Vox Church, a multi-site, non-denominational congregation with eight campuses (and a ninth due to open shortly) in the New England region of the U.S., incorporates RF Venue wireless antennas and signal combiners as a key to its wireless microphone and in-ear monitoring systems approach.
Vox Church audio engineer Eugene “Geno” Mulcahy, who previously spent a decade as a tech at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, met RF Venue co-founder Chris Regan during that time and the two partnered to put together the casino’s wireless infrastructure. “Chris really showed me how critical the antenna and its distribution is to a reliable wireless system,” Mulcahy states.
Mulcahy brought those lessons to Vox Church, where he implemented its wireless systems using antennas and signal combiners from RF Venue. “Antennas and distribution are the non-fun part of working with wireless, but they’re mission-critical to making any event happen flawlessly,” he notes. “The RF Venue products do the one thing that absolutely has to happen with wireless, and that’s make sure there are no dropouts. If you lose audio during a service, especially during the streaming audio that’s going out to other campuses that depend on taking their music cues from us, it’s game over. It’s as bad as losing video.
“We do what is called point-to-point streaming, where we send various channels to our other church campuses so the band at the remote locations can play along with the main worship band at our broadcast location. If the worship leader’s mic fails, it not only fails in the live performance area but also at the other locations.”
Specifically, Vox Church employs RF Venue Diversity Fin antennas, designed to make wireless systems less susceptible to dropouts due to a patented cross-polarized design. It combines a log-periodic dipole array (LPDA) and a dipole antenna in an orthogonal (right angle) configuration (where one element captures vertically polarized waves, and the other horizontally polarized waves), and is designed to allow receivers to see a constant signal regardless of microphone orientation, letting the user to hold a wireless microphone in any position relative to the antenna without signal loss.
The Diversity Fin antennas interface with DISTRO4 and DISTRO9 distribution amplifiers, which feed RF to multiple wireless microphone receivers of any brand. The DISTRO4 has dual inputs that combine the two outputs of the Diversity Fin Antenna for distribution to up to five wireless microphone receivers, along with regulated 12-volt DC power. Six DISTRO4 units can be connected together to feed up to 25 receiver channels.
The DISTRO9 offers dual zone inputs for reception from dual Diversity Fin antennas, and its nine outputs can be used to directly feed wireless receivers or to feed the inputs of additional DISTRO9 units to in turn feed up to 81 receiver inputs. Further, to help ensure consistent signal with in-ear monitors, COMBINE4 and COMBINE8 can combine the outputs of four or eight wireless monitor system transmitters into a single output to feed a CP Beam circularly polarized helical antenna.
Mulcahy has implemented RF Venue gear throughout most of the church’s campuses and is adding more as opportunities present themselves, creating what he calls a “soup-to-nuts reliable infrastructure for wireless.” At the same time, he adds, RF Venue allows him to use any wireless microphone and IEM systems he wants. (Vox Church employs Shure ULX-D for the former and Sennheiser IEM G4 for the latter.)
“Antenna choice, placement, and management are the most important aspects of wireless, and RF Venue has made those aspects easy to take care of,” he concludes. “At our New Haven campus we have as many as six channels of wireless microphones and 12 monitor mixes each Sunday. For our big 10th anniversary show [which took place in September] at the Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, we had 16 IEM mixes plus the eight handhelds. And never a single drop out. RF antennas aren’t the glamorous part of audio, but without them there’s no show. With RF Venue, there’s never a dropout.”