Then we had more input on the audio elements. Among those whose stress levels were noticeably higher round Jubilee time was Hand Held Audio’s Nick Bruce-Smith, who had the onerous task of organizing the incredibly intricate licensing arrangements for the vast number of radio systems on site, as well as providing (with the aid of sponsorship from Shure) all the wireless systems for both shows. In total, HHA provided 16 Shure UHF hand held systems; four Shure PSM600 and eight PSM700 in-ear systems each with two receivers, plus a further six hardwire in-ear systems, all with Shure E1 or E5 generic in-ear monitors, and six beltpack transmitters which ran a variety of DPA 4065 headset mics and DPA 4060 lapel mics. And that was just for the rock and pop concert. The classical show took eight Shure UHF hand held systems with beta 87 capsules; four beltpacks with DPA 4060 lapel mics for strings and other acoustic instruments plus two PSM700 in-ear systems.
At that point, having organized all the licensing, prepped the gear and got it on site, Nick and the rest of the HHA team handed over the reins to their man on the ground, John ‘Freddo’ Fredericks, MD of specialist technical services company, Technical Earth. "My job was really just to manage the whole RF scenario so that it was one less thing for everyone else to worry about," explained Freddo. "There was a fair amount of hardware co-ordination between artists coming on and off stage - we needed someone on hand virtually full time just to run down straying beltpacks so we could get them back in time to be ready for the next artist! But the main focus of my job was policing the illegal use of radio space which was densely populated enough to give us all a headache, and to act as an Early Warning System for the monitor guys, alerting them to potential problems on stage." Essential kit for Freddo included a Marconi spectrum analyser and test set for illegal frequency detection, and a Yamaha 01V digital console with extra mic-preamps, via which he could listen directly to all of the microphones and in-ear mixes on stage.
"When you consider the potential for disaster with such a uniquely complex event and the fact that the airwaves were jam-packed, although it was far from straightforward, we nevertheless had a blissfully uneventful show," said Freddo. "We had one errant presenter wandering off somewhere we hadn’t anticipated, but we got him covered straight away so it wasn’t a problem. In terms of set design regarding RF concerns, we couldn’t have hoped for a better environment, as it was so nice and open with no reflective metal structures for signal to bounce off or to make aerial siting difficult. It all went exactly to plan, despite the fact that we’d had no rehearsal for links and changeovers at all."