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Shure Wireless Provides Key Coverage For Monster Jam

For New Jersey-based sound engineer Michael Ward, variety is the spice of life. Between his work for Masque Sound and his gig as A1 (lead audio engineer) for MetLife Stadium, Ward provides audio expertise for everything from Broadway shows and NFL games to major concerts and special events. Recently, the stadium hosted the Monster Jam 2013 tour, and Ward used the occasion as a proving ground for the Shure Axient wireless system.
“This was my first time using Axient at a live event, and a monster truck event was a perfect test of the system,” he says. “We needed RF coverage across the entire stadium, and the audio was being captured for broadcast on the Speed Channel as well. The wireless mics could be used for driver interviews wherever the truck wound up, plus there were giveaways to fans up in the stands. Basically, I mixed everything live on the fly, and, I have to say, the wireless performance was flawless.”
The Axient package for the event included eight channels of RF with the AXT600 Spectrum Manager, ShowLink remote control access points, and Wireless Workbench 6 (WWB6) frequency management software. “We used the entire package, but the main attraction for me was the frequency diversity feature,” reports Ward. “All the Axient handhelds carried two frequencies and can change to the backup seamlessly in case of a dropout. For an outdoor event in the New York metro area, taping live for TV so there’s no room for error, you want that kind of capability – especially when the microphone might be on the opposite side of the stadium.”
Ward was very impressed with the performance of Shure’s frequency coordination and management system. “I utilized Wireless Workbench for frequency coordination before the event, and to monitor all my wireless systems during the event, and it worked out extremely well for me,” he says. “With ENG crews showing up just before the event, I was constantly scanning and using the software to adjust my frequency coordination. There are other systems that do that, but with my Axient channels, I could actually download the information and actually transmit those new frequencies to the transmitters anywhere in the stadium using the ShowLink. Considering that my audio booth is up on the sixth floor, that’s an amazing capability to have.”
In fact, Axient enables virtually every aspect of wireless system operation to be monitored and, more importantly, controlled remotely. “Frequency control is critical, but the fact that I could see and, if need be, change transmitter settings for output power, audio levels, sensitivity, turned out to be very useful,” says Ward. “You can even track Axient battery levels accurately, which is critical. Between the remote control abilities and Wireless Workbench, the whole system is just very well thought out. My job involves a lot more than just wireless microphones, so the fact that Axient made things faster, easier, and more reliable was huge for me.”
The Monster Jam 2013 event was something of a test of the Axient system. “Basically, this was a demo for the stadium,” notes Ward. “We have Super Bowl XLVIII being held in MetLife Stadium next February, so we wanted to do a test to see how easy Axient would be to incorporate, and how it works with our other systems. I think it’s fair to say that it passed with flying colors.”

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