NILES, Ill., Jan. 2012 — For fans, one of the most annoying problems in football is the failure of the referee’s microphone. This issue is particularly common in RF-intensive environments like Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. The stadium is located just a half-mile from the main “antenna farm” of transmitters for the city’s TV stations, making dropouts and interference a fact of life.
“The referee solution we had in place, although operational, lacked resiliency,” notes Bryan Lykins, the team’s newly hired Director of Broadcast Operations. “This is why we engaged Shure Axient. Their technology is impressive and offers what we need: a scalable, innovative and state of the art technology.”
At the time of our installation at Sun Life Stadium, Axient was in beta test. Working with ProSound and Shure’s Market Development Manager, Luis Guerra, Sun Life Stadium was able to use the technology throughout the season. “The stadium was experiencing a lot of interference,” Guerra recalls. “With that much RF, even clean frequencies become noisy and non-linear, making conventional wireless unreliable. When the Axient team saw what a challenge it was, they set up Sun Life Stadium as an official beta test site.”
After extensive testing and installation of a passive antenna system to minimize outside interference, the Axient system was put to the test during a preseason Dolphins game against Dallas. The referee was outfitted with two Axient bodypacks connected to a WL184 unidirectional lavalier microphone via a custom toggle switch built by ProSound. Axient handheld systems are used for the national anthem and halftime entertainment.
“The first game was a total success,” states Bryan Lykins. “The sound quality was excellent and there were no dropouts on the referee’s mic. The system has been in use throughout the 2011 football season, including University of Miami home games, and the results have been impressive.”
Shure Axient is designed to deliver clean, uninterrupted audio for mission-critical microphones, even in the presence of direct interference. The system constantly scans for problems, always keeping a second, clean channel available. Using a data backchannel, Axient uses its unique frequency diversity feature to seamlessly switch channels before interference becomes audible, either automatically or via manual alert. The system also precisely tracks battery life and can change output power remotely.