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Mobile sound wireless setup 7 performers.

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by mcubed4130, Mar 22, 2017.

  1. mcubed4130

    mcubed4130 New Member

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    Hello everyone long time lurker, needing help on wireless sound. Said almost the same in the New Member Board, but this is the right place to post.

    I'm being tasked to come up with a mobile solution for sound. Min requirements 7 wireless singers, 2 of which will also be dancing (musical theatre).

    I also need to have up to a trio of vocalists - more legit singing only... but have 2 SM58s that I will likely use. (and buy 1 more SM58 - and deal with cables for the vocalists)

    Mobile comes in play in the following way:

    We will be renting venues, as well as going outdoor events. Budget is around $10,000 for purchase, hopefully to keep per event rental costs to less than $1k... preference is to buy instead of renting all the time.

    And yes, I have looked at the zillions of discussions about wireless - but they all seem rather old... at this point - I assume either Sennheiser or Shure... I assume freq A or A1. I sort of like the specs on the MKE2 - but I'm reading the Countryman B3's hold up to amateurs better.

    In that mode, I'm dealing with a incubator - all in one school to teach acting, dancing, and either private or group singing. No live musical instruments at this time - may add in the future. As Actors, Dancers, Singers - get better we create opportunities that allow them to perform, get their feet wet so to speak... so 100% students, amateurs, etc...

    I have 4 gigs coming up... 1st is a 600 seat theatre with a lighting and sound system from the 1960s... sigh... planning on just setting up - or maybe flying a pair of Yamaha DVR15s for the mains or just putting them on stage on a pair of TS90B's... I have 2 - SM58s for the vocalists plan on buying 1 more... Next gig will be in a street faire about all I'll have is a 20amp power circuit... after that at a art/wine festival (again probably 1 - 15 or 20 amp power plug)... after that a 4th of july parade - no idea might be on a float, might get a booth.

    ANYWAY... for the wireless sound... I'm completely lost in possibilities. 7 wireless lavs or body mics... dealing with random available frequencies on each new venue/park/faire/etc... and mounted on amateurs.

    Thoughts?

    -Michael
     
  2. Dionysus

    Dionysus Well-Known Member

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    The skill of the preformers doesn't matter much more than their performance would without a mic to be honest. You just have to drill a few things into them (ie don't horse around and break the transmitter or mic, wear your cap on your mic when you are doing things like makeup and hair, quiet off stage (we might hear you!)). With 7 transmitters you may or may not be able to use the same frequencies on the transmitters in different locations, Id suggest time for figuring that out at each venue. Depends on tools at hand as well, scanning, wireless workbench, etc. Unfortunately you aren't going to have the spare budget to invest in that avenue.

    As for pricing I can't help you there, I am on the other side of the continent and in a different country.
     
  3. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    You can pick up 7 Shure QLX-D systems for ~$7K. By the time you put them in a rack and do an antenna DA, pick your mic elements, add a network switch for wireless workbench, and add an 8ch snake, you can expect to blow your full $10K.

    Both the G50 and H50 bands are good for staying out of the territory being repurposed in a couple years as part of the 600MHz auction that just concluded. Also looks like they're might a new V50 band if you want to venture into VHF territory. Longer antennas and only 40MHz tuning bandwidth but for the time being probably less congestion with other users.

    Advantage of the QLXD is you get a full 64 or 72MHz of RF territory you can tune to, and you can squeeze 17 systems into a single 6 MHz TV channel slice of spectrum. You can also connect into the system with Wireless Workbench for doing RF coordination and scans in each city you land in.

    I would call your favorite local dealer for a quote. They can do better pricing than you can get buying off of a website. I would have them ship parts and pieces to you for assembly rather than pay them to assemble it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
  4. MRW Lights

    MRW Lights Active Member

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    I'm not sure what you're looking at after the 4 performances you mentioned, but renting might be a better option for you. You can often get more for less and if you're concerned about actors beating things up you can keep a spare and get a replacement turned around from the shop in typically enough time before needing another spare. Wouldn't hurt getting a quote for both, the longer you rent (typically) better the price. I usually only purchase gear for installs or if I have a large enough budget to buy enough gear to do whatever job comes next for the company. Usually with a touring rig I like the rental option.
     
  5. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Owning a system means you also have to learn about inter-modulation and frequency spacing, which would probably be figured out by the rental house if you chose to rent. Learning about it is always a good idea anyway because you never know when you will run into a venue that is stomping on one of your chosen frequencies, requiring a lot of last-minute scrambling.

    As for systems, I am partial to Sennheiser. A and A1 are good bands to stick with for now as they appear to be slightly away from the nasty hand of the ever-reaching FCC.
     
  6. mcubed4130

    mcubed4130 New Member

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    As I will never know what I'm getting into - from venue to venue... this is why I was thinking I'd rather own... to better understand how to do the setup and quickly reconfigure freq ranges if there are problems. And at least the book research I've done implies that Sennheiser would be easier to work with - when I'm walking into the pure unknown on each venue.

    Is there a particular series of sennheiser you'd recommend? and again... it's 7 wireless performers doing acting/singing in musical theatre style live on stage. But it's conceivable we go down to 3 - or up to 12 on a per gig basic - which is sort of where the rental piece comes in.

    i.e. I'd rather buy the "base system" with capacity for "X" performers, but. If i need more - or specialized mics or whatever, I'd like to use a system that is common enough from the rental house that I call them and say I need "Y" more of whatever.

    -Michael
     
  7. mcubed4130

    mcubed4130 New Member

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    Appreciate the advice... my major concern is... I'm mostly walking blind into these venues/gigs... no measurable way to check in advance what frequencies are available on the route of a parade float for example... or doing a gig at a wine festival that is setup across 3 to 8 blocked off roads and we don't get told where they setup the stage we are using till a week before, and more than once we get there and they decided to move us... for these sorts of reasons... my thought was - I should buy at least a "base system"... maybe whatever is needed to easily scan/setup configure 2 or 3 wireless mics - and be familiar with how to quickly reconfigure to new frequencies when needed.

    Also the reason I mentioned say up to $10k to buy, and up to $1k per gig to rent was... I really want to make sure I have a solid reliable way to setup if only for 2 or 3 people (buy) - and then I'd rent the additional components needed to scale up to 7 ... or... 12... etc..

    Can you point me at some links so I can get a better idea of what types of tools I should be looking at buying for the scanning, wireless workbench, etc... that is where I think I need to invest real buying $$s...

    -Michael
     
  8. mcubed4130

    mcubed4130 New Member

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    Thanks for the reply.. apologies for not being more clear. Probably a new gig every 2 to 3 months ongoing. Random locations, community events, parades, wine festivals, school playground or cafeteria, etc... the only possible reuse location is the circa 1960's Theatre, but that place I'm still paying by the hour - so it would still be a get in setup quickly - and get out...

    Also sorry if I put you down the buy vs. rent... I really did mean - what should I buy... and then what should I rent per gig.

    Finally I've not really been able to figure out who to rent from in the San Francisco Bay Area (South Bay, San Jose, CA) - do you have any recommended national or US west coast rental houses that are good?

    -Michael
     
  9. mcubed4130

    mcubed4130 New Member

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    Doing my reading on the Shure QLX-D - it looks very attractive. As for favorite dealers, I've only really been dealing with guitarcenter and they are ok, but not overly helpful. I'll give a call to the various online retailers and see if they can give me some advise which I always take with a grain of salt... or a bag of salt. :)

    You do have me scratching my head on the 8 channel snake though... maybe I'm missing something important... wouldn't I just route the various wireless mics into a sound board, and then go from the sound board to the main speakers? why do I need a 8 channel snake? I'm not at this point anyway going to have any musicians on stage that need to plug-in. Well... counterpoint being I said I have 2 SM58s will likely grab another for our vocalist trio - but that still wouldn't mean an 8 channel snake. Might be 3 channels is all I need... But for the wireless setup can you elaborate? do I need the receivers on stage? I would think I could have the receivers in the control booth with me next to my soundboard... and wouldn't I want a sound board to possibly be able to easily mute/gain/or lower an individual mic? This is what I do for wired mics, so maybe I'm missing something. :)

    -Michael
     
  10. TimMc

    TimMc Well-Known Member

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    If you are venturing into the City (of San Francisco, for those who want to call if "frisco") in 2 years or so the entire RF landscape WILL be different than it is today. The FCC will be issuing their TV channel reassignment orders in 2-4 weeks and I think it will be subject to a comment period before becoming a permanent Order, but after that you'll be able to have a better idea of what frequency bands you'll be able to use there. As you get away from the more densely populated areas there will be more open channels but what bands those may be in may not work with what works in the City.

    I'd not purchase anything for at least a couple more months. If you have immediate needs you should rent.
     
  11. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    If you don't have someone local you prefer, you can contact Kim Leonard @ Professional Audio Designs in Milwaukee (414.476.1011) Full disclosure, I used to work for them.

    You can also call Full Compass directly and get a quote. As with any dealer of these kinds of products, they can offer a better price in a quote than they are permitted to advertise online.

    Otherwise, hang out for a few hours and I'm sure some other CB members will know someone in your area or are dealers themselves and can help you out.

    I typically specify wireless racks with a 15' or 25' fan to fan XLR snake in them rather than connecting each receiver with its own individual cable. Makes setup, tear-down, and troubleshooting much easier, and reduces cables you can get tangled in. Also short enough you can stash it in the back of the rack and close the lid.

    When the receiver racks are put on stage for a show versus at the FOH console, this also helps keep the backstage wings tidy by consolidating number of cables you have to run and make sure no one trips.
     
  12. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Regarding Sennheiser, the 100 series is their "base" system, then you have the 300 series and the 500 series. The only difference is that the more expensive ones have a wider RF range and therefore cover more channels. So, you would start with the 100 series and that would cover your needs. You can mix and match as they are all compatible with the exception that you can't program a 300 or 500 on a frequency that's not supported on a 100 and expect the 100 to receive it. You will also hear about G1, G2, and G3. These are different generations. Current generation is G3. Again, they are all compatible. A G1 will be received just fine by a G3 receiver and a G3 by a G1, you simply won't have some of the neat bells and whistles of the new ones, like battery telemetry and pilot signals. G1's (the ones with out a "G" are usually G1) are getting very old. Some of mine are 15 years old, but they all still work, so that says something about pack and receiver longevity. Generally, the breakable things are the usuals (mics, connectors, antennas)
     
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  13. mcubed4130

    mcubed4130 New Member

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    Appreciate this! Thank you. Come to think of it - I do periodically get a full compass catalog. or maybe I did years ago! haha.

    AHHH... well that makes total sense now that you mention it! Glad you mentioned it!! hahah... Ok, 1 more question then... how literal is the line of sight (LOS) recommendation... if I have performers with the body pack in the small of their back, does that mean I should have the receiver LOS behind the performer (on stage)... or if the control booth is elevated and has direct line of sight to the stage - but would hit the front of the performer when they are wearing the body pack behind them is that an issue?

    -Michael
     
  14. mcubed4130

    mcubed4130 New Member

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    Thanks!

    As for "The City" *ahem* :)... I'm in "The South Bay" (San Jose, CA) - but certainly most if not all these gigs will happen in heavily populated areas... so yes I am concerned about frequencies and the whole discussion sort of makes my head spin. Anyway... My next gig is in a couple months, so yeah worst case I'll invest in a good portable laptop or whatever "tools" I need to properly run the wireless system - and I'll rent the rest.

    -Michael
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
  15. mcubed4130

    mcubed4130 New Member

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    Sorry... when I said "base system" I meant something like.... I'd buy - a laptop, a portable rack, snake, whatever tools for understanding my wireless setup, and "X" number of units like say... (3) Sennheiser EW512 G3's. In theory this gives me enough to work and understand how the system will work.

    Then for the gig itself - in theory I pick up the phone call a rental house and have them drop ship me - 4 more Sennheiser EW512 G3's. - they arrive I add the extra 4 into my rack, connect them to the snake, etc.. - configure them with whatever Sennheiser software is already loaded on my laptop - and I'm good to run a show.

    It's great to know the older G's work with the newer. Guess I should do more research as to what older models would potentially work if I start with a few EW 500 G3s.

    -Michael
     
  16. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Not that literal. A good, active antenna distribution system with minimal loss of gain, and with something like the mid- or high-grade Shure or Sennheiser, won't have a problem seeing your transmitters even if they're on the opposite side of someone's torso. Their torso will absorb some RF because that's what human bodies do, but everything around them will reflect the signal back toward the antennas (and everywhere else in your theater!). That's also why it's good to put some distance between your antennas. If one doesn't pick up a solid signal, the other should. Also why if you use the standard "rubber ducky" 1/4-wave or 1/2-wave antennas mounted on the face of the rack, you won't get much diversity in terms of geographical location in the room, but if you rotate the angle of the antennas 45° from the ground, ~90° between them total, if one of them receives a strong reflected signal coming in on top of the null of the antenna (lots of attenuation in signal strength = bad), that reflection will also hit your 2nd antenna at its prime real estate on the axis it is most sensitive on and the receiver will prefer the antenna with the better signal.

    Other thing to consider is transmit power. Full transmit power on something like a QLX-D will send that signal up to 300'+ away under optimal RF conditions. Most people use these systems in rooms with less than 100' of working range required. If everything else behaves, you do your RF coordination correctly, and have a nice antenna distribution system with directional "paddle" antennas you carry with you, you can afford to lose a little bit of signal strength here or there before you run into issues.

    In general, velour curtains and wood construction walls tend to be forgiving for wireless systems (not that I would ever bank from broadcasting from behind these). If you have a concrete wall between your antennas and your performer, then you have a sizable issue. Other big issue is if your antennas are near ground level and you sound check with no audience. Then the crowd comes in and 1200 water bags are sitting or standing between you and stage, absorbing all of your RF and causing signal dropouts. Getting the antennas 8' or 10' off of the floor above people's heads will make all the difference.

    You may find this webinar on antenna selection and placement from Shure useful. Really digs down into the science behind these concepts.

    EDIT: I should add that if you use a directional or active antenna with your system in a small room, (<100' throw between transmitters and receivers), you run the risk of overloading the RF on the receivers. Too much of a good thing can indeed be a bad thing. Amplification is intended to make up cable loss. If you lose 10dB of RF strength in a long coax cable run between your wireless rack and your antennas, you want to use an active antenna to make up those losses. If a lot of your gigs are small bars, these antennas will actually overdrive your receivers and hamstring your system.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
  17. mcubed4130

    mcubed4130 New Member

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    I am rather intrigued by all the Shure tools and learning blogs, but I'm thinking I may need to put in another 100 hours or so before I understand it all! hahah...

    So for example, I put in the address for the theatre I'll be renting in June... into the Shure Freq Finder and it says:

    Band: H50 (Mics: 14 Reserved | 14 Max) - 530—602 MHz
    Band: G50 (Mics: 6 Reserved | 36 Max) - 470—536 MHz
    Band: V50 (Mics: 14 Max) - 174—216 MHz

    Based on the above, would I select H50 because it has more reserved? or G50 because it has more max?

    -Michael
     
  18. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    When you use Shure's Frequency Finder, the "Max" number refers to how many channels are of wireless you can squeeze into that band in the open RF spectrum in your area. That means all of your local DTV broadcasts are already accounted for. So the band that has the most flexibility for you is G50, because under ideal conditions, there are 36 slots available you can tune to. Even if you don't need that many, you have some room to spare if other users next door to you show up in that band as well.

    Reserved channels, a couple in at least each metropolitan market 6-8MHz-wide, are exclusively set aside for wireless microphone/IEM users. What does that mean to you? It means you won't be competing with TV broadcasters or white space devices, but you'll still have to duke it out with neighboring wireless mic/IEM users in your immediate vicinity.

    As 600 MHz gets redistributed, it's just as likely everyone else in your area will go after the G50 band as well though, so remember what you consider prime real estate, they will too. The DTV assignments are also all getting repackaged soon. So today if G50 looks wide open, in a couple years it may have 6 more DTV broadcasters move into that band that you have to stay away from. Likewise, all of the reserved channels are getting moved around and some may go away over the next 2-3 years.

    There's also an argument to be made for diversifying your wireless bands by putting half in one band and half in another. That way if another user shows up in your neighborhood, they won't hamstring your 14-channel system down to an 8-channel system in a Mexican standoff until one of you replaces your wireless systems.
     
  19. mcubed4130

    mcubed4130 New Member

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    Alright, finally got into the 1st venue to look around a bit... it's only about 65' from the elevated control booth at rear of theatre to the proscenium opening. The control booth has little glass windows some of which have been punched out. I assume I should try and situate external antennas in the open windows.

    Also I was poking around on Full Compass - found this interesting starter bundle:

    http://www.fullcompass.com/prod/510338-Shure-QLXD-Combo-Pack

    Looking at the above, I assume I'd want to change out the 4 Hosa cables for an 8 way snake... and then change from the 4 way antenna distro for an 8 way...

    But I'm baffled by there being only 1 Active Directional Antenna and only 1 antenna extension cable. Isn't everything we've been talking about - supposed to be that there should be (2) external antennas and (2) extension cables?

    Am I missing something important?
     
  20. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    That is a curious package. Probably strategically assembled to have better price than performance.

    Also, FYI, those Vu headworn mic's aren't fantastic. They're not terrible with some EQ, but they distort at a lower SPL than your average mic element. Better for speech than for music. They're the cheapest of the cheap headset mic's.
     
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