Lectro Shifts into Top Gear

Sound mixer and boom operator Jay Verkamp first encountered Lectrosonics SMVQ transmitters on the set of Top Gear, using at least six on History’s U.S. version of the original BBC production.
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Los Angeles, CA (November 16, 2015)—Sound mixer and boom operator Jay Verkamp first encountered Lectrosonics SMVQ transmitters on the set of Top Gear, using at least six on History’s U.S. version of the original BBC production.

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“In 2010, I started working on History’s Top Gear,” Verkamp recalls. “I met with experts, researched and tested transmitters and antennas, and that’s when I discovered the one-two punch of the SMVQ transmitters coupled with an array of SNA antennas. I wrote emails to the producers to convince them to invest in this high-powered equipment.

“That was the game changer which transformed our audio department into a ‘car show audio’ department. We needed high-powered transmitters and the correct antennas to keep up with the high-speed action and long-distance transmissions involved in shooting a high-impact show like this, and Lectrosonics made this transformation possible.”

The production was already using Lectrosonics wireless equipment, and he quickly added more. “I convinced the Top Gear producers that we needed more high-powered transmitters on the car show. Since then, my job has become so much easier,” he adds. The Lectrosonics SMQV UHF belt pack transmitter offers user-adjustable output power: 50, 100 or 250 milliwatts, depending on the application and desired battery life.

There are at least six SMQVs on the show, typically paired with a Sanken COS11 microphone, Verkamp reports. “It’s generally one per host, and I also try and get something on each car, especially if it’s a supercar or something that sounds really distinctive. It’s usually positioned by the exhaust, but I have put a mic under the hood when you can really hear an intake. That makes the level of reality even cooler.”

There may also occasionally be guests, he says, adding to the channel count. “One time, I had an entire mariachi band crammed into a Volkswagen Bus.”

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