Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Audio-Technica Honors The Farm Technical Sales & Marketing With President’s Award
Recognizes a leading manufacturer’s representative for outstanding commitment and dedication during the Audio-Technica 2013/2014 fiscal yea
Audio-Technica U.S. presented Roseville, CA-based The Farm Technical Sales & Marketing with the President’s Award for its work in representing the company’s products.
John Hood, principal of The Farm, accepted the award, which recognizes a leading manufacturer’s representative for outstanding commitment and dedication during the Audio-Technica 2013/2014 fiscal year.
The award was presented by Philip Cajka, Audio-Technica U.S. president and CEO, at a ceremony during the 2014 InfoComm Expo in Las Vegas.
The Farm represents Audio-Technica in the territories of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, northern California, northern Nevada and Hawaii.
“The Farm Technical Sales & Marketing has again been awarded this honor for their continued dedication to customer service, sales and the marketing of the A-T brand,” Cajka states. “We are proud to celebrate this award with them, and we are extremely grateful for their continued service and hard work.”
Monday, August 11, 2014
“David Bowie Is” At Chicago’s Museum Of Contemporary Art Enhanced With Sennheiser
guidePORT technology helps visitors experience unique journey through artist's sound and style
On September 23, the “David Bowie Is” exhibition makes its U.S. debut at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). The exhibition, meticulously curated by the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London, explores the diverse work of a great artist of our time.
For each of the exhibits, including the MCA exhibit coming to Chicago in September, V&A has partnered with Sennheiser to help insure a memorable audio experience for visitors.
The exhibition takes visitors on a sonic and visual journey, retracing his creativity and influences from all areas of his art using a wealth of material — including videos, stage costumes, album covers, stage sets, photographs and of course his music. To develop the exhibit, curators Victoria Broackes (V&A) and Geoffrey Marsh were given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive, consisting of more than 70,000 pieces.
By leveraging Sennheiser guidePORT technology and 3D immersive sound simulation equipment, visitors are left with an unforgettable experience that explores the essence of Bowie. Sennheiser guidePORT expert Robert Généreux is on site to install and configure the system at MCA.
In preparation for the exhibition, each museum visitor is given a pair of Sennheiser headphones and a guidePORT receiver, enabling them to walk freely into 25 different “display zones.” Inside a control room behind the scenes, Sennheiser is constantly broadcasting 25 live audio streams through transmitters that are perfectly mapped to the floor plan of the exhibit.
Each time a visitor walks towards a different display, the relevant audio stream activates, broadcasting high-quality audio through corresponding antennas located nearby. Small trigger units called “identifiers” located throughout the exhibit are able to recognize the geo-location of each visitor and pick up the appropriate audio stream.
In addition to the streaming audio occuring throughout the exhibit, visitors are also invited to experience a 3D audio spectacle, consisting of Bowie concerts from over the years and an exclusive “mash up” of his songs, created by Tony Visconti, Bowie’s long-time producer. The immersive audio experience is made possible by a special 3D upmix algorithm created by Gregor Zielinsky, Sennheiser international recording applications manager, and the experience is delivered through an array of hidden loudspeakers from Neumann
Audio-Technica Now Sponsoring Pensado’s Place
Company serving as title sponsor for hour-long weekly web series and related special events
Audio-Technica has become a title sponsor for Pensado’s Place, the acclaimed hour-long weekly educational web series that celebrates the evolving landscape of music and technology and gives a voice to its leaders and innovators.
As part of its sponsorship, Audio-Technica is pleased to be a part of Pensado’s Place weekly live and archived shows, as well as other special events like the Pensado Awards and at expos including Gear Expo, MixFest and more.
The hour-long weekly web series Pensado’s Place was created nearly four years ago. Co-hosted by noted mix engineer Dave Pensado (Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Elton John, Michael Jackson and more) and show creator Herb Trawick, the show includes interviews with top music industry artists, engineers, producers, mixers, and record executives, as well as in-depth tutorials in production, engineering and mixing. Pensado’s Place has positioned itself as “the most influential show for audio engineers,” mixers and producers (Forbes Magazine) in three years.
Trawick, who also serves as co-host/executive producer, states, “We are very thrilled to have Audio-Technica come on board and support Pensado’s Place. Just like Dave and myself, A-T is strong believer in audio education, which is why they are a perfect match to work with the entire Pensado team.”
“As an engineer and mixer myself, I’m very familiar with Audio-Technica’s microphones and have an intimate knowledge of using them in the studio,” adds Pensado. “In addition to making great products, the company has so many talented people on their team, and I look forward to working closely with them over the next year.”
Wireless Update: Progress As The Next Era Unfolds
As the world around us increasingly embraces the benefits of wireless technology across multiple industries, demand for radio frequency (RF) spectrum has never been greater, and it continues to grow. In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is charged with making it all work.
In 2012, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, part of which authorized the FCC to conduct a voluntary ”Incentive Auction” among over-the air television broadcast licensees, intended to release spectrum from 698 MHz downward for mobile broadband telecommunications.
The “incentive” refers to a one time offer for the broadcasters who give up their spectrum to share in the proceeds of the auction, which most believe will exceed $20 billion.
While this is great news for users of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, it also means that a large incumbent base of UHF spectrum users will have to relocate. This includes many TV broadcasters and Low Power Auxiliary Stations (LPAS) – which is FCC terminology for wireless microphones, intercoms, and in-ear monitor systems, among other devices.
Having lost access to the 698-806 (700 MHz) band in 2010 due to the transition to digital television broadcasting, it’s easy to view this latest auction plan as a major loss for the pro audio and production industry. But even though some portions of the 600 MHz band will eventually become off limits for wireless microphone operation, there are many aspects to the shifting landscape that are important for production teams to understand and pay close attention to in the months and years ahead, some of which will have long term benefits for our industry.
A quick summary of what’s happening:
1) Portions of the 600 MHz frequency band will transition to mobile broadband service over the next five years and wireless microphones will no longer be legal to operate in the affected ranges.
2) Virtually all large-scale wireless users – those routinely using 50 channels or more – are eligible for the protection of Part 74 licensing, effective immediately.
3) The FCC recognizes the importance of the professional wireless user community, and has committed to providing adequate spectrum space for its reliable operations in the long term.
The precise details of the changing spectrum allocations will not be known for a while, as a large number of variables are in play, but defining the future of wireless is benefitting from ongoing participation in the process by pro audio wireless manufacturers and key power users. After more than a decade of providing education to the FCC on the issues affecting our products and applications, the commission now recognizes ours as a critical and unique use of spectrum that must be accommodated.
This recognition of the need for quality of service heightens in importance when viewed through the longer lens of overall wireless demand. Within our industry, we have seen explosive increases in wireless deployments. As systems have become more reliable, designers for major tours, theatrical shows, and house of worship environments have grown to believe that anything they imagine can be realized.
But it’s not just large productions. In-ear monitors have basically doubled the RF needs of even basic rock bands. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see a performer wearing three bodypacks these days – one for guitar, one for a headworn vocal mic, and a third for IEMs.
Priorities & Balance
While these changes have had a profound effect on the pro audio industry, they are modest compared with the leading source of spectrum demand: telecommunications and the internet.
Congress sees these arenas as ripe for innovation and job creation through the development of a robust national broadband infrastructure. In short, you and your neighbor’s phone, tablet, laptop, and home wireless network increasingly continue to tax the nation’s finite spectrum resources, forcing the conversation at the federal level about priorities and balance.
The U.S. government is not alone is this dilemma, by the way – it’s happening all over the world, pitting broadcasting versus mobile telecommunications, wireless computing versus pro audio. In fact, the situation is so fluid that, depending on the particular issue, opposing interests on one topic may become allies on another and vice versa.
While the FCC’s recognition of wireless microphones as a class that deserves protection is encouraging, there is no denying that, by 2018 or so, there will be changes in the way we operate. These changes will focus on two primary areas: interference protection through licensing, and utilization of alternative frequency ranges.
The biggest recent change for our industry – and one with immediate impact – results from a recently approved Report and Order (R&O) regarding LPAS license eligibility under Part 74 of the FCC rules.
The R&O revised an outdated regulation that had for decades limited the availability of licensing to broadcasters, cable TV content producers, and motion picture makers. This is a significant development, and it underscores a recognition of the reach that wireless audio has in a variety of professional contexts.
Under Part 74 rules, licensed wireless operators can register their reservation of available open TV channels at a specific location and time in the national geolocation database, which houses data on all protected services (TV broadcast, public safety communications, and wireless microphones), and prevents interference from other sources.
Development of this system started in 2010 to usher in a new class of unlicensed RF products to the TV band, known commonly as “white space” devices, under a “spectrum sharing” arrangement – an increasingly popular concept among regulators. As the VHF and UHF bands become more crowded after the Incentive Auction, licensed status and geolocation database access will be important levers for pro audio frequency coordinators and production teams.
Part 74 licensing is now open to any sound company, rental firm, venue, or other professional entity that routinely uses 50 or more channels of wireless (including mics, IEMs, intercoms, and control systems). Eligibility is defined by usage, not equipment ownership, so a large house of worship, a Broadway musical, a touring rock show, and a convention center could all qualify. License terms are for 10 years.
For those users who do not qualify for a Part 74 license, database protection is still available, but it requires an additional request to the FCC that must be submitted 30 days in advance of the event. This process offers an extra measure of protection for smaller installations and productions, and is particularly suitable for regularly scheduled events like weekly church services, nightly theater presentations, or a firm calendar concert series or tour.
It’s important to note that, now and in the future, both licensed and unlicensed wireless microphones are legal to operate on any vacant TV channel. Post auction, the rearrangement (repacking) of the remaining TV stations, the addition of mobile broadband services in the 600 MHz band, and changes to the designation of today’s wireless microphone channels from “exclusive” to “shared” will reduce the number of available channels.
This development, along with the likely increased deployment of white space devices, will make geolocation database reservations all the more critical. Licensed status is the key to “real time” database access and therefore should be pursued by all those who qualify.
Because the amount of spectrum repurposed through the auction is directly related to the number of broadcasters willing to participate, we won’t know the exact fate of the 600 MHz band until sometime after the Incentive Auction, currently planned for mid-2015. The plan then calls for a 39-month transition period for the broadcasters to move to their new channel assignments, and wireless microphones will be able to operate in the auctioned spectrum until the winners commence service.
The 700 MHz transition and dawn of the white space device era encouraged wireless microphone manufacturers to explore development of robust technologies outside of the TV bands, and many of those products, such as those operating in the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz spectrum, can be deployed successfully in many applications. But both the industry and the FCC have concluded that these offsets will not meet the long term needs of professional audio, and that a concerted effort is needed to identify alternatives for the industry.
To that end, in the Incentive Auction Report and Order, the FCC stated: “Recognizing the many important benefits provided by wireless microphones, we will also be initiating a proceeding in the next few months to address the needs of wireless microphone users over the longer term, both through revisions to our rules concerning the use of the television bands and through the promotion of opportunities using spectrum outside of the television bands.”
This commitment is important, and it reflects FCC’s understanding of the value of professional audio in our daily lives, despite the many large industries hungry to deploy wireless technologies. This future proceeding provides a great new opportunity for the audio community to shape its future. Rest assured, the industry representatives who have been engaged in the spectrum dialogue in Washington will continue to do so as the next era of wireless unfolds.
Mark Brunner is senior director, Global Brand Management, at Shure.
Revolabs Names Jim Fairweather New EVP Of Global Sales
Responsible for worldwide management and recruitment of the sales organization as well as growth and profitability of the entire portfolio of company's products
Revolabs has appointed Jim Fairweather to serve as the company’s new executive vice president of global sales, where he is responsible for the worldwide management and recruitment of the sales organization as well as the growth and profitability of the entire portfolio of Revolabs products.
“With the substantial changes Revolabs has recently undergone, from our recent acquisition to the launch of several new product lines across multiple verticals, we saw a need to strengthen our sales team,” says JP Carney, CEO of Revolabs. “Jim possesses a deep understanding of the industry, and we are confident that he will play a big part in ensuring the success of Revolabs’ new product launches and round out the team with his proven leadership skills, dynamic channel strategy, and solid customer and industry relationships.”
Having worked in the high tech industry for over 30 years, Fairweather brings an intimate knowledge of UC to Revolabs. Previously he served as vice president of worldwide sales for Hewlett Packard Visual Collaboration Business Unit; and vice president, Americas and U.S. sales at Polycom, PictureTel, and MCI WorldCom, and most recently vice president of worldwide channel sales for Vidyo. He holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Bentley University and has completed the Executive Management Program at the University of Michigan.
“I’m delighted to be joining Revolabs at such a pivotal time and to be a part of such a great team and innovative company,” says Fairweather. “I’m confident that I will be able to make a substantial contribution to the immediate success of the company, and support the exemplary work of the sales team as we look to the future.”
Friday, August 08, 2014
Think You’re An RF Guru? Prove It By Taking Our Quiz!
Working with wireless systems can be tricky business. Take our quiz to see how your RF knowledge stacks up!
By the way, some of these questions may have more than one correct answer.
1. True or False: UHF has better audio performance than VHF.
2. True or False: There are more than five viable methods of diversity reception.
3. What are the advantages of analog wireless systems?
A. Long range with graceful signal decay
B. Analog designs are well understood
C. Analog sounds “warmer”
D. Rinse and repeat cycle
E. All of the above
4. What are the advantages of digital wireless systems?
A. Audio can be transmitted without a compandor
B. The signal can be encrypted
C. Digital is “way cool” – I heard this on the 6 o’clock news
D. Digital exhibits greater immunity to low-level interference
E. All of the above
5. What are the most important features of a wireless system?
A. Good sound
B. Reliable operation
C. Ease of use
D. Cool display with lots of lights
E. A great mother-in-law
F. All of the above
6. “Diversity” means:
A. Using two different transmitters and receivers on different frequencies carrying the same signal
B. Using more than one antenna system feeding a receiver to avoid dropouts
C. Using two complete RF receiver sections and either switching between or blending the two outputs
D. Phase switching between two combined antennas used to receive the best signal
E. All of the peoples of the world joining hands and singing “Kumbaya”
F. An old, old wooden ship
7. “Squelch” means:
A. The sound made when stepping on a snail
B. Muting the outputs of a receiver when the audio signal becomes too noisy
C. The amount the carrier is shifted from the assigned center frequency in response to the audio
D. The available audio monitor level
8. “Deviation” in an FM wireless system refers to:
A. Muting the audio of a receiver when the audio signal becomes too noisy
B. The amount the carrier is shifted from the assigned center frequency in response to the audio signal
C. How far from pitch the singer wanders during the song
D. How far apart your antennas have to be before true diversity reception is possible
9. “Deviation” is an important specification because it represents:
A. How “twisted” someone has to be to accept a touring job as monitor engineer
B. The degree of quieting and suppression of interference for good RF signals
C. The minimum distance you should have two wireless channels to avoid interference
D. The minimum tolerance for electronic parts used in wireless equipment
10. The minimum diversity antenna spacing for the best resistance to dropouts is:
A. One-quarter wave
B. One-half wave
C. Three-quarter wave
D. More than a full wave
E. Surf’s up!
11. True or False: 608 MHz to 614 MHz is reserved for radio astronomy in the U.S.
12. All other things being equal, a 100 mW transmitter when compared to a 50 mW transmitter provides:
A. Half the range
B. Two times the range
C. 40 percent more range
D. Four times the range
E. A tingly fresh feeling
13. True or False: Directional antennas are always better.
14. True or False: When a transmitter antenna is touching a person’s body, a substantial amount of RF energy is absorbed.
15. “Yagi” and “Dipole” are:
A. Types of worm-like creatures living in freshwater ponds
B. Types of antenna designs
C. Types of golf swings
D. Two characters from Star Wars
E. None of the above
16. For the best reception:
A. Place antennas close to the transmitters and run long cables to the receivers
B. Place antennas further from the transmitters and run short cables
C. Depends on the inherent RF signal loss of the antenna cables at the frequency of operation
D. Stand on your head and whisper ancient Mayan war chants
17. And, finally, the best wireless system in the world is:
A. The one you have
B. The most expensive one on the market
C. The one your client requests
D. The one that will get the job done with the least hassles
E. The one with big tailfins!
Our thanks to Karl Winkler and the gang at Lectrosonics for providing the quiz!
Holland’s Newest Rising Star Vocalist Chooses Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless
Selects HH/E01 wireless handheld transmitter and HHC cardioid condenser capsule with R400A UHF Digital Diversity rack-mount receiver
Singer Barbara Straathof is enjoying unexpected success after her exposure in season 3 of the TV show “The Voice Of Holland.” After rising demand for her appearances following participation on the show, one of her first professional decisions was to choose a microphone system for her rapidly building live schedule.
“For my live work, I decided to do a test with three different microphones,” says Straathof. “I promised my engineer that I would come and check out this system he loved but I told him that I had my mind set on a different brand. Still, I went along with his request and tested the mic system he recommended which was the Lectrosonics HH Digital Hybrid Wireless transmitter.
“I couldn’t believe the difference,” she continues. “It was crazy, every note I sang, a clear copy of that note came back to me. Pure, clear, warm and so vivid. Again, I could not believe that the Lectrosonics HH was so different from the other systems. So, I ordered a new mic with receiver, and the guys from Heuff built me a super cool flight-case for the receiver and the in-ear transmitter. I couldn’t be happier.”̋
Straathof’s system was specified by Bram van der Mooren of Dutch audio specialists Heuff and consists of a Lectrosonics R400A UHF Digital Diversity rack-mount receiver with a HH/E01 Digital Hybrid Wireless handheld transmitter and HHC cardioid condenser capsule.
Straathof was a television production manager working behind the scenes when she was discovered by colleagues, who entered her for the iconic show. Almost 20 months later, her first album is done, having been recorded with the Dutch Metropole Orchestra, one of the best rhythm sections in Holland and arranged by producer/arranger Chris Elliott, known for his work with Adele’s albums “19” and “21.”
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
Shure Wireless Helps Turn MidState Medical Center Operating Rooms Into Virtual Classrooms
ULX-D digital wireless system and PSM 900 personal monitor system fosters interaction between students and surgeons
When surgeons enter operating rooms at MidState Medical Center in Meriden, CT, they take on two critical roles. Their primary responsibility is patient health, but the second role they have is to demonstrate best practices and procedures in front of a virtual classroom.
Two specific operating rooms, the Hybrid OR and the Robot Room, at the medical learning facility enable a global student audience to observe surgical procedures through videoconferencing technology.
When Gary Blumberg, Hartford Healthcare collaboration services manager at MidState Medical Center, was charged with selecting audio equipment for the new, advanced operating rooms in 2013 he had very specific, nonnegotiable requirements. To avoid the heavy RF interference caused by the hundreds of surrounding medical devices, Blumberg wanted a system with high-end wireless technology.
And for patient privacy purposes, he also required reliable and advanced encryption capabilities. Headsets that were comfortable and lightweight were also critical, which required Blumberg to be selective about the headset chosen, because he knew doctors wouldn’t have an opportunity to adjust the microphone during surgery.
After evaluatiung the advanced frequency coordination, monitoring, and control available with the Shure ULX-D digital wireless system and Wireless Workbench 6, Blumberg enlisted Viju Group to install four channels of wireless. He was also confident that the system’s AES 256-bit encryption would provide secure wireless transmission and protect patient privacy.
“The features we needed from a wireless system for this installation weren’t optional, they were all must-have requirements,” says Blumberg. “Frequency management, secure wireless transmission, and a lightweight, hands-free design are all factors that could potentially interfere with surgeons’ performance and our patients’ well-being. ULX-D didn’t just meet these requirements—the system exceeded them. So far, its performance has been flawless, and we’ve been especially impressed by its set of frequency management tools—that feature alone is priceless.”
To give students an opportunity to engage directly with the experts after each procedure, Viju Group also installed the Shure PSM 900 wireless personal monitor system in the operating rooms. Two-way communication between medical students and physicians is coordinated by a control room technician, who facilitates the discussion from a Shure Microflex 418 gooseneck microphone.
“Virtual learning at MidState Medical Center has brought an invaluable advantage to students around the globe,” Blumberg notes. “For the future success of medicine, it’s imperative that tomorrow’s doctors have an opportunity to interact with and learn from today’s leading physicians. ULX-D is helping us empower the next generation of doctors.”
New Pack Shield Provides Protection For Beltpack Devices (Includes Video)
Protects beltpack devices such as wireless transmitters and in-ear monitor receivers, while still keeping them easy to access and use
The new Pack Shield provides protection for beltpack devices, such as wireless beltpack transmitters and in-ear monitor beltpack receivers, while still keeping them easy to access and use without added hassle.
Pack Shield, made of Kydex, a thermoplastic material, is custom formed to fit individual beltpacks, protecting not only the beltpack itself but also the antenna and connector (s).
Currently the product line includes Pack Shield models that are molded to fit Sennheiser evolution ew100, ew300, and IEM ew300 beltpacks; Shure BLX, SLX, and ULX beltpacks; and Audio-Technica 3000 and 2000 Series beltpacks.
Pack Shield designs for additional beltpacks are also planned to be released in the immediate future, according to the company.
Price per unit is $79.99 (U.S.). Find out more and purchase Pack Shields here.
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
Avoiding Intermod: The Importance Of Wireless Frequency Coordination
In today’s ever-more-crowded RF environment, wireless system users need every advantage they can get to make sure their show comes off without a hit.
While wireless frequency coordination is not a new thing, I find that many in pro audio are unaware of it. This article will explain what it is and what it does, and take you through some scenarios to show how you can benefit from it.
What’s the core issue? Wireless systems, specifically wireless transmitters, interact with each other. In much the same way that musical notes will combine to create overtones and undertones, wireless transmitters will combine to produce (and occupy) additional frequencies.
In its simplest form, wireless frequency coordination is a method for calculating these additional frequencies so that they may be avoided. While I won’t go into all of the math involved, the basic story is that two wireless transmitters will produce, below and above each frequency, new frequencies that are the same spacing as the two frequencies are apart. These new frequencies are called intermodulation (or intermod) products.
Frequency 1 = 501.000 MHz,
Frequency 2 = 502.000 MHz,
Spacing = 1.0 MHz
Therefore, the intermod products will occur at 500.000 MHz and 503.000 MHz, which means that if you’re looking for two more channels, you can’t use 500.000 MHz and 503.000 MHz. Just to make life more interesting, this same thing occurs between every existing frequency and every new one.
So if you bring on another system at, say, 505.000 MHz, say good-bye to: 497.000, 498.000, 499.000, 508.000 and 509.000 MHz. It adds up, and quickly. (You may have also gathered by now that it’s not a good idea to use even spacing when selecting more than two frequencies).
But these intermod products are only potential problems, because the transmitters have to be able to interact with each other to produce them. This usually means that they have to be in close proximity to each other. Does this get you off the hook? No.
Following are some scenarios of how this can bite you in real life, but for now, keep in mind that transmitters that are putting out a steady signal, like in-ear transmitters or intercom base stations, can interact with wireless mics, guitar packs, etc. that are in the same area.
Also understand that if signals are being combined, like in an IEM system, and there are intermod products from poorly selected frequencies, you’ll be broadcasting the intermod products as well as your in-ear mixes.
You’re working with a rock band. Stage right and stage left both have guitar rigs, each with its own tech. Off stage left is monitor beach. The stage right guitar tech scans around and sets his guitar wireless system at 550.000 MHz. The stage left guitar tech does the same and finds a clear frequency at 555.000 MHz. The monitor tech scans, and then puts the singer’s IEM pack at 560.000 MHz and his vocal mic at 545.000 MHz.
Everything sounds clean, checks out fine at sound check, and works great for most of the show until the two guitar players, who haven’t been speaking to each other for most of the tour, suddenly decide to have a Spinal Tap moment and do that leaning on each other’s backs shtick…which puts their guitar transmitters (belt packs) in close proximity. Suddenly, the singer is tearing out his earbuds, shooting nasty looks at the monitor tech and trying to keep his pitch via the wedge mix (remember those?).
After the show there’s a whole bunch of speculation and shoulder shrugging about where this terrible interference came from, with everyone having their belief that wireless is inherently prone to this sort of thing firmly reinforced. But what can you do?
Each of the three techs choosing frequencies exercised due diligence and scanned for a clear frequencies, right? The real problem is that the frequencies were not properly coordinated, which allowed the guitar packs to create an intermod product that landed right on the singer’s IEM frequency, as well as the frequency of his wireless mic system.
This raises the question: How is frequency coordination different from scanning? Frequency coordination is predictive while scanning is reactive. Scanning can only show you what potential sources of interference are in a given area when you’re looking and when they’re happening. Coordination, on the other hand, predicts sources of interference and offer a selection of frequencies to avoid them.
You’re the stage manager at a sports arena, where a soul diva is about to sing the anthem. On your left hip you’re wearing an RF intercom pack programmed to transmit on 620.000 MHz.
Standing to your left and looking lovely and focused, the diva holds a wireless mic tuned to 610.000 MHz in her right hand, at her side. And she’s wearing an IEM pack on her back tuned to 630.000 MHz.
You reach down, key your belt pack and tell the folks in the control room “I have the package, she’s ready to go.” As you do this, her hand shoots to her ear and a look of alarm passes over her face.
You key your intercom again: “Hold a minute, there’s a problem.” The diva looks at you – there was that noise in her ears again!
I’m sure you get the picture by now. Your intercom Tx and her wireless mic are producing an intermod product that is landing on her IEM frequency – but only when you key your intercom to talk, and possibly, only when she has the mic by her side. You can’t scan for that, but you could have predicted it with a frequency coordination program.
So what does a coordination look like? Well, for starters, it takes a computer program to sort out all of the math. Setting that aside for a moment, a coordination starts with a list of all wireless frequencies to be used. This includes:
A. All known local frequencies in use, including local UHF DTV stations (and VHF if applicable), and venue specific RF systems like the house intercom and hearing assist systems.
Screenshots from Invisible Waves RF Command Center showing the intermod products produced by coordinated wireless microphones when they are in close proximity to each other. The top image shows what things should look like when the mics are all properly positioned (i.e., out on stage in their respective stands), while the image below depicts the same mics when they’re in close proximity, in this case laid out on a table.
B. All wireless systems for the production, including microphones, instrument wireless and IEM for all acts on the bill, as well as any RF intercom system(s).
C. Any additional wireless systems on site, such as intercom for the video crew and ENG for local news outlets covering the event. The pre-coordination list should include the make, model, frequency band and quantities of all of the above.
As an example, here’s a list for a small TV production with two musical acts, and to add to the challenge, I’ve allocated every channel in the spectrum below 600 MHz to give you an idea what the future holds.
Vocals: 6 x Shure UHF-R, J-5 range (578—638 MHz)
IEM: 8 x Sennheiser 2000, A range (516—558 MHz)
Instrument RF: 4 x Sennheiser EW-300, A range (guitars) (516— 558 MHz); 4 x Sennheiser EW-300, G range (bass, sax) (558—626 MHz)
Vocals: 4 x Shure UHF-R, G-1 range (470.125—529.875 MHz)
IEM: 6 x Shure PSM-900, G-7 range (506.125—541.875 MHz)
Instrument RF: 5 x Sennheiser EW-300, G range (558—626 MHz)
1 x Telex BTR-800 base station (two frequencies) (Tx) “E” range (518.100—535.900 MHz)
4 x Telex BTR-800 belt packs (Rx) “88” range (470.100—487.900 MHz)
4 x Lectrosonics HH in Block 19 (486.400—511.900 MHz)
4 x Lectrosonics T4 in Block 23 (588.800—607.900 MHz)
Off Air TV
Ch-14, 24, 25, 48, 50, all DTV.
Sample frequency coordination chart.
I’ve taken the above list and done a sample coordination to give you an idea of what one looks like (see the frequency coordination chart, at right). I’m sure it will seem incredible to some, but I’d expect to take the 51 frequencies listed in this coordination into that venue and have zero wireless problems over the course of the event.
1. Wireless frequency coordination is the way to predict and prevent most of the issues that are fobbed off as “interference” on live events.
2. Why coordinate? It’s been my experience that coordinated RF systems have very few issues and also have a much higher immunity to surprises (like the opening act that didn’t think they had to tell you that their fiddle player was using a cheapo wireless system). Obviously a coordinated system will still be vulnerable to, say, a local news crew coming into the venue with a 100 mW transmitter that’s set right on top of one of your working frequencies, but I find it does make it easier to track down that sort of problem when the rest of the system is working flawlessly.
3. Any coordination is better than no coordination. Even if there’s only an opportunity for coordination for the first date of a tour (or the first day of rehearsals), you’ll at least be free of “self made” interference. This means if issues are encountered on the second date, you’ll know that they’re actual local interference and can move the affected channels.
4. With respect to point 2, I’ve generally found that when I do end up chasing problems with coordinated systems, they’re “real” problems and not “ghosts.” In other words, the problems tend to be actual equipment failures (i.e., broken antennas or a transmitter with an electronic fault, etc.) rather than frequency problems.
Ike Zimbel has worked in pro audio for 35-plus years, and during that time he has served as a wireless technician and coordinator, live engineer, studio technician, audio supervisor for TV broadcasts, and has also managed manufacturing and production companies. He runs Zimbel Audio Productions (zimbelaudio.com) in Toronto, specializing in wireless frequency coordination and equipment repair/modifications.
Kaltman Creations Introduces New Horn Antenna Series
Characterized by a broad frequency range and very high input power
Kaltman Creations has introduced the new Aaronia PowerLOG horn antenna series, characterized by a broad frequency range and very high input power.
The antenna gain increases with frequency up to a maximum of 13 dBi. The PowerLOG 10800 and 70180 are suitable for both transmitting and receiving purposes.
Due to the very high maximum transmission power capability the PowerLOG is especially suitable for EMC and immunity test measurements.
The antennas include typical calibration data. The 10800 model has a frequency range from 1 GHz to 8 GHz and the 70180 model has a range from 700 MHz to 18 GHz.
Technical specifications and more photos can be viewed here.
Saelig Introduces 6 GHz Handheld RF Spectrum Analyzers
Weigh just 20 ounces, small enough to fit into the hand, and provide more than 3 hours of operation from each charge of the built-in lithium-ion battery
Saelig Company has introduced two new RF analyzers—the new AIM-TTi Series 5 Models—available in 3.6 GHz and 6.0 GHz versions. They maintain a true handheld format while offering bench-top instrument-quality features.
The PSA3605 and PSA6005 weigh just 560 grams (20 ounces), are small enough to fit comfortably into the hand, and provide more than 3 hours of operation from each charge of the built-in lithium-ion battery.
The analyzers incorporate a large high resolution color TFT display with touch screen control. The Series 5 is all-digital from the second IF onwards. This enables it to offer a full range of RBW/VBW (resolution bandwidths/video bandwidth) settings, multiple detector modes, and advanced features such as waveform demodulation and automatic measurements. The 4.3-inch TFT color touch screen provides a high-resolution display, and an intuitive menu system that makes set-up fast and easy.
The PSA Series 5 is physically similar to the successful PSA Series II, with a case that includes rubberized buffers for shock protection and a built-in screen protector for field use. It employs the same advanced filing system with USB interfaces for external flash drives and direct PC connection, and its digital processing features provide it with a full range of resolution bandwidths from 300 Hz up to 3 MHz (1-3-10 sequence) and multiple detector modes.
Signal demodulation for AM and FM extends to a time-domain display in addition to audio demodulation. Advanced functions inherited from the Series II include data logging for up to 25,000 results per file, and complex limit lines and patterns combined with a limits comparator.
The PSA Series II—the previous range of traditional super-heterodyne analyzers—used analog filters to define RBWs. With this approach, issues of cost and power were limitations on frequency range and functionality. The new PSA Series 5 uses advanced digital techniques to provide both higher frequency range and wider functionality. The Displayed Average Noise Level (DANL) noise figure is better than -160 dBm/Hz and a minimum full scale reference level of -40 dBm allows signals down to -120 dBm to be seen. RBW and VBW are adjustable from 300Hz to 10MHz in 1:3:10 sequence.
Multiple traces can be displayed in contrasting colors, and trace modes include peak hold and multi-sweep averaging. Large internal storage is provided for traces, setups and complete screen images. Connectivity is provided for USB flash drives and for direct USB connection to a PC.
Internal storage extends to nearly 2 GB, and the internal filing system supports user specified names and time stamping from a real-time clock. Additional features include automatic measurements of Channel Power (CP), Adjacent Channel Power Ratio (ACPR) and Occupied Bandwidth (OBW), and waveform demodulation. The new PSA Series 5 Analyzers supplement the PSA Series 2, which is available in 1.3 GHz and 2.7 GHz versions.
The PSA Series 5 offers RF service engineers and wireless product technicians a cost-effective and highly portable tool, placing a spectrum analyzer in areas that are difficult to access with bench top instruments. Bench-bound engineers will appreciate the low cost of PSA Series 5 RF Spectrum Analyzers, enabling them to justify the purchase of an RF spectrum analyzer for a wide range of tasks, while wireless audio technicians will benefit from instant displays of free audio WiFi channels or problematic interference.
Monday, August 04, 2014
Revolabs Announces Enhanced Training Academy Portal & 20 Live Training Events
Online and in-person training both offer ability to earn four CTS credits
Revolabs has launched a newly redesigned Revolabs Academy Training Program — a free, interactive online learning portal that provides users with a better understanding of audio fundamentals, measurement and performance, and proper use and installation of Revolabs products.
Available now, the online curriculum complements the company’s upcoming training and certification tour, which will bring live instruction with Revolabs’ product portfolio to 20 cities across the U.S.
The nationwide training and certification tour is scheduled for August to October, 2014. The 20-city tour will include stops in New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles, where AV resellers and consultants will receive hands-on training on all Revolabs products, including the new Executive Elite product family. The national tour also offers an all-day class focused on all technical knowledge needed to become a certified Revolabs partner. Upon completion of either set of courses, users will earn four CTS credits.
“By revamping the entire Revolabs Academy Training Program and adding fresh content, the new portal now brings a more intuitive, streamlined, and engaging training experience to our technical partner community worldwide while introducing new incentives that encourage learners to continue earning credits,” says Marc Cremer, COO, Revolabs. “The North American live training and certification tour is part of our ongoing global outreach initiative and affirms Revolabs’ commitment to providing live training to our customers around the world.”
Open and free to all current Revolabs customers, including resellers, consultants, distributors, and end users, the online academy provides an interactive learning experience that guides users through a series of lessons covering the principles of audio, echo cancellation, microphone placement, product integration, configuration settings, repair procedures, maintaining RF stability, and avoiding interference. Users earn four CTS credits upon successful completion of the course, which can be applied to InfoComm RU credits for CTS, CTS-D, or CTS-I certifications.
Users can access the new Revolabs Training Academy at www.revolabs.com/support/training. More information on the Revolabs training and certification tour is available at www.revolabs.com/support/training/live.
Not Typical: Unusual Microphone Techniques
Getting a little bored with the same old “tried-and-true” microphones and techniques? Let’s have some fun with fresh approaches that are off the beaten path.
To create a differential (noise-canceling) mic, tape two identical omni mics together, one over the other, separated by a block of wood (Figure 1). Mix both mics at equal levels but with one mic switched in opposite polarity. Have the performer sing close to the top mic.
Many years ago, the Grateful Dead used this method to cancel sound from a huge stack of amps on stage. It’s actually the same as a figure 8 ribbon mic aiming up and down. It works best with in-ear monitors. Be sure to use a foam windscreen.
Need a zombie effect? Try a mic against the singer’s throat. Want a comb-filter sound? Mike the singer with two mics at different distances, mixed together. Hollow sound? Sing unto a mini mic placed inside the sound hole of a guitar. Also, have a singer use a megaphone, either acoustic or electronic.
Figure 1: Two ways to make a differential (noise-canceling) microphone.
Try the one-mic technique invented by engineer/producer Tchad Blake that I touched on in a previous article (here) – take a large-diaphragm cardioid condenser and mount it over the kick drum top, aiming at the snare drum. (This technique is pictured above left.)
It picks up a decent balance of the snare, toms, kick and cymbals all around it, and the balance can be tweaked by moving or rotating the mic, and raising/lowering the cymbals. There may be some off-axis coloration of the cymbals depending on the mic model and position, but in my experience it’s not too serious.
Another single-mic method employs a mini omni condenser. Clip it between 1 and 4 inches over the snare drum rim, in the middle of the kit over the drummer’s knee. It will pick up the snare, toms, and cymbals all around it (Figure 2). Put another mic in the kick. And for a punk band, try a single Shure SM57 overhead at the height of the drummer’s forehead.
Figure 2: Miking a drum kit with a mini omni mic.
Additional drum ideas:
• Tape a couple of boundary mics (such as Crown PZMs) to the inside of a clear acrylic drum gobo. Add a PZM inside the kick taped to the shell. Another trick: tape a PZM to the drummer’s chest. This works especially well in picking up a large group of percussion instruments as the player moves around. For some added fun, tape a mini mic to each maraca, bongo drum, cowbell, etc.
• Mike a child’s toy drum set instead of a regular pro set.
• Hit the cymbals lightly with some rugged dynamic mics while amplifying their signals. That is, use the mics as drumsticks. The cymbal sound will bloom and shrink as it’s played.
Acoustic Guitar & Mandolin
Try a small-diaphragm condenser near the player’s right ear, aiming down at the bridge (Figure 3). You’ll hear a natural sound in this location, but watch out for feedback.
Figure 3: The tones of several guitar mic placements.
Tape a mini omni condenser mic just inside the sound hole, and roll off 100 Hz about 10 dB to compensate for the boomy tone in there. This method provides excellent isolation. It also works well on a ukulele or an oval-hole mandolin.
How about an f-hole mandolin? Take a mini omni condenser, wrap its cable in felt or foam about an inch behind the capsule, and stuff it under the strings between the tailpiece and bridge (Figure 4). Roll off the lows and highs a few dB.
To capture a singing guitarist without phase interference, use two ribbon mics with their tops touching in a coincident-pair array. Aim one at the mouth and the other at the guitar.
Figure 4: A mandolin miking method (courtesy of Weogo Reed).
The null of the vocal mic aims at the guitar, while the null of the guitar mic aims at the mouth. A Royer SF-12 stereo ribbon lets you do this with one mic.
Some singers/guitarists hunker down so that their head is just above the guitar. Capture them both with a single small-diaphragm condenser below the guitar, aiming up.
Get a headworn mic that has a gooseneck-mounted mic capsule such as the Audio-Technica ATM75. Have the player wear the mic and place the mic capsule between the mouthpiece and tone holes.
Mike the guitarist’s strumming hand to capture the pick sounds, and mix it with a mic on the amp. Another one: Using a Y-cord, feed an electric guitar through an amp and through a Leslie speaker. Mike both and pan left and right. Phase heaven! Try it on a vocal, too.
For lots of lows and highs from a guitar amp, aim a Shure SM57 straight at the center of a speaker cone, next to the grille. To reduce lows and highs, hang the mic from over the top of the amp so it picks up the speaker at 90 degrees off axis. There’s no proximity effect at that angle.
Bassoon, Clarinet & Oboe
Here’s a way to give the musician some mobility. Clip a lavalier mic to the player’s shirt, even with the center of the instrument. It will pick up the instrument from behind. You might mix in another mic taped near the bell.
Mike the handheld chanter about 8 inches from the side, and mike the pipes overhead. But why would you want to amplify a bagpipe anyway? (Some folks would say the same thing about a banjo).
Cello & Acoustic Bass
Get a miniature omni and stiffen its cable using a 3-inch long coat-hanger wire taped just behind the capsule. Wrap a windscreen around the wire, and stuff it between two strings under the bridge. Place the mic near the body of the instrument (Figure 5).
Figure 5: A miking method for cello or acoustic bass.
Miking a tone hole gives a restricted, mid-rangy sound that can add a lot of color, while miking the sound board from underneath gives a dark, full tone. Also consider placing a mic at the piano tail looking inside the slightly raised lid. Or, try a couple of PZMs gaffer-taped to the underside of the raised lid over the bass and treble strings.
To add some grit, run the synth through an amp and mike the amp.
Rather than using a “bullet” mic, place an SM57 (or any dynamic) next to a guitar-amp speaker. Mike the harmonica close up, and run that input through the amp using an XLR-to-phone impedance converter. The amp’s distortion and high-frequency roll-off might deliver just the sound you want. (And try it with a vocal as well.)
World Acoustic Instruments
For instruments like pipa, bouzouki, oud, and sitar, try a small-diaphragm condenser about 3 to 8 inches away. If there’s a sound hole, place the mic fairly close to where the fingerboard meets the body, and if there’s not one, place it in front of the body. The sound hole resonates at a low frequencies with the air inside the instrument, producing a bassy, thumpy tone.
Concertina, Accordion & Bandoneon
Grab a couple of mini omnis, put a wide rubber band on each of the player’s wrists, and insert the mic capsules and 1 inch of cable through the rubber band, which holds each mic close to the tone holes. Or gaffer-tape the mics to the instrument first, so when the player comes on stage, he/she can remove the mics and mount them on the hands.
Capture an instrument or vocal with a cheap piezo mic, bullet mic, or headphones. Tape a paper towel or TP tube to the end of a mic – it creates a resonator unlike any EQ you’ve heard. Just watch out for feedback. Or place a mic inside a tin can to get a unique coloration. Unusual miking methods can create some intriguing, original sounds to dazzle the audience.
Bruce Bartlett is a recording and live engineer as well as a microphone designer (www.bartlettaudio.com). His latest books are “Practical Recording Techniques, 6th Edition” and “Recording Music On Location, 2nd Edition.”
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
East Kentucky Power Cooperative Selects Shure Microflex Wireless For Multipurpose Corporate F
MXW8 gooseneck base transmitters with push-to-talk feature were installed for accurate sound reproduction and to remedy sound delivery issues
East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), responsible for powering more than 520,000 homes and businesses in 87 Kentucky counties, is owned by 16 electric distribution co-ops located in central and eastern Kentucky.
Each of the 16 parties is involved in monthly decision-making meetings, comprised of 45 or more participants. Hosted in an EKPC multipurpose boardroom, the meeting facility became a growing concern, as it quickly proved to be inefficient due to an A/V configuration that included just six microphones suspended from the ceiling.
To help alleviate the issues, EKPC partnered with dBA Acoustics, a consulting and design services firm, to create a new conferencing environment that would offer audio clarity through an intelligent wireless solution.
With a layout featuring a large U-shaped table, when designing the new conferencing system, it was crucial to have at least one gooseneck base transmitter per two board members. A solution that could be turned on and off by individual members was also requested to limit interruptions and prevent excess ambient noise from drowning out the speaker.
Shure Microflex wireless systems were selected to address these requirements. MXW8 gooseneck base transmitters, with a simple push-to-talk feature, were installed for accurate sound reproduction and to remedy the sound delivery issues associated with the limiting ceiling microphones.
EKPC facilities supervisor Troy Varner states, “Shure Microflex Wireless was exactly what we needed. It is extremely user-friendly and the bi-directional wireless capabilities ensure we can monitor and control all settings in real-time. Additionally, with the premium technology all meeting attendees can be clearly heard, while the table top goosenecks make it easy for members to participate in the conversation.”
Each transmitter offers bi-directional wireless capabilities, enabling return channel audio and real-time remote control and monitoring of all settings. This functionality enables the EKPC team to always have access to transmitter battery status for long meetings or back-to-back sessions.
Outside of solving A/V issues for monthly board meetings, Microflex wireless has had a positive impact on EKPC training presentations, smaller meetings, and the annual meeting, which also occur in the corporate boardroom. For these occasions, the room relies on four compact Microflex wireless hybrid bodypack rransmitters that connect to earworn or lavalier Shure microphones for presenters.
Additionally, the room has three podiums that are equipped with Microflex Wireless handheld transmitters. For added convenience, all EKPC’s selected Microflex wireless transmitters fit into the system’s networked charging station that brings batteries to 50 percent in one hour, with smart charging that safeguards against battery damage.
“We stream training sessions to other facilities and also record all board meetings, so high-quality audio was our biggest concern. We needed a system that would work in a boardroom setting but could also support presentations at a podium and training sessions, where the presenter is mobile. Shure Microflex wireless fits the bill, and our past events have been flawless thanks to the audio technology,” says Varner.