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Five Ways Shure's Power Trio of ADX Transmitters, ShowLink, and a Spectrum Manager Can Save Your Day (or Night)

If you've already bulletproofed your wireless rig with ADX transmitters and ShowLink, you might not read anything in here that you don’t already know. Simply put, you're set to deal with pretty much anything that can happen in a live setting (with your wireless system, that is). You already have A to Z control. But you might still find something you can relate to in here. On the other hand, for those of you considering Axient Digital—or who don't have ADX transmitters, or ShowLink—you'll probably want to read on.

When Shure rolled out the Axient Digital wireless line onto the touring and production community beginning in 2017, it did not go unnoticed. Just like that, production outfits had access to all the benefits of digital wireless signal transmission in an affordable Shure rig: unprecedented signal stability and audio clarity, flexible hardware options, and comprehensive control, too. Not too shabby, indeed.

Wait, let's back up a bit. Comprehensive control? What does that even mean? That's what we're going to talk about today. And it really is a perfect time, too; at the time of this writing, the start of touring season is imminent. So, we've decided to boil down the vast number of possible live production situations into five simple-to-understand situations where ADX transmitters and a ShowLink AD610 Access Point (and we'll give a bit of props to the AXT600 while we're at it) can help you out of a jam.

Know your Axient Digital transmitters:

If you didn't already know, Axient Digital transmitters come in two distinct series: AD and ADX.
The AD series offers exceptional RF performance and digital audio.
The ADX series also offers exceptional RF performance and digital audio … and adds on support for ShowLink access points.
OK, then. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there's really that much of a difference between the two.
Both of these series feature the same quality output. Both feature a wide 184 MHz tuning range. Both feature the same low 2ms latency in standard mode and 2.9ms in high-density mode. Both can be used with receivers running in either dual or quad mode. Both have AES signal encryption.
Diving in further, however, it becomes clear that having the ADX series puts you in a great position to deal with certain types of edge cases in live productions. And isn’t that a universal truth about live shows, that every show is different?
Here's how ADX helps you deal.

Hold onto that precious battery life.

Now, the published battery life on all Shure Axient Digital transmitters is pretty extreme—up to 10 hours of continuous use.
That's crazy! Crazy good.
What's wrong with that? Well, nothing, depending on the extent of your available inventory. If you have ample transmitters and batteries to accommodate a full set for your talent plus a whole bunch of backups always charging and ready, maybe this isn’t ever an issue for you.
For those that don’t, though, battery life is something to be actively monitored and conserved, especially when you’re dealing with productions that can run for many hours nonstop.
With ShowLink, you'll have direct access to the transmitter so you can shut down the RF signal at any time.
Think about it. From soundcheck to the closing chords of the encore, you can shut down any one of the ShowLink connected transmitters at any given time, and this is without your talent ever knowing. No RF signal output means less battery being used, and of course less battery use means longer battery life.
That means you'll be able to personally curate power usage remotely, seamlessly … secretly.
Secret power, nice!

Change the RF power level to keep your talent in touch.

Spontaneity is fun … sometimes.
The fans love it, but let's face it, it can really jack up the pressure on you when performers get too rowdy and go too hard with the flow.
Remember, Maximum Path Loss = transmitter power – receiver sensitivity + any and all gains – all losses – fade margin.
So, that's a bit more technical way of saying that things can get real, really fast when you're dealing with unpredictable talent jumping into a crowd, running through the stands, you name it. Spontaneous shenanigans can make for a great show, but, you know ... ungh. If a signal cuts out, who gets the blame?
With ADX transmitters and ShowLink, you can hands-free adjust transmitter power as needed (up to 40 mW for the ADX1 and ADX2, 20 mW for the ADX1M, and 50 mW for the ADX2FD; all region-dependant, of course). Assuming that you're running on mid power to maximize battery life (precious), that could mean up to a 2x boost in RF power to handle signal-loss concerns. You can then switch it back down when they're back on the stage.
And the show goes on…

Dodge that nasty interference, instantly.

RF interference is a nuanced and multi-layered issue. If you're handling things out in the rural plains of Nebraska, there might not be much worry about RF interference sneaking in unexpectedly. But when you're in the radio jungle of a big city like LA or New York, there's an ever-looming threat of frequency crossing.
Sometimes, interference is an "inside job." What if your frequency coordination is all good, but someone forgot to take a nearby high-voltage lighting fixture into account when setting up? How about talent that has microwavable food on their rider and who decides to heat up oatmeal not far from the stage while the penultimate act is just hitting their stride? Are you sure that there haven't been any arc welders contracted last minute to solve some staging design emergencies?
Joking aside, all of these things (and more) can cause interference, and you can never be too sure that your entire production will be completely free of RFI. So, what can you do about that? Well, if you're setup with ADX transmitters, ShowLink, and the AXT600 Spectrum Manager, you don't have to do anything. When RFI hits, the AXT600 sends a backup frequency to the transmitter first, which is then instantly synced with the receiver—no beats skipped, ever.

Swap out a transmitter without your talent losing it on you… keep it all in check.

So, the jam band you're dealing with is coming up on 3.5 hours in their set, and you can see that the batteries in the players' belt packs are getting a bit low (oh yes, remote monitoring, courtesy of Axient Digital's smart batteries). Is this when you'd normally start to choreograph a complex belt pack change up? You can't let just them crash and burn, powerless, soundless (Hmm, can you? Nah, you've got a job to do!).
Well, this is all a big load of easy with ADX and ShowLink. If they only have one transmitter, you'll still have to get it to them, but powering it on and syncing frequency is a snap. Even better, if you've outfitted them with a second transmitter (one that you've slyly kept disabled to save battery power) just switch the backup on and, again, the ADX and ShowLink sync frequencies with the receiver instantly. No sweat. No worries.

Put your software to use with WWB6 and ShurePlus Channels

We've been talking about transmitter control. But what about the controls themselves? If you've done any RF coordination with Shure systems before, then you surely know about the power and benefits of working with Shure Wireless Workbench (and if you don't … it's highly recommended). What you might not know, is that everything needed to handle these powerful features is already in Wireless Workbench. The options are hidden away if you're not using ADX and ShowLink, but they're there, waiting to be accessed.
You'll find all the good stuff in terms of transmitter control in the Device > Properties > Transmitter tab > Transmitter.
As amazing as Wireless Workbench is, it still requires that you keep your laptop nearby, on the lookout for any situation that might need your ninja-like intervention. But with the iOS ShurePlus Channels app (sorry Android users, nothing available yet), you'll have the same powerful transmitter controls from an even more mobile remote access point.
What does this mean for you? For one, you can step away from your station without worrying about everything going down at the worst possible time. You'll have all the tools to act, right there in your pocket. Does this mean that Shure is promoting your joining in the crowd and the party? No comment. You know your own limits, Shure is just extending your system's limits further than ever.
Sounds enticing though, doesn't it. While others are busy merely taking pictures and recording videos and audio with their phone, you actually hold the control. You've got the power to make or break the show right in your pocket. How does that feel?

Fewer "war" stories for you mean better memories for all.

It's not news to you that things can get strange in a live setting. Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. The situations hinted at here probably pale in comparison to the problems you've had to solve. Over the years of a fruitful career, you'll have plenty of stories to tell about "the fateful night in Anytown, where it all went down." What a top-tier Axient Digital set-up comprising ADX transmitters, ShowLink access points, and an AXT600 Spectrum Manager can do is make it so your stories, more often than not, end happily—with the talent and crowd delighted from a show well made, and you confident that you were able to avert most anything thrown at you thanks to the power this Axient Digital trio has to offer.

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