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Lectrosonics Wireless Integral To San Francisco Symphony Recording Of “West Side Story”

Main challenge was trying to get a studio-type sound from the moving, acting vocalists

Music from the timeless musical “West Side Story” was recently recorded by the San Francisco Symphony for release on SACD and digital download, with an assist from the application of LectrosonicsDigital Hybrid Wireless technology.

Specifically, San Francisco Symphony producer/engineer Jack Vad and audio engineer Denise Woodward utilized a considerable amount of Lectrosonics products for the project, including 18 SMV, 2 SMQV, and 16 UM400a transmitters along with six Venue receiver mainframes stocked with VRT receiver modules. The recording was captured at Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, home of the San Francisco Symphony, in late May and early June of 2013.

“Since we had to capture everything from the live, semi-staged performance, the main challenge was trying to get a studio-type sound from the moving, acting vocalists,” Vad explains. “Although there are many fine wireless systems that are adequate for live sound use, most are not acceptable for high resolution audio reproduction. The Lectrosonics equipment provided us an audio chain that was both high quality and suitable for our SACD release.”

Because of the venue’s location in downtown San Francisco, there was concern about RF interference, though it proved not to be an issue, as Woodward explains: “Our recording/live performance was scheduled during San Francisco’s Gay Pride celebration, a huge event with, according to some estimates, over a million attendees and extensive media coverage. The main stage for this event was at San Francisco’s City Hall—right across the street from Davies Symphony Hall. We constantly monitored the challenging and ever-changing RF environment, and were pleased with the RF agility of the Lectrosonics equipment. We experienced solid, drop-out free performance.”

Vad adds, “We used DPA 4088 cardioid electret condenser mics with the Lectrosonics equipment and, together, they made a great choice for capturing the vocal performers. With Lectrosonics’ Digital Hybrid Wireless design, we were able to achieve a greater, cleaner vocal dynamic range than traditional wireless options. The audio quality of the Lectrosonics system competes well with traditional studio-type microphones that are typically used for this type of recording.”

The Lectrosonics equipment used for the West Side Story project was arranged through Bexel, a leading provider of audio and video equipment for the broadcast market. The recording will be available this month from the SFS Media label.

“I find that most listeners are amazed that the vocals were recorded with wireless systems,: Vad states. “Everybody at the San Francisco Symphony is extremely happy with the results.” Woodward adds, “The sound quality of the Lectrosonics transmitter/receiver systems was absolutely pristine. This was a truly exciting and unique project and I am so grateful that I was able to be part of it.”

San Francisco Symphony

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