Thames Audio and Shure redefine the possibilities of Live Sound

Thames Audio use Shure Wireless systems to push the boundaries for Lord Mayor’s Show

About the PSM 900:

In order to combat the cabling issue, Shure Distribution equipped us with a pair of PSM-900 IEM systems to act as a main and back-up transmitter. One of the features of the PSM-900 is?that you can perform point-to-point link-up with a UHF-R receiver.

Pete Cox, Thames Audio

Installing live sound for large outdoor events can often present a number of logistical hurdles – especially when the event is London’s Lord Mayor’s Show. The celebrations include a 6,000 strong procession of marching bands, floats and carriages, which is followed by live music on the Thames – and in the case of the 2010 Lord Mayor’s Show, the live music was actually presented from a floating stage in the middle of the Thames.

The annual event is rounded off with a spectacular firework display that’s enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Londoners and tourists alike from both banks of the Thames between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars.


Client Needs

For the 2010 event Thames Audio’s Pete Cox was called upon to design a sound system that could not only deliver audio to the vast site but could also overcome the logistical constraints of a busy capital city, as Pete is happy to explain…

“This year Event Organiser Rob Mills wanted a slightly different twist to the audio side of the event. Traditionally installations have consisted of a series of speaker masts along the full length of the river bank, which takes many hours to install and is very crew-intensive. The site itself crosses the boundaries of four local authorities and so creating a method that suits all parties can be a headache.”


“The solution was to disperse the system across a number of floating pontoons held ‘on-point’ along the river. This meant that we only had to liaise with one body of governance – The Port of London Authority – who control operations on the river.”

“The system could be viewed as three separate areas. First we needed a signal path from the floating stage to the control position onboard the HMS Wellington. From here we needed to distribute the audio to the speaker pontoons, which were up to 400m away on the opposite side of the river. This, of course, meant that traditional cable runs were simply not an option.”

“In order to combat the cabling issue, Shure Distribution equipped us with a pair of PSM-900 IEM systems to act as a main and back-up transmitter. One of the features of the PSM-900 is that you can perform point-to-point link-up with a UHF-R receiver.”

“So at each speaker position we located an amplifier rack complete with a Shure UR4D receiver, which gave us the ability to distribute the signal across the site without worrying about cabling. In addition to this, all of the system controllers could be accessed via a wireless network, which allowed us to position engineers at key listening points with direct control over the system’s gain, EQ, delay and so on.”


“A further constraint was that due to river traffic, the speaker pontoons could not be positioned until just 15 minutes before the event started. With such little margin for error the Shure systems were an obvious choice because their reliability is second to none.”

As the pontoons were being towed up the river from Docklands, I was in radio communication with the onboard engineers and they had clear RF from about a mile away. Considering that we only needed to transmit for a few hundred metres once the pontoons were in position, we knew immediately that signal strength was not going to be an issue.”

“The whole event went extremely well. The main part of the show ran for approximately two hours and the Shure systems worked seamlessly throughout. Having used a number of 1-Watt links in the past, we were very impressed with the strength and quality of the audio.”

“The Shure gear sounds great and is very straightforward to set up, making our lives very easy. And having equipment of this quality to hand gives us the confidence to push the boundaries even further on future events.”

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