Quantum5x, extreme mics

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Smaller, smarter and tougher: Quantum5X Systems Inc. (Q5X) wireless transmitters have revolutionised the world of broadcast audio recording.

Increasingly, they are the transmitter of choice for major TV channels, film production companies and the main North American sports federations.

Our story begins at the turn of the 21st cen- tury. Allen Kool, a Canadian music and audio- visual production engineer, met an American Major League Baseball (MLB) representative who wanted to place wireless microphones on baseball players and umpires. The idea was to enable them to communicate during games and to make viewers feel as though they were on court with the players, using high quality re- cordings. However, there was no device reliable, tough and light enough to be used in the thick of the action.

This meeting led to the development, in 2002, of a revolutionary wireless micro transmitter: the QT-256. Weighing a little over 40 grams, with the dimensions of a Zippo lighter, it is both shock-proof and water-resistant. It operates in temperatures from -10 to 45 C°, offering excel- lent battery life. It can be placed on any athlete, and relays everything they say without get- ting in their way. The same year, Allen Kool set up Q5X with a handful of devoted engineers. Based in London, Ontario, the company started producing and selling the world's smallest wire- less micro transmitters. The first model worked to perfection, and was an instant hit.

In 2015, many developments later, the QT-256 remains unique. From the start, Q5X devices have been equipped with LEMO connectors which connect the little transmitter boxes to the microphones and are used for charging the batteries. For Steve Matheson, Director of Sales and Operations at Q5X, this partnership was a no-brainer: “We needed the toughest, most re- liable connectors, and they needed to be very small. LEMO understood our devices perfectly and was able to provide the best possible solu- tions,” he enthused. “It's thanks to these con- nectors that we are able to produce the small- est micro transmitters in the world!”.

Now, the various models produced by Q5X rise to new challenges every day. In June, at the re- quest of American TV channel Fox Sports, Q5X in conjunction with Professional Wireless Sys- tems placed microphones in every hole along the course of the 115th US Open. The exception- al battery life of these new, specially adapted micro transmitters ensured they remained operational for the entire day with no breaks. This was a deal-breaker, as technicians are not permitted to go onto the greens to change bat- teries. For the first time, viewers were able to experience the very essence of a golf tourna- ment, alongside the players themselves, in high quality sound.

Thanks to the success of the QT-1000 PlayerMic and its subsequent versions, Q5X now provides microphones for the NFL (American Football) and NHL (ice hockey) players, as well as the NBA (basketball), for whom the model was initially developed. The PlayerMic is shock and sweat resistant, and flexible; it will not injure players, even if they fall on it. At the last NBA playoffs, millions of viewers were able to hear excerpts of what basketball star LeBron James was saying to his teammates, and experience the game as if they were right there on the court.

Another feat in a completely different world: the Rockettes, the famous tap-dancing troupe, have had the TapShoe Mic fitted to their shoes. At the end of 2014, 36 dancers wore these mi- cro transmitters for 30 performances of the fa- mous Christmas Spectacular, one of America’s most iconic and popular shows, which takes place every year at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Steve Matheson joked: “We reduced quite a few transmitters to pieces before we got this model right! Of course, the quality of the components is crucial. But we also need to under- stand the context. That is one of our strengths at Q5X: our team didn’t know the Rockettes, but are now tap-dancing experts!”.

Q5X micro transmitters are also a key part of the movie industry, used in the helmet of the latest Robocop, for example, and in those of the actors operating the giant robots in block- buster Pacific Rim. The new Q-256 AquaMic, which Is completely waterproof, is already used in many water sports and will feature at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

With an annual growth rate of 20%, this little company has every reason to be confident. It is starting to expand outside North America, with very positive results for tests carried out both in the English rugby and Australian foot- ball leagues.