tube UK recently announced that it has invested in a new Sennheiser D6000 radio mic system.
The system received its debut on the world premiere of Israeli artist Yael Bartana’s live performance experiment ‘What if Women Ruled the World?’, which played for four nights at Mayfield depot at the 2017 Manchester International Festival (MIF).
As the performances were also multi-track recorded each night, potentially for a future film project, tube’s Melvyn Coote decided the time was right to purchase the new radio technology from the German audio specialist.
As the set-up evolved in discussions with Tel Aviv-based sound designer Daniel Meir, Coote ordered the 12 beltpack transmitters and 6 x D6000 dual receivers complete with all their infrastructure which he describes as “revolutionary” in terms of technology. They were used in conjunction with DPA4061 mic heads which were attached to the 10 performers. tube’s radio mic and RF tech for the show was Liam McShane.
“Intermods and intermod spacing have long been issues in all types of live audio scenarios” explained Coote, “so this really IS a ground-breaking development for Sennheiser to make this available in their 6000 range. Transmitters can be placed exactly where they are needed, and we can now fit 21 transmitters into the same TV channel frequency space, that would previously only support 10 or 12.”
Converting the signal immediately to digital in the transmitter removes the need to apply any compression technology, enhancing the overall quality and texture of the sound – particularly noticeable in spoken work scenarios. The D6000 also runs on rechargeable batteries, and Coote (pictured below) believes that tube consumes approximately 15,000 standard batteries a year running radio systems, so this will be hugely more environmentally conscious as well as cost-efficient.
Daniel Meir mixed the soundscape and effects, while tube’s Martin Wallace took care of all the mic mixing and integrating the two sonic elements – vocals and surround sound effects – using a Yamaha CL5 mixing console. This was running over Dante and fully integrated with the Sennheiser D6000 system. The loudspeakers and amplifiers were all d&b, running AES digital links straight to the amps to keep the signal digital. The challenge in the system design was delivering a clean and clear sound to the audience seated in a big, damp, dark and highly reverberant room, built in the early 1900s as a storage facility beneath the station.
With a post-apocalyptic war room setting in the vast and long-derelict Mayfield depot, a professional cast was joined by a group of female experts – scientists, activists, politicians, thinkers – to confront and solve a global nuclear emergency, as the clock ticks. ‘What if Women Ruled The World?’ was the first time that tube has worked in the Mayfield depot, which has been a regular venue for the constantly growing biennial MIF event since at least 2013, and remains otherwise unused. Over the course of the MIF17, tube has also supplied audio to around 30 productions, performances, installations and interventions.
“It’s been an incredible experience working on this thought-provoking show and helping to realise Daniel’s sonic creativity and Yael Bartana’s amazing vision,” said Coote. “I am extremely pleased with the Sennheiser system. The success and acclaim garnered by the production has definitely underlined that it was the right decision”.