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Sotheby’s auctioneers goes digital with Shure microphone system

Sotheby’s fine art auctioneers has installed 16 channels of Shure’s flagship digital ULX-D wireless microphone system at its London HQ in New Bond Street.

The system design and installation was carried out by Hornchurch-based AV consultant KEL Sound and Vision, and the equipment was sold through Audiologic.

“Sotheby’s was using an older wireless microphone system in its auction galleries, but wanted to bring it up to date,” explained Chris Gutteridge, technical director at KEL Sound and Vision. “The HQ at New Bond Street is much more extensive than it appears from the street, covering several floors and extending right through to St George Street behind the shop fronts on both roads.

“They were having a few timing problems using their old analogue system, and also wanted to extend their use of wireless across the whole site. They wanted four wireless channels to cover their two main auction galleries, for wireless sound reinforcement of the main auctioneer, and another four to cover their smaller Conduit and Book room galleries — so essentially two channels for each of the four galleries.

“However, they also wanted a further eight channels that could be used freely throughout the building. They have seven or eight smaller rooms where they hold meetings, presentations and public discussion panels with experts, and they wanted to be able to provide wireless sound reinforcement in any of these at short notice, or use all eight of the floating channels in one location for larger discussion sessions.”

Following Sotheby’s decision to upgrade to a digital system, they began looking at Shure’s ULX-D system with KEL. The scalability of the solution and the ability to encrypt the wireless systems in the main auction galleries was a selling point as well as its Dante compatibility, with the auction house already using Dante-compatible Bose ESP mixers and Bose loudspeakers in its galleries. “Everything there is on Dante now, and the ULX-D system fitted in perfectly,” stated Gutteridge.

During the upgrade, a Shure SCM820 Intellimix automatic mixer was also installed with the eight-channel system used for discussion panels. “We always used the SCM810s in the past,” commented Gutteridge, “but I must say, we’ve been very impressed with the 820 here.”

With the installation complete, wireless systems can now be used across the entire site, in accordance with Sotheby’s original requirements. Beltpacks with lavalier microphones and hand-held wireless microphones were supplied with the eight ‘roaming’ ULX-D channels so that Sotheby’s has a choice depending on event requirements. “At any one time, if auctions are happening in both of the galleries and they also have presentations going on, all 16 channels of ULX-D can potentially be active all over the building,” concluded Chris Gutteridge.

Shure Distribution UK