On January 3, 2015, you can join over 100 sound professionals for Making Wireless Work at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center in Dallas to learn how sound pro James Stoffo manages multiple channels of wireless at the GRAMMYs, the Summer Olympics and dozens of other mega events, as well as how to tackle other challenges. He’ll be leading the session, along with Tim Vear and Gino Sigismondi from Shure and Karl Winkler from Lectrosonics. Nice way to start the New Year, right?
Shure and SynAudCon (considered the leader in audio training) have worked together on various projects over the years. We wanted to get the back-story, catch up on what’s new and find out what Making Wireless Work participants can expect. SynAudCon’s Pat and Brenda Brown answered the call.
Synergetic Audio Concepts was founded in 1973 by Altec Lansing exec Don Davis and his wife Carolyn who responded to the growing need for audio training in the fundamentals of live sound reinforcement. By 1995, they had trained over 10,000 sound contractors, designers and consultants. Authors of three audio engineering books, including Sound System Engineering, the Davises passed the baton to another couple, Pat and Brenda Brown, in 1996.
Pat’s career began when they bought a music store at age 22. Brenda, his wife, who worked part-time in the store said, “It’s a time when they had more ambition than sense. We started selling sound systems in the store, and that’s what got Pat interested in installations. We sold the store, and that’s when he went full time into integration/consulting for pro audio/video.”
Pat, a design/build audio consultant, had led sessions for SynAudCon under Don’s tutelage. The Browns were ready for the challenge when the Davises wanted to move on. Nearly twenty years later, the Browns consider this more than a career. Brenda says it’s a calling.
What about the synergetic principles of Buckminster Fuller that defined the early days of SynAudCon? Pat says, “We haven’t abandoned any of the philosophies upon which the company was launched. SynAudCon is built on the pillars constructed by the Davises. Those still support everything we’re doing today.”
The constant flood of emerging technologies and new products has not been a challenge for a company founded over 40 years ago. And there’s a good reason, according to Brenda: “Pat teaches the principles, and then demonstrates how to apply them to the current technologies. We also make sure that what we’re teaching applies to all brands, so there’s no ‘marketing’ bias in anything that’s presented.”
Take digital. Pat says, “Digital audio under the hood is extremely complex. The flip side of that is that it has to be designed to ‘plug and play.’ You can operate a digital system without a lot of expertise, because if you couldn’t, no one would be able to use it.” Still, audio training has to extend beyond the basics. “Our students have to dig deeper because they’re often troubleshooting systems and need to resolve issues. They have to know what’s going on under the hood.”
According to Pat, “The great thing about teaching audio is that none of the fundamentals and principles have changed. A lot of the core concepts will never change. What has changed dramatically, from our perspective, are the methods for delivering the content.”
The Evolution of Training
SynAudCon offers in-person and web-based options. “The in-person trainings are for those students who want to see and hear a live person. That’s the way they’ve learned their entire lives. But there are others who prefer learning at their own pace on the web.” SynAudCon’s global membership has increased dramatically since the release of online programs in 2010.
Making Wireless Work Training
SynAudCon asked its membership to suggest a one-time-only training topic. Wireless was #1.
Here’s why, according to Pat: “There are two problems with wireless in its current form. One is that the bandwidth is shrinking. That’s an FCC thing. The other is that customers want more channels, and they want more of their systems to be wireless. Bottom line: we need to fit more channels into less spectrum, and it’s not as easy as it sounds.”
The challenges aren’t limited to interference from wireless audio systems, either. “Keep in mind that a lot of wireless products that cause interference have nothing to do with audio. Video walls are huge RF interference generators, and they’ll swamp out the wireless audio. The same is true if the facility is in a location where television is broadcast. That can happen in a range of facilities, from churches to stadiums.”
The training is designed for anyone managing multiple channels of wireless: live sound engineers who have to navigate across intercom systems, multiples wireless mics, and in-ear systems; and integrators installing wireless systems on that scale.
The training will be led by James Stoffo, who has managed wireless for fourteen consecutive Super Bowls, Cirque Du Soleil shows, and just about every major music awards program you can think of, along with Karl Winkler from Lectrosonics, and Tim Vear and Gino Sigismondi from Shure. Pat believes that the manufacturer perspective is critical: “It gives our attendees two sources of information: the independent consultant who’s brand-agnostic and the manufacturers who know exactly what their product does and how it does it.”
There are interactive listening modules as well, powered by a Shure personal monitoring system. Pat sees real-time demos on troubleshooting as a key benefit:
“You can read about some of these issues in textbooks, but if you see a guy fire up a spectrum analyzer, sniff out the problem and implement a solution in real time, it can shave years off your learning curve.”
- Dates: January 3-4, 2015
- Location: American Airlines Training and Conference Center; 4501 Highway 360 South; Fort Worth, TX
- Cost: $750
- Registration: Online or call Brenda at 812-923-0174
- Renewal Units: Approved for 16CTS and CTS-I RUs