Bespoke Multi-Zone Audio Broadcast Solution

THE CUSTOMER

British television production company Thames, formerly known as talkbackTHAMES, works behind-the-scenes on more than a dozen UK shows.

These include Britain’s Got Talent, The Price is Right and Take Me Out, as well as the original UK production of global smash hit format, The X Factor.

The popular singing competition, much of which is aired live, has been produced by Thames every season since its 2004 debut.

THE PROJECT

Gearhouse Broadcast, a leading supplier of technical facilities, crew and services used to capture the world’s most watched content, has devised and provided Thames with slick, seamless audio broadcast systems for The X Factor since the show’s inception.

In 2013, the tenth anniversary season of The X Factor, the challenge for the Gearhouse Broadcast team was to identify ways of upgrading the show’s audio infrastructure using the latest technologies available at the time, whilst retaining cost-effectiveness. 

Solutions supplied had to meet demands of both the main ITV1 Saturday and Sunday evening shows as well as ITV2’s follow up Xtra Factor. This required a seamless audio broadcast system covering all areas populated by the contestants, including backstage areas, green rooms, dressing rooms and connecting corridors, in addition to the studio and stage. 

THE APPROACH

Gearhouse Broadcast, in conjunction with professional audio equipment manufacturers Sennheiser, devised a bespoke multi-zone radio microphone system specifically designed to meet The X Factor’s unique audio RF needs.

A Sennheiser ‘Titan X’ aerial combiner was custom-built and used in conjunction with seven x8-way receiver racks rigged at the studios.

Additional top end audio equipment supplied by Gearhouse Broadcast included 43 x Sennheiser SK 5012 lapel microphones, 43x Sennheiser 5212 transmitters, 5 x Sennheiser SKM 5200-U transmitters, 2x Sennheiser SKP 30 plug on transmitters and 2x Sennheiser wireless in-ear monitors.

Due to the 54 Radio Frequency channels throughout the building, a custom calculated frequency plan was developed in conjunction with Sennheiser and radio spectrum managers JFMG.

OUTCOME 

The bespoke video sound solution devised and implemented by Gearhouse Broadcast allowed for full diversity coverage throughout the studio building during The X Factor and Xtra Factor.

Innovative technology from the industry’s top manufacturers combined with the technical know-how of the Gearhouse Broadcast team ensured the delivery of top-class, seamless, error-free audio. 

The frequency plan ensured interference between equipment was avoided, meanwhile the Sennheiser wireless in-ear monitors introduced in 2013 proved integral, providing impressive audio quality, audio encryption facilities, long battery life and accurate battery life reporting

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