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SFX - Audio Playback and Show Control
SFX is the leading live entertainment sound playback software application. The typical venue for SFX is theatre, but it is also used by theme parks, magicians, and other related venues that require the playback of music and sound effects. SFX puts the art back into sound design: instead of worrying about technological limitations, you can now create rich sound designs that can be reliably played back during each performance!
Load your sound files on the computer and then drag-and-drop them into a SFX cue list and, along with other special cues that you can create in SFX such as Waits and Volume Changes, you create an easy to playback sequence for the operator. Also with SFX, you can playback multiple sound effects at the same time and you can even send them to many different outputs: imagine playing a train cue that steams across the stage from stage right to stage left while also playing rain in the back of the house and then at some point also playing a telephone ringing that was based off an actor's cue -- all cues overlap, are independent, easy to setup, and even simpler to playback!
You can find SFX in On- and Off- Broadway shows, on the professional London stage, as well as professional, academic, and amateur theatres in the U.S. and all over the world. Theme parks, haunted houses, magicians, puppet-shows, and corporate types are also users of SFX.
If you playback prerecorded music or sound effects, especially if you're a theatre sound designer or operator, then SFX is for you. The typical system that SFX replaces is one or more CD players or minidisc systems. Because just about anybody can use SFX to create complex shows that are operated easily, it is found on all levels of theatres from academics all the way to the pros. Professional theatres use SFX because it can create reliable and enriched soundscapes and has been used in many award winning shows including several Tony Award winners. The academic stage (from elementary education through college) and amateur theatre also enjoy SFX not only for the high quality of shows it can create, but also because it is easily run by novice operators. For students, they are also learning the software that they will most likely work with when they enter the theatrical job market.
Any sound card that supports ASIO is recommended. Most Pro sound cards support the ASIO driver model and SFX will output audio at the lowest latency using one of these boards. Starting with SFX 6.2.8 you can also use a non-ASIO Sound Card. Or you can install ASIO4All to emulate a ASIO Driver for the internal sound card (www.asio4all.com).
As you begin to demand more and more from SFX and your playback system, CPU, Memory and Video begin to become more important for system performance. SFX is optimized to send critical messages to a high priority thread while less important messages (screen refresh, etc) to a lower priority thread. CPU's speed is critical when mixing and decoding audio streams. Memory is important when you are trying to play large amounts of audio. Video/Graphics comes into play when displaying large amounts of information to the user. A minimally performing system would be a multiple core CPU (dual or quad), 4 GB of RAM (Windows 7) and a video card that has it's own GPU and memory. More memory 16 or 32 GB with Windows 8 or 10 would give you the best performance.
You can grab any off-the-shelf “gaming” computer running Windows 7/8/10 and have enough power to run 30 or so audio files to 16 outputs at one time for around $1000. Higher end, dedicated Digital Audio Workstations could playback hundreds of audio files through 64 output channels.
RF Guru does two main things and also has several other groovy features. One thing you can do with RF Guru is tell it what wireless microphone units you have or want and it will give you the maximum possible optimum frequencies you can safely use without interference. The other way to use RF Guru is by starting with an existing wireless microphone setup and telling it what frequencies you are using and it will calculate for you the problems with your system that might lead to intermod (i.e. interference). You can even tell it which city you are in - practically around the globe - and it will take into account local TV signals in nearly all countries.
Uses sophisticated formulas that calculates the largest number of safe frequencies
Calculates most usable frequencies and will also test for intermod on existing systems
Contains printable reports and customizable labels
Has a catalog of major wireless manufacturer's systems
Explains why a frequency has been rejected
Takes into account TV stations.
Allows you to input known bad frequencies for your venue
Will calculate your systems against a known neighboring system
Know your RF System
With the FCC squeeze, and the need for many wireless devices, RF Guru will help you manage what frequencies are intermod free, and what frequency combinations you should manage. While intermod occurs when two or more transmitters are on stage, if you know what those are, you can avoid those combinations.
RF Scanner is designed to use external hardware to scan for frequencies that are currently present or appear over time in your venue. Any frequency over a certain dBm Threshold will be written to a .CSV file that can be imported into RF Guru or used in any program that can open/import .CSV files.
Duration in Minutes – The length of your test. If you're interested in collecting data over the duration of your show, start the test at what would be considered show time, and set the duration of the length of your show. The range of frequencies will be scanned and hits over the threshold will be recorded.
Start Frequency – The lowest frequency that you want to start the test with.
End Frequency – The highest frequency that you want to stop the test with.
Scan Device – The hardware device you are using to perform the frequency scan.
Report Folder – Where RF Scanner will create it's .CSV files. Each scan will be created with a unique file name using the date and time of the scan.
Threshold – the value in dBm that RF Scanner will use to record hits. Any value below the threshold will not be recorded. Any value above the threshold will be recorded.
The chart will show you the frequencies being scanned and the dBm value that the system is picking up. In addition, there will be a note of the range of frequencies your specific hardware device can scan. For example: “Device can scan 665 to 691 MHz” Using the Start and End Frequency, you can select the entire range of your hardware or a subset of frequencies that you are interested in.
Below the chart is a scroll bar that you can use to zero in to the frequencies displayed in the chart. In addition, the bottom two edit boxes allow you to select the beginning and ending frequency the chart will display regardless of what you are scanning.
The following scanners are compatible with RFscanner:
Lectrosonics VR Venue 1
Audio-Technica 5000 Series