NBC goes with Lectrosonics for live audio production

Much of the production for NBC’s Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood LIVE entertainment news programs takes place at New York’s Rockefeller Center, and it is difficult to imagine a busier, more hectic environment than the heart of Manhattan. So when it comes to wireless microphone performance, there are many issues to consider. That’s why wireless technology from Lectrosonics plays an integral role in the shows’ audio production.

Frank Duca, owner of Hollywood East, has worked with the Access Hollywood brand since 1996 and was invited to assist with Access Hollywood LIVE when it debuted in September 2010. For Access Hollywood LIVE, Duca uses Lectrosonics UCR411a receivers, UM400a transmitters, and a UMC200D rack with an antenna splitter, as well as the company’s T4 IFB transmitters and SMQv Super Miniature transmitters (in IFB mode) with R1a IFB receivers. All of this equipment uses the company’s digital hybrid wireless technology.

Duca discussed the challenges of working in a crowded RF environment, “For our live show on location, I require a minimum of seven talent and three IFB discrete transmitters feeding about 10 R1a receiver units with a short list of available frequencies to choose from. The show changes on a dime, and there is very little time for setup—and even less for RF issues, since we are live.

“The gear fits well in my roll around, 12-space mobile mix station. Because of RF congestion in this area, I find the RF spectrum analyzer built into each receiver to be a valuable asset.”

“The SR receivers are light, so I can easily carry more units. I also enjoy using the SR/5P as my camera hop, since it never weighs down the camera,” Duca continued. “In situations when I need to switch over from a hard-line multi cable feeding my cameraman to the SR unit, I like to use a custom 5-pin-to-7-pin cable. This connects from the SR unit’s 5-pin male connector directly into my quick-release camera 7-pin end and eliminates my having to disconnect the XLR input connections on the camera. One switch and I’m transmitting wireless to my cameraman.”

Location sound work tends to be really hard on equipment, as the gear routinely gets dropped, bumped, and more. “Many times over the years,” Duca reports, “our units have been knocked around and have hit the ground. I’ve always found the equipment able to withstand a great deal of abuse. Equally important, the company’s customer and technical support groups are excellent. In the event a unit is in need of repair, the technicians are knowledgeable and responsive.”