Sunday, September 13, 2009

Something in the Air

The Tacoma Dome. Big, round, echo-y. And now with extra channels!

Wireless microphones and wireless guitar packs have been around for a while now. Not only do they remove cable clutter from the stage, they allow you to get closer to the audience and put on a more energetic show. That's the upside.

The downside is that in some venues in some cities, the wireless rigs fight for airspace with TV, radio and other radio-based communication systems. We scan for open frequencies and can adjust our particular units to use less-traveled paths through the air, and it usually works out.

Last night we ran into an issue that puzzled all of us. Simple plugging into the rack where the wireless units live put a loud, clear radio station through our guitar amps. Even if the rack was removed from still acted as a big antennae. The more gain - and less filtering - that an amp had, the worse the problem. The boss has a power conditioned and isolated rig, so he was fine. The bass rig was pretty clean but all three guitarists had issues. We tried every thing we could think of and ended up going with cables for our electrics instead of wireless. The acoustic instruments - being low gain - did not seem to be affected.

"Going to a cable" is the default first solution when the guitar rig's so often the culprit that making it the first fix makes sense. So, we always have cables ready at hand in case of emergencies. Last night we started out with them and the consensus was it sounded bigger and better and was more responsive. Which makes sense, since amps are designed to see a certain impedance at the input and wireless units don't necessarily match up. They also compress the signal a bit, removing some of the subtleties of the player's touch. It's a trade-off, for sure, and the entertainment factor benefits outweigh the sonic loss. But it is fun to get a reality check time and again.


Blogger Brent said...

So what kind of wireless are you using with Keith Urban Tom?

14/9/09 13:15  

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