This is my first post on this site. I felt compelled to write in response to David Olivers article, Cue the Soundman. David is a good friend, a seasoned pro, and Im a fan. However, I respectfully disagree completely with his take on the Showtech by Wireless Wizardry (Kerry Pollock).
I swear by my Showtech. It has served me well. Contrary to Davids article, I (as a Showtech user) have never, ever had a technical problem with the unit. Sure, I had to learn to use it, but I would be nervous performing in a venue without it.
I just got done doing a run of nine 90 minute shows in the same theater. In all nine shows, I had absolutely no sound problems. I did all the cues myself with a remote about the size of a silver dollar. I pressed the buttons on the remote through my trouser pocket.
Ill also share one mis-hap. During my opening sequence (close-up magic at a table), the candle I use for several flash appearances of coins went out because of a draft in the theater. With the tiny remote in my pants pocket, I simply dipped one hand into my lap Slydini-style, hit the pause button, lit the candle again, and started the music. Certainly no sound man in a booth could have corrected the problem so smoothly. There was no overt sound cuing: the music mysteriously stopped, the problem was fixed, and the music started again. And, while I know nothing about the unit David uses and compares the Showtech to, he describes the remote as being clipped on the belt. The difference between getting to a unit on a belt and casually pressing a button through your pants is, to me, huge.
Also, David contrasted the remote units, claiming that the showtechs small remote has buttons close together that are easy to confuse. I disagree. Perhaps its just a preference thing, but the smaller the better! The versatility of a small remote is that it can be placed in a pocket in addition to cards, coins, and other stuff that might need to be stored on your person. And, Ive NEVER hit the wrong button. I have, at times, pinned the Showtechs remote at the base of my jacket so my fingers can curl under and hit it. And, at times, Ive used the ankle switches included with the unit. I see a smaller remote as a major, major, major plus. I simply wouldnt use a unit that clips on the belt. When I hit a sound cue, my fingers barely touch the front of my pants. The action is totally invisible.
As far as complaints about the showtechs reliability, I can only speak for myself. And again, since I dont own the Virtual Soundman, I cant compare. I will reiterate, however, that I just did nine shows, 90 minutes each, with just over 25 sound cues. I turned the Showtech on an hour before the first show of the evening (7:00), and turned it off as I left the theater (11:30). The Showtech never went to sleep as Davids friends described. I also used several other wireless devices in this show and have worked with others who have used devicesnever a frequency problem.
While Im sure the Showtech mis-haps David describes happened, Im not convinced there is no more to the story. Perhaps the users didnt know their equipment. Perhaps the power blinked off and back on. There are lots of other explanations.
Like David, I know a lot of the industrys top professionals use Showtechs. If the system is unreliable, why are they still using it? I cant answer that question for others, but I must assume its because it works. Anyone willing to invest 2400 dollars in sound cares about quality. For me, controlling my sound is one less person I have to depend on during a performance. Ive learned, through experience, that I can depend on the Showtech. And unlike the article in the September issue suggests, I think you can too.