Washington, DC – November, 2014… Sweet Honey in the Rock (SHIR) is an all-female, Grammy Award–nominated African-American a cappella ensemble celebrating their 40th Anniversary in the industry this year. The troupe expresses their history as African-American women through song, dance, and sign language. Originally a four-person ensemble, they have featured five-part harmonies for many years, and since 1981 they have included an American sign-language interpreter as a sixth member for all their live performances. The ensemble’s audience and community comes from diverse backgrounds and cultures throughout the United States and around the world. With performances that range from an Arts Envoy program in Belize for the U.S. Embassy to those at venues such as the Aronoff Center for the Arts in Cincinnati, OH, SHIR relies on their wireless microphones to help them connect with their audiences. And for this, they count on Digital Hybrid Wireless® technology from Rio Rancho, NM-based Lectrosonics.
Sunderland, MA-based Art Steele serves as SHIR’s audio mixer and technical director. In addition to his involvement with SHIR, which goes back 35 years, Steele is also the owner, manager, and sound designer for Audio Promedia, an audio services company involved the live sound, pro touring, and special events markets. For his work with SHIR, Steele employs a combination of Lectrosonics SMDa Super-Miniature beltpack transmitters along with UT400 and HH handheld transmitters. On the receiving end of the system, he uses a fully loaded Lectrosonics Venue receiver. He discussed his fondness for Lectrosonics equipment.
“Clear, natural sounding audio quality is, of course, the first priority with any audio setup,” Steele says. “With Lectrosonics, I get absolutely pure, clean tone—free from the audible in / out gating sounds of some RF systems out there or the false, muddy bass ‘ghost’ notes commonly associated with companding. Combined with the equipment’s extremely low self-noise floor, the performance of these wireless systems is firmly competitive with a hard wired mike to any objective listener. The Lectrosonics RF platform actually offers a more accurate, more extended low frequency performance than a wired vocal mike!”
Steele elaborated on Lectrosonics RF performance attributes. “I’ve been very impressed,” he said. “The 100 milliwatt power of the SMDs transmitter provides great dropout-free range, enabling me to sound check the headsets from dressing rooms hundreds of feet away—even on other floors and through building architecture. This aspect of the equipment leaves me free to monitor the RF system transmission details via the Venue rack at FOH.”
Steele also commented on the ability of the Lectrosonics wireless microphone systems to handle high SPLs. “Sweet Honey’s full bore gospel performances could easily stress most systems,” Steele reports. “The choices Lectrosonics made for the parameters of the ‘over the top last resort limiting’ within the platform are excellent. I also applaud the company for not rolling off low frequency performance as many manufacturers do. Lectrosonics’ no compromise approach to audio works for me.”
Steele’s receiver setup consists of the one rack space Lectrosonics Venue Wideband receiver operating on Block 20 and 25 with Lectrosonics SNA600 Dipole antennas. “The SNA600 antennas fold nicely into a mike pouch along the rear of my soft zipper closure rack bag,” he explained. This bag packs into a standard piece of luggage with 2 inches of foam on all sides. This is an extremely compact setup that travels well.”
When asked about his experience with Lectrosonics’ build quality and reliability, Steele was exceptionally complimentary, “My equipment has been on tour continuously for over four years—as airline-checked baggage—and I’ve experienced no failures! Combined with excellent battery performance, which typically translates to two one hour sound checks and a two hour show before needing to change to a new pair, I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Before turning his attention back to his business, Steele offered these parting comments regarding his experience with Lectrosonics equipment, “Lectrosonics’ audio performance, RF agility, and overall build quality are all exceptional. Over the years, I’ve tried and used all wireless performance platforms and Lectrosonics is far and away the best!”