The FCC’s vacate order that now prohibits the operation of wireless microphones in the 700MHz band (698MHz–806MHz) has forced many broadcasters to revisit their inventories and make adjustments. Such was the case for WTVF NewsChannel 5, the CBS affiliate in Nashville. Though forced to “retire” some of their non-Lectrosonics wireless microphones, the station was still going strong with Lectrosonics equipment dating back almost 20 years. This positive experience was a key factor that influenced the station’s latest wireless microphone investment.
The station’s chief video photographer, Mike Rose, supervises a 21-person camera crew for the station’s news operations. “We are responsible for all general news coverage, including investigative reporting, sports and local news,” said Rose. “The equipment is in the field everyday and is used in a variety of shooting situations. In May, Nashville received 17 inches of rain in 48 hours. Every crew was out in the rain, around the clock, filming high water rescues, flood damage, FEMA press conferences … you name it. Equipment performance was critical so crews could focus on the story. We never had wireless issues. These were by far the most extreme, humid conditions I have ever worked in. Failure was not an option. Because of the robust nature of the wireless units, we were able to tell some incredible stories.”
Rose reports that in addition to the equipment that had to be replaced to address the FCC ruling, every camera operator also had a Lectrosonics CR185 compact receiver, an M185 beltpack transmitter and an H185 plug-on transmitter in their kit. “These systems have been in service for a long time,” said Rose, “so we already had a high level of confidence in Lectrosonics products.”
Ultimately, Rose purchased 19 Lectrosonics SRa5P dual-channel slot-mount ENG receivers, 19 HM plug-on transmitters, and 19 UM400a beltpack transmitters from Nashville’s Trew Audio. All products employ the company’s Digital Hybrid technology, which uses a proprietary algorithm to encode 24-bit digital audio information with no compression and low distortion into an analog format that can be transmitted in a robust manner. “By getting our new SRa5P dual channel receivers, along with our HM plug-on and UM400a beltpack transmitters,” said Rose, “every operator now has two systems available.”
After roughly six months of field time with their new Lectrosonics equipment, Rose said, “I’m particularly impressed with how easy it is to change frequencies. This is great for those times when you want one microphone to feed multiple cameras. When I watch the news at home in the evenings, the audio is clear. Sound quality is first rate, and that’s the bottom line. When I watch the news, I want to be able to close my eyes and visualize the story by way of the sound — and our Lectrosonics gear gets us there.”