January 17, 2008
LOS ANGELES, CA, January 17, 2008—At a time when it's getting harder for bands to get noticed and sell records, and most record companies have cut back their promotional budgets, Fox TV's The Next Great American Band has proven that it just may be the best thing going for groups wanting exposure on a massive scale. Playing to an audience of millions tuned in at home each week, the show counts on an audio blueprint conceived and executed by Burbank, CA-based Soundtronics using Shure UHF-R wireless. "This production is a real track meet," Soundtronics' Dave Bellamy imparts. "It's a lot of work, and the A2s are always running nonstop. Multiple staging areas are right next to one another, and when you add up all the RF devices in use on the set, you're probably looking at 140 frequencies or more all operating in close proximity. It's a saturated environment, and that's what makes the whole thing tricky." In order to guarantee that every aspect of the show is heard consistently at all levels, Soundtronics called upon its proprietary Phoenix system to calm down the situation without compromising performance. In its most basic sense, the Phoenix system is a network of antennas designed expressly to optimize signal-to-noise ratio. In total, 12 antennas within the Next Great American Band Phoenix system were deployed with three in each corner of the stage area. "Within this arrangement, wherever the talent turns with either a handheld wireless transmitter or bodypack, we have at least one—and usually two—antennas within a direct line-of-sight," Bellamy explains. "Given this reality, I can turn down the sensitivity of the system to minimize the impact of locally generated noise and the effects of RF operation in adjacent areas." According to Next Great American Band Audio Assistant Debbie Fecteau, an incredible 100 channels of Shure UHF-R wireless see regular use on the show. Both bodypack and handheld transmitters are included within this sizable count, with the latter sporting KSM9 and SM58 capsules. "It's really the best quality in terms of performance," Fecteau says of UHF-R. "Artists love it, mixers…everyone. The frequency agility of the systems comes in handy, as there are definitely times when we have to change things out quickly." Dave Bellamy additionally reports that UHF-R is ideally suited for use with the Soundtronics Phoenix system. "A UHF-R receiver requires very little signal to work well, and when it mutes, it mutes quietly. By design, the Phoenix system reduces levels to the receiver. Therefore, I need receivers that can work with whatever I give them and be happy. With Shure, I get just that. The sound on this show is everything anyone has a right to expect. Watch and listen, and you be the judge."