Fox Sports overcomes crowded RF spectrum with custom wireless system

To overcome an increasingly crowded UHF band that varies from city to city, Fox Sports has begun using eight virtually identical custom-designed Sennheiser wireless systems for this season’s coverage of NFL football games.

Typically used for the sideline on-air talent, referees and parabolic microphones picking up audio from the field, the complete broadband RF packages are custom-modified for increased frequency, agility and setup continuity.

Each package includes a custom EM 1046 modular multichannel receiver, SKM 5200 handheld transmitters outfitted with the command channel option, custom SK 250 body-pack transmitters and the recently introduced A5000 CP antenna. Rental house CP Communications of Elmsford, NY, which has worked with Fox for many years, is providing the systems.

To assist in overcoming the crowded spectrum, Sennheiser supplied EM 1046 mainframes, each with eight receiver modules, custom-engineered to operate across a wider frequency band and multiple frequency ranges.

Rather than putting the receiver within a 24MHz window, CP Communications and Fox widened the modules to 36MHz and modified the antenna input module so four pairs of receiver modules are available “in radically different frequency ranges,” said consultant Joe Ciaudelli. As a result, Fox has a wide selection of frequencies spanning almost the entire UHF spectrum, which makes it easier to go into different stadiums weekly and find vacant frequencies to use.

CP Communications also ordered SKM 5200 handheld microphones with the command channel option, which allow the on-camera talent to easily keep in touch with a producer. Sideline announcers can push a button and route their mics directly to the speaker in front of the producer, allowing private communication.

Each package's SK 250 body-pack transmitters were customized with the addition of a switch so they can access two separate banks of 16 different frequencies, providing more flexible frequency usage.

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