Gearhouse Broadcast’s Event Communications division relies on Clear-Com products to fulfil comms requirements for some of Australia’s biggest live events. Clear-Com products such as FreeSpeak II wireless, HelixNet partyline and Eclipse digital matrix systems have formed the backbone of several mega events including Hillsong Conference and the Queensland and Victorian Schools Spectaculars, ensuring these massive gigs and their live broadcasts run without a hitch.

Hillsong Conference was a four-day gathering of more than 30,000 faithful in Sydney, with all of the production requirements of a massive arena show. Gearhouse Broadcast supplied and operated the comms system, which used 50 FreeSpeak II 1.9GHz beltpacks, one HMS-4X HelixNet main station running 12 HBP-2X HelixNet beltpacks, and an Eclipse digital matrix integrated with a second comms system via MADI.

Jason Owen, manager of Gearhouse’s Event Communications explained that they had rented FreeSpeak II to Hillsong in Sydney and Melbourne prior to the Conference, and it was found to be a good fit for them. The Conference being a large scale job as well as their premiere event of the year, it was a big test for a big system.

According to Owen, the audio quality and coverage are better than the competitors, and the setup can be accomplished in half the time. The equipment’s flexibility is another great advantage. For instance, if an antenna needs to be added on-site to extend coverage, there’s no need to reset the system as it can deal with it automatically. He added that this wasn’t possible with the competitor’s product.

After Hillsong Conference, Gearhouse sent the same crew to Brisbane for the ‘Creative Generations’ Schools Spectacular at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in July with the huge show featuring 1,500 students. The comms system was almost identical in scale and design to the Conference, including its digital integration to a second system.

The next event took place in September with Victoria’s Schools Spectacular at Hisense Arena, where Gearhouse’s system was ably deployed by Peter Cochrane of Articulate. The system included 14 beltpacks of FreeSpeak II and a HelixNet master running 14 wired packs for the show, while 3,500 students performed for both a live and broadcast audience.

Peter Cochrane recalled that he had all the stage managers on FreeSpeak II and the hardwired comms for the followspots and mechanised movement crew. The most extreme cable run was almost 1,000 metres but he didn’t have a single problem. The quick setup helped him build the entire system by himself. Running the FreeSpeak II system on four antennas, with one backstage, he found it sounded great and there were no dropouts.

He added that FreeSpeak’s true advantage was its low total cost of ownership as there was no prep to be done – one could simply pick it off the shelf, take it to the venue, plug it in, and get it going.

Gearhouse’s Clear-Com stock will continue its run of Schools Spectaculars when it rolls out the biggest of them all, the New South Wales ‘Dream Big’ event at Qudos Bank Arena on 25 and 26 November, where both FreeSpeak and HelixNet will be used to coordinate almost 6,000 students, performers, and staff. The popularity of Gearhouse’s Clear-Com stock is taking it to events such as The Logies, The Australian Open, outside broadcasts for Channel 7’s ‘Sunrise’, and on production for Foxtel’s ‘The Great Australian Bakeoff’. FreeSpeak II is currently on its way to Melbourne for Channel 9’s AFL Grand Final Footy Show.

Jands is a leading Australian distributor of professional sound systems as well as lighting and staging equipment.

Image: The FreeSpeak II wireless system