Cleveland, OH-based Richard B. Ingraham, a freelance sound designer operating under the name RBI Computers and Audio was contracted to find an answer to this potentially very awkward live sound application. With a background that encompasses work for Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH) and the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre in Holland, MI, Ingraham's skills and experience were, nonetheless, put to the test on Gypsy. But with the help of Lectrosonics SM, SMD and LMa Digital Hybrid Wireless® beltpack transmitters and Venue series receiver systems, Gypsy quickly became an easy-to-manage success. He discussed his approach to this rather unique theatrical challenge.
“Gypsy is a story about vaudeville performers turning to burlesque to make a living,” explained Ingraham. “There's a strip routine in the show and the main character—Gypsy— had the most revealing part. To make this work, we outfitted the actress with a Lectrosonics SM Super-Miniature transmitter, which was placed inside her bustier, or bra. Fortunately, Lectrosonics offers the RM remote for this transmitter. With its ability to remotely adjust audio input gain, the RF operating frequency, lock/unlock the transmitter's controls, and Sleep mode on/off status, we had a high degree of â€˜hands-free' control, which was essential for this project. The RM remote and the SM transmitter's small size enabled the wireless system to go unnoticed while simultaneously facilitating a considerable amount of adjustment from a distance.”
In total, the wireless system for this show consisted of six Lectrosonics SM transmitters, six SMD transmitters, and twelve LMa transmitters. On the receiving side of the equation, four Lectrosonics Venue VRMWB receiver mainframes—each fully stocked with six VRS receiver modules (for a 24-channel count)—were deployed. In addition to the RM remote control, a Lectrosonics ALP650 LPDA (Log Periodic Dipole Array) shark fin antenna was used to ensure optimum signal strength. Countryman B6 lavaliere microphones were mated with the Lectrosonics systems. All equipment was rented through Page Daniel Wireless Sound of Little Rock, AR.
When queried about those Lectrosonics attributes that were most appealing for this particular project, Ingraham had much to say, “In addition to the RM remote and the diminutive size of the SM and SMD transmitters, Lectrosonics sound quality is exceptional. The company's Digital Hybrid Wireless technology eliminates use of a compandor, which is common to competing wireless systems. The result is higher dynamic range and freedom from sonic artifacts. Similarly, the build quality is terrific. I'm also very fond of the Venue receiver's battery monitor function that enables you to check how long the transmitter has been on. This handy feature enables you to monitor battery life, and this helped us immensely in terms of dealing with the logistics of ensuring battery longevity throughout the shows.”
Gypsy, which opened November 11th, 2011 and ran through November 20th, was very well received and, as Ingraham points out, the Lectrosonics wireless equipment was a big contributor to the show's success. “Everything went really well,” Ingraham reports. “Both the cast and crew of the show were very pleased with the equipment's performance. The sound quality was excellent and the audience took note of this. I really don't see us moving to any other brand—the Lectrosonics gear is so well designed and easy to use, there's simply no reason to look elsewhere.”
To learn more about Richard B. Ingraham and his services, visit him online at www.rbicompaudio.20m.com.
Well respected within the film, broadcast, and theatre technical communities since 1971, Lectrosonics wireless microphone systems and audio processing products are used daily in mission-critical applications by audio engineers familiar with the company's dedication to quality, customer service, and innovation. Lectrosonics is a US manufacturer based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Visit the company online at www.lectrosonics.com.
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Photo Description: A Gypsy cast member performing on stage