Innovative Wireless IEM System Provides Rock Solid Signal Coverage and Reliability
SOMERSET, UK — Touring Audio and RF Engineer Ali Viles is a legend in his own right. During his brilliant career that has spanned three decades, Viles has provided unrivaled sound quality and steadfast wireless communications while on tour with an extensive list of superstar recording artists, including Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Madonna, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, Guns N’ Roses, Lady Gaga and Adele, to name a few.
Today, in addition to serving as an engineer, Viles runs Mission Control Limited, a consultancy business that supports 80 to 100 tours around the world at any given time. For Viles, providing extremely reliable RF communications that are compliant with each country’s specific regulations is critical to his success. To do so, Viles has come to rely on Wisycom, a global leader in sophisticated RF solutions.
“I first used Wisycom gear in Mumbai on a music video shoot with Coldplay for a then unreleased song,” says Viles. “We were trying to keep the song under wraps, so we needed to use an IEM system on the band, but it had to be battery powered and able to run off a laptop. We also needed battery powered transmitters for the band to wear. This approach allowed them to hear the song and sing along for the shoot. At that time, the Wisycom MTK952 Wideband In-ear Dual Transmitter was the only thing I was aware of with that option that was also easily portable. Following the success of that project, I was intrigued to see how the brand worked in a live concert setting.”
With his curiosity piqued, Viles demoed a Wisycom IEM package, which he ultimately used on tour with the English Band, Gorillas. “Off the back of that tour, I wanted to learn more about it and began to work closely with Wisycom,” he adds. “What Wisycom was doing was miles ahead of the competition, so we started using it on tour with Coldplay. At the same time, it was also out with Beyoncé on the OTR II Tour and eventually on the Madonna Madame X Tour. It quickly became evident to anyone who used the Wisycom wireless IEM system that it was a game changer.”
For the Coldplay tour, Viles selected the MTK952 on 22 channels and 60 Wisycom MPR50-IEM receiver packs, which were used for the band, crew and guests. To deliver stadium-wide RF coverage, Viles’ team relied on the Wisycom MFL RF-over-fiber system with 20 discreet, single-mode fiber links that allowed them to provide remote IEM transmits between the stages, which were positioned at either end of the arenas. “This setup allowed us to deliver coherent RF coverage of multiple IEM channels spread across the stadium,” he explains.
For Viles, the decision to use Wisycom comes down to three key elements, which he says do not exist with other manufacturers. “The first is the tuning range,” he declares. “The MTK952 and MPR-50 IEM belt-pack receiver tunes from 470 to 700 MHz. This allows you to work pretty much anywhere in the world with the same physical set of hardware, as long as you adhere to the legal restrictions and license limitations of each country. I can take the same gear from Amsterdam one week and use it in Italy the next, and then use it in the U.S. or Southeast Asia the week after. To get something else that covers that same spectrum would require three or four times the amount of equipment, which obviously is not financially viable. With Wisycom, I know I will be able to make it work anywhere within that legal spectrum, and that’s huge.”
Another major benefit Viles mentions is that the MPR50-IEM receiver belt-packs are true dual diversity. “You have two completely separate antennas and two completely separate circuits built into the IEM receiver,” he adds. “The receiver then decodes both and passes the best audio from those two receivers. That is something that no one else in the IEM world is doing. It makes the listening experience a lot better, and the RF experience is much more robust.”
Finally, Viles says the passive antenna of the IEM combiners is another favored feature. “Most other IEM systems on the market have active IEM combiners, which very quickly end up raising the noise floor,” he explains. “There is no gain phase with a passive combiner. The IEM transmitters sense the amount of loss and increase output power to make it up, ensuring that the power output on the combiner is what you have asked the IEM to transmit. There is no makeup gain, so there’s no gain on any intermod. You end up with a much cleaner end result from a technical point of view.”
Viles adds that Wisycom also stands out as a brand, from product through to support. “I’ve toured extensively with other manufacturers’ IEM products, and they are fine, but I think Wisycom’s solutions are the best on the market,” he adds. “I deal directly with a lot of different people at Wisycom because of the client base I serve. No matter where I go in the world, I’ve always had very quick support and turnaround on requests. Wisycom has always been incredibly supportive in looking at different ways of developing and doing things; they’re just very responsive and dynamic.”