Chris Durfy

Venue vs. Venue 2 Breakdown

14 posts in this topic

I’ve recently had the pleasure of using the new Lectrosonics Venue 2. It’s such a huge improvement over the original Venue; something our industry already considers the proven modular workhorse. With new features such as wide-band blocks, IQ filtering, lowered noise floor, Wireless Designer with built-in frequency coordination and—one of my favorite features—menu-driven antenna power toggling, you can be sure to see the Venue 2 on sound mixer’s carts all over the world soon enough!

What the new and old Venues have in common:

The Venue and Venue 2 share many core similarities. Each can handle six wireless modules which can be installed without tools. Both have a built-in RF multi-coupler with loop-thru output to gang multiple units together through a common pair of antennas. Phantom power is available to run remote powered antennas. They are also both available in Wideband Low (470 - 691 MHz) and Wideband Mid (537 - 768 MHz). For the most part, every feature from the Venue has been carried over and/or improved in the new Venue 2.

  • Front Face

The front face on the new V2 is a flush surface with membrane buttons, a welcome change. It also sports a new non-glare flush-mount LCD that has brightness options and can display more information. The selector dial is now a larger wheel. New additions to the face include: Alert indicators, an IR port (for programming newer style transmitters), a USB connectivity port and a recessed reset switch. The headphone knob is now a push to open/close knob. Also of note: There are two rubber caps on either side of the face that allow BNCs to be rerouted from the back to the front of the venue.

  • Rear Panel

The V2 rear panel has all of the same elements of the original V1 with a singular and powerful addition: the ethernet port. The BNC ports have been rearranged into an over/under rather the the V1's side by side layout.

  • Top

Existing V1 users will be at home with the design of the V2. Modules are loaded in the same way and locked into place with clips, just like the V1.

  • VRT vs VRT2 – Wideband

The new VRT2s are now wide band. They allow tuning between three consecutive blocks with 3072 tunable frequencies in each module called Bands. A1, covering blocks 470, 19 and 20 (470.100 - 537.575 MHz), B1, covering blocks 21, 22 and 23, (537.600 - 614.375 MHz), C1, covering blocks 24, 25 and 26 (614.400 - 691.175 MHz). Please note: older VRTs and VRSs are not compatible with the new V2.

  • IQ Filtering

Basically, IQ filter means Intelligent Q. The filter dynamically adjusts according to received signal strength. Let's say you are in a hi RF environment . With Venue, you would run a risk of front end overload setting your transmitters to 250 mW at close range. IQ filtering sharpens the Q of the filter and lowers sensitivity if the signal is strong. This reduces interference and allows tighter spacing. If the talent walks away, the sensitivity increases and the Q is lowered to capture more RF. Impossible to overload and automatically adaptive. At its lowest Q it's like a VRT. At its highest Q, it's like a 411 on steroids. Additionally, the tracking changes with the frequency - more resolution - LOTS MORE” - Gordon Moore

  • Phase Switching & Noise Floor Reduction

Considerable time was spent in engineering on the diversity circuit and algorithms for the Venue 2. First, how often the phase switching takes place was reduced. In the older systems, this switching is more aggressive, meaning that even with fairly strong signals, the phase of the 2nd antenna can still tend to switch. With the Venue 2, this switching is minimized to when it is absolutely needed, i.e. the signal drops by a lot and/or the noise is increasing. Because of this, there are fewer corrections needed to keep this switching out of the audio.

Then, a significant amount of tuning by ear was done to the design of the hardware and software filters and timing elements. Even though the resulting numbers appear to be better only by a small amount (up to a 1.4% reduction in distortion at 250 Hz, with 45 kHz of deviation, for instance), the improvement in subjective sound quality is more significant. Of course, users will have to judge for themselves if they can hear these improvements.“ - Karl Winkler

  • Spectrum Scan

The Spectrum Scan operates as before. It's scan speed has been improved quite a bit, especially considering it scans three times more of the spectrum with the new wide-band VRT2s.

  • Smart Tune

The SmartTune process is like that in V1. It provides a step-by-step way to set frequencies based on real world conditions. It works well for up to six channels, but any more than that will probably take longer than most people have the patience for.

  • New LCD

The new screen is 50% larger and has a much higher resolution, allowing for more information to be displayed. It is also now flush with the face of the V2. It has four settings for brightness control and sports a non-glare screen. 

  • Alert Indicators

The V2 now will now report when an antenna short is detected by blinking above the hazard icon and turn off power to antennas automatically. The bi-directional arrows next to the hazard symbol let you know when the V2 is connected to a computer source through the ethernet or USB connector running Wireless Designer.

  • Wireless Designer: Venue Control, Frequency Scanner & Coordination

Wireless Designer is a great suite of tools that offers direct control of your V2's functions and marries in a built-in full spectrum frequency scanner that has easy exporting ability to it's frequency coordination program. I will explore the Wireless Designer tools in more detail in the upcoming "Road Test".

  • Front USB Access

Windows users can easily direct-connect to the V2 via Wireless Designer with standard USB "B" cable. Lectrosonics is currently working on an update to allow OSX users to use the USB connector in the front. The update should be entering a beta test period soon and should be available to Mac users in the near future.

  • Ethernet Enabled

You can connect to the V2 with both Mac and PCs via Wireless Designer. Your V2 must be wired into a router so that it is assigned it's own I.P. address. As mentioned above, this is only way, currently, to connect a Mac to the V2.

  • Talkback

Talkback is a brand new feature built into the V2. It sets up a module as a “com” channel so the person using a HH transmitter can have a direct line to the crew or production staff by depressing the button on the HH. It might come in handy for a "Voice of God" setup.

  • IR Transmitter Control

With newer transmitters that allow it, such as the LT, you can have the V2 program your settings by holding up your transmitter within a couple of feet from the IR Port. You can choose to send frequencies only, or send all settings for the transmitter.

  • Menu-based Antenna Power Toggling

Finally, we can turn on and off phantom power without having to pull the V1 out the rack after disconnecting all cables and then using a screw driver to open the unit up and then reseting the jumper pins and then reversing the process! Now, it is as simple as a toggled setting in the V2 menu, or from a screen in Wireless Designer.

  • Walk Test Recorder

Walk Test Recorder is a utility built into Wireless Designer that records the signal strength of a transmitter during a walk test on a scrolling display. You have the option of recording the audio to the computer by using the included ¼” to 1/8” adapter. The audio will sync up to scrolling display on playback so you can visually see signal strength as it references any audio problems.

  • Pricing

Venue: $1,499.00 / VRT Module: $550

Total Venue & 6 VRT modules: $4799

Venue 2: $2375 / VRT2 Module: $679

Total Venue 2 & 6 VRT2 modules: $6499

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Very interesting.  Seems like a great upgrade.  It's interesting that Lectro hasn't updated the SMQV or SRb's yet.  I'd imagine a multiblock version of those for bag stuff and then the Venue 2 for a cart would be a great combo (and who knows what 2016 has in store...) 

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I have a hunch that we are going to start seeing a lot more multiblock / wideband / whoknowswhat gear coming out soon as the inevitable spectrum crunch worldwide continues on.  I feel that out of all our daily used sound gear on set, wireless seems to be the one category that hasn't changed a whole lot recently (vs say high track count digital recorders etc etc) and I can't wait for the days of "I really wish there were more free frequencies here on this block" will (hopefully) be history.

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I, for one, would like to see some sort of internal RF filtering per module. So if you were operating in B22, then filters would be applied to that receiver, even though that receiver and the venue2 has the capability of operating over several blocks.

I don't see this rack as enough of an "upgrade" to warrant replacing either of my venues, which is unfortunate.

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Hi RP,
Filters -are- in the module. The distribution amp in front of the modules has to be wideband but it has low gain, low noise and a very high intercept point. We did it right, as you correctly suggested.
Best Regards,
Larry F

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Hi Larry! Love that you're still following us along from the retirement chair :-)

Maybe you can clarify what your wrote for me and the group. In the old venue, we had the block-specific racks with filters on the inputs. Then we had wideband, which I thought was a compromise on reception (filters) in order to be able to use more blocks. The modules are now wideband too, covering 3 blocks, which is great. Where does the filtering take place? Is there new tech in the modules, or was there always some filtering as it entered the old VRTs? I'd love a nice, long, nerdy explanation. You know I live for this stuff. RF and power have become the absolute foundation of our gear, so the more knowledge about it the better. Using B606, as you know, is a real challenge. If there is a real performance boost by using these new racks, I might be tempted. If I get another job, that is!

Thanks, and Happy Holidays,

Robert

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Hi Robert,
Distribution amps have to be as wide as any receiver that can be used with them. In Lectro's case, from 470 MHz to 600 MHz. It would be nice to have a narrower bandwidth to knock out TV stations, etc., but that's not practical in real use. So what we have done in all our distribution amps, stand alone or in the Venues (1 and 2), is use a high power, low gain, low noise amplification stage that has just enough gain to make up for splitter losses. This allows the distribution amp to handle large signals with low intermod and to minimize interferences even though it has "weak" filtering. It is a compromise but a solid design choice. The only other way of using multiple receivers is to run a separate aerial to each receiver (X2 for diversity). Of course everyone is OK with 24 aerials over their cart or stage. Right.

Since distribution amps are the only practical solution, that's what we have in the Venues (1 and 2). The modules, however, are where much more gain is applied to the signal. In addition, running high power amps in each module also isn't practical. Since you need more gain with less power applied, the amps are less immune to out of band signals so this is where front end filtering is applied. The best filtered modules are the VRT modules of the original Venue and the IQ modules of the Venue 2.

So we use brute force in the distribution amp and apply sophisticated filtering in the modules. For those of you who know our product line, the Venue is like a UMC16B distribution amp in front of UCR411a receivers except the distribution amp is built in to the Venue and the modules do filtering equivalent to the tracking front end in the UCR411a. 

Best Regards,
Larry Fisher
Lectro's Ex Janitor

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Just a little more clarification: yes, the modules are wideband but the front end filter of the module is relatively narrow and covers the full range by retuning the "narrow band" front end filter to track the carrier frequency that you select. The IQ modules for the Venue 2 carry this further by reducing the filter bandwidth even more when you have a relatively strong signal from the transmitter. This reduces the sensitivity of the receiver but you don't care when you have a strong signal. In most use, you will have a strong signal 99% of the time.

Here is a white paper:    http://www.lectrosonics.com/Support/Wireless/wideband-receiver-design.html
Just drop down to the IQ filter discussion section for an even better explanation with neat pictures of spectrums and filters.

Best,
Larry F

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Had a chance to get a demo of the venue 2 yesterday at the trew event in toronto with the wireless designer software running on a laptop. Very cool upgrade. 

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