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Author Topic: Working in a RF nightmare  (Read 968 times)

Ryan Michener

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Working in a RF nightmare
« on: June 14, 2017, 02:36:21 am »

Hey guys I've been in quite a predicament lately and could use some advice. I work in a small venue (seats about 400) with a small presenium that employs the use of a 12'x32' thrust to compensate for the small stage. We host a wide variety of events ranging from concerts to corporate events, but the most troublesome of all is community theater. Most community theater troops will rent out venues like mine to host their productions. They provide all the wireless lavalier mics for their productions. It's my job to set up the mics and run sound for the shows. So here's where it gets bad... naturally these theater troops are one a budget. They alll seem to have the same mics. Maybe this is just in my local theater community bacause I assume the Same people are recommending the same products to all the play directors. I can't recall the model number, but they are audio technica mics. One channel per unit. They operate on frequencies from 482 a 506. Incraments of .025. They have no network compatibility, so I can't use audio technica's RF control software. I think it's called artist elite or something. Even buying a spectrum anylizer is out of the question because I can't go spending company money just to accomadate one client when there's plenty of upgrades that we hold at a greater priority. The auto scan function works on 9 different groups and has worked terribly. The last time I reset all the frequencies using it I got tons of drop outs and even local television broadcasting interference. So I've just been stuck in a tragic loop of trial and error. Based on the placement of our stage box, I can't think of any other place to place the receivers than right on top of the stage box, stacked on top of each other, right behind the persenium.(stage right) but because of the small stage most of the action is on the thrust. So I can't even have a line of sight between transmitters and receivers half the time. And there's no way to get them any higher than 5 ft off the ground. At least I can't think of any. They all run off Omni directional antennas. These guys can't afford a Log periodic antennas or really any RF distribution, and again we can't go buying that stuff just for one or two clients. I'm sick of getting bad results and being looked at like I don't know what I'm doing. In reality I don't know what I'm doing! I've had formal training in all this stuff, but it's like how can you cut a steak with spoon? I've thought about building a DIY log periodic antenna, but how am I going to know I'm getting the frequency response I need? the house wireless system is all sennhieser G3 with a sennheiser splitter and it works flawlessly. But we're talking 12 wireless units working in tandum with stock Omni antennas stacked on top of each other with a wall full of all sorts of metal and no distribution. I'm all out of ideas. I always have at least two mics experiencing interference and dropouts. It is extremely frustrating and I've been racking my brain for months. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?
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Cailen Waddell

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2017, 08:07:49 am »

Have you checked the frequencies of the mics against one of the databases to makes sure you are avoiding tv stations?  Maybe I'm missing that but didn't see it in your post...




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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2017, 08:30:16 am »

Quote
Does anyone have any suggestions for me?
Shure Wireless Workbench
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Jason Glass

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2017, 10:52:53 am »

Hey guys I've been in quite a predicament lately ...
"These guys can't afford a Log periodic antennas or really any RF distribution"

Then they can't afford 12ch of wireless. Period. Insist that they allow you to do the job right or refuse to take responsibility for the impossible task they are forcing on you.

With that said, offer a compromise and suggest that they budget a modest amount for short term rental of antennas and distribution. VER has everything you need and the cost is small compared to purchase. Considering that the street price of a pair of superb LPDA antennas can be under $330 and distribution under $500, the small fraction of that spent on rental should be considered a required cost of production.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/352354-REG/Audio_Technica_ATW_A49_ATW_A49_UHF_LPDA.html

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/891423-REG/rfvenue_distro4_rf_and_dc_4_channel.html

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« Last Edit: June 14, 2017, 10:55:11 am by Jason Glass »
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Bob Charest

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2017, 11:15:36 am »

Insist that they allow you to do the job right or refuse to take responsibility for the impossible task they are forcing on you.

Couldn't agree more.
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Lee Douglas

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2017, 11:27:35 am »

I'm no wireless guru (but there are a couple of them on the forum) but I would imagine that stacking all of those antennas on right on top of each other could be the problem.  Using the correct antenna distribution system may clear up your problems.  Separating them may also help.  Although not as organized, it might help you determine if the antenna farm is part of your issue.  I'm also wondering why you're being held responsible for your clients equipment? 
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David Pedd

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2017, 11:59:53 am »

"These guys can't afford a Log periodic antennas or really any RF distribution"

Then they can't afford 12ch of wireless. Period. Insist that they allow you to do the job right or refuse to take responsibility for the impossible task they are forcing on you.

With that said, offer a compromise and suggest that they budget a modest amount for short term rental of antennas and distribution. VER has everything you need and the cost is small compared to purchase. Considering that the street price of a pair of superb LPDA antennas can be under $330 and distribution under $500, the small fraction of that spent on rental should be considered a required cost of production.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/352354-REG/Audio_Technica_ATW_A49_ATW_A49_UHF_LPDA.html

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/891423-REG/rfvenue_distro4_rf_and_dc_4_channel.html

You'd need 3 of the distribution units.  But I disagree with the antenna recommendation.  At that close distance the Omni should be fine (or at least 1/2 wave).  High gain antennas will overload the inputs to the receiver's and increase distortion.

I also agree with the commenter who said stacking the units can have an effect.  Hopefully the antennas aren't touching, but even if close, can cause issues.
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Jason Glass

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2017, 12:05:56 pm »

You'd need 3 of the distribution units.  But I disagree with the antenna recommendation.  At that close distance the Omni should be fine (or at least 1/2 wave).  High gain antennas will overload the inputs to the receiver's and increase distortion.

I also agree with the commenter who said stacking the units can have an effect.  Hopefully the antennas aren't touching, but even if close, can cause issues.
As the OP stated, the problem is not distance, it's objects between the RX location and performance area, encroaching on Fresnel zones. The remedy is remote antennas placed outside the proscenium, while the passive paddles recommended are the simplest to deploy and have appropriate gain to overcome cable losses.

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« Last Edit: June 15, 2017, 12:08:17 pm by Jason Glass »
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David Pedd

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2017, 12:28:07 pm »

As the OP stated, the problem is not distance, it's objects between the RX location and performance area, encroaching on Fresnel zones. The remedy is remote antennas placed outside the proscenium, while the passive paddles recommended are the simplest to deploy and have appropriate gain to overcome cable losses.

I missed that part.  Thanks.  You'd still need to calculate cable size/length/gain to make sure of no overload.
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Erik Jerde

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2017, 08:16:30 pm »

I missed that part.

Paragraphs and formatting are wonderful things.  I stopped reading the OP and read the responses to get an understand what was going on.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2017, 10:41:52 am »

"These guys can't afford a Log periodic antennas or really any RF distribution"

Then they can't afford 12ch of wireless. Period. Insist that they allow you to do the job right or refuse to take responsibility for the impossible task they are forcing on you.
This is like buying a car but not being able to afford oil changes.  Not a good long term solution.
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2017, 12:35:56 pm »

No one would by wired mics, then say they can't afford the cables-but in essence this is the same thing.

I agree that this is not your problem.  If they can't afford the antennas, then reduce the mic count until you can get reliable performance.  Fewer working mics will make for a better performance than a lot of intermittent mics.
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Steve Swaffer

LonnieBedell

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2017, 09:07:12 pm »

Hey guys I've been in quite a predicament lately and could use some advice. I work in a small venue (seats about 400) with a small presenium that employs the use of a 12'x32' thrust to compensate for the small stage. We host a wide variety of events ranging from concerts to corporate events, but the most troublesome of all is community theater. Most community theater troops will rent out venues like mine to host their productions. They provide all the wireless lavalier mics for their productions. It's my job to set up the mics and run sound for the shows. So here's where it gets bad... naturally these theater troops are one a budget. They alll seem to have the same mics. Maybe this is just in my local theater community bacause I assume the Same people are recommending the same products to all the play directors. I can't recall the model number, but they are audio technica mics. One channel per unit. They operate on frequencies from 482 a 506. Incraments of .025. They have no network compatibility, so I can't use audio technica's RF control software. I think it's called artist elite or something. Even buying a spectrum anylizer is out of the question because I can't go spending company money just to accomadate one client when there's plenty of upgrades that we hold at a greater priority. The auto scan function works on 9 different groups and has worked terribly. The last time I reset all the frequencies using it I got tons of drop outs and even local television broadcasting interference. So I've just been stuck in a tragic loop of trial and error. Based on the placement of our stage box, I can't think of any other place to place the receivers than right on top of the stage box, stacked on top of each other, right behind the persenium.(stage right) but because of the small stage most of the action is on the thrust. So I can't even have a line of sight between transmitters and receivers half the time. And there's no way to get them any higher than 5 ft off the ground. At least I can't think of any. They all run off Omni directional antennas. These guys can't afford a Log periodic antennas or really any RF distribution, and again we can't go buying that stuff just for one or two clients. I'm sick of getting bad results and being looked at like I don't know what I'm doing. In reality I don't know what I'm doing! I've had formal training in all this stuff, but it's like how can you cut a steak with spoon? I've thought about building a DIY log periodic antenna, but how am I going to know I'm getting the frequency response I need? the house wireless system is all sennhieser G3 with a sennheiser splitter and it works flawlessly. But we're talking 12 wireless units working in tandum with stock Omni antennas stacked on top of each other with a wall full of all sorts of metal and no distribution. I'm all out of ideas. I always have at least two mics experiencing interference and dropouts. It is extremely frustrating and I've been racking my brain for months. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?

I think the core of the problem is you being responsible for somebody else's cheap gear. They need to provide their own audio "fall guy" if this is the situation.
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scottstephens

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2017, 05:24:25 pm »

Ryan,

The fact that your getting television interference says it all.  To me, it sounds like they are using frequencies that are not supposed to be used. You could get in serious trouble. Go to the A.T. website and look for the available frequencies in your area. You do this by typing in your zip code. You can also email A.T. I have always found them to be very responsive.  I have 12  A.T. 3000 units and 4 of those are in the "I" range 482- 507 Mhz and they have been rock solid.

Also, if you need to get the receivers up in the air, go to Walmart and get a cheap bookcase and put some of the units one the top couple of shelves and put the thing against the wall just off stage, for $50 bucks they are up where they belong. Or, get some boards and a couple of shelving brackets. For $30, a couple of screws,  and a 1/2 hour of your time you are good to go.

Lastly, as said before, don't be responsible for someone else's crap.

scott
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Eric Snodgrass

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Re: Working in a RF nightmare
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2017, 10:05:17 pm »

I agree with the other posters concerning frequency checks - you should be checking the available frequencies in the area using the Audio Technica tools (or other frequency tools).  I too have had issues with AT wireless gear.  On one gig I experienced dropouts on the lead during one particular part of a scene regardless of the proximity of the receiver's antennas. 
One thing you need to look at is the antenna placement of the packs.  If the transmitter has a floppy antenna (like some other cheap wireless models) make sure that the antenna is not crossing the mic connector or the mic cable.  That alone will cut transmission range of the pack. 
Also, check how much contact the antenna is having with the performer's body.  Contact with bare skin or sweaty undergarments can also have an adverse effect on transmitter range. 
(I am assuming that the transmitters are under costumes) - If any of the costume tops contain metal, including shiny metallic threads, beading, or even certain sequins, that will also cause transmitter range issues. 

I do not agree with the poster who inferred that one needs an antenna distribution amp for more than 12 wireless.  While it could help quite a bit it is not necessary and should not be thought of as a hard and fast rule of wireless.  I have frequently run wireless counts exceeding 20 without antenna DAs and have had great results.  As you have found out, the more expensive units (Sennheiser) will give you much better transmission range quality than the cheap units.  So an antenna DA could be a solution to the issues regarding the cheap units. 
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