Sennheiser's A5000 CP helical antenna in use at an NFL game
CP Communications of Elmsford, N.Y. delivered eight custom Sennheiser wireless systems to the Fox television network for coverage of this season's NFL games. Each package includes a custom EM 1046 modular multichannel receiver, SKM 5200 handheld transmitters outfitted with the Command Channel option, custom SK 250 bodypack transmitters and the recently introduced A5000 CP helical antenna. Sennheiser's EM 1046 mainframes are each fitted with eight receiver modules that are custom engineered to operate across a wider frequency band and multiple frequency ranges.
"Normally, you would put all your receiver modules within a 24MHz window," explains Sennheiser USA's Joe Ciaudelli. "We widened it to 36 MHz and also made a modification for the antenna input module so that there are four pairs of receiver modules in radically different frequency ranges. You have a wide choice of frequencies that span nearly the whole UHF spectrum. So you could go with this eight-channel 1046 rack into any stadium and be very confident that you can get at least six, if not all eight, to access free frequencies."
The almost identical custom rack packages are traveling from stadium to stadium with Fox as the season progresses, streamlining frequency coordination. "If one tech producer has package A and he's in Seattle, and next week package C2 is there, the coordinator already knows what he's getting and the tech producer already knows what he has to clear," says Kurt Heitmann, CP Communications' vice president of sales and marketing. "It's already cleared, because they've seen the Fox package and they're all identical."
Ciaudelli continues: "As they go from city to city the RF environment changes. Also, these broadcasts are getting more sophisticated and more wireless devices are being used during these games. It makes the challenge for the audio engineers that much greater. By providing more frequency agility and more frequency selection we can give the engineer a lot of flexibility."
CP Communications also ordered SKM 5200 handheld microphones with the Command Channel option, which allow the on-camera talent to easily speak to a producer. "There's a switch on the battery pack that slides into the handheld transmitter," says Ciaudelli. "There's a modification at the receiver end that routes the audio either to the main outputs that is broadcast or what we call the Command Channel output, which is the 'private' channel."
CP Communications owns 32 SKM 5200s with Command Channel, Heitmann adds: "They're all the rage right now. We put them on sporting events for FOX, ESPN and ABC."
Each package's SK 250 bodypack transmitters were also customized, Ciaudelli reports. "We added a switch so that they can access two separate banks of 16 different frequencies, so that they have more frequency flexibility."
The Sennheiser A5000 CP antenna has a uniform hemispherical polar pattern that operates throughout the UHF range. "We love those," Heitmann says. "We use those because they're also wideband. Not only that, but they allow us to get a lot more gain from the stick mics.