ULX-D Wireless Microphones Used On Prime-time German TV Show 'The Voice Kids'
Kai Bastian, Technical Audio Support, Studio Berlin Adlershof
For us, ULX-D is unmatched in many respects.
The Voice Kids is a successful prime-time Friday night German talent/reality TV show, based on the established format of The Voice of Germany, but exclusively focused on child performers. A co-production between TALPA Germany and Studio Berlin Adlershof, based at the latter company’s headquarters in south-eastern Berlin, the show is now in its fourth series. Since early 2016, a 20-channel Shure ULX-D digital wireless microphone system has been used to capture the performances of the young contestants.
The Voice Kids has run every year since 2013, and is a large-scale production with contestants and additional live acts performing song and dance routines every week, using a large number of wireless mics with plenty of backups in case of unexpected failures. Due to Germany’s second Digital Dividend, the availability of RF spectrum for wireless use looked likely to become more restricted in the coming years, but the production team knew there would be no corresponding drop in the need for wireless channels on their show. They decided to upgrade their wireless system to something that could work more efficiently with less available spectrum, but still give them a high number of interference-free wireless channels. Due to the system being continually in demand while the show was in production, it was important that the switchover could be done as seamlessly as possible. In the end, the upgrade was carried out after the third series, and before the fourth began in early 2016.
20 channels of Shure’s digital ULX-D system was chosen because it fitted the above criteria, and also offered the advantage that it was on sale, operational and in use by other broadcasters in comparable situations at the time the team was looking to change their wireless mic system. The busy Voice Kids team couldn’t afford to experiment with a system still in development that might (or might not) become more usable over time.
According to Silvio Grau, a freelance engineer who looks after the wireless systems and frequency planning on The Voice Kids, ULX-D sounds great, and uses spectrum more efficiently than the previous wireless system used on the show. Frequency management is also more straightforward now thanks to Grau’s ability to use Shure’s Wireless Workbench RF management software and an AXT600 spectrum manager, which was installed at the same time as ULX-D by Berlin integrator Werner Audio GmbH. Grau also finds some of the ULX-D system’s user functions particularly helpful, such as the ability to change mic gain assignments remotely, without having direct physical access to the wireless transmitters. The last word has to go to Technical Audio Support Manager for Studio Berlin Adlershof, Kai Bastian: "For us, ULX-D is unmatched in many respects."
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