New York, NY (July 18, 2018)—For pro-audio enthusiasts, this year’s annual Tony Awards was notable not merely for the long-awaited return of the Best Sound Design categories after a controversial four-year hiatus, but also for the expansion of the wireless audio options provided to the show by Firehouse Productions (Red Hook, NY/Las Vegas, NV).
The annual telecast, broadcast live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall in New York, featured vocalists Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban as co-hosts. Show lead Simon Welch and RF coordinator Vinny Siniscal of Firehouse Productions opted to use Shure wireless systems for the event as in the past, but this year added eight channels of Axient Digital with ShowLink for Groban and Bareilles, who used ADX2 handheld transmitters with KSM9 condenser mic elements for the show opener; for their lavaliers, both wore the new ADX1M micro-bodypack.
For the rest of the cast, the primary wireless was Shure UHF-R, with 48 channels needed to cover the awards’ many production numbers. All of Firehouse’s 32 UR1M micro-packs were on hand, with handhelds available as needed. In-ear monitoring was exclusively Shure PSM 1000, with 10 mixes available on a total of 32 P10R diversity bodypack receivers.
Frequency coordination in the middle of Manhattan is always complicated and the ongoing closing of the 600 MHz range hasn’t simplified that matter. With that in mind, Siniscal limited UHF systems to operating below 608 MHz.
“In the aftermath of the FCC auction, it’s important to adjust to having less UHF real estate available, so I’ve been coordinating for the post-600 megahertz world on all my shows this year,” he said. “Even though much of the 600 MHz band is still technically usable, it won’t be for long. We’re now using 1.9 and 2.4 GHz comm systems for that reason, which means our UHF channel count was actually down a bit this year. It also left us more space for TV crews, which is another area we have to consider in doing frequency coordination.”
This year’s antenna system included three diversity reception zones – on stage, backstage, and audience area. In addition, the system included the Shure ShowLink system with Spectrum Manager for full remote monitoring and control of all Axient Digital functions, including interference detection and avoidance. All Shure systems were monitored by Shure’s Wireless Workbench software throughout the show.
Mix duties were handled by veteran engineers, with Ron Reaves at front of house and Tom Holmes handling the broadcast mix. Monitors were mixed by Michael Bove. Assisting Siniscal in wireless was Sisse Jonassen, who works with the A2s to ensure that all performers are properly miked with their assigned channels.
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