09/09/2016 Baden-Baden/Wedemark

Sennheiser AVX used in online reporting

Music and lifestyle are central themes for the youth-orientated programming offered by the German broadcaster Südwestrundfunk (SWR). Innovation is in high demand, so SWR3 and the radio channel DASDING have become the first radio broadcasters in Germany to introduce regular “Visual Radio Shows”, which combine radio, social media and video in an interactive way. The online service includes short video reports provided by SWR’s local studios. For these videos, the individual reporters are responsible both for putting together the content and for recording the pictures and sound. Sennheiser’s AVX wireless systems for cameras ensure that local reporters’ radio and online contributions have excellent audio quality.

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“The AVX systems are a good solution for our tasks, and now reporters couldn’t imagine doing without the user-friendly Sennheiser radio links,” says Ralf Baron, a highly-qualified engineer. “Our colleagues’ positive feedback is an important criterion for us, because they have to be happy with the equipment on site and embrace it in their work.” Baron is the team leader of DASDING.technik (DASDING technology) at SWR in Baden-Baden. Sennheiser AVX systems were first suggested as a possibility by Florian Grundler, who is the technical contact person at DASDING for the “DASDING.vorOrt” (“DASDING on site”) editorial journalists.

In May 2015, four AVX sets were initially purchased. Because of the positive feedback from local reporters, the number has since been increased. The EKP AVX plug-on receiver can be connected to the camera via either an XLR cable or a jack cable. The Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun microphone has proved to be highly effective with this system. Like the MKE 2 lavalier microphone, it is operated on the SK AVX pocket transmitter that belongs to the system.

In addition, automatic dynamic adjustment ensures that the AVX system produces audio recordings with a perfect level. “As far as we know, recordings with overdrive or where the voice is too quiet no longer occur today,” reports Florian Grundler. Ralf Baron emphasises the benefits of the system’s compact construction and low weight: “As a reporter, you’re happy about every gram of weight saved.”

Despite the automatic dynamic adjustment, it is still essential to handle the connected microphone with precision, so that unwanted noise does not intrude into the recording. For example, if someone is being interviewed at a festival, they must not be drowned out by the music coming from the stage. It is also essential to use the microphone in a carefully targeted way in the event of permanent background noise such as rain. “When reporting, it’s less important to get every last bit of picture and sound quality than it is to produce something current and authentic,” says Ralf Baron. Florian Grundler adds: “The benefits of automatic audio modulation are overwhelming in practical use.”

The pairing between transmitter and receiver is fully automatic in the AVX system. Sennheiser’s solution for discerning videographers is also well-equipped for the future: it operates in a frequency range around 1.9 GHz, which can be used without the need for registration or a licence. “Particularly at festivals, it is beneficial for us to be able to work in this frequency range,” explains Florian Grundler.

For technical reasons, the digital transmission of audio signals always involves a certain degree of latency. In the AVX system, this amounts to just 19 milliseconds, which is less than one frame - audio and video thus always appear synchronised, as Florian Grundler confirms: “For us, latency of 19 milliseconds doesn’t have any impact in these usage scenarios.”

In typical use, the AVX system has a range of around 30 metres. If there is a direct line of sight, it can bridge even greater distances, as Florian Grundler has established in a test. Its battery life is also highly impressive. When in use for extended periods, it can be charged by a power bank via a USB connection. Conventional mobile phone power adaptors or vehicle charging cables can also be used, although regional studio reporters often travel by public transport or bicycle instead of using cars.

Special workshops were organised at SWR to demonstrate how to handle the Sennheiser AVX system. During one training session, eleven AVX links were successfully operated in parallel. The individual systems switched automatically and completely inaudibly on interference-free transmission channels.


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