Wireless Sound For Go-Cart Track

Thunder Creek Speedway in Dorney Park, a go-cart track in Allentown, PA, had a sound problem. The track, located in a residential area, was receiving numerous and ongoing complaints about the PA system on the track. In order for drivers to hear instructions and announcements over the noise of the car engines, track officials had to increase the PA system volume to a level considered offensive by their neighbors.
“For years, the park had been replacing windows in neighbors’ houses, installing thermal paint windows, putting more insulation in their walls, and spending large amounts of money to buffer the (bull) horns from the track,” explained Bob Schermerhorn, vice president of sales at Allentown-based Entertainment Services Group (ESG). “They started to realize that no matter how many windows they replaced, these were all houses built in the `30’s and `40’s. No matter what you did, you were not necessarily going to be able to completely minimize the noise.”
Bob and ESG suggested using a Listen wireless audio system for the cars. After installing an LT-800 Stationary Transmitter in the control booth, ESG utilized LR-600 Wireless Speaker / Receivers for each of the cars. The LR-600’s were adapted with custom designed rechargeable batteries and a shock absorbing mounting system. Then one was installed in each of the track’s 33 cars. “You really don’t see the speaker at all,” Bob laughed. “If you haven’t driven the car before, it’s almost as if God is talking to you. This voice comes out of nowhere, and it gets your attention. And the gain is enough that it can be heard over the engine noise.”
“I think it’s a great example of showing that there are a lot of applications for wireless audio,” said Bob. “When you say wireless, a lot of people think of microphones. But there are a lot more applications than you think.”
Listen wireless audio … applications that can really go places.
Story originally printed in November, 2002 issue of System Contract News, by Travis McGee.

Great Falls Improves Downtown With Wireless Audio

As a time-honored summer tradition, the Great Falls Business Improvement District (B.I.D.), auto dealer Bennett Motors, and KLFM 92.9 oldies radio sponsor Cruisin’ the Drag, a popular classic auto show. The show spans about nine blocks right in the heart of downtown Great Falls on Central Avenue. It features classic restored automobiles on display from all over the nation. The event, which has steadily grown from 300 – 600+ cars in its 4-year history, drew about 9000 people in 2004. This one-day event, like many others in the area, brings much needed business the downtown shops and eateries.


The Challenge

The Great Falls B.I.D. had been renting a cabled audio system to broadcast sound around the downtown blocks for their events, which cost thousands of dollars each time. While the system adequately distributed the sound, it required tripods and a multitude of cables on each block. All that cabling also required considerable time to install. With all the many events the B.I.D. hosts throughout the year, this audio solution was cumbersome and costly on an annual basis. Great Falls B.I.D. was looking for an easier and more affordable way to spread sound around downtown.


The Solution

Great Falls B.I.D. brought in local audio guru Mark Pritchard of Mountain Sound Project to take on this challenge. Using his technical knowledge of audio products and his own mechanical skills he devised a weather-proof wireless audio distribution system that has quick to set up and was affordable enough for the client to purchase outright.


The key technology that made Pritchard’s solution possible was wireless FM transmission available from Listen Technologies Corporation. In the central control box, Pritchard had various audio sources plugged into Listen’s LT-800 Stationary FM Transmitter, rack mounted with the other equipment. The transmitter would send sound out to LR-100 Stationary Receiver/Power Amplifiers located in speaker clusters which mounted to the old-fashioned lampposts around the downtown area.


In addition to the LT-800 Transmitter, the central control box also included a sound mixer, a CD player, a wireless microphone, an AM/FM tuner, and a cassette deck offering virtually any media to the users. Volume for the whole system is controlled from this box, which is usually located right in the middle of Central Avenue for downtown events, but can be set up anywhere.


The speaker clusters, which can be installed in less than a minute and a half, include the LR-100 Receiver/Amplifier, two JBL speakers, a Stuart 2-channel power amplifier, a fan, and an on/off switch. He fabricated steel brackets and weather proof boxes for these clusters. During the winter holidays, the system was left up for four solid weeks, without any problems. A single power cable plugged into an outlet on the lamppost provides power for each of the components. Two clusters per block are staggered in the six-block downtown area. Dismantling each cluster takes less than a minute – and B.I.D. volunteers can do it all themselves, no special labor is needed.


The system as a whole is ideally suited for a wide variety of community events. Because it is so easy to install and is so portable, the system can be used virtually anywhere, such as the parks and civic center, and anytime. The versatility of the central control box enables the B.I.D. to broadcast background music, radio remotes, announcements, commercials, and more. In fact, during radio remotes the AM/FM tuner broadcasts the remote as it comes across the radio station. In addition, the radio personalities will cut over to the microphone for the central control box to make special announcements just for those in the downtown area.


Client Satisfaction

Great Falls B.I.D. Director Greg Madsen reported that this innovative audio solution has worked beautifully since its birth at the Cruisin’ the Drag event. The clusters have worked flawlessly despite temperatures of nearly -30 degrees in the winters and 105 degrees in the summers. Purchasing a system saves them a lot of money over time. Plus it has helped increase revenues to downtown business.


“It’s worked flawlessly! For Cruisin’ the Drag and other events the system has worked so well to make the atmosphere comfortable and inviting. In fact, people who work downtown have proactively sent us message telling us how much they enjoy the background music.”


The Great Falls B.I.D. has continued using this easy and affordable solution for a host of other events to help rejuvenate the downtown area, including its Annual Downtown Summer Sidewalk Sale, the Christmas Stroll, and First Night festivities.

Calvary Chapel Offers Language Interpretation

With a thriving ministry in Salt Lake City, Utah, Calvary Chapel had just one drawback: they did not offer Spanish language services, and thus could not adequately serve the growing Hispanic community around them. The solution? Real-time language interpretation equipment from Listen Technologies Corporation.

The first step was to research their options, notes Calvary’s Jim Harris, church administrator, who turned to the internet for his search. It didn’t take long for him to find Listen’s real-time interpretation and assistive-listening products. “We were impressed with the customer service and follow-through” provided by the greater Salt Lake City-area-based Listen dealer, Marshall Industries. The sound quality and competitive prices sealed the deal.

Answering an immediate need

The church placed an announcement in their bulletin, asking for volunteers comfortable enough with Spanish to assist with the interpretation. They found two. In the meantime, Listen sent them a demo. As soon as they had it, a family arrived for Sunday’s service needing language interpretation. The husband shared that his wife, who did not speak English, hadn’t attended church in over a year. She used the wireless equipment that morning and hasn’t missed a Sunday since.

The interpreters, who take turns between translating printed materials and interpreting services, watch the service on a monitor from a room offstage. They have Spanish/English Bibles printed with side-by-side columns, one in English and the other Spanish.

Real time in no time

The entire process – from the decision to try Listen’s equipment to the implementation of the system – took only four to six weeks, with assistance every step of the way from Listen’s corporate office and the dealer. Calvary also learned from Marshall Industries that their language interpretation system could be augmented to provide assistive listening. They offer listening assistance now too, thanks to the addition of a wireless transmitter for that purpose.

“We were already familiar with wireless,” says Harris, who explains that the pastor uses a wireless mic with the youth group.  Still, they were “surprised” by how seamlessly the Listen system worked, how easy it was to install, and how clear they found the sound. Another bonus, unique to this equipment, is that Spanish-speaking churchgoers need not sit in a specified section of the sanctuary.

Since implementing the system, Calvary, which in the summer hosts a Church in the Park every Wednesday, has been able to use Listen’s transmitter to facilitate sound at these outdoor events full of fellowship, music and breaking bread (a barbecue is part of the afternoon activities). It is flexibility like this that has made Listen’s equipment and service priceless to the ministry and to its Spanish-speaking community.

Wireless Listening Solution Clear In Any Language, Over Any Noise

When managers at Subaru of Indianatake groups of visiting Japanese and American business executives through their 550-acre campus, Subaru needs a tour guide system that handles both language translation and noise control.

That’s why ProAudio by Brand’s Richard Tappenden recommended Listen Technologies Corporation. He said Subaru of Indiana, or SIA, had been using a system with pre-set channels that could not easily be switched to accommodate the size of the group, or the number of people speaking English vs. Japanese.

“With the Listen system, SIA can easily do the multi-lingual tours,” said Tappenden, ProAudio’s systems consultant and design engineer. “They just tell the people which channel to set their receivers on and they get the right language.

With Listen, they have the flexibility they need.” But Tappenden said the managers at SIA were too business-minded to throw away working equipment from their older system. No problem. Tappenden said Listen was easily programmed so that SIA could continue using their old receivers as backup for large groups.

“The Listen system is versatile enough that clients can customize it for a variety of applications,” Tappenden said. “They will eventually phase out the other system and replace it completely. But Listen’s flexibility allowed SIA to continue using their existing product for now.”

Utah-based Listen Technologies Corporation produces wireless sound systems for tour guides and language interpretation, as well as assistive listening and soundfield uses. The small battery operated portable transmitters send sound over FM radio waves, allowing receivers to capture clear, noise-free sound. At SIA, tour guides are able to transmit two languages simultaneously to the touring executives by setting their personal, portable transmitters and receivers to different channels.

Whether their tours consist of 20 English speakers and 80 Japanese speakers, or vice versa, SIA can adjust the Listen system accordingly. But SIA has other concerns as well. The system needs to be strong enough to transmit clearly over such sound obstructions as the din of the stamping plant, where machines flatten 3,900 pounds of coiled steel and cut it into sheets the size of a car body, at the rate of up to 7,200 pieces per hour.

“Listen projects sound directly to the receivers,” Tappenden said. The noise-canceling headsets have the ability to filter out the machine noise from the stamping mill, the grinder, or other machinery. It’s a very tight system. Most importantly, Tappenden said his clients at SIA are extremely pleased.

Trojan Horse Training Uses Wireless Listening Solution

It’s another hot weekend that finds ten students of Las Vegas-based Trojan Horse Training dressed in smart jodhpur trousers and show jackets, and competing in jumping and dressage* events with their equine companions. In the warm-up arena, a handful of trainers busily chase and call out final instructions to their dozens of students competing that day. The result is little more than a shouting match – each instructor trying to get the attention of his or her riders and communicate the corrective actions.
For expert trainer Gina Tatom, who sits outside the arena, her instructions pierce through the chaos to her students with crystal clear reception. Tatom uses a portable wireless audio system from Listen Technologies to train and coach more effectively.
Tatom first saw wireless audio technology being used by internationally acclaimed training moguls Pat and Linda Parelli. She immediately recognized how audio technology could aid her training program and started an extensive search for an affordable system that could withstand the rigors of her business, which spans from horse breaking and problem behaviors to show jumping.
“When working with some of these more challenging horses, there can be a lot of bumps, especialy if a rider falls off,” Tatom explained. “I needed a product that could withstand that kind of jolting.”
After passing up expensive professional systems and flimsy residential systems from the local electronics store, Tatom tried a Listen Portable FM System by taking advantage of the manufacturer’s free 30-day demo program. Between her private lessons and weekend shows, she put the Listen system through the wringer ensuring it could hold up to the demands of equine arts. Listen gave a blue-ribbon performance and the lifetime warranty gave her the additional assurance that she would always have functioning equipment should something go wrong.
Her satisfaction met, she purchased her own Listen Portable FM System which includes one LT-700 Portable FM Transmitter and four LR-400 Portable FM Receivers. The body pack styling enables the users to clip the units to their belts, allowing free movement for both the coach and the student. Tatom wears thetransmitter, which is equipped with a headworn microphone, and the students tune in with their receivers and headphones.
“The Listen system is great! I love having it,” said Tatom, whose passion and drive have earned her a reputation of never-ending energy. “My work is not as exhausting now because I can coach while sitting in the shade outside the arena instead of following my riders around. Plus, I don’t have to shout anymore.” Tatom further explained that in windy conditions especially, it’s difficult to hear a trainer even if she’s shouting.
The Listen system is particularly effective in those warm-up arenas with all her students wearing the receivers. “I can call out the name of the student, easily get his or her attention, and give instructions in a normal voice. The students have commented that this really helps them stay calm, which is so important when competing.”
From the trainer’s perspective, Tatom reports that her students are able to learn more quickly during their lessons because they can hear well. They save time because there’s no need to repeat instructions. To top it all off, her clients get more value for their money because the audio technology allows them to make the best use of their training time.
Thanks to the solid performance of Listen’s Portable FM System, Gina Tatom gets all-around winning results with her students at Trojan Horse Training.
*Dressage (pronounced dreh SAHZH) is the guiding of a horse through a series of complex maneuvers by slight move­ments of the rider’s hands, legs, and weight.

Wireless Audio Across the River

The Bridge to Bridge Waterfront Festival is a timed race for boats on the Sacramento River. Along with boat racing there are Jet Ski races, Coast Guard rescue demonstrations, and other festival activities. Seating and events are held on both sides of the river.
For the 2nd Annual Bridge to Bridge Waterfront Festival, Keith Wackford of Associated Sound was asked to set up a sound system that could be used on both sides of the river. Traditional sound system wiring could not be used because of the river’s width (about 500 feet). The show also had boats and helicopters, each with its own radio system, moving in and out of the reception field. A Listen wireless audio system proved to be the answer.
Wackford and his team recommended the Listen LT-800 Stationary Transmitter and the LR-100 Stationary Receiver / Power Amplifier. This system had two advantages: it could broadcast the event’s audio to the needed locations without wiring, and it provided auditory assistance via personal receivers to individuals who were hard of hearing. To increase the transmission range and signal strength, the team installed Yagi (high gain) antennas on the LT-800 and LR-100 units. Testing at Associated Sound revealed that the system could broadcast up to 2,000 feet without problems.
The system performed beautifully for the entire two day event. The festival directors were overjoyed by the audio quality and the fact that there were no reception problems all weekend. The audio was clean, full, and loud. Listen wireless audio products were able to provide not only a workable solution for a problematic installation, but one that offered flexibility and quality performance as well.

Aging Public Address System Rejuvenated by Listen Stationary FM System

Each year thousands of snow enthusiasts glide down the slopes and half-pipes at the award-winning Sundown Mountain Resort in Dubuque, Iowa. A ready team of resort staff patrol the terrain to assist with emergencies and lost skiers, instructors are busy helping first-timers learn the basics, and lodge personnel attend to the skier’s and boarder’s equipment, appetite, and transportation needs.
To support all these efforts, the resort uses a public address (PA) system to make important and sometimes urgent announcements across the slopes. For some time, however, their existing, hard-wired PA system has been plagued by a constant “buzz” from stray voltage contaminating the system. This made sound intelligibility next to impossible.
Al Wilsey, of Sundown’s operations technical support team, said, “The horrendous noise was so bad that the staff shut off the system. The only other option was to shut off their chairlifts, which was obviously not an option.”
Sundown began an ardent search online to find ways to handle the noise. When sound filters didn’t work, and replacing the hard-wired system was time- and cost-prohibitive, they knew a wireless solution might be a better option. Unfortunately, wireless microphones were expensive and couldn’t effectively send a signal to the distant lodges and ski shacks “over the hill and through the woods.”
With the help of Lifeline Amplification Systems (Platteville, Wisc.), Sundown acquired an ideal wireless audio solution with a Stationary FM System from Listen Technologies.
“When we tried out Listen equipment during an on-site demonstration, we were thrilled that it eliminated the buzz,” Wilsey said. “We were really impressed that it could reach our lodges ranging from 100 to 400 feet away – and with hills in between. We thought wireless would require line-of-site conditions, but Listen’s system worked great. There was no signal interference either. Most importantly, we saw that it was reliable.”
Although the resort’s Board of Directors was initially hesitant to try something during the ski season, they were won over by Listen’s clear sound quality, ability to utilize existing equipment, and low price – 75 percent less than the other solutions they considered.

Thinking Outside The Box With Digital infrared

Listen offers many solutions for applications that require audio, but where running cables may not be an option. Some of these applications typically include assistive listening or language interpretation. But, because of its versatility, Digital Infrared can be used for so much more. This blog will focus on the use of this technology in unique, out of the box projects.

Before I share these interesting applications I just want to give a little education on the technology of Digital Infrared. I think this will help open your mind to the capabilities of Digital Infrared.
Digital Infrared Technology Differs From Analog
Even the though the frequency carriers are similar, the signal differs from analog to digital. The Digital Infrared system uses high frequency carrier signals (typically 2-8 MHz) to prevent interference problems with modern light sources. It also converts the incoming analog system to a digital signal which is compressed to increase the amount of information that can be distributed on each carrier. The compression factor is also related to the required audio quality. When the signal is received, it is demodulated and converted back to an analog audio signal. The Digital Infrared system can transmit audio in four different quality modes:
  • Mono, conference quality, maximum 32 channels (standard quality)
  • Mono, Hi FI quality, maximum 16 channels (premium quality)
  • Stereo, conference quality, maximum 16 channels (standard quality)
  • Stereo, Hi FI quality, maximum 8 channels (premium quality)

Okay, it’s time to think outside the box. Here are a couple of applications that are not a typical way of using Digital Infrared but that are providing a great solution for distributing audio.

The NASCAR Museum
The Belk High Octane Theater at the NASCAR is used for watching races on the giant panoramic screen. Here fans of the sport can purchase a ticket to the museum to watch the race, and tune into their favorite driver and listen to the radio transmissions with his/her team. The system can have up to 32 different drivers and team participate in the broadcast.  The system a can appease the ADA regulations of assistance for those in need. For many fans, this is a dream come true to be part of the action. A lot goes on in the course of the race, and now you are in the pit crew with the team.
The Riverside Community College

The Riverside Community College (RCC) Early Childhood Education Program provides an educational and practical foundation for students interested in working with children from infancy through third grade. In addition to theoretical principles, the curriculum offers practical skills and on-site training that will prepare students for employment in the field of Early Childhood Education.
The center has two large rooms where the children can interact, play, and learn. Each of the two rooms has a glass wall between them forming two smaller rooms for a total of four rooms. The glass walls allow for observation by teachers, parents, students and doctors. There are two alcoves that allow a view of two rooms.
The Digital IR Radiator is placed in the alcove. Four microphones have been placed in each room to provide audio to the observers. The microphones are hanging shotgun style microphones and each microphone has a dedicated channel on the Digital Infrared system. It’s designed so that students, faculty, and parents can observe children without the kids knowing they are being monitored.

Observers are using Listen/DIS DR 6032 Digital IR 32-Channel Receivers to scroll thru and pick up the audio from each microphone. Observers check out pack and headphone then follow instructions on the wall.

This solution allows observers to easily monitor each child in different developmental stages. Listen products are giving these students and professionals the ability to assist and guide children as they grow.

There are so many others applications. So, start thinking outside the box. Digital IR can provide up to 32 channels of crystal clear wireless audio anywhere you may need.

Barber Motorsports Park Revs It Up With Listen Wireless Audio

When the Indy Racing League (IRL) scheduled a circuit race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham AL for the first time in April of 2010, audio was the last subject on the to-do list. After the race was completed, it was very clear that audio would now become mission number 1 before securing the next race date in 2011. Broadcast audio and integration was problematic and the complaints on the public address system’s quality and volume were to be addressed immediately. It was decided to renovate the audio system entirely.

The challenge at hand was to get audio from the track’s paddock to the far reaches of the track’s seating areas. The original installation utilized fiber transmitters and receivers that cost nearly $2,000 each end. Some of these were in place and being used for track communications. It was decided that there had to be a less expensive way.

A number of solutions were presented; Fiber Transmission, CAT5 Networking, Copper Cable Runs, and Wireless Audio Transmission were all considered. When the cost totals were submitted to the track’s management, it was abundantly clear that wireless audio transmission from Listen Technologies would be the economical way to go. The question was asked about audio quality. “No FM audio can sound as good as a copper or fiber run” and “That’s too far to send wireless audio and it still perform” were some of the challenges.

Lee Brock, an audio engineer for Music Alley in Birmingham AL suggested we demonstrate Listen’s product to prove the audio quality and transmission can be up to par with the rest of the new audio system. The demo was very easy and quickly put minds to rest on the audio quality.

The system containing Rane’s RPM88 for signal processing and switching simply fed Listen transmitters for sending audio to the remote zones located around the track. In each zone, a receiver and amplifier were installed to feed the 70 volt runs totaling over 120 speakers along the crash fence and covering the various seating areas.

The Listen solution came in at a fraction of the cost for other networked audio systems that were proposed and the track happily boasts about it’s new addition to the technology of this unique race track.

Associated Sound Distributes Audio Without Wires

Associated Sound’s rental department saw the benefit of Listen transmitters and stationary receivers as far back as 2000.Our rental department started using the LT-800 Stationary Transmitters at the USA Olympic Track & Field Trials to get sound from the main track to the adjacent practice track.

To run wire we would have had to use over 200 ft. of yellow jackets “cable covers” in the pedestrian areas; it simply wasn’t practical and wireless was much easier. The total throw from the main PA location to the remote locations was about 600’ as the crow flies. It worked great and we knew these would become invaluable in our rental inventory as you simply don’t know what you have to work with until you are “on site”.

This year Associated Sound’s rental team Josh Bender, Ross James and Will Updegraph did the Concorso Italiano at Laguna Seca Golf Course. Each year, Concorso Italiano attracts over 40,000 automotive enthusiasts to celebrate their passion for vintage, classic and exotic automobiles and their iconic designers.The show covered over two fairways and is the largest show dedicated to Italian cars in the world. This year’s event had around 1,000 cars on display.Event organizers aim to create a festive Italian atmoshpere and audio is certainly a part of the atmosphere. By using the Listen wireless audio products we eliminated hundreds of feet of cable and covers and provided a better result for our clients.

(Car display at Shriners Concours)

The Shriners Hospital Concours in Sacramento moved to a new location on the Capitol Mall in Sacramento and once again Associated Sound was called upon to deliver great sound.We needed to get sound from 5th Street to 10th Street and we had two light rail crossings to deal with. Wireless was the only solution and we had positive experience with the Listen LT-800 Stationary Transmitters which worked flawlessly sending signal to remote amplifier locations. A secondary benefit of using the Listen product is that we are able to bring our clients into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at the same time.

Listen Technologies