MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: While most reasonable people would wince at the wails of childhood tantrums, David Berg and Steve Orfield of Orfield Laboratories are looking for ways to best record such moments. In late 2001, Prof. Michael Potegal of the University of Minnesota Department of Pediatrics approached Orfield Labs - a Minneapolis-based firm specializing in acoustics vibration, vision, lighting, architecture, and market research - about choosing and testing equipment for a study that required the acoustic monitoring of children in the midst of a tantrum. Upon accepting the project, Orfield Labs' task was to devise a means of recording the children's vocalizations in an accurate and unobtrusive manner.
To capture and record the study's associated histrionics effectively, Berg insists that having a superior wireless recording system is a must. "In all cases, we needed equipment that was accurate, compact, durable, and easy to use." As a result, Orfield Labs chose to record all sounds via a miniature microphone embedded in a vest worn by the child. A compact wireless transmitter would also be located on the vest, and its associated receiver and a digital recorder would be located nearby. Once recorded as .wav files, tantrum audio data could be transferred to audio workstations for evaluation and further manipulation.
After much consideration, Orfield Labs selected and field-tested a small, yet crucial, recording rig featuring the Lectrosonics MM400a transmitter, Lectrosonics R400 receiver, Countryman model EMW microphone, and the Marantz PMD670 digital recorder. "When selecting the wireless link for our project, we had several general requirements and several additional requirements specific to our needs," explains Berg. "For the transmitter, we needed a compact and durable package with minimal controls and a usable battery life. The receiver's form-factor was less important, but the link required high dynamic range, wide frequency response, and low noise. A requirement specific to our use is faithful reproduction of the dynamic character of the signal being recorded. For this reason, we chose a system that eliminates the compandor circuitry found in most wireless links. The Lectrosonics 400 Series wireless systems utilize a digital hybrid technology that eliminates the need for compandor circuitry."
The MM400A miniature transmitter uses Lectrosonics' compandor-eliminating Digital Hybrid Wireless(tm) operational technology, which combines 24-bit audio with an FM radio link to suppress noise and improve fidelity. Features of the MM400A include 256 synthesized UHF frequencies, 100mW of hearty output power, wide range input limiting, dual bicolor LEDs for indication of gain adjustment, and a waterproof machined aluminum casing.
A perfect compliment to the MM400A, the R400 Digital Hybrid Wireless receiver offers such trademarked Lectrosonics features as SmartSquelch and SmartDiversity, has 256 UHF frequencies, and is compatible with all 400 Series transmitters as well as many analog models. The unit provides a backlit LCD display, a balanced XLR audio output, and a compact, sturdy chassis.
"After looking over the offerings and talking to Lectrosonics, I focused on the M400A," explains Berg about his choice of Lectrosonics transmitters and receivers. "It had the performance we were looking for, combined with high-durability and a very small size. A lack of bulky controls was also important as well, as each system is calibrated and 'locked down' for field use. The M400A has only a small gain control, which, fortunately, is resistant to inadvertent adjustment. The R400 was the natural receiver for our purposes. There was no need for battery power, extreme portability, or multiple channels, like is offered in a Venue Series receiver. Also, the batter level monitoring feature on the receiver was nice."
Berg's experience in helping the University of Minnesota find a superior wireless recording system for its tantrum studies has resulted in another sure but independent conclusion: Berg now wants Lectrosonics gear of his very own. "Prof. Potegal (or the investigators) will be purchasing several additional systems for the study at the end of their beta testing period," explains Berg. "I also look forward to acquiring and using a Lectrosonics UH400 Digital Hybrid Wireless plug-in transmitter for use in audio system measurement and possible use in other field acoustic testing applications. I certainly wouldn't hesitate to specify Lectrosonics systems for use in many wireless audio applications."
Well respected within the film, broadcast, and theater technical communities since 1971, Lectrosonics wireless microphone systems and audio processing products are used daily in mission-critical applications by audio engineers familiar with the company's dedication to quality, customer service, and innovation. Lectrosonics is a US manufacturer based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.