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Author Topic: Lectrosonics Venue wireless system with HH handheld transmitter  (Read 4405 times)

Craig Leerman

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Lectrosonics Venue wireless system with HH handheld transmitter
« on: September 28, 2012, 06:08:14 pm »

Lectrosonics Venue: Assessing A Wireless Microphone System

By Tim Weaver





To me, the true measure of any wireless system is sound quality. Features are nice, but can I tell if what I’m hearing is wired or wireless? Based upon the use of the Lectrosonics Venue wireless microphone receiver and companion transmitters on numerous live gigs over the course of an evaluation process that has lasted about three weeks, I can confidently state that this is a family of products that really pushes the limits of wireless sound quality.

The Venue receiver offers a modular approach that is designed to provide a very high audio signal quality combined with lot of flexibility in dealing with the congested RF spectrum. Venue is comprised of the master rack mount host chassis that accommodates up to six individual receiver modules, as well as built-in antenna multicoupler with loop-thru output. The company’s LecNet2 software is supplied for setup and control.

The rear:





Operating in the UHF band (470.1–691.1 MHz, 537.6–767.9 MHz, and 640–861.9 MHz frequency groups), Venue uses the company’s proprietary Digital Hybrid Wireless technology for transmission. Briefly, a patented algorithm encodes the 24-bit digital audio information in the transmitter into an analog format, and then the encoded signal is then transmitted over an analog FM wireless link. At the receiver, the signal is then decoded to restore the original digital audio. It’s a process designed to eliminate compandor artifacts and produce frequency response flat to 20 kHz.

As previously noted, as many as six channels of wireless receivers can be packed into the 1RU chassis. If offers a centralized menu system and readout for all six channels, and a headphone monitoring system is also built in. If you’re using more than six channels, you can jump the antenna leads out of one Venue chassis into the next, thereby eliminating the cost of a separate antenna distribution system. Phantom power for remote antenna amplifiers is available from the multicoupler antenna inputs using internal jumpers.

The receiver frame also provides bias voltage for active antennas. Since six channels share the receiver chassis the cost of owning one or two channels is fairly high; however the system becomes quite economical if you plan on buying in multiples of six. What's more, the Venue receiver can operate in a “compatibility mode” that can receive signals from older, analog transmitters as well as the new digital hybrid series. This offers a great deal of value to rental houses that already own Lectrosonics gear.

Flexible Transmission
For my evaluation, the Venue receiver was supplied with an HH handheld transmitter as well as an SMQV beltpack transmitter. The flexibility concept also extends to both of these transmitters. Lectrosonics offers one thread-on capsule for the HH, the HHC cardioid condenser, while thread-on capsules using a 1.25-inch/28 thread pitch can be used, including those from manufacturers such as Electro-Voice, Shure, Blue, Earthworks, Heil Sound and Telefunken.

Handheld:




The ultra-miniature SMQV beltpack (2.3 x 2.4 x 0.64 inches, and weight of  less than 4 ounces) is equipped with a standard TA5M type jack for use with electret lavalier and dynamic mics, or line-level signals. Proprietary servo bias circuitry on this input eliminates the need of some mics to introduce pads to prevent overload of the input stage, divide the bias voltage down for some low voltage mics, or reduce the limiter range at minimum gain settings.

The beltpack is minimalist in design. Seemingly made from a solid chunk of aluminum, it’s then clear hard-anodized for protection against oxidation and moisture. Membrane switches offer control without leaving a space for water intrusion. The battery door is closed via a nicely machined thumbscrew and sealed with a pair of O-rings. If you enjoy the industrial design of “function dictates form” then you will love this transmitter. It feels like a precise, yet heavy duty tool.

Here is a pic of the transmitters



I used this transmitter and the included HM172 earset mic on a child actor in a musical play. In the eight performances there were zero RF problems, and it was easy to hide due to it's small size. Battery performance was sufficient to get through two shows before a battery change using standard alkaline batteries. The musical was about two hours long, so four hours total. After that I didn't feel confident using the same batteries for another show.

Talkback Capability
The imaginatively named HH transmitter (“HH” means “handheld”) is also loaded with useful technology, not the least of which is a battery eject lever. This item alone is worth it's weight in gold when there is 30 seconds to change a battery with large fumbling hands like mine. A group of membrane switches under the battery cover offer power switching and  access to a menu offering a plethora of options.

One unmarked black button on the outside of the mic, conveniently operated with your thumb, can be set in the menu system to do nothing, be a mute, or to engage a talkback. In mute mode, it toggles the output of the mic off or on but still broadcasts RF. In talkback mode, it’s a momentary switch – when depressed, the receiver will route the mic’s output to a second channel while also muting the primary channel. This can be used by an artist as a talkback mic to call out the next song or changes in a monitor mix.

Along with the HHC cardioid condenser capsule, I also tested a Shure Beta 87a and an Earthworks SR40V. The difference between them was as clear as if I was changing mics on an XLR cable. The wireless component seems to have been removed from the sound quality discussion. This is great because you can use some truly high-end mics and get every last bit of performance out of them that you paid for.

The HHC is a condenser element that behaves very much like an SM58. It’s cardioid pattern works best for singers that move around a lot. The top end is well defined but not overly hyped. I like this capsule, but using it with louder monitors takes a bit of work.
The Beta 87a sounded exactly like an 87a should. Very crispy and hyped high frequency response is better suited for talking heads or quiet stages. The Earthworks SR40V provided to be the jewel, residing between the other two when it comes to top end. I would call it extremely accurate;  however it never gets harsh. The rejection is fantastic, with proximity effect almost nothing.

Genius Of Simplicity
Lectrosonics included a pair of SNA-600 antennas with the package. These are especially useful if you have a large inventory of wireless systems because they’re tunable over a range between 550 to 800 MHz, meaning you don't have to carry a large inventory of different frequency antennas.

To adjust them, you simply loosen two screws, slide the element out to the length needed (which is printed right on the antenna body), and tighten the screws. A fantastic yet simple idea.
   I do have a few caveats to point out. Both the HH and SMQV go through batteries pretty fast. You can easily get through a concert or a play, but if it’s an 8-hour conference, you'll want to change the batteries at the halfway point.

In addition, caution should be used when pushing buttons on the SMQV beltpack, particularly if you have large hands. If you’re not paying attention, you can hold down two buttons simultaneously and turn the unit off.  And, the menu system in the receiver chassis is a little awkward to navigate. It uses a rotary encoder to scroll through menu choices and to go down the list you have to turn counter-clockwise. It had me going the wrong way while scrolling through menu options.

Note, however, that these are not mission critical issues, and I found – as with almost all gear – that I got used to them the more I worked with the system. And while these things are worth a mention, I’m thoroughly happy with this wireless package. As noted, it sounds superb, I have had zero RF issues, and having it ready to use is as simple as turning it on and scanning for a free frequency.

In fact, I’m going to be specifying Venue for my next band project, where it will fit in perfectly. The band has two lead singers that both play acoustic guitars, so I’ll use two HH transmitters for the vocals and two SMQV transmitters for the guitars. The HH transmitters will be using the talkback function so that both of the singers can communicate with the monitor engineer without leaving the stage –  and all of this will fit in a single rackspace. Perfect.

The VRMWB chassis lists for $1,920; VRS standard receiver modules list for $475 each; HH transmitter lists for $1,500; SMQV transmitter lists for $1,932, and the SNA600 antenna lists for $125. All prices are U.S.

« Last Edit: October 03, 2012, 12:08:41 pm by Craig Leerman »
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I'm so old, when I was doing FOH for Tommy Dorsey, to balance out the horn section I would slide their chairs downstage and upstage to mix!

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