The increasing frequency with which broadcasters are transitioning to digital, accompanied by the ever-expanding use of wireless equipment in general, is forcing users of wireless microphone systems to re-think the way they conduct their business. Users of earlier generation UHF- or VHF-based wireless systems are being challenged on a daily basis.
Today's broadcast facilities are an RF rich environment and this situation is compounded even further in metropolitan areas. Our location in Los Angeles provides as busy and congested an RF area as one can find. There are numerous television stations here, and during the past several years, more and more digital operations have gone on the air. This has forced us to find alternate frequencies for our RF microphones.
Our older RF mics had always been very reliable, but we were beginning to routinely encounter situations where we'd start work on a show and then we'd experience RF interference from another TV station or someone else using equipment on that frequency. This forced my associate, Tom Ancell, and me to consider retiring some of our older gear, as we obviously needed to obtain wireless mic systems that were more frequency agile. Our experience with our existing Lectrosonics wireless equipment had been very positive, so the decision was not whose equipment we would use, but rather what specific models would best suit our applications.
At KCET, we produce a number of live and pre-recorded programs, including "Tavis Smiley" for PBS and "A Place of Our Own." Those of us responsible for audio determined that in addition to the obvious prerequisite of clean, transparent audio, it was essential these systems make it easy to both identify and lock-in open frequencies. Further, due to talent wardrobe considerations, the transmitters needed to be very compact—without sacrificing battery life. Ultimately, we selected six Lectrosonics SMDa Super-Miniature Digital Hybrid Wireless beltpack transmitters and six UT400 Digital Hybrid Wireless handheld transmitters. We chose a Venue modular receiver system stocked with six VRS receiver modules, as its emulation modes provide backward compatibility with our legacy equipment, protecting our earlier investment.
BATTERY LIFE IMPRESSIVE
The SMDa's 100 mW output capability has been one of the biggest surprises. The range of these transmitters is tremendous; but quite honestly, it was the transmitter's battery life that most impressed us. This is a dual battery system that, in our experience, provides as much as seven hours of dependable operation. Though we routinely replace batteries every four hours, the fact that these transmitters can run as long as they do provides a high degree of confidence in their use on our productions.
We're using rechargeable batteries with the SMDa units, as we make every attempt to be "green." Properly disposing of old batteries is an increasingly important issue in the production community—not just here, but everywhere.
For additional information, contact Lectrosonics Inc. at 800-821-1121 or visit www.lectrosonics.com.