UHF-R Mics & PSM 1000 IEMs Provide Flawless RF Coverage On Europe’s Largest Theatre Stage

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Quite apart from the sound quality, for us the PSM 1000 is simply the most user-friendly in-ear monitoring system on the market. Other manufacturers just aren’t keeping up.

Thomas Heidel, Technical Director, Friedrichstadt-Palast

Berlin’s former revue theatre, the Friedrichstadt-Palast, is one of the German republic’s busiest venues; it receives over 700,000 visitors a year, and houses the largest theatre stage in Europe, at 2,200 square metres in size. As the staging of performances becomes ever more ambitious, Shure wireless microphones and in-ear monitoring systems have been playing an increasing role at the venue.


As shows at the Friedrichstadt-Palast often include dance or acrobatics, when sound reinforcement is required, wired microphones and foldback monitoring often cannot be used. Achieving comprehensive monitoring coverage for performers across the stage’s entire 2200 square-metre span is a challenge, particularly if they use the entire extent of the stage in their performance or, in extreme cases, are mounted on wires as part of acrobatic routines. Reconfiguring the wireless systems is also a daily challenge; sometimes the Friedrichstadt-Palast is host to a children’s matinee performance and another show in the evening which uses the wireless systems completely differently, and this pattern of usage will continue across several days, requiring the technical team to reconfigure the system twice a day continually.


Since 2009, the theatre has made extensive use of a Shure UHF-R wireless microphone system, which takes care of all the on-stage miking requirements when wired microphones cannot be used. PSM 1000 in-ear monitoring was added to the Shure RF systems a few years ago, allowing the venue to dispense with its former wedge-based stage foldback system.

"Before we got the PSM 1000 system, we still had wedges at the front of the stage. For technical and aesthetic reasons, we’ve now completely switched to in-ear monitoring. Because the stage here is so extensive, it’s always a challenge to provide the performers with decent monitoring wherever they might be. Particularly if they’re performing on wires — then it’s completely impossible without wireless IEMs," explains Janos Linde, Sound Engineer at the Friedrichstadt-Palast.


To manage the RF-based microphone and IEM systems, and to plan, set up, and reconfigure frequency usage, channel gain and monitor battery pack levels, the theatre’s technical team now use Shure’s Wireless Workbench application.


The analogue UHF-R wireless microphone system currently fulfills the sound reinforcements of the Friedrichstadt-Palast technical team, although the restrictions on RF frequency usage that have been occasioned by Germany’s auction of its electromagnetic spectrum (the so-called 'Digital Dividend') is making the management consider an future-proofing upgrade to ULX-D, Shure’s top-of-the-range digital wireless microphone solution.


Thomas Heidel, Friedrichstadt-Palast Technical Director says: "The theatre is very well shielded from external RF interference. But of course like everyone else we are facing restrictions in the near future from the further sale of RF frequencies as part of the second Digital Dividend here. So of course our thoughts for the future are heading in the direction of digital RF systems, and Shure ULX-D."


The PSM 1000 system at the Friedrichstadt-Palast has also been a great success, and was recently expanded to eight stereo channels. Thomas Heidel has stated his view that the PSM 1000 is "simply the most user-friendly in-ear monitoring system on the market." And the use of Wireless Workbench to move seamlessly between different shows, sometimes twice a day, is working well, according to Janos Linde. "It works without a hitch," he comments, "right down to the infra-red syncing between the transmitters and receivers."


Linde is also a fan of the SB900 lithium-ion rechargeable battery packs, which have made a big difference to the theatre staff since they stopped using disposable batteries for the wireless mic and IEM bodypacks. "Because one show always follows so closely on the heels of another here, before we changed from disposable batteries to the SB900 rechargeables, we were always pushing the limits of what the batteries were capable of. With the Shure SB900s, we can do three shows — one after the other, without recharging — with no problems."