PHOENIX – December 1, 2010: Nearly 10 years ago, the Xavier College Preparatory high school invested in a brand new, 1,000-seat auditorium for its frequent musical productions, assemblies, concerts and fundraisers. Since the beginning, the all-female Catholic high school has relied on Sennheiser for the auditorium's wireless audio infrastructure.
The school originally installed 24 channels of Sennheiser's ew 100 series wireless transmitters and receivers. More recently, and in light of the 700 MHz spectrum reallocation mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Xavier took advantage of Sennheiser's attractive rebate offers and upgraded its entire wireless audio infrastruc-ture to Sennheiser's evolution wireless G3 series.
Ring in the New
Since then, Xavier has installed 32 channels of Sennheiser's evolution wireless G3 systems, 12 of which were provided by Chris Henley of Phoenix-based Audio Video Resources. The installation was completed just in time for the school to present its rendi-tion of the classic musical "Fiddler on the Roof," which included a 16-piece professional orchestra. Impressively, Xavier students operated the entire production, including front of house, stage direction, acting and everything in between.
In addition to a dozen channels of Sennheiser ew 300 G3 microphone units, Audio Video Resources also recommended that Xavier acquire 12 SKM 300-835 G3 handheld transmitters as well as three active splitter kits (G3 DIR KIT 8). The splitter kits enabled Xavier to combine and split its antenna system, which allowed the racks to be stored in a dedicated machine room above the theatre rather than the main production area.
Since installing the new G3 wireless system, Auditorium Manager Preston Doyle has recognized several benefits. One standout is Sennheiser's Wireless Systems Manager software, which comes bundled with the ew 300 G3 system: "At front of house, we have the Wireless Systems Manager set up on a 24-inch touch screen display set up right over the console. This allows us to continually monitor the performance and parameters of our entire wireless system," Doyle says. "It's almost like you are looking at a virtual rack, but better -- we can title the actors, musicians and production crew in a way that makes sense. This helps us focus and makes the production more efficient."
As for the sound quality and RF reception, the Sennheiser G3 system has outperformed expectations: "We have had great reception before, but now it is absolutely 100 percent. For the debut run of Fiddler on the Roof, we had very clean sound quality with no audible distortion and absolutely no radio issues." Doyle also appreciates the flexibility built into the menu options: "I can customize the settings and adjust the sensitivity of each mic to match the specific voice of the performer--this is a great help."
Not only does Xavier's equipment upgrade expose students to the latest in wireless audio technology, it also brings greater predictability in what can sometimes be a volatile production environment: "Sennheiser gives us peace of mind," Doyle concludes. "I feel like after this first production, we could carry out other productions and not have to worry about anything. I know can turn it on and the system will work right."