Robust wireless performance for reality genre location sound mixer
Las Vegas, NV – December 2009… Few areas of professional audio are more daunting than location sound. There are no overdubs and, unlike live sound reinforcement, a glitch in the sound (while generally expected at some point during a concert) is the kiss of death for the sound engineer on the set of a TV show or film. Such is the life of Ross D'Alessandro, location sound mixer / audio technician, whose career hinges on his ability to get it right the first time. Though working long hours under a myriad of adverse conditions may take a toll on his physical well being, D'Alessandro knows he can count on his Lectrosonics wireless gear to get the job done.
While D'Alessandro’s background in ENG (electronic news gathering), sports, news, and commercials is extensive, he really hit his stride after moving to the reality genre of TV production. He’s handled location sound for a wide variety of reality TV projects, including the History Channel’s Ax Men, CBS’ Kid Nation, along with a number of HBO Boxing Specials.
Over the course of his career, D'Alessandro has invested considerably in his Lectrosonics wireless microphone equipment. “I have a good mix of Lectrosonics SMa Super Miniature, UM, and UM400a series transmitters,” says D'Alessandro, “and if water is involved, I’m always going to use the MM400C watertight miniature series. Lately, I’ve been using the Lectrosonics SR series dual channel slot-mount receivers for camera hops and if it’s a control room setup, I use my Venue receivers stocked with VRS modules.”
D'Alessandro credits Lectrosonics’ range, build quality, ease of use, availability, and reliability as being the best in the industry and offered the following production challenge to reinforce his opinion. “In 2008, I mixed on a show where Peter Gray was the Audio Supervisor,” explained D'Alessandro. “We did a segment that landed us shooting on crab boats out on the Bering Sea. We chose Lectrosonics MM400c transmitters, with the Venue receivers set up in the Captains wheelhouse. The outside temperature was below zero and it was raining continuously. Nonetheless, we were able to find clean RF—even with all of the ship’s communication systems in play—and the transmitters never faltered for a second.”
“In spite of being soaking wet and freezing cold,” D'Alessandro continued, “not one out of sixteen transmitters between the two ships ever went down, and we were able to pick up the transmitters from boat to boat as well. To be honest, I was amazed. The gear worked flawlessly.”
Currently, D'Alessandro finds himself working on a police show and, once again, his Lectrosonics gear is making it all happen. Though he’s unable to elaborate, he reports, “I’m roaming all over a major US city, and we’ve been shooting for two weeks. There are four crews, with each crew working separately from one another. I have two frequencies to the camera and another two for the talent, plus one for IFB—and I haven’t taken an RF hit yet.”
While location work tends to take a toll on electronics of all types, D'Alessandro reports that Lectrosonics customer service / technical support services have been first rate. “For the few occasions where I’ve had to call on Lectrosonics technical support,” said D'Alessandro, “they’ve been really responsive. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Howard Kaufman (Lectrosonics’ New York area representative), and he was a great help—both with Lectrosonics gear as well as RF intricacies in general.”
Before turning his attention back to his current project, D'Alessandro offered this thought on his fondness for Lectrosonics wireless systems. “I love Lectrosonics equipment,” he said. “No matter what hurdles production throws at me, and no matter what information I’m not given by production, I know I’m going to be able to handle the situation because I have the gear to back me up. Being able to do quick scans for frequencies in the field has been a life saver on numerous occasions and I also know that If I encounter any issues, the company is going to take care of me—whether it’s an emergency or not. It’s a pleasure to not have to worry about the gear so that I can focus on other aspects of production and perform my job to the best of my abilities. The company proclaims their gear is, ‘Made in the USA by a Bunch of Fanatics.’ Based on my experience, I believe ‘em!”
Well respected within the film, broadcast, and theater 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.