On Below Deck, RGear Sails Through High Seas and Hijinks with Lectrosonics Digital Wireless

The wideband ability of the DCR822 and DBSMD is just a game-changer. … Like all the Lectro stuff that came before, they’re consistently easy to use, durable, and sound fantastic.”

Los Angeles, CA (March 19, 2024) — Rental house RGear is the supplier of audio and visual equipment to the reality television industry. At first glance, the clients page of their website could be mistaken for a streaming service devoted to the genre. It includes such household franchises as The Bachelor, Real Housewives and Top Chef. Another big fish is Below Deck and its spinoffs, in which camera crews follow the crews of chartered superyachts and the affluent, often high-maintenance customers who book them. Robert “Bobby” Brehmer is the audio supervisor for the entire brand. He and his mixing staff are currently employing Lectrosonics’ latest generation of all-digital wideband wireless, collectively known as the D2 line. The DBSMD is the transmitter of choice, with DCR822 receivers filling roving audio bags and 4-channel DSQD receivers feeding master control. DHCT and DCHR pairings send reference mixes to cameras. Brehmer and RGear co-owner Gregg Kita shared how Lectrosonics helps them rise to the unique challenges of making reality-at-sea.

“Reality TV is very different than doing anything scripted, the way the story can change on a dime and how the crew has to follow that,” explains Gregg Kita. “Though you can mix and process audio in post, you typically can’t call talent in to re-record dialogue. So, it has to be right the first time. Lectrosonics met this need from the very beginning — I’ve been using it for probably 30 years on reality series.”

One of many factors that sets some reality shows apart from fictional drama or comedy is the sheer number of cast members. “Casts are often very large,” says Kita, “often 25 to 35 members. Of course, they’re not usually all together at the same time. On the yacht(s), Bobby has around 30 receivers going at once — several DSQD receivers in a ‘control room’ with him and an elaborate antenna system around the boat to get coverage for the majority of the entire yacht. For the ENG mixers running around with each camera and mixing only what their camera is shooting, it isn’t practical for them to have that many receivers in their audio bag. The DCR822 is ideal because it has two channels; so, they carry eight channels around (four dual DCR 822s) and rely on the party dial feature in the DCR822.”

“One cool thing about the DCR822 is that you can have a person’s name show up on the channel,” adds Bobby Brehmer. “So, we don’t need to remember that so-and-so is on 500.125, for example. We can just dial them up by name.”

Another pitfall: Film sets are stationary, but a traveling vessel will likely encounter ever-changing RF environments. “The yacht might come into a port where there are new digital transmission towers for broadcast or 5G,” notes Kita. “That means we must be very agile and quick about switching to new frequency plots, but holding onto whatever is still working in order to interrupt the story flow as little as possible.”

For this task, Brehmer keeps a laptop running Wireless Designer at arm’s reach. “Wireless Designer is now my primary intermod coordinator,” he says. “It’s very consistent and has become the straight go-to for us.” Brehmer also notes that given the potential for electromagnetic interference from maritime communications and navigation equipment, not to mention the RF jammers some yacht owners deploy as a privacy measure, “the wideband ability of the DCR822 and DBSMD is just a game-changer. [It covers] the full legal RF spectrum and can squeeze more usable channels into a given bandwidth. Like all the Lectro stuff that came before, they’re consistently easy to use, durable, and sound fantastic.”

“I listen to feedback from Bobby and all the other mixers who work with us, and everyone is giving us the thumbs-up on this newest digital gear,” adds Kita. “I’ve already moved one of our other shows, Bar Rescue, to it. We’ll definitely recommend Lectrosonics for more shows. There’s no better solution for the world of reality television.”

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 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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