09/12/2013 Old Lyme, CT
After over 10 ten years of development, and after listening to feedback from customers all over the world, Sennheiser has created a 'no compromise' wireless system: the Digital 9000. In the fall of 2012, the system was introduced to an exhuberant audience at IBC in Amsterdam, and is now becoming the wireless system of choice among many high-end applications in broadcast, on Broadway and of course in live performance. The Digital 9000, which features completely uncompressed audio, artifact free wireless performance, superb dynamics and nearly effortless frequency coordination, has raised the bar of wireless performance in the touring market.
Jonas Productions, Inc. is a specialty audio service company with a primary focus on backline. The company, which has offices in Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Sydney, Australia, is a longtime user of Sennheiser and handles the touring production for Harry Connick Jr. and many major festivals in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Caribbean and Australia. When the company was in the process of expanding their inventory, they invested in a Sennheiser Digital 9000 system.
When did you first consider investing in the Digital 9000? __
Our Sennheiser representative suggested we try the Digital 9000 system earlier this year, and we were among the first major users of the system. We were making a large purchase and upgrading some of our Sennheiser G2 wireless units. We always try to stay on the cutting edge of technology with what's new, and we knew the Harry Connick Jr., tour was coming up. We were so pleased with the system that we ended up purchasing quite a few of the Sennheiser SKM 5200 handheld transmitters as well as the Digital 9000 system itself. As we were in that process of expanding our inventory, it seemed like a really good opportunity. The product was available, the timing was right and the system itself was really impressive.
What are some of the things you consider when making such an investment? __
First, you want to make sure that the system is expandable and that the expected longevity of the product is there so you can realize your investment. Also, it needs to be flexible. Since the Digital 9000 works in almost any situation, be it film, broadcast or special events, it seemed like the right investment to make — especially with RF environment getting as busy as it is. Also, we knew we would be investing in something that wasn't going to be replaced anytime soon.
What kind of edge does the Digital 9000 give you in your business? __
We want to be able to provide the best possible service. Competition is really tough in the marketplace, and if you can offer something that is better than anything else, it gives you an edge. As an audio manufacturer, Sennheiser has always been able to do that.
One thing that impressed us about the Digital 9000 was the ability to keep the entire signal chain in the digital domain: all the way from the mic to the speaker itself. Currently, we use the Midas interface right out of the Digital 9000, and maintain digital right from the microphone itself all the way to the speaker box. And we can still have the digital split to monitor and front of house. As far as I know, that's something that nobody else can do.
Did the Digital 9000 help solve any other problems? __
Absolutely. Our purchase of the system made sense in light of the FCC changes and everything they are doing to present challenges in our industry. We also love the flexibility of the cards. For example, if we are traveling overseas where there are other frequency regulations, we can maintain that same unit and just swap out the cards. The Digital 9000 has great expandability and flexibility, and this ultimately saves us time, which is our most precious commodity.
Can you comment on the audio quality? Is this something your touring artists notice? __
Sure. Years ago, prior to our using the SKM 5200 series transmitters, we went from another manufacturer to Sennheiser. Harry Connick Jr. noticed an immediate difference, especially by being able to use the Neumann 105 capsule. We were able to keep his vocal sounding as natural as possible.
When we graduated to the Digital 9000, we didn't tell Harry that we were going to make a switch. He walked up and sang a few verses, stopped almost immediately and asked me, "What's up? This sounds really good." I told him we upgraded our wireless system and he noticed right off the bat that there was something different. He even noticed the difference in sound quality between the 5200 and the 9000 transmitters as far as the sound quality: all within 30 seconds!
Is this quality something that translates to the fan experience? __
Absolutely. Regardless of what onstage instrumentation may be, we have always found that Sennheiser and Neumann products have always played a major role in relaying high quality audio to the public. Our touring artists really care about the sound quality that the fans experience, and that in turn drives Jonas Productions to push the quality. Sennheiser products have always given us an edge and have been a reliable tool that you can count on.
What efficiencies has the Digital 9000 introduced in your productions? __
It has reduced the frustration level our sound technicians can often have when using other competing products, and maximizes their time efficiency — which of course equals money. It all adds up, and anything we can do to simplify our set up helps. When we find a product that fits nicely into our workflow, like the Digital 9000, we have fewer things to worry about-it's a cleaner package. As a small example, the rechargeable battery solution on the Digital 9000 saves a huge amount of money, not to mention it is also helping the environment.
What has your relationship with Sennheiser been like over the years? __
Sennheiser is a great company and has always stood behind its product. When I think of Sennheiser, I think of reliability. From a rental perspective, their products may cost a little more than the competition, but you are always going to earn it back over the long run.