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Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Nov 29

Written by:
11/29/2010 7:21 PM  RssIcon

New York – November 29, 2010: Tomorrow evening, thousands of people will gather at Rockefeller Plaza for the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. The classic event, which has been an annual tradition since 1933, will feature live performances by Susan Boyle, Charice and many others. Wireless First, a Mount Vernon, NY-based production specialist, has chosen Sennheiser to provide the wireless infrastructure for the event for the ninth consecutive year. The event will appear on local and national prime-time television, broadcasting to millions of people.

Aside from the obvious logistical challenges of mounting and decorating a giant Norwegian Spruce with 30,000 environmentally friendly LED lights, Rockefeller Center presents mammoth Radio Frequency (RF) challenges to wireless operators. Rockefeller Plaza is in extremely close proximity to Radio City Music Hall and most of the major television broadcast networks, presenting a significant challenge that can only be overcome by superior wireless equipment.

To achieve a flawless technical performance year after year, Wireless First uses all Sennheiser equipment. This year, they are using (18) channels of Sennheiser's EM 3732 wireless receivers, which are being used in conjunction with its MKE 2 lavalier mics and its top of the line handheld wireless transmitter: the SKM 5200. Each of the SKM 5200 handheld mics have been outfitted with a Neumann KK 105 S capsule to ensure pristine audio reproduction. In addition, Wireless First has installed (12) G3 wireless personal monitors as well as another dozen channels of receivers.

What makes the program challenging is not necessarily the scale, he adds, but rather the location: "Even though it is just three days, an event like this really comes down to flawless coordination," comments Kevin Sanford, founder and president of Wireless First. "Normally, an event like this would not be so challenging--but when you consider that we are in the middle of a huge media area, the list of frequencies we are told to avoid reads a little like 'Gone with the Wind.'"

For the wireless audio--including all the wireless mics and wireless personal monitoring--execution must be flawless. "This year, there are two stages. Plus, we need to accommodate wireless for the host talent, which is usually two or three folks that can be anywhere in the vicinity at any time," Sanford says. As far as set up is concerned, the event runs very much like a TV show versus a more traditional installation; there is one day of preparation, a day of rehearsal, then the live broadcast.

Sanford is clear about his preference in wireless equipment: "Sennheiser has always been my first choice and the performance has always been flawless."

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