Adlib has recently upgraded its wireless microphone hire stock with a new investment in Shure’s Axient Digital wireless series including
The investment also includes Shure rechargeable batteries and the SBRC-UK Battery Rack Charger which supports up to eight rechargeable batteries in a single, compact rack space.
Why has Adlib invested in digital wireless?
With increasing demand from rental clients Adlib needed to invest in additional RF channels and, when it came to purchasing, it didn’t make sense to continue investing in analogue systems. John Fitzsommons explains,
“The RF environment is becoming more and more challenging. Whilst digital systems like Axient Digital are not showing up on too many riders yet, we know that in a couple of years, once we lose access to the 700MHz range, we are going to struggle to deliver the scale and complexity of shows that we do without going digital.”
“It’s already become necessary to put dates into Ofcom’s PMSE planner in order to keep track of the changes due to retune of digital TV transmitting masts that are rolling out over time. We’re already struggling to find enough frequencies in some areas of the country.”
“Take Fusion Festival that we’ve looked after for the last few years. That’s over 100 frequencies across 13 TV channels. According to the Ofcom website, we’re looking at just 4 channels come 2020.”
“Whatever we invest in today will have to work in that new outdoor environment when not shielded by a building, and be good enough to lock into the signal for the dedicated handheld or pack and hang onto that even when there’s a lot of noise around. So we have to use high-end digital systems going forward.”
“Going digital is not a silver bullet by any stretch of the imagination, but it does allow us to pack as many microphones as possible into as little spectrum as possible. This is important so that we can leave space for large IEM systems – we are still a long way away from workable digital IEM systems.”
“Axient digital came in at the right time at the right price.”
Shure Axient Digital wireless systems integrate seamlessly with Soundcraft Vi series consoles providing RF and battery level information on console channels. The improved workflow and convenience has proved popular with Adlib’s engineers.
Shure Axient Digital vs Shure UHF-R
It was important to Adlib that the system would be sonically and physically similar to their existing stock of UHF-R. The backwards compatibility with capsules and antenna distribution helped to make the investment decision.
“The Axient Digital series is sonically similar to the popular UHF-R system but is night and day from an RF stability perspective”, says Adlib’s Radio Systems Engineer John Fitzsimmons.
From an artist perspective, the handheld feels totally familiar and they wouldn’t know whether they are using UHF-R or an Axient Digital handheld.
The Axient Digital series also offers a wide (184HMz) tuning bandwidth which gives our touring engineers much more flexibility. On large single-date shows with high channel counts, this wide range is also valued.
Is latency an issue with Axient Digital?
Some engineers have asked about latency but it is really unnoticeable. But so far, nobody has run into issues even with artists using IEM systems.
Is it a problem that Axient Digital only works at 30mW (not 50mW like UHF-R)
One concern that has been raised is that Axient Digital will only run at 30mW whereas UHF-R could be switched to high power mode at 50mW. On shows where Adlib has traditionally used UHF-R at 50mW, they have used Axient Digital at 30mW with no issues. This includes some incredibly challenging environments with upwards of 100 channels of RF like the Capital FM Jingle Bell Ball.
Other Recent Investments
In addition to the investment in Axient Digital, Adlib has also purchased 32 channels of Sennheiser’s 2000 series IEMs and made an investment in Sennheiser Digital 6000 wireless microphone systems.