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Shanghai Chinese Orchestra Relies On Shure For Its New Year’s Concert Tour Through Europe

Shanghai Chinese Orchestra Relies On Shure For Its New Year’s Concert Tour Through Europe

ULX-D Wireless Systems Deliver Uncompromising Sound Despite Complex Audio Challenges

Shanghai, February 2015 - Earlier this year the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra and its close to 80 members travelled to Europe to perform their Great Chinese New Year Concerts in celebration of the year of the goat. The concert tour took the orchestra to several countries, including Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany, and included eight concerts within a period of only two weeks.

To enable the players to fully demonstrate the vast depth of Chinese arts to the World and present the quality characteristics of traditional Chinese instruments and playing techniques, a wireless system was required which could deliver the pristine sound of guqin, liuqin, cello, pipa, and also the speeches of the master of ceremony.

Yu Gu, sound engineer of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, explained, “given the intense touring schedule and travel fatigue, my criteria for choosing the audio equipment was to have a wireless system that is light and portable, has good anti-interference capability, high quality sound and wide dynamic range, and is equipped with wireless scanning and backup features.”

After careful consideration he selected the Shure ULX-D Digital Wireless System, including ULX-D4Q Quad Channel Receivers, ULX-D1 Bodypack Transmitters, as well as ULX-D2 Handheld Wireless Transmitters with BETA58 microphone heads.

Handling Varying Mixing Consoles with Ease

Most of the concert venues in Europe were well designed concert halls with good acoustics. However the sound engineer did not know beforehand which mixing consoles would be available at the different locations. The team eventually encountered various models, ranging from analog to digital, with varying gain control performance.

Yu Gu recalled, "we used wireless bodypack transmitters to reinforce the sound from the different instruments. However they all had varying dynamic sound pressure and also weren’t always playing simultaneously. Gain controls on the mixing consoles varied widely and we initially believed this would create quite a challenge for our sound team. What pleasantly surprised me was the gain adjustment feature of the ULX-D receiver. It allowed me to optimize the dynamic range for the various instruments while standing at the mixing console. I could easily make the corrections on the receiver and was spared having to walk around to manually change the settings on each transmitter. This made my job a lot easier and also made it possible to switch freely between different mixing consoles and instruments.”

Dealing with Complicated RF Environments

The sound team also had to plan the frequency assignment throughout the tour. Yu Gu admitted that while he had personally completed training in Shure wireless frequency planning and had been using Shure products for more than ten years, he still approached the complicated RF situation at certain venues with caution.

At the KKL Luzern (Switzerland) in particular, a large electronic screen and a steel screen stood between wireless receivers and transmitters. This setup caused concern during preliminary wireless frequency planning, however the ULX-D system helped to put the sound team at ease. Paired with the Wireless Workbench 6 (WWB 6) software which was installed on a laptop and connected to the ULX-D receivers, the Shure system effectively utilized frequency resources and significantly boosted the number of compatible frequencies in the crowded RF environment of the concert hall. According to Yu Gu, they were able to pick out more than 40 clean frequencies even with all interference sources turned on, resulting in a very stable RF performance throughout both rehearsal and concert.

Yu Gu also listed the concert at the Cottbus State Theatre (Germany) as an example of the exceptional performance of the Shure equipment. The concert coincided with an outdoor festival and wireless scanning identified RF interference from several private systems as well as other non-Shure wireless equipment. The sound team successfully used the WWB 6 software to scan and calculate frequencies, also incorporating information on other wireless system brands and their frequency points. Considering all interference sources, the software was still able to calculate more than 40 open frequencies, which was more than enough to successfully deliver the concert.

The sound team brought a range of additional Shure accessories to prepare for the varying conditions for wireless transmission. To extend the wireless transmission range, the team packed the UA8 1/2 wave omnidirectional receiver antenna together with the UA860SWB passive wide-band omnidirectional antenna. For frequency scanning and backup purposes, the Shure WWB 6 software was a really useful add-on. “I also brought backup transmitters which we placed at the stage entrance in case of unexpected events” added Yu Gu “although in the end we never had to use them. The wireless equipment worked perfectly throughout the eight concerts and provided stable signals without any issues.”

Easy To Carry, Enduring Quality

Due to the packed concert schedule and tour plan of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, high portability of the audio equipment was a very important factor. The selection of Shure ULX-D4Q Quad Channel Wireless Receiver saved the team a lot of transportation expenses and space, although according to Yu Gu, this was only one of the many advantages. He further added the large dynamic range of 120DB, detachable antennas, continuous interference detection, excellent sound quality, and choice of an array of microphone form factors which could reproduce uncompromising sound without any coloration. Sound quality remained clear and refined for all kinds of performances throughout the tour, from simple folk songs to grand orchestral movements.

Regarding the quality of the bodypack transmitters, Yu Gu was very pleased and explained "they worked really well and were able to withstand intense pressure and also the body sweat of the players. Throughout the tour, the bodypacks were worn near the waist on the back, underneath the orchestra members’ suit jackets. The concert dates were very close to each other and equipment had to be packed and loaded into the tour vehicles without being wiped or dried before proceeding to the next city. The bodypacks were sometimes stuck on trucks for several days, and sweat stains and salt were found on the bodypacks at the next performance location. However, thanks to the enduring quality of Shure, the equipment remained functional throughout the whole tour.”

Responding to the question of how he managed to deal with all the difficult situations that the team encountered during the two-week tour, Yu Gu concluded, "based on my extensive experience with Shure products, I knew I could rely on their flawless and solid performance. Even though we faced several challenges at the various concert venues, the Shure systems always lived up to their excellent reputation and helped to make the tour a great success for us.”

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