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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 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.
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’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.