NILES, Ill., April 10, 2014—On the field, the Denver Broncos had a record-breaking season with milestones that included more points and more touchdowns scored than any other team in NFL history. From an audio standpoint, the 2013-2014 NFL season was just as successful behind-the-scenes as it was in the end zone during the team’s 12 home games. However, for Jeremy Wecker, audio visual services manager at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, he and his team had to overcome a number of technical challenges before achieving a full season of flawless audio powered by wireless microphones. From severe weather conditions and a chaotic RF environment, to a lack of success with previously installed wireless systems, numerous issues forced Wecker and his team to revert to using wired microphones for everyone except the referees.
In search of a solution that would enable the stadium’s AV team to go wireless without comprising system reliability and audio quality, Wecker tapped the expertise of Mark Graham, audio consultant at Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams, Inc. (WJHW) and Dave Potts, field systems engineer at Parsons Technologies — an engineering, construction, technical, and management services firm. “They’ve got a severe RF nightmare at that stadium,” Potts said. “After running into so many issues during mission-critical situations, it’s easy to understand why the team had almost ‘zero confidence’ in wireless microphone technology.”
However, after Wecker was introduced to the Shure Axient® Wireless Management Network, this all changed. After a demo of the system, he realized it would provide a solution to all the years of wireless microphone headaches that he and his team had encountered.
“At one point, we made the decision to abandon wireless almost entirely,” Wecker shared. “It just wasn’t worth it anymore. We had to manually switch every frequency, and things can get especially crazy on game days — we just didn’t have time to tweak the frequency settings or swap out handhelds due to system failures.”
After using Axient’s Spectrum Management feature, Wecker knew that he needed to have the system on his rig full-time. “The fact that I can input a list of frequencies approved by the game day RF coordinator and it can manage itself, change frequencies when it needs to, and constantly have a back-up channel ready is exactly why I chose Axient,” Wecker said. “Also, the resulting peace of mind I now have, knowing that I can confidently keep every microphone on the air, is worth every penny.”
Axient’s Spectrum Manager and Frequency Diversity features offer detailed scanning, calculation, coordination, and deployment, all while simultaneously transmitting on two separate frequencies to ensure seamless, uninterrupted audio for mission-critical channels. To maximize the system’s value and usability, Wecker leverages the integration of Shure’s Wireless Workbench® 6 software—which provides him with a rich graphical interface for viewing the surrounding RF environment and the optimal frequencies for all wireless channels.
Additionally, by incorporating Axient’s ShowLink® Remote Control feature, Wecker can remotely manage and make crucial changes to microphone transmitter and receiver settings without leaving the control booth. “Being able to keep an eye on the status and health of the rechargeable batteries in each mic has been a huge improvement,” he stated. “The rechargeable accessories themselves also present a big advantage—we’ve completely eliminated the need to run out and buy fresh batteries mid-game. In just one season, we’ve already seen substantial cost savings.”
After deciding to install Axient, Potts worked with Wecker and his team to get the system up and running months before the NFL season began. “We wanted to make sure the system was performing at its best for the Broncos. Since we installed it, they have been very pleased; everything has gone-off without a hitch.”
Wecker and the AV team closed-out the regular season on a high-note, with confidence that they’ve won a wireless audio battle they’ve fought for decades, and the reassurance that they have many seasons of crystal-clear wireless audio to look forward to.