Rio Rancho, NM – January 2009… For any sound crew, outdoor music programs are tough enough, as they require extra care to avoid wind, condensation, and the unavoidable issue of something being dropped at the most inopportune time—usually when changing the setups between the opening and main acts. Now, take these ever-present conditions and multiply them by fifteen and you begin to grasp the challenges facing Ted Morgan and his crew as they ran sound for the recent Word Out Festival Battle of the Bands near Kissimmee, FL in Osceola County just south of Orlando. The wireless mics and instrument transmitters deployed on this project worked flawlessly, but the gear absorbed some rather nasty bumps. As it turned out, all is well—thanks in large part to the fact that the wireless equipment was from none other than Lectrosonics.
Part of an outreach program designed to get the area’s youth involved in positive activities, the Word Out Festival Battle of the Bands, held on Saturday, January 17th, 2009, saw fifteen bands from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina compete for top honors. Orlando, FL-based Total Entertainment Productions was contracted to provide live sound reinforcement for the event, and to help streamline the process of rotating the fifteen competing acts in timely fashion, Lectrosonics wireless equipment was placed into service, as Ted Morgan, the firm’s owner and FOH (front of house) engineer explained.
“To help expedite changeovers,” said Morgan, “the musicians simply carried their guitars and basses onto the stage and plugged into the existing amps that were supplied, while the drum sets were rotated twice during the event. We equipped the guitarists and bassists with Lectrosonics UM400a UHF beltpack transmitters with MI39ARA cables and, for the vocalists; we used Lectrosonics UT400 handheld microphone transmitters with the VMS Super Cardioid capsules. We used ten UT400’s and four UM400a’s for the event, so we were able to prep one act while another was performing. On the receiving end, we had three Lectrosonics Venue Series receiver systems—each fully stocked with the company’s VRT modules for a total of 18 channels. Since we required only 14 channels for this event, the Venue system provided us with four backup channels for safe measure.”
When queried about his selection of Lectrosonics wireless technology for the Word Out Festival Battle of the Bands, Morgan was quick to point out the advantages of Lectrosonics’ Digital Hybrid Wireless® technology. “The Lectrosonics equipment has the most natural, musical sound quality I’ve ever encountered in wireless equipment,” notes Morgan. “Equally important, the gear is really easy to set up when it comes to locating open frequencies. With a single press of a button, the SmartTune™ feature finds an open frequency. During setup, we had all fourteen channels set up and ready in a matter of less than fifteen minutes. Some of my crew is a bit inexperienced when it comes to wireless mics, so the ease of use that the Lectrosonics gear provides went a long way.”
Morgan was particularly enthusiastic about Lectrosonics’ build quality. “Lectrosonics gear is built like a tank,” said Morgan, “and we really benefitted from that quality on this project. At one point, the lead vocalist for Naked Snake did a stage dive into the frenzied crowd. He ended up losing his UT400 and we were unable to retrieve it until about four songs later, so when he got back on stage, we handed him a backup unit. At the end of the set, we were able to retrieve the mic, which had been buried in the dirt. We took it back on stage, cleaned it up with Windex and paper towels and placed it back into service on the next set. When he dropped the mic, we assumed it was a lost cause. We were all shocked to discover that it still worked perfectly.”
“And this wasn’t the only such incident,” continued Morgan. “A vocalist for another band climbed the truss during his performance and dropped the mic onto the stage from roughly fifteen feet up. When he came down off the truss, he picked up the mic and continued using it. Other than a minor cosmetic ding, it kept working as if nothing happened.”
Looking back on the Word Out Festival Battle of the Bands, Morgan offered this closing thought. “Thanks in large part to the Lectrosonics gear, this gig went really well. Lectrosonics builds wonderful equipment that sounds great, is easy to use, and is built to take abuse. I really wasn’t certain how it would hold up under the conditions we had for this event, but it performed flawlessly.”