Cardiff-based sound reinforcement rental/hire and production services company Stage Sound Services has added an extra 40 channels of Shure ULX-D wireless microphone technology to their existing inventory of ULX-D. The extra wireless channels were purchased in order to realise the challenging London-based production of Close To You, the hit musical production presenting the songs of Burt Bacharach. In summer 2015, the show began a run at the fringe Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark, London – by October, it had been such a success that it transferred to the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus, in the heart of London’s West End.
An ambitious production featuring multi-instrumentalist musicians and singers, Close To You takes place on a rotating riser, with the audience partially seated on the stage surrounding the performers. Cabled mics could not be used with this kind of staging, so everything from the kick drum to vocalists had to be furnished with RF channels. “We reckon there’s a radio mic per square metre of performance area when the show’s in full swing and everyone’s playing,” explains Stage Sound Services’ owner and MD Phil Hurley. “It was about double the RF channel count the Chocolate Factory had ever used on stage!”
“Obviously, we were concerned about the RF channel density, which is a problem in central London anyway, even without the specific demands of this show,” adds sales & facilities manager at Stage Sound Services James Lewis. “We decided our solution would revolve around ULX-D, as Shure has been a brand we rely on for projects in very crowded RF environments. We invested in 44 channels of ULX-D a couple of years ago for our corporate and theatre work, we’d road-tested it on other shows and we’ve been very happy with it.
“This production was so ambitious in RF terms that we needed another 40 channels of ULX-D,” continues Lewis. “Fortunately, there’s such a demand for those kind of systems in our business anyway that we were able to make the purchase of the additional channels work financially. After the current run of Close To You ends, the new ULX-Ds are all booked up already.”
“We suggested ULX-D to Richard Brooker, the show’s Sound Designer, who has used many other brands of mics and wireless equipment over the years,” comments Phil Hurley. “In the end, the system’s performance under intense RF conditions convinced him – and with this many wireless channels, Shure’s Wireless Workbench was a good real-time monitoring solution.
“I think we all made the right choice,” concludes Hurley, “as the production was able to transfer right into the West End in October without any changes to the wireless side of things. The RF stuff all just worked, and is still working, which is exactly what you want.”