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Relay Xo™ Development

With the almost universal use of in-ear monitors on stage, a new challenge for performers has emerged; communication. With ears plugged – how do the artists communicate with each other or with the technical staff?

Radial first addressed this problem several years ago when we introduced a small footswitch called the Radial HotShot DM1. The DM1 is a 1-input, 2-output switcher equipped with a momentary footswitch. It is normally placed adjacent to the mic stand at the front of stage. One connects the mic to the input with output-A connected to the vocal channel and output-B to the alternate channel. When disengaged (not in use), the signal from the mic passes through output-A normally as if connected to the PA system. When the footswitch is depressed and momentary switch is held, the mic channel output is switched from the PA to a second channel where it can be routed to other band members or technical staff. This enables a vocalist to discreetly communicate without having to use sign language or yelling across the stage.

A new challenge is uncovered when using a wireless microphone. On a concert stage, the wireless receiver is usually stationed near the monitor desk, which makes it impractical to route cables to and from the artist at center stage.

Radial's Peter Janis recounts the story: "We had just finished developing the Radial SW4 multichannel XLR switcher when a call came in from my old friend Mark Frink – monitor engineer for Zac Brown. I met Mark several years before when he was working with kd lang and writing for Mix magazine. Mark had been using the DM1 for Zac's vocal mic but found the routing to be inconvenient. He asked if we had some type of solution. We happened to be in the middle of a multi-channel switcher project and I suggested that we try to make a single channel switcher that could do the job. A few weeks later... a prototype of the Relay was sent for testing. During the development period, the Relay gave us other ideas which spawned the Relay family."

The Relay is a balanced XLR switcher with gold contact sealed relays. An on-board side-access switch enables the output to be switched locally or switching may be done with any type of contact closure. This can be a momentary switch, as used for sustain pedals, or a latching switch, as used to change channels on a guitar amp or turn on effects.

Using a momentary switch provides the same functionality as the Radial DM1 – making the Relay ideal as a communication switcher for live performance. Using a latching footswitch enables the Relay to be used as a toggle switch where one could, for instance, set up two channels on a mixer with a 'dry' channel to speak with the audience and a 'wet' channel to add echo or reverb to a voice. When used this way, it eliminates the need to have an audio engineer turn on or off effects in between each song.

During the Relay development, we thought that it would be advantageous to have secure locking connectors for the remote control connection. This led to our producing the JR1 remote footswitch. This is equipped with both locking XLR and ¼" connectors along with LED indicators to let you know the switch status. Two versions are now available: one momentary (JR1-M) and one latching (JR1-L). As a final touch, a link function was added which enables two or more Relays to be used in tandem. This opens the door to stereo switching and automated routing options. Finally, we felt that offering a 48V phantom power version would address those that use condenser microphones in a live touring environment.

The Relay has been on tour with Zac Brown for some time now.. the only comment we received from the band: "When can we get more?" Enough said.

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