San Francisco Ballet FOH Engineer Kevin Kirby with the Ballet’s grand piano and his Lectrosonics UH400TM transmitters. San Francisco, CA (March 25, 2008)–For the San Francisco Ballet’s 75th Anniversary Gala, Kevin T. Kirby, the San Francisco Ballet’s FOH engineer, decided to use discrete microphones and wireless transmission for the production in order to hide mics and mic stands–and settled on a combination of products from Earthworks and Lectrosonics.
With assistance from Michael Moore at Leo’s Pro Audio in nearby Oakland, Kirby secured the Earthworks PM40 PianoMic system for evaluation. “Upon receiving the demo system,” Kirby noted, “I proceeded to test the equipment using conventional wired connections. The results were impressive. Not only did the piano sound fantastic, there was absolutely no hint of a microphone being present as the system straddles the piano’s harp just behind the hammers. The microphones are only visible from above.”
“At this point,” continued Kirby, “I realized that by adding two Lectrosonics TM400s, the dual mic Earthworks system could be completely wireless. The Earthworks system sounds better than the single boundary mic we used previously, while the Lectrosonics wireless equipment would resolve the aesthetic concerns. Within a very short timeframe, the SF Ballet placed the order for both the Earthworks microphone system as well as the additional Lectrosonics TM400. Our new wireless setup has been operational since mid February.”
The two Lectrosonics UH400TM transmitters are positioned on the upstage side of the piano along with the Earthworks PM40 adapter box, which converts the system’s proprietary 5-pin XLR connector into twin 3-pin XLR connectors for the individual microphones. Short XLR jumpers from the two UH400TM transmitters provide 48 volt DC phantom power to the microphones.
According to Kirby, “I originally purchased the Lectrosonics TM400 for acoustic measurement as part of a SMAART system for optimizing the interaction between sound systems and acoustic spaces. Since the TM400 is designed for precise acoustic measurement, it also functions extremely well as a high-end wireless system, and this is why we began using it on the grand piano. Since there’s no companding, the system’s dynamic range is extremely musical. Of equal importance, the TM400 performs very well in congested RF environments.”
“While we’ve only had the system a short while,” said Kirby, “our experience with the gear has been superb. We’ve received many positive comments on the sound of the PM40 and the way that sound is conveyed by the TM400’s. When people are told the piano is wireless, they’re amazed. This is a true ‘no compromise’ way of maintaining the aural integrity with the visual aesthetics the SF Ballet requires.”
San Francisco Ballet