ITV has upgraded its UK regional news studios with Sony’s DWX Gen 3 digital wireless audio family, including microphones and beltpack transmitters for presenters and guests.
The latest digital systems have matured in terms of battery life. The Sony transmitters' green credentials stack up very well against analog, and we can get even longer battery time using reduced transmitter power
Head of Technical Services, ITV
ITV News operates 11 regional studios across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. Wireless audio features extensively in all of its studio operations, including radio mics for presenters and guests as well as in-ear monitoring (IEM) and radio talkback.
The UK telecoms regulator OFCOM’s commitment to clear the 700‑MHz radio frequency band for 5G services gave ITV the opportunity to review its aging analog wireless audio estate. Switching from UHF to a spectrally efficient digital system allowed the broadcaster to realize the benefits of crisp low-latency sound with easy configuration, remote operation and appealing operating costs.
Before making its decision, ITV conducted an extensive evaluation and testing program based on Digital TV Group (DTG) standards. This included assessment of several critical considerations including RF performance and efficiency, audio quality and latency plus physical equipment size, durability, ease of operation, battery life and cost.
After exploring other solutions, ITV selected Sony’s DWX Gen 3 family of digital wireless technology to provide six wireless channels per studio. Presenters and guests wear the light, compact DWT-B03R bodypack transmitter teamed with an unobtrusive lapel mic. These are supplemented for on-camera interviews with DWM-02N handheld wireless microphones. Signals are transmitted to DWR-R03D receivers that are rack-mounted on the main studio floor or in a central equipment room.
“One of our initial concerns with digital equipment was codec latency,” notes Steve Teague, Head of Technical Services, ITV. “However, with Sony this proved to be very low, allowing us to mix signals from the audio mics with analog IEMs and real-time talkback without any delay or synching issues.”
As Steve remarks, DWX Gen3 also allayed ITV’s concerns about the energy efficiency of digital wireless systems: “The latest digital systems have matured in terms of battery life. The Sony transmitters’ green credentials stack up very well against analog, and we can get even longer battery time using reduced transmitter power.”
Centralized operation and system management was another decisive factor for ITV in choosing Sony. DWX Wireless Studio control software allows engineers to monitor system performance, configuration and diagnostics of all transmitters and receivers from a networked PC.
Sony delivered around 350 items of DWX wireless technology to provide radio mic facilities in all 11 regional studios. Partial system configuration was performed at ITV’s Bristol studio under the supervision of Technical Support Engineer Nigel Millichap, making use of DWX Wireless Studio control software to assist quick set-up. Installation was completed at each site by ITV’s local support engineers, with nominated “Super Users” cascading training through to staff at each site.
“Above all, we wanted a reliable, easy-to-use system—something you can just switch on and know it’s going to stand up to the daily grind of being dropped or sat on by presenters,” says Paul Boardman, who supervises audio in ITV’s newsroom at Media City. “What’s more, the Sony mics sound great, as you’d expect.”
DWX Series 2-channel digital wireless receiver
DWX Series digital wireless microphone bodypack transmitter
Uni-directional UHF Antenna
Dual battery charger for DWT-B03R wireless transmitter
DWX series digital wireless microphone
Electret condenser microphone
Remote Control Unit for Digital Wireless Microphone System