Sound Mixer Henry French Matches New York City’s Frenetic Pace with Lectrosonics Digital Wireless

I think the pairing of the DSR4 and DBSMD sounds better than any other receiver-transmitter combo I’ve ever used. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this and a high-end boom mic on a cable. All in all, Lectrosonics digital has really accelerated my workflow.”

New York, NY (March 12, 2024) — Henry French is a journeyman sound mixer capturing the action of commercials, independent films, and TV series based in New York City, which he describes as “a completely different grind” compared to the more measured cadence of production of other places. His credits as mixer, boom operator, or recordist include the feature film A Shot Through the Wall, the docu-series Bonded By Ball about hoops star Tracy McGrady’s Ones Basketball league, the short Transit: A New York City Fairytale, and The Oxy Kingpins, a documentary about the pharmaceutical industry’s role in America’s opioid crisis. French credits his career-spanning reliance on Lectrosonics wireless for helping him respond to the minute-by-minute changes freelancing in the Big Apple dishes out. Beginning with UCR411 series receivers and cycling through Digital Hybrid transmitters including the SMV and SMQV, he now finds that the all-digital, four-channel DSR4 receiver paired with DBSMD transmitters helps him maneuver more nimbly than ever.

“About ten years ago, I was in Washington, D.C. working in a data center,” French recounts. “I had a friend, Olaitan Agueh, who was also a musician, and we had a lot of jam sessions together. I always wondered what he did for a living — turns out it was mixing. He brought me in to run boom and assist on A Shot Through the Wall, and I consider him my mentor, the guy who helped me break out of my 9-to-5 life into what I do now.”

Agueh also facilitated French’s introduction to Lectrosonics. “We always geeked out together, talking about gear and techniques. He told me that in the film and TV world, Lectrosonics is the gold standard. My own using it over the years backs that up. I think part of the reason is that Lectro focuses only on wireless. Several other companies, whose stuff isn’t necessarily bad, ‘also’ do wireless on top of microphones, P.A., and other things.”

Although his DSR4 is a relatively recent acquisition, French reports that it has been a lifesaver in the challenging RF environment of Manhattan. “I do a lot of work around Times Square and Columbus Circle,” he says. “RF-wise it’s just a zoo. Cell towers, 5G, Wi-Fi of shops on the street, and even others on set using wireless, such as Hollyland rigs for video. I really appreciate how quickly I can scan on the DSR4. It always finds and holds on to frequencies no matter how packed the airwaves are.”

Two features of the DSR4 are especially relevant to the RF gymnastics of inner-city production. “First, each day I show up on set I do a fresh scan using the SmartTune function, to see if anything about the frequency landscape has changed overnight,” explains French. “For each of the four channels, it will find the cleanest frequency band there is. I’ve worked NYC Fashion Week for [sneaker brand] Puma. You don’t necessarily know who you’re miking next or where you’ll be. You might hop in a cab to a different location across town and have a couple of minutes to get up and running. It helps that SmartTune is quick.

Second is the wideband range of the DSR4, spanning the full legal spectrum of 470 to 608 MHz in North America. “I’m not locked into one block or another, which lets me adapt quickly,” explains French. “But it’s worth mentioning that you can limit SmartTune to specific blocks and that can be different for each channel. So, if I’m using an older transmitter — and the DSR is backward compatible with the SM series and even stuff way before that — I can tune inside the block that makes sense for it.”

The need for range and RF tenacity extends well beyond the big city. “One of the most difficult shoots I ever worked on was for a reality show called 5GRV: Gamers on the Road. It was a bus ride along the East Coast, featuring African American women who are also expert video gamers. They’re playing at all these HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), and they’re also gaming while on the bus. Long story short, with Lectrosonics, I never had an issue with range, with dropouts, or anything like that.”

Once transmitters are placed, the DSR4 receiver is what French interacts with, so he appreciates its intuitive user interface: “The ease of use of the menu system is another thing that’s great. I can see more information at a glance, in one place, and it’s not cluttered or confusing. That also goes back to having to be a quick-change artist. I don’t want to be fiddling with my gear while other people are waiting.”

Movie and TV audiences don’t see the sound cart. Neither to the advertising clients who hire the agencies that hire French. But both will notice subpar sound immediately, which is why French thinks the audio quality of his system is its most important virtue. “I know this can be a matter of strong personal opinion,” he says, “but I think the pairing of the DSR4 and DBSMD sounds better than any other receiver-transmitter combo I’ve ever used. Digital Hybrid Wireless is certainly great. This is better. There’s almost no noise floor, and I find that I don’t have to turn up the headphone volume on my recorder as much as I used to. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this and a high-end boom mic on a cable. All in all, Lectrosonics digital has really accelerated my workflow.”

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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