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Wireless Microphones 2020: Tech Roundup

One of the more technically and politically dynamic areas of AV has become the wireless microphone spectrum and its challenges work at the center of licensed and unlicensed system operation. Manufacturers have responded with inband frequency changes and introduction of new systems for ISM band solutions. The models here represent the current trends in wireless mic usage and technology. These systems have introduced a new sophistication in their operational features as well as innovation in their response to changes in the RF mic spectrum landscape.

AKG’s current global license-free 2.4 GHz solutions include the DMS Digital Wireless Series. The AKG DMS100 and DMS300 systems are compact and feature-filled. The DMS100 provides 24-bit/48 kHz uncompressed audio coding and the security of AES 256-bit encryption. The four-channel receiver can be configured to operate with either the AKG handheld microphone or with a bodypack that is instrument ready. Push-button channel pairing and color-coded identification make operation very quick and easy. Operating in the same 2.4GHz band, the DMS300 provides eight channels with the same secure AES encryption. The high-resolution frontpanel LCD screen allows easy setup, monitoring and control. The bodypack can be used with an instrument pickup or an AKG clip-on mic. Adaptive channel selection assists in rapidly finding available wireless channels. Up to eight DMS300 systems can be used simultaneously.

Audio-Technica recently expanded the functionality of its 3000 Series Fourth Generation line with a network port that allows remote monitoring and control. This provides compatibility with A-T’s proprietary Wireless Manager software. Among its features are Device List which auto-discovers connected compatible A-T hardware and allows users to populate a device list of AudioTechnica and other manufacturer’s wireless systems. An additional software feature is Frequency Coordination for scanning of available channels. Also in the software functions is Monitor which allows live monitoring of connected systems for AF, RF, battery, transmit power and more parameters. Each network-enabled receiver also comes with an AT8631 joining plate. The 3000 Series transmitters feature rugged, metal housings and are powered by two AA batteries. 3000 Series systems are available in two frequency bands – DE2 (470–530 MHz) and EE1 (530–590 MHz). Frequencies can be easily scanned and selected on the receiver and then synced with the transmitter via IR sync functionality.

Scan, sync and play are the simple steps from Audix to be up and running with their Performance Series wireless mic system. This line is available in either of two groups, the 40 Series and the 60 Series both of which are available in single and dual rack models. After a one push-button scan, the transmitter and receiver are synced through an IR beam indicated on the front panel and they’re ready to use. There are soft keys for setting output level, squelch, pilot and lockout. Users have a choice between output on balanced XLR or unbalanced 1/4in. output connectors. The sturdy metal receiver units easily fit into racks. The transmitters can be used in the form of hand-held or bodypack units with lavalier or headworn mics along with direct instrument pickup.

The TG 500 system from beyerdynamic is a versatile tool for smaller stage performances with its availability in any of five different sets. The TG 558 presenter set consists of a single TG 500SR receiver, TG 500B beltpack transmitter and lavalier microphone. The system has a range up to 120 meters and it can run as long as ten hours on one set of batteries. The TG 556 vocal set has the same receiver teamed up with a hand-held transmitter fitted with a condenser head. The TG 550 set uses the same transmitter attached to a dynamic TG V50 capsule on the mic. The TG 534 headworn set incorporates the TG 500B beltpack transmitter and a neck worn TG H34 microphone while the TG 510 instrument set has the beltpack paired with the WA-CGI instrumental cable for direct connection to guitar, bass, keyboard or other electronic instruments. External antennas, cables and antenna splitters are also part of the TG 500 family.

Equipped with CADLock Automatic Tone Encoded Squelch to eliminate interference, the CAD Audio WX3000 Series wireless delivers maximum performance in a supercardioid dynamic hand-held microphone with a W/D90 capsule and TX3000 transmitter. It also uses ScanLink technology for instantaneous and automatic channel configuration. The bodypack TX3010 transmitter enables perfect instrument pickup and onstage mobility. With the DA4090 distribution amplifier multiple systems can be used together for larger shows. The transmitters are rated to run on twin AA batteries for up to 15 hours and they can show battery life, RF power, mute status and operating frequency.

The ClearOne WS800 can fit up to eight receivers into a single 1RU rack unit and their analog audio outputs can be augmented with Dante. Up to six antenna pairs can maximize reception distance on a choice of frequency ranges while 256-bit AES encryption keeps the signals secure. The system’s transmitters can employ hand-held, bodypack or boundary style microphones running on regular AA batteries or rechargeable AA and USB is a power option as well. Users are notified of run time, low battery and RF loss via email, text or receiver OLED front panel display. Receiver output is 24 bit/48kHz 109dB S/N audio. The balanced 1/4in. headphone output connector can also feed recorders or powered speakers. The beltpack and hand-held transmitters can be set for RF output of 1, 10, 25 or 50mW and gooseneck mics can also be used.

The CW 7000 UHF Personal Wideband True Diversity System from Clockaudio includes the CW 7000 hand-held microphone transmitter and the CW 7000R receiver. Its maximum of 1441 selectable frequencies are arranged in six groups with up to 23 channels in each group. The system is equipped with adjustable pilot tone squelch control, a S.A.W. filter to reject interference, a mute function and balanced/unbalanced audio outputs. The receiver has a very durable metal housing and the mic transmitter’s RF power is switchable between 10 and 50mW while operating in the range of 502-960MHz, subject to current spectrum limits. The receiver’s front panel display includes frequency, antenna A/B, mute display, LED meter and battery fuel gauge. Also on the front panel are controls for frequency, scanning, power, audio level and lock-on. The CW 7000T microphone’s cardioid polar pattern minimizes background noise.

The Electro-Voice R300 line of wireless mic systems has a number of mic/ receiver combinations and they all have some significant basic features in common. ClearScan allows the user to sort out available RF channels and quickly zero-in on a clear one by pushing a single button. Then, EZsync transmitter update uses an infrared link to transfer that channel setting from the receiver to the transmitter. The R300-HD system pairs the R300 receiver with a PL22 hand-held dynamic microphone that can run up to 14 hours on twin AA batteries. The R300-E uses the HM3 omnidirectional head worn mic and its double ear hook design stays comfortable for long performances. For keeping hands free in a higher ambient noise environment, the R300-L features the ULM18 cardioid condenser lapel mic to help control feedback.

Using Lectrosonics 4th-generation digital architecture, the D^2 digital wireless system provides an IR bi-directional port for transmitter setup, analog and Dante audio outputs, Ethernet and USB interfaces, 24 bit/48kHz digital conversion, three different encryption key policies and a tuning range from 470-608 MHz. The system is composed of the DSQD 4-channel digital receiver, DBu digital belt pack transmitter and DHu digital handheld transmitter. The audio frequency response is 20 – 20 kHz ± 1 dB. The DSQD receiver is a half-rack unit with remote antenna ports that can loop through output to another mainframe using its internal multicoupler. With an available kit, the antennas can be mounted directly on the front face of the unit. The beltpack and handheld transmitters can be switched between 25 and 50mW RF output power.

The Line 6 XD-V system can operate up to 14 digital wireless mics simultaneously in the 2.4GHz ISM band license-free worldwide. Encoded DCLTM (Digital Channel Lock) technology distinguishes XD-V digital audio from any other third-party signal, including Wi-Fi. The XD-V74 receiver has a large LCD screen to display audio signal and battery status indications along with advanced configuration and RF monitoring. To match any user’s needs, the XD-V line can combine handhelds, lavaliers, headsets and instruments within the same system. In hand-held transmitters, the V75-SC super-cardioid mic or the V75-40V hyper-cardioid microphone may be used. Depending on the model, the receivers and bodypack transmitters are constructed of robust aluminum or polycarbonate.

For quick and easy operation in the 5GHz ISM band, Mipro has the ACT 5800 Series digital mic transmitters and receivers. Two half-rack receivers, the 5801 single channel and ACT 5802 dual channel unit, allow reception among 12 channels in Group A or 24 channels in Group B and B2. The front panel OLED display shows frequency and other parameters while the rotary knob provides setting selection. On the transmission end, the ACT 58H and ACT 58HC are hand-held units with interchangeable mic capsules. The ACT 58H is powered with AA batteries and the ACT 58HC runs on the rechargeable ICR 18500 lithium-ion battery. The disposable battery version of the bodypack transmitter is the ACT 58T and the rechargeable bodypack model is designated ACT 58TC. Rack ears are available for the half-rack and full rack receivers.

Based on the EM 6000 receiver, the Sennheiser Digital 6000 system can work with the SK 6000 pocket transmitter, the SK 6212 digital mini-bodypack transmitter and the SKM 6000 hand-held transmitter. This mic, available with AES 256 encryption and Digital 9000 encryption, fits a selection of different Sennheiser and Neumann capsules to provide the polar pattern required and its magnesium body provides lightweight durability. Accessories include the L 6000 four-module charging station. The system can be operated in long-range (LR) mode or Link Density (LD) mode. Each receiver includes a headphone jack with volume control on the front panel. In addition it has a digital AES-3 output with word clock inputs and outputs and high-quality transformer balanced analog XLR and 6.3mm output connections. All units feature the proprietary Sennheiser Digital Audio Codec (SeDAC) for interference-free reception.

Large conference and convention installations come with unique wireless challenges. A campus-wide solution, the Shure ULX-D Digital Wireless System is secure, scalable, and durable. The intelligent system delivers 24-bit audio quality and RF performance, with encryption-enabled hardware, flexible receiver options, and advanced rechargeability options for professional sound reinforcement. Shure’s digital processing enables ULX-D to claim the purest reproduction of source material ever available in a wireless system. With a wide selection of Shure microphones to choose from including handheld, bodypack, boundary, and gooseneck, ULX-D can be utilized in meetings of large and small scales. The expanded 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency range and flat response was designed for clarity, presence, and accurate low end and transient response. With greater than 120 dB, ULX-D delivers a wide dynamic range for excellent signal-to-noise performance. Optimized for any input source, the wireless system eliminates the need for transmitter gain adjustments. ULX-D was designed for spectral efficiency and signal stability. The spectrum efficiency enables a noteworthy increase in the number of simultaneous active transmitters on one TV channel, with solid signal over the entire range.

Yamaha Unified Communication has a versatile conferencing solution in the YAI-1 that features the Executive Elite 8-Channel Wireless Microphone System. Available in several specific variants, the system can be used in boardrooms and conference rooms. The larger two systems, YAI-1 XL Conference and YAI-1 XL Boardroom, provide up to 16 separate Revolabs Elite microphones and two mic charging bases. Some of the complete systems include DSP, a network switch and a controller among other items and they can be quickly set up with a minimum of wiring run. Any combination of wearable, gooseneck and tabletop microphones may be used as needed for the event. The tabletop microphones use standard AA nickel-metal hydride batteries. The support units are all rack mountable and the whole system can be easily packed up and transported.

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