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I watched the past two seasons of NBC (US)'s show "The Sing-Off" which pits acapella groups against each other. The groups range in size from five to fifteen or so members each.

For opening numbers there may be sixty or more singers on stage, each individually miked, and it doesn't appear to be lip-synced or post-scored.

What equipment (radios etc) and techniques make this feasible? It seems like an impossible task. War stories appreciated too, if you were there.

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This just requires using advanced enough wireless systems. Shure ULX-P for example can support 1440 different frequencies. They most likely mix in to subgroups and then mix subgroups together. Large concert tours will use upwards of 160+ channels so dealing with 60 vocal channels really isn't that big of a deal, especially for a recorded environment rather than going to speakers.

  • Yep, on looking around I realize that the state of the art has changed a bit since I was doing live shows. Still, managing upwards of 100 wireless mics must be quite a logistical challenge, not to mention hella expensive. – Jim Mack Aug 29 '14 at 15:29
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    @JimMack - a lot of the systems can be programmed with names now. Yeah, it takes a fair bit of setup, but it lets you know reliably which pack is which at a glance and 60 channels isn't that many. If you gave me the budget to handle it, I could probably deal with it fine myself, it would just take some time to prep the mics and do the sound checks before hand. – AJ Henderson Aug 29 '14 at 16:01
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With todays modern tech its not that tough. The biggest issue is making sure every thing is on its own frequency and the frequencies are properly spaced. Shure makes a software tool for their mic units that will tell you what channels to use based on how many units you plan to run to make sure they are properly spaced. You can find it here

http://www.shure.com/americas/products/software/wireless-workbench/wireless-workbench-6

One you have chosen your channels its more about setting up your mixer as you best see fit. With the digital stuff thats out there now assigning mix groups to manage everyone is not that hard.

Another approach I used to use to avoid overlap (when budget was tight) was to use mic units that were in different spectrums. This usually involved using some of the older stuff which was susceptible to outside interference although I never had any serious issues with it. By doing so you avoid any possible frequency overlap.

The traditional approach to wireless has always been one channel one mic but as it gets better and faster and most importantly cheaper, I would not be surprised if they start to phase in the technology they use in todays cell networks (TDMA, CDMA, FDMA) allowing multiple units per channel, frequency or time spectrum. This would allow more mics than people you can fit on the stage.

  • Interesting idea about using time splitting and phase technologies to share spectrum. The other thing that would be cool about that would be the potential to use a single receiver for multiple channels, particularly on a digital board where you might be able to stream the data in digitally via a single connector. You could potentially have one receiver for 10 mics that way, which would be awesome for reducing bulk of portable rigs. – AJ Henderson Sep 1 '14 at 15:53

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