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Raycom broadens its horizons

The broadcast specialist is adding live sound frequencies to its business bandwidth

UK distributor and all-round wireless expert Raycom was, remarkably, a show debutante at last October’s PLASA. Well established and highly regarded in film and broadcast production, the company’s booth was festooned with wireless microphones, IEM, transmitters and receivers in a concerted act of business-to-business exploration, diversification and expansion. The brands on display included Wisycom, Lectrosonics,Phonak and more, all of which, according to Raycom MD Pyers Easton, offer unique solutions to the ever-converging worlds of live sound production and broadcast.

“We feel that, when it comes to our in-ear monitoring and radio mic products, the same benefits and unique features that have given us the success we’ve enjoyed in the broadcast industry will be just as applicable in the live sound industry,” he confirms, “so PLASA was our first toe in that particular water. We made some good contacts, and a couple of very good ones.”

It’s still a little early to say exactly where those very good contacts have been made, suffice to say that the top end of rental and install across the UK – and beyond – is now firmly on Raycom’s Christmas card list. Business development manager Andy Clements, who spent much of that show demonstrating Wisycom’s MPR30 IEM receiver (main picture), recalls how it made a vivid impression on one live sound engineer: “We had a guitarist playing on the stand with a beltpack transmitter, and I walked the engineer through the hall wearing the receiver. It was only transmitting at 10 milliwatts, but we got right through all the background RF and EMC present with no dropouts whatsoever. He literally thought I had a transmitter on me! That led to a direct sales lead.”

As well as a supplier, Raycom is a full service centre for back-up and support. To move into live sound, very little changes are needed to Raycom’s business model. “We’re already a modern-style, value-added distributor,” says Clements (pictured right). “We can translate knowledge of the products into hands-on support and planning, and we know the background to the technology inside out. We already offer what the live industry needs. The one thing we are considering is expansion of our sales and support staff to handle the extra workload of live sound. As we go forward, somebody to concentrate fully on this market would clearly be an asset.”

Several product lines present themselves with live sound potential. Swiss-based Phonak makes a small IEM solution referred to as ‘a contact lens for the ear’: the Invisity in-ear prompter. Used by TV presenters, for example, it has obvious potential in theatre and corporate presentation. Raycom’s own-brand RTB-6211D talkback base station is a shoe-in for live production comms – “a unique high performance “base station” for talkback”, as Clements puts it – offering both zero-latency analogue and DSP-friendly digital transmission from a single 1U rackmount unit. More products in this mould can be expected.

Meanwhile MFL is Wisycom’s fibre-optic wideband link, carrying four RF channels along a single fibre. Any combination of up to four laser optical transmitters and/or optical-receivers can be configured via plug-in boards, and this is a solution – forged in the pits of Formula One broadcast – that lends itself especially to festival sites. “It has the capacity to detect any changes in cable status and optimise the signal accordingly,” Clements points out, “which adds to its stability in challenging environments. It’s just one of many benefits it can offer the live industry and is the first truly plug-and-play fibre system on the market.” One of many benefits that Raycom as a whole can offer, indeed. It doesn’t stop at traditional touring, either: with further expansion of related product lines, a whole world awaits of everyday applications that, with ever increasing exactitude, demand that Formula One touch of class.

“2015 will see further development of our range,” reflects Clements. “We’ve got the skill set: a deep knowledge of the technical application of wireless equipment in the sound environment, we need to consider the whole spectrum of products required by live sound customers including those involved in the wider markets of budget installation. What is certain is that any new lines we introduce will always be married to the highly professional service that’s assisted our phenomenal growth in the broadcast and film industries.”