Over the last 20 years, Productions Headroom has built its reputation as an innovative broadcast rental company that can deliver unique solutions for reality TV productions. Its latest innovation called on Point Source Audio microphones to create a robust solution that delivers pristine sound quality all while disguised as a necklace.
The ‘always-on’ nature of reality TV filming meant that the cost of repairing or replacing microphones would quickly add up and this led to the team looking for more robust solutions. “The breakage we were having was at the element and it was due to manipulation—the cast would manipulate the microphones every day three or four times a day getting in and out of the pool—which is always hard on the equipment,” recalls Jean-Sébastien Roy, Founder of Productions Headroom.
“I was using Point Source Audio waterproof mics a couple of years ago for another TV show so decided to reach out. We did some testing with the CO-8WLh high sensitivity omnidirectional lavalier, and compared to other more expensive miniature mics, we couldn’t tell the difference in sound quality.”
Since the contestants on the Canadian version of Love Island can be bare skin at times, the waterproof lavalier microphone would not be able to be worn with a traditional clip. Roy engineered custom necklaces containing the mics that could be worn subtly by contestants. The mic goes inside a bead—between weights and windscreen foam—so there is double protection from the wind. To steady the mic wire, rubber rings were added on the outside.
“I’ve seen a lot of necklace mics around, they are often super-ugly and not very easy for the contestant to put on or take off,” says Roy. “This one is nice because it’s neat. You know it’s a mic, but it’s not obvious.”
The necklace mics got a thorough test on the reality show and came through with flying colors. “After three quarters of the season only two mics had broken, which is a miracle,” said Roy with a smile. “With our experience in the field, we know that with other brands, we would’ve needed a lot more mics to cover the losses.”
There has also been a positive reaction from the shows that they have been used on. “People who’ve used them have said they are perfect and sound great,” reveals Roy. “Everybody has been super-happy with these mics.”
Finding mics that could provide high quality sound for a decent price and could withstand difficult weather conditions and/or breakage solves a big challenge for Roy’s productions: “We have another show coming up in the summer and we’re using the same setup for that show.”