Adlib Audio goes to the Ball with Sennheiser UK

Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium uses over 70 RF channels.
From left to right: Tim Sherratt (Sennheiser UK), Laura Davis (Adilb) and Dave Kay (Adlib).
From left to right: Tim Sherratt (Sennheiser UK), Laura Davis (Adilb) and Dave Kay (Adlib).

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June saw Capital Radio host its third Summertime Ball at London’s Wembley Stadium. With a complex wireless specification to deal with, event sound company Adlib Audio’s close working relationship with Sennheiser ensured that everybody heard only what they were meant to.

Adlib is a long-term Sennheiser user, exclusively using the company’s in-ear monitor systems, plus an extensive inventory of microphones and radio wireless systems.

“The RF is rock solid, Sennheiser UK offers really good support and works with us post-sale, as opposed to just leaving us to it,” said Adlib director Dave Kay. “Having a company with a UK-base which really knows how to get the most from the product is great.

“They really get involved in educating users. Every year we hold a two-day training session with them,” he continued, adding with a smile.

As well as the education and training, Dave is also very appreciative of the way Sennheiser UK’s team of Mark Saunders, Tim Sherratt and Andy Lillywhite are prepared to, as he put it, “hand hold people through large events.”

Featuring 15 acts including The Wanted, Nicole Scherzinger, Enrique Iglesias, and Jennifer Lopez, the event featured over 70 channels of radio frequencies and very tight turnaround times between artists. Dave was the main RF co-ordinator, aided by Laura Davies, while Mark and Tim from Sennheiser were in close attendance.

“It was a technically complex event, with over 70 channels in use from 564.00 kHz to 835.150 kHz, from TV channels 21-40, although 12 were not available due to digital and analogue television in use around the area,” said Tim.

“We co-ordinated closely with Dave to ensure we had an accurate picture of exactly what was required. Due to the complex nature of the show, all inter-modulation calculations were performed on site, to ensure accuracy.”

All in-ear monitors were Sennheiser, either Adlib’s newly-purchased 2000 series or ew 300s, while a number of artists used their Sennheiser microphones of choice. These included The Wanted, Example and Far East Movement (SKM 2000 with 935 head), Jennifer Lopez (Custom SKM 2000 with 935), Nicole Scherzinger (SKM 2000 with 865), Enrique Iglesias (SKM 5200 with KK 105 head) and Katy B (ew 500-935).

Meanwhile Johnny Vaughan, Lisa Snowdon, Rich Clarke and Kat Shoob, the show’s Capital Radio presenters, used SKM 5200 handhelds with MD 5235 heads and EM 3732-II dual receivers for between act and introduction sections of the show.

“Some artists brought their own microphones and had specific frequency requirements,” said Dave. “We had to accommodate those, as well as work round the backline video comms and television transmissions. But it went very smoothly with a clear frequency plan and checking that what people said was in use was actually in use - which isn’t always the case!

“Mark and Tim’s assistance was invaluable, really helping to make sure that the Summertime ball was as successful as its predecessor, the Jingle Bell Ball, which Sennheiser also worked alongised Adlib on in December 2010.”

As mentioned above, the event saw the first show use of Adlib’s recent upgrade to Sennheiser 2000 series systems. “They have a wider frequency range, are very robust and sound very good,” said Dave. “In some ways we’re over-speccing for some of the jobs we do, but we’re trying to standardise our equipment, especially with the frequency changeover on the horizon.”

The latter subject is, of course, something that Sennheiser UK has been very proactive in addressing. Not only with equipment, but by helping rental companies like Adlib to make a seamless switch.

“We’re now having to look at a lot more frequency ranges and combinations,” said Dave. “When everything goes digital it will be a lot more difficult to plan around local transmissions. But Sennheiser has been very helpful in setting us up for the future. Through lots of brainstorming of when and where we will be using the equipment, together we have come up with a frequency plan to cover the venues that we use. We’re ready!”

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