"Ground Control: An Opera In Space" looks to Lectrosonics For Wireless

Sound quality, RF agility, and compact form factor crucial aspects for space-themed project

AlanChangSan Jose, CA… The International Space Orchestra is the world’s first orchestra of space scientists. Blending space exploration with musical performance; the International Space Orchestra’s members are individuals drawn from NASA Ames Research Center, SETI (Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence), Singularity University, and the International Space University. The world premiere of Ground Control: An Opera in Space— a staged concert inspired by mission control rooms—was performed live by the International Space Orchestra on September 13th. Produced by the Nelly Ben Hayoun Studio with the kind support of Phoebe Greenwood, a documentary film titled International Space Orchestra: Making Of, will debut in November. In each case, Lectrosonics wireless microphone technology was an integral component to the success of these projects.

Sound designer and mix engineer Alan Chang served as the A1 Supervising Sound Mixer for the projects. Due to the complexities and the size of the cast on these projects, Chang used a large assortment of Lectrosonics wireless microphone technology. His arsenal included three fully-stocked Lectrosonics Venue receiver systems that were outfitted with a combination of VRS and VRT receiver modules. Augmenting the twenty-four channels afforded by the Venue mainframes, he also used three Lectrosonics UCR411a compact receivers. Feeding these receivers was a contingent of twelve Lectrosonics LMa beltpack transmitters, five UM400a beltpack transmitters, two UM200C beltpack transmitters, one SMQV super-miniature beltpack transmitter,one SMa super-miniature beltpack transmitter, one UT400 handheld transmitter, one HM plug-on transmitter, and one UH400TM plug-on transmitter.

“Most of the transmitters were worn by the choir members as well as several key musicians and all were outfitted with Sanken COS-11D ultra-miniature omnidirectional lavaliere microphones,” Chang reports. “The handheld and plug-on transmitters were used for the Q&A talk series that included several of NASA Ames’ finest engineers and scientists. One of the most important pieces of wireless equipment we used was the UH400TM because of the convenience of deploying it out in the audience and staging areas for speaker and room responses.  The ease of moving a wireless transmitter provided us tremendous freedom and time—without having to stretch stacks of microphone cables around the venue.”

Chang was equally enthusiastic about the Lectrosonics Venue receivers systems and their ability to pack as many as six channels into a 1 RU rackmountable form factor. “We needed to keep the entire package as neat and tidy as possible,” he explained, “so the ability to have six channels in a single rackspace was a huge benefit in addition to the low-profile RF Diversity Fin Antenna from RF Venue.  Completing our wireless setup was a Lectrosonics T4 IFB transmitter and four R1a IFB receivers that we used for the camera links.”

When discussing those attributes of the Lectrosonics wireless equipment that were most important for this project, Chang was quick to point to several features. “Sound quality comes first when deciding on what wireless equipment to use, and among all major wireless companies, Lectrosonics has a big advantage. Their Digital Hybrid Wireless™ technology sounds far more natural than any wireless systems using compandors. Equally important is the equipment’s ease of use. We had the gear set up on several different frequency blocks and configuring everything is a very straight forward process—so that in itself is a big time saver. And the fact that the gear is incredibly reliable and that transmitters like the SMQV are so incredibly small are the icing on the cake.”

Reflecting on the success of both the project and his use of the Lectrosonics wireless equipment, Chang offered these parting thoughts, “With twenty-one choir members dressed and acting as mission control staffers plus several key musicians all miked up—and let’s not forget the Q&A exchange with the audience—there was a lot to keep track of. Now figure in the fact that we sent IFB’s and camera hops to all camera operators during the performance. This was a big wireless setup and everything worked out really well for us. As Neil Armstrong would have said in 1969, ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for Lectrosonics.’ We couldn’t be happier with the outcome!”

To learn more about Ground Control: An Opera in Space, visit http://groundcontrol-opera.com/.

About Lectrosonics

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.