BLITZ|GES HOME IN ON SHURE WIRELESS FOR CORPORATE EVENTS

30/11/2016

Need For High Channel Count & Reliability At RF-Heavy Sites Drives Focus On Shure

ULX-D Digital Wireless Microphone System


ULX-D Digital Wireless Microphone System

Blitz|GES, the London-based supplier of technical AV equipment to the  live event industry, is increasingly making exclusive use of Shure  digital wireless microphone technology for its corporate clients,  installations and events. Peter Russell, Project Manager at Blitz|GES,  explains. "We do a mix of corporate and theatre work; in our theatre  work we're obviously led by our clients' preferences. But when the  Channel 69 switchover happened, we went over to the Shure UHF-R, with  UR1M and the UR4D receivers as our stock wireless systems, and then when  ULX-D came out, we bought a lot of those."

Amongst the company's corporate clients, regular use of wireless  microphones is rapidly becoming widespread, and with channel counts that  would have seemed unthinkable a few years ago. By way of recent  example, Peter Russell has recently returned from Barcelona, where  Blitz|GES supplied the audio infrastructure during a large corporate  event for a major computing software company. "We were asked to supply  microphone systems for over 25 separate seminar rooms for workshops in  small groups at the event — breakout rooms, as they're known. A total of  144 channels of wireless were required in the end, for which we used a  mixture of Shure ULX-D, QLX-D and UHF-R wireless systems exclusively.  We're increasingly being asked to provide channel counts of this size;  for example, we're the in-house AV supplier for ExCel in Docklands, who  are quite often delivering events that require over a hundred channels."

QLX-D Digital Wireless Microphone System


QLX-D Digital Wireless Microphone System

Since the Digital Dividend in 2012, under the terms of which the  frequency band previously reserved for use by wireless microphones  (Channel 69) was handed over for use by mobile phone operators, the  availability (or otherwise) of interference-free RF frequencies for  wireless microphones has become ever more of an issue for professional  events companies, integrators, broadcasters and the theatre industry.  During this period, as smartphone use has increased, the publicly  accessible RF spectrum, particularly in urban areas, has been licensed  for use by mobile and wireless internet technology to an extent that  would have been unthinkable a decade ago. But at the same time, as Peter  Russell makes clear, the demand from the corporate, events and  entertainment industry for greater use of wireless microphone technology  and installations with higher wireless channel counts has continued to  rise due to the greater flexibility afforded by wireless technology over  solutions based on wired microphones. It's an unfortunate coming  together of operational circumstances that puts extra pressure on events  companies such as Blitz|GES. 

"We need technology that allows us to cope with those client demands,  often without pre-production or the opportunity to visit a venue or  assess its suitability for heavy-duty use of wireless technology, or to  perform frequency scans in the area beforehand," explains Peter Russell.  "So our wireless hardware has to allow us to reliably operate the  maximum number of channels, no matter how RF-heavy the surroundings  might be or how helpful the local RF regulatory framework is. In  Barcelona, for example, there isn't really anyone you can call, like  Ofcom in the UK, if someone is interfering with the frequency that  you're licensed to work on. You just have to find an alternative  frequency somewhere in the band you're using and work with that. That's  why Shure's ULX-D is so helpful, because you can move into High Density  mode, and squeeze more channels into the gaps you can find. In these  kind of environments, having the Shure kit, which offers high channel  density and just works with minimal interference, gives us the  confidence to proceed."

Despite the raised expectations and increased operational  uncertainty, Blitz|GES are finding that their chosen wireless systems  meet the challenges — as in the recent Barcelona install, which was  further complicated by the lack of opportunity to check out the local RF  landscape before the event. "We've provided the wireless systems for  this event in Barcelona before — this was the fifth year," concludes  Peter Russell, "but it was the first time we didn't have a site visit.  We had to go and set up based entirely on our frequency scans from the  previous year — and these days, that's a huge assumption to be asked to  work with, as the availability of RF in an urban environment like  Barcelona is changing by the hour! But fortunately, thanks to our Shure  hardware and Wireless Workbench software, everything went well. In fact,  we delivered this event using the ULX-D systems in Standard mode. We  didn't even have to move into High Density mode to get the channel count  we needed — but it's great to have that up our sleeves if we need it."

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