“Relying on each other in a deeper way means we rely on our equipment in a deeper way.”
New York, NY (December 1, 2020) — NY-based Sound Co-op began in 2015 as a conversation between freelance production sound mixers Jon Moore and Phil Shipman. Their co-operative is a sustainable business model to increase career security and bolster clients’ confidence at the same time. Agreeing it was crucial to standardize wireless and other equipment across their team, they chose Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless gear, including the SMV and SMQV transmitters and SRc receivers, supported by pairings of the T4 and R1a for IFB applications. They shared how their Co-op model has helped them thrive and work safely during the coronavirus pandemic — and the supporting role Lectrosonics equipment has played.
“Our Co-op is a legal structure,” begins chief financial officer Shipman. “It’s just like how some apartment buildings and food stores are co-ops. We’re not only worker-owned, but democratically controlled. In a for-profit company, owners take profit based on the share of the company they own. Here, each sound mixer takes revenue based on how much they work.”
Even prior to the pandemic, standardization was a must, as resident tech guru and co-founder Jon Moore explains: “From a technical perspective, we needed wireless products that were wideband, durable, user-friendly, and easy to troubleshoot. I’d worked in the rental department of Professional Sound Services for two years. I was people’s go-to guy for problems like, ‘My receiver is not picking up’ or ‘How do I get more range?’ Just coming in with that experience made me know we wanted Lectrosonics.”
In early 2020, the coronavirus struck, giving Sound Co-op a further and unforeseen reason for having a single wireless umbrella. “We were already benefitting by swapping gear seamlessly between audio bags and projects — if a particular shoot needed more channels at the last minute, that kind of thing,” says chief marketing officer Austin Plocher. “When Covid hit, one of the ways we tried to drive change was by offering paid sick leave to our mixers. If someone feels sick, we’re not pressuring them to show up on set. That’s a cultural change our industry needs to grapple with.”
“That makes it even more important to have reliable gear that’s an industry standard and that we already know how to train newcomers on,” Moore chimes in. “People tend to be familiar with Lectrosonics when they come in the door because they’ve encountered it in the field.”
If bio-safety considerations validated their equipment choice, performance in the field cemented it. “In New York, almost all our jobs encounter obstacles, large buildings, lots of RF in the airwaves, and generally a very challenging wireless environment,” says Plocher. “And Lectrosonics is the choice for us under those circumstances.”
With crosstalk and dropouts being common audio gremlins in such conditions, Moore concurs, “I can’t remember the last time I had any such issue that wasn’t solved with a quick frequency scan and re-pairing of the transmitter and receiver. That points to the excellent job Lectro is doing.”
“I can speak to range as well,” notes Shipman. “We do a lot with Major League Baseball. Even though a ballpark is a big, open area, it’s filled with RF. You go to the frequency coordinator in the morning and they put their hands on their head and go, “Man, I have hardly anything left I can give you!” You don’t get to pick and choose, yet the production depends on you getting in-game sound. Relative to a player miked up deep in center field, your position is on the edge of range. Other wireless products we’ve tried wouldn’t have gotten us anything out there!”
Contact sports have no script, even when you’re shooting a documentary about them. This makes IFB (monitors and comms) all the more crucial. “On the basketball doc Benedict Men, we had three camera crews courtside, where it’s very loud,” Shipman explains. “We’d already programmed three channels using the Lectro T4-R1A combo so producers could move around and select which crew to monitor. Then, we gave R1As to the camera operators as well. They could just reach down to their belts and turn them up way louder than the audio being sent to the camera. This helped them know where to aim to capture all the action.”
Moore and Plocher flag Lectrosonics as equally tenacious in both talent and IFB applications: “I’ve had talent drop Lectrosonics transmitters onto pavement from as much as ten feet up,” recalls Moore. “They powered up and worked again, where other brands have failed from a three-foot fall.”
“We hand countless R1A receivers to producers and directors,” adds Plocher. “So many people treat them like little utility boxes that can just be thrown around … that should give us anxiety, but because it’s Lectrosonics, it doesn’t. I can’t remember the last time an R1A stopped working.”
Beyond practical considerations, the Sound Co-op team sees some of their own values reflected in their gear. “Like Lectrosonics, we’re out to build a brand by building relationships,” Shipman wraps up. “When the Covid lockdown began, for example, we organized virtual town halls about the state of the industry. That led to us taking Covid safety workshops, becoming trainers ourselves, and eventually developing a curriculum for minimizing the risk. That spun off into its own co-op called Community Works Project. As a Co-op, we are always very supportive of each other. Relying on each other in a deeper way means we rely on our equipment in a deeper way.”
For more information about Sound Co-op, visit: https://www.soundcoop.tv.
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 received an Academy Scientific and Technical Award for its Digital Hybrid Wireless® technology and is a US manufacturer based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
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