the 664, which I’d just used, and I really liked the mixer and the multi-track recorder all being in one unit. The 633 had all the tracks I needed and it was in a compact package. That’s key when you go to the remote places I have to work in.”
His most recent work was in the U.S. as a member of the Red Bull production crew, but it turned out to be just as extreme. He again found himself on the edge of a deadly drop-off, but unlike the fiery heat of the Darvaza crater, this shoot was glacial. Brown was the audio recordist for the first ascent of a partially frozen Niagara Falls—a project that further proved why having a compact, all-in-one mixer and multi-track recorder is so beneficial.
“Most of the shows I do, we’re in such harsh environments that I need to record. And recording is so important to me; because of conditions, I’m usually not tethered to the camera. We’re separated by distance, or we have to move around. I’m sending a two-channel, left and right, wireless camera hop, but the cameramen have a hard time monitoring sound from the camera when perched on the side of a cliff. It’s critical for me to record and multi-track. We can’t always rely on sound-to-camera.”
Like the rest of the crews he has worked with, he also has to deal with the elements. In the case of the Niagara Falls shoot, which included spending hours outside with temperatures in the teens, showered with freezing spray and snow flurries, and having to navigate the icy landscape—all while capturing six channels of professional, broadcast quality audio.
“I was donned in a climbing harness and crampons, and I used the ultra-compact Sound Devices 633 mixer, which worked like a charm. All the inputs helped me deal with four climbers on wireless mics, plus recording walkie radio chatter.”
A typical challenge faced on his expeditionary-style productions is power, because the shoots sometimes last for days or weeks in remote areas where electricity is scarce. The 633 has a unique quad-power supply with PowerSafe technology, so the unit can operate from any of four power sources, including exterior DC, six AA batteries, and two L-mount lithium ion batteries.
It’s the last two that have worked well for Brown. “I find with the two, battery one and two, I can get through a long day fine.”
In the event of a power loss, the 633’s PowerSafe feature provides 10-seconds of back-up power so the device can safely stop file operations and shut-down. While PowerSafe adds peace of mind, Brown says he’s never had to use it while on set.
When asked what features on the 633 mean the most, he says, “Mostly for me it’s the size and the inputs, and I like the timecode jamming. Timecode jamming is everything for matching audio.”
The timecode jamming feature proved vital on both the Niagara Falls shoot as well as a 20-day production to film underwater cave diving in the Bahamas. In both cases, Brown says, “During all of the action shots, no sound was going to camera, so it was all reliant on timecode and the jamming of our timecode because they resync it back in post.”
He admits to being a bit concerned at first, even offering to send a scratch track of audio to help sync audio to video, but he says, “From the Bahamas and from Niagara Falls, they had no issues.”
In addition to the 633, his gear bag includes Lectrosonics 400 Series wireless mics, SMV mini-wireless microphone transmitters, Sennheiser 416 boom mic, Lectrosonics SRB dual-channel camera hop and Sony MDR-7506 professional headphones.
The 633 offers three high-bandwidth mic- or line-level signals on XLR connectors, and include phantom power, high-pass filter, input limiter and variable pan. Three additional line-level inputs on TA3 (mini-XLR) connectors provide flexibility for more complex productions. All inputs are assignable to its six output buses, and all inputs plus outputs can be recorded to individual tracks.
The 633 records up to 10 tracks of 24-bit broadcast WAV files or combinations of WAV and timecode-stamped MP3 files to SD and/or CompactFlash cards. With its dual card slots, the 633 can record content to either or both cards simultaneously.
“I guess the one thing that a lot of people have valued, and what I value too…with the 633, I love how I can record WAV files to the CF card and then to the SD card I can record audio MP3 transcription files that have a timecode stamp in it, in the metadata. I use that a lot. And I’m able to say to the client at end of day, ‘We can email these MP3s out for transcription.’ I’ve used that feature the most.”
Posted by House Editor on 05/05 at 12:18 PM
Monday, May 04, 2015
Shure Wireless Microphones And PSMs On Stage For 50th ACM Awards
ATK Audiotek supplied twenty-six Shure wireless microphone systems and twenty channels of Shure PSM 1000 IEM systems.
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the Academy of Country Music decided to super-size its 2015 awards show by staging it at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The choice of venue represented a major design challenge for everything from PA systems to wireless systems. Dave Bellamy of wireless specialist Soundtronics was hired as RF coordinator, responsible for all show-related wireless, including microphones and in-ear monitoring systems from Shure.
The primary wireless supplier for the show was California-based ATK Audiotek. The event required more than 40 channels of wireless microphones, 26 of which were for Shure equipment, including four Axient systems. In addition, all 20 channels of in-ear monitors were exclusively Shure PSM 1000 systems. The sophisticated antenna design required was based on Soundtronics’ proprietary Phoenix 8 system.
“The place is huge, and that affects a lot of things,” notes Bellamy. “The two stages were 270 feet end-to-end, plus we had to provide wireless coverage in other spaces, like out in the audience and the pick-up truck stage. Fortunately, we had enough lead time to design systems that could overcome the challenges of working in that kind of space. For live TV, you have to base your wireless system design on the best equipment available. That’s why we used Shure PSM 1000 for every in-ear monitor feed. No other in-ear system comes close. We also chose Shure Axient and UHF-R Series as our default wireless microphones.”
Axient, with its selectivity and frequency diversity switching ability, was in evidence throughout the show. AXT200 handhelds were used by Keith Urban and Eric Church for the show’s opening number as well as for performances by Kenny Chesney (KSM9/HS element), Dierks Bentley (SM58), and show closer Brad Paisley (SM58).
“We had so little open spectrum, I specified Axient for the opening, which (production mixer) Mark King agreed with,” says Bellamy. “In fact, we used them in our RF1 and RF2 positions throughout the show. We used them in frequency diversity mode with a second frequency pre-programmed in case of interference. Of course, they never switched once. There’s two reasons for that: first, the selectivity of the Axient system, and second, disaster never happens when you’re ready for it.”
While the production enables all performers to use their preferred performance microphones, Shure-supported performances clearly dominated the evening. Along with co-host and Entertainer of the Year winner Luke Bryan, Vocal Group of the Year Little Big Town used the UR2/SM58, while Vocal Duo of the Year Florida Georgia Line performed with the UR2/Beta58.
The SM58 was the go-to vocal mic for many artist performances, including UR2 handhelds for Martina McBride, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, Sam Hunt, and Rascal Flatts. Alan Jackson opted for the Beta 58A, while the KSM9 capsule was employed for the collaboration between Dan + Shay and Nick Jonas.
Bellamy was very pleased with the wireless performance throughout the live telecast. “I didn’t hear a single complaint, either about dropouts or sound quality,” he reports. “Of course, that’s par for the course with Shure products. The spectrum keeps getting tighter every year, and we had a lot of real estate to cover in the stadium, but once again, everything was flawless in wireless world.”
The audio production design for the massive show was handled by Patrick Baltzell, who drew special praise from Bellamy. “To get the intelligibility he did in such a massively reverberant space was an amazing feat of engineering in system design. Pat really hit it out of the park this time,” notes Bellamy.
The broadcast music mixers were Eric Schilling and Biff Dawes, whose output went to production mixer Mark King for the telecast. Inside the stadium, Jeff Peterson mixed music for Steve Anderson’s production mix. Monitor mixes were split between the two stages by industry veterans Tom Pesa and Mike Parker. Coordinating additional outside wireless traffic were Dallas-based Keller McCrary and Kelly Moore, who also coordinate RF for Dallas Cowboys games. “They provided a lot of key local knowledge and were really great to work with,” says Bellamy.
The 50th ACM Awards set a Guinness world record for highest attendance (70,252) at any awards show, a suitably Texas-sized result. Shure’s Nashville-based artist relations manager, Ryan Smith, was on hand for the festivities. “This show made a lot of country music history, and to see so many Shure products requested and used as part of it was very gratifying,” he said. “We’re proud to be part of the country music community, and it was an honor to be involved with this event.”
All Time Low On Future Hearts Tour With Sensaphonics
Monitor engineer Daniel Nickleski discusses touring tips and thoughts about IEM preferences
Supporting their new album, Future Hearts, Baltimore-based punk/pop band All Time Low will be touring heavily throughout 2015. As always, the entire band will be using Sensaphonics in-ear monitors on stage.
“We’ve all used Sensaphonics for years now, and they have never let us down,” notes guitarist Jack Barakat. “I’ve had problems in the past because of the amount I run around on stage, but with Sensaphonics I’ve never had an issue with a perfect seal and a perfect sound. Whether in the studio or touring around the world, I’m never without my Sensaphonics.”
The group is currently on tour in the U.S., again working with production manager and monitor Daniel Nickleski of Sound Works Productions (Frankfort, IL). Guitarist Barakat, lead singer Alex Gaskarth, and drummer Dawson all use the Sensaphonics 2MAX, while bass player Zack Merrick has opted for the 3MAX triple driver. “The band has a strict ‘no speaker cabinets on stage’ rule, and Zack loves that extra bit of low end the second bass driver in the 3MAX gives him.”
Nickleski credits Sensaphonics’ sonic accuracy and soft silicone construction for the band’s loyalty. “Just from a comfort level, the band and I love them,” says Nickleski. “They sound very accurate and natural, the isolation is superb, and they keep their seal better than anything else out there, which is huge on stage.”
With ten years of touring experience, Nickleski has tried just about every major IEM on the market. “I’m kind of an audio nerd and want to check everything out, so I have a set of every IEM under the sun,” he reports. “They all sound good, some with more low end, others with more highs, but mostly they’re just loud. And they pack six or eight drivers into their ears to make it sound as good as a dual-driver Sensaphonics. So when I hear about a new model with 20 drivers, I know it’s just marketing.”
Asked about the role of the monitor engineer in hearing health for the band, Nickleski says it depends on the artist. “I just try to be knowledgeable and professional,” he reports. “All Time Low gets it, and they have learned they really don’t need to listen at extreme volumes. Other bands can be more difficult. I do feel like it’s my job to tell them when they are crazy loud, but if they want to turn it up at their bodypack again later in the show, that’s their decision. Plus, as a sound engineer, you never want to get fired, so you have to walk that fine line.”
To help keep things under control, Nickleski has developed a few techniques to help give his artists what they want without destroying their hearing. “When someone needs to hear more of their own instrument, I don’t just turn it up,” he says. “The real problem is usually the other instruments being too loud, or maybe the high end of the bass is competing with the lows on the guitar. So I might use some EQ to control the bass and maybe pull the other tracks down a bit to let the guitar pop out better. That lets me provide ‘more me’ without more volume.”
Nickleski takes good care of his own ears, with regular checks at the Sensaphonics Musicians Hearing Clinic in Chicago. “I’m based in the south suburbs, so I pop in there once a year if not more,” he says. “Dr. Santucci really takes care of me, and has taught me a lot about keeping things safe, both for me and my artists. And when All Time Low plays Chicago, we usually schedule a visit.”
In general, Daniel Nickleski sees today’s young artists as understanding the importance of hearing health to a career in music. “The old rock and roll mentality was always about making it louder, but things are different these days,” he says. “We’re trying to make it sound better, not just louder. Sensaphonics gives us the tools to do that, and to save some hearing while doing it.”
Sound Works Productions
All Time Low
Friday, May 01, 2015
Radio Active Designs Gets Cutthroat In The Kitchen
California based broadcast rental company supplies reality show with professional gear and technicians
Burbank, California-based RGEAR recently supplied two Radio Active Design (RAD) UV1-G wireless intercom systems to Food Network’s popular television show Cutthroat Kitchen.
RGEAR is a broadcast rental house that provides audio and video systems for multiple television shows – mostly in the reality genre. Unlike similar businesses, RGEAR also provides skilled technicians with their systems to ensure their clients receive the best gear and the best support.
“We use two of the UV1-G systems with 12 RAD packs on the set,” explains Nick Norton, audio technician for RGEAR. “It is an incredibly flexible system. We use it mostly for the camera operators on the stage and anyone that needs to be remote on stage like the assistant director.”
RGEAR provides a 4 RU rack loaded with the two 1RU base stations. The Enhanced Narrow Band wireless intercom system offers RF channels possessing an occupied bandwidth of a mere 25 kHz with the audio characteristics expected of a traditional FM system. The UV-1G uses VHF for the belt pack portable devices leaving more room for operation of other wireless devices such as in-ear monitors and wireless microphones.
“With the RF spectrum getting smaller, our first step is to free up our UHF frequencies – the UV1-G helps with that considerably,” Norton adds. “It is also very user friendly and intuitive which makes programming systems and belt packs easy.”
RGEAR purchased the UV-1Gs from RAD directly along with their high gain antennas deployed for belt packs transmitting back to the base stations. A custom antenna splitter combiner from Professional Wireless Systems, one of RAD’s distributors, is also utilized with the system.
Radio Active Design
Posted by House Editor on 05/01 at 07:18 AM
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
There’s Still Time! Enter The PSW Sweepstakes To Win An Audio-Technica Microphone Or Wireless System
Two more drawings left in April to win your choice of a System 10 PRO rack-mount digital wireless system or an AT4081 bidirectional ribbon microphone
There’s still time to enter to win an Audio-Technica microphone or a wireless system in the latest PSW Sweepstakes.
The sweepstakes, with two winners selected each month, has been running since February and closes at the end of this month (April).
Winners get their choice of a new ATW-1312/L System 10 PRO rack-mount digital wireless system or an ATW-1312/L System 10 PRO phantom-powered bidirectional ribbon microphone. Here are the winners so far and their choices:
Patrick C. from WI—System 10 PRO wireless
George A. from PA—AT-4081 ribbon microphone
Charlie P. from IL—AT-4081 ribbon microphone
Chad S from MI—System 10 PRO wireless
The System 10 PRO operates in the same 2.4 GHz range (outside TV bands) as the original System 10 but with expanded features and versatility. The half-rack chassis is equipped to house two receiver units that can be operated locally or released from the chassis and mounted remotely (up to 328 feet away) via Ethernet cable. It’s valued at $1,189 (USD). Find out more about it here.
Delivering the warmth and natural sound of a classic ribbon microphone, the handcrafted AT4081 offers a robust build for long-lasting performance and higher output for maximum compatibility with microphone preamplifiers. It incorporates features A-T’s MicroLinear ribbon imprint, which protects the dual ribbons from lateral flexing and distortion. It’s valued at $895 (USD). Find out more about it here.
Two prizes are still available, with the final drawing not until the end of April. Don’t miss your chance to win!
Click here to enter the PSW Audio Technica Sweepstakes now!.
AirNetix Releases AiRocks Pro Wireless Repeater For Loudspeakers
Multi-hop repeater system designed to transmit wireless audio to remote powered loudspeakers and amplifier racks
AirNetix has introduced the AiRocks Pro, a multi-hop repeater system designed to transmit wireless audio to remote powered loudspeakers and amplifier racks.
Developed specifically for the professional sound reinforcement market, AiRocks Pro is especially well suited for delay stack applications in traditionally challenging applications such as concerts, festivals, golf tournaments, parades, air shows, auto races, and any other event that requires professional-quality sound to be distributed to loudspeakers over a wide area throughout all weather conditions.
The company states that the 900 MHz band feature penetrates walls, trees, people and other obstructions that often limit higher frequency devices that operate at 2.4 GHz.
Alex Moran, owner of Spider Ranch Productions in South San Francisco and beta-tester of new AirNetix products, says, “We’ve used the AiRocks Pro system in several of our more challenging venues and it performed flawlessly. The transmit range is well beyond any other product that we have tested, and the rugged aluminum enclosure makes it perfect for the hard knocks on the road. And since any radio can be configured as a transmitter or receiver, we are able to quickly reconfigure our RF link to and from the stage during a live event.”
AiRocks Pro includes features specifically designed for mobile professional audio environments, such as built-in variable 500 ms delay, 158-398 mW of effective transmitting power, range of more than 1,000 feet, XLR line-level audio input and output, a weather resistant aluminum outdoor enclosure.
In addition, an extensive AirNetix Network Management System provides engineers with a large toolbox of real-time monitor and control functions. This includes the ability to monitor the receive signal at each remote unit from a central laptop, as well as control output volume, add audio delay, and even perform spectrum analysis at a remote site.
AiRocks Pro operates in the unlicensed, uncrowded 900 MHz radio band, offering the freedom and flexibility to utilize the system virtually anywhere in the U.S. and Canada without the burden of dealing with licensing or frequency coordination issues.
AirNetix will be demonstrating the AiRocks Pro system at the upcoming 2015 InfoComm show in Orlando (June 17-19) in booth 102.
Church Sound: Are In-Ear Monitors Right For Your Ministry?
In-ear monitors (IEMs) are finding their way onto the wish list of nearly every church technical director and worship leader these days. But are they the right choice for your ministry?
Answering “yes” to any of the following questions may provide direction.
Does your church suffer from excessive stage noise?
Does your sound operator have difficulty establishing a decent mix?
Does your sound (especially your music) always seem a bit muddy?
Does your talent always complain about the monitor mix?
Does your talent wish that they had “more me” in the monitors?
Ok, so I answered yes to all of those questions…but what in the name of sound reinforcement are in-ear monitors?
IEMs provides the talent with a monitor mix sent to a set of earbuds worn in the ears instead of the traditionally used loudspeaker wedges found on stage. They can either be wired or wireless, and also be user-adjustable (personal monitor mixing). Some advantages include:
Lower Stage Volume
Since fewer wedges will be needed on the stage, the overall SPL level on stage will be considerably less. This lower stage volume will provide for a cleaner, more intelligible house mix. It will improve the effectiveness of any monitor wedges left on the stage.
It will also improve any audio recording due to less acoustic leakage into any open mics on stage. And less stage noise will also lead to fewer instances of acoustic feedback.
Greater Flexibility & Mobility
With wireless IEMs, the talent can move anywhere they see fit without any noticeable change in their monitor mix. If a personal monitor mixing system is also used, the sound engineer will no longer hear “I Need More ME!” because the talent can take care of it on their own.
The use of IEMs requires a lot less volume than typical stage monitors and can save your hearing if worn and used correctly. If you value your hearing, then this is a way to go.
The use of IEMs allows for discreet communication from front of house. You won’t ever have to worry about getting the attention of the talent (or the first six rows) when trying to fix a sound issue on the fly.
Tip: Place a couple of ambient mics around the room and feed the signal to the IEMs or you’ll have talent taking one of their earbuds out of their ear because they feel isolated from the congregation. The practice of wearing only one IEM will in most cases require an increase in SPL, resulting in an increased chance of hearing loss in that ear.
Casey Watson is a project manager and Certified Church Consultant for Church Audio Video.
Church Audio Video specializes in the design, installation and support of high-quality and affordable custom audio, video, lighting, broadcast and control systems for worship facilities. For more information, visit the company website.