The Walt Disney Concert Hall, winter home for the L.A. Philharmonic, and venue for a wide range of musical events, has added an innovative wireless microphone system manufactured by Lectrosonics to match the environment's exacting technical requirements. The nine-channel Venue receiver system comprises a modular UHF design that operates with Digital Hybrid Wireless™ transmitters, and/or a variety of analog transmitters. The receiver utilizes a mainframe assembly that includes an antenna multi-coupler, communications interface and mounting for up to six receiver modules.

"We have a total of nine Lectrosonics SM Series belt-pack transmitters and nine UT400 Series handheld models equipped with AKG C5900 super-cardioid condenser capsules," explains Kevin Wapner, head of audio at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The 18 Venue receiver modules are paired to offer nine channels of audio. The system's Ratio Diversity scheme blends the output of each two receivers based on which one is picking up the better signal. For belt-pack transmitters, the "Super Mini" SM units are being used with DPA 4066 headset microphones.

"The wireless system has performed flawlessly since it was installed in September 2005," Wapner confides. "We handle a number of jazz performances here at Walt Disney Concert Hall, together with operas and other musical events where we need mobile operation. The receiver rack is mounted in the ceiling directly above the performance stage, and is linked to the mix location in the rear of the auditorium. We can also remotely control a number of critical systems parameters from the mix position via a conventional laptop PC, including channel settings, as well as monitoring battery life and signal levels." Each Venue receiver is operated remotely using Lectrosonics' LecNet2 software protocol and a network connection. The firm's VR Panel control software is included with each Venue system.

Using a new design that combines 24-bit digital audio with an analog FM radio link, Lectrosonics' Digital Hybrid Wireless provides audio quality with an extended operating range. The transmitter design overcomes channel noise by digitally encoding the audio signal and decoding at the receiver, while sending the encoded information in an analog format via an FM wireless link. A proprietary DSP algorithm eliminates compandor artifacts while preserving the RF spectral footprint of optimized analog FM designs to simplify multi-channel coordination with existing analog wireless systems. "In day-to-day operation," Wapner stresses, "the Lectrosonics system is extremely quiet, and offers solid RF performance. The SM Series transmitters are small and offer excellent sound quality." "The belt-packs are extremely compact–and easy to conceal on a performer–while the handheld mics feature excellent AKG capsules," says Fred Vogler, the venue's sound designer. "We always keep four handhelds near the stage area just in case we need them at the last minute. You never know when you'll need an announcer microphone or–as happened during a recent concert–a mike to cover a backline amplifier. Rather than have to run a cable across the stage, we can simply hand a mike to the announcer. Simplicity!"