09/09/2016 Wedemark

German broadcaster WDR places its trust in Sennheiser Digital 9000

Brilliant colours, razor-sharp pictures and excellent sound: the German broadcaster WDR shows how good TV can look and sound in the HD era. During renovation work, the studio and production areas at the WDR broadcasting centre in Düsseldorf were equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Since the summer of 2015, the centre has been broadcasting fully digital content seven days a week from its newly equipped buildings, with outstanding audio quality ensured by Sennheiser Digital 9000 wireless systems.

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The WDR broadcasting centre in Düsseldorf uses four Sennheiser EM 9046 multi-channel receivers with ten AD 9000 directional antennas. The audio signals are transmitted by eighteen SK 9000 digital pocket transmitters and eight SKM 9000 digital handheld transmitters. The handheld transmitters are equipped with ME 9004 capsules (cardioid pick-up pattern); two ME 9005 microphone heads (super-cardioid) are available as an alternative.

The benefits of Sennheiser’s digital wireless system are not only appreciated in Düsseldorf: further south on the Rhine, WDR’s centre in Cologne also recently invested in Digital 9000 systems. In the cathedral city, an 80-channel digital wireless system ensures excellent audio quality. Ten EM 9046 multichannel receivers were purchased as well as eighty SKM 9000 handheld transmitters and sixty-four SK 9000 pocket transmitters.

On the air

At the WDR broadcasting centre in Düsseldorf, almost all areas of the workflow are digital, and the Sennheiser Digital 9000 system is perfectly integrated: the digital output signals of the EM 9046 receivers are tapped at the AES/EBU outputs and directed to the digital inputs of the mixing desk system’s crossbar. A compact emergency desk is also fed at the same time. The EM 9046 receivers are connected to the central studio clock, which ensures that the entire digital device network is perfectly synchronised.

For TV broadcasts, the technology that is used is supposed to be as inconspicuous as possible, which is why the WDR broadcasting centre in Düsseldorf generally uses Sennheiser SK 9000 pocket transmitters and miniature clip-on microphones. Handheld transmitters are used if it is not practical to equip performers with pocket transmitters because of their costumes or other factors. Despite the preference for pocket transmitters, Sennheiser SKM 9000 handheld transmitters are everywhere: they are always within reach as an emergency solution for every programme.

The WDR broadcasting centre in Düsseldorf generally operates its Sennheiser systems in long-range mode, because they are regularly used outside the studio and a long range is therefore desirable. The technicians prefer a uniform operating mode without the need for switching, and it is generally thought that the difference between long-range mode and high-definition mode in terms of the sound of speech transmissions is not discernible by TV viewers. The Sennheiser Digital 9000 system also offers the advantage of a large switching bandwidth, which covers 328 MHz in the UHF range between 470 and 798 MHz – if any sources of interference become apparent, they can thus be conveniently avoided.

Practical experience

Sennheiser WSM software is permanently in use during broadcasting, which enables sound engineers to continuously monitor the quality of RF transmission and the remaining battery capacities. In Düsseldorf, the display is divided according to studios (D1/D2/D3) so that it is immediately possible to see whether different members of the team are using the available wireless technology at the same time.

In the controlled acoustics of the broadcasting centre’s own audio production rooms, even the subtlest nuances of sound can be detected. Sound engineers with years of experience acknowledge that using the new Sennheiser Digital 9000 wireless systems has once again improved the quality of sound to a noticeable degree in comparison with analogue radio links: there is considerably less noise, and the sound seems even more distinct than before.

About the WDR broadcasting centre in Düsseldorf

Every day, WDR demonstrates its expertise regarding the provision of high-quality news reports from the towns and districts in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia – its focus is on current topics, and most of its broadcasts are live. It has two TV studios and one smaller switching studio in-house, and its digital network makes it possible to use the available capacity in a flexible way. The broadcasting centre is the largest of eleven regional Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) sites in North Rhine-Westphalia. Hamburg Media Consult International (MCI) GmbH was responsible for the detailed design, installation, configuration and commissioning of the new technology.


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