Inside the Fight for Spectrum Space at Staples Center

Published: 2015-12-11

When you’re watching the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Kings or a Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift concert at the Staples Center – or if you’re catching a home game on TV – you tend not to worry too much about the crowded RF and limited spectrum space affecting important audio elements like the national anthem, courtside interviews, coach Q&As and team introductions.

You just expect everything to work.

Staples Center sound engineer Dustin Delker doesn’t have that luxury. He oversees audio for the arena’s 250-plus ticketed events annually, including concerts and L.A. Sparks WNBA games. Delker recently adopted the Shure Axient Wireless Management Network to better navigate available frequencies.

“Whether it’s Lakers coverage, LA Kings reporting, or details about a new event coming through over the weekend, we’ve got news trucks coming in and out nearly every hour of the day,” said Delker.

“StaplesCenter is one of the busiest venues in the country, which makes it critical for us to have a wireless system that can identify and run on the best available frequencies.”

Photos: Who’s Competing for Spectrum Space at Staples Center?

Delker relies on eight channels of Axient Wireless with KSM9 handhelds, another eight channels of UHF-R Wireless with bodypack transmitters, and Shure lavalier mics. The microphones support all in-game entertainment for the sports teams, including the anthem, half-time performances, interviews, introductions and press conferences.

Axient features that include Frequency Diversity and Interference Detection and Avoidance, as well as the ShowLink Access Point were selling points for Delker. With Frequency Diversity mode enabled, the Axient receiver continuously analyzes signal quality and uses both frequencies to provide optimized audio on a single channel, according to Shure.

With two frequencies transmitting the same audio, the presence of direct RF interference on one frequency causes zero interruption, it adds. In the event of signal degradation, Axient Interference Avoidance technology enables engineers to move to a clean, compatible frequency—manually or automatically. ShowLink Remote Control enables comprehensive, real-time control of transmitters and the unprecedented ability to make instantaneous remote adjustments to all transmitter settings.

The Staples Center audio team has also benefited from Axient’s Spectrum Manager and Shure rechargeable battery options. The Spectrum Manager provides detailed RF spectrum scans in rich visual displays, along with compatible frequency coordination for even the highest channel counts. Shure lithium-ion rechargeable batteries provide up to eight hours of battery life for extended performance, zero memory effect, and real-time metering of remaining charge and other battery status parameters.

“Since we’ve began to operate Axient, it has performed as expected—flawlessly,” added Delker.

“During the Kings season home opener this year, I had over 100 frequencies come in. Using Spectrum Manager, I was able to get an updated scan of the arena and ensure every mic was running on the right channel. We didn’t have a single interruption, from puck drop to the last buzzer.”

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