Out of all the different microphones out there wireless microphone system setups can be the most complicated. With the newfound FCC auction of the 600 MHz (Megahertz) band of frequencies, wireless microphone users nationwide now need to have their wireless systems reconfigured. No longer do we have large gaps between wireless microphone frequencies, since the number of frequencies available has been substantially minimized. As such, it is vital to buy the proper equipment and make correct decisions as part of your new system setup.
How Does A Wireless Microphone Work?
Wireless microphones transmit radio waves much like your FM radio sends audio signals to a wireless receiver from a microphone. Radio waves are used by just about every form of wireless communication, such as Bluetooth, LAN, TV broadcasts, and cellphones. Frequency is what is used to quantify radio waves. High-frequency waves travel short distances, while low-frequency waves travel far. Wireless microphones run in an Ultra High Frequency (UHF) range between approximately 300 and 1000 MHz. This frequency range is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where they assign UHF sub-ranges to numerous functions. For instance, the 225-420 MHz is designated for use by the government, while commercial aviation systems use 849-851 MHz bands.
The FCC assigns specific MHz bands for wireless microphones that aren’t licensed. However, such frequency bands are not left open for wireless microphones to use, nor can they be reserved. Unlicensed activity is what this space is for, and the signal is usually a free-for-all. Therefore, when your wireless microphones are being set up, you might notice interference across some of your wireless channels. There are actions you can perform to ensure yours is able to isolate interference from the signal of your choosing.
Selecting a Suitable Wireless Microphone
There are plenty of cheap choices available for wireless headset receivers and handheld microphones. Ensure that you purchase a decent microphone, and inspect the microphone, to begin with. The receiver you’re looking for should be of the progressive “True Diversity” technology. It should also have coaxial cables outputs you can connect to your receivers.
True Diversity receivers have a pair of individual antennas operating on a couple of separate receiver sections. The antennas on the receiver will contrast the signal between the pair of antennas and uses the stronger signal of the two. This presents a consistent connection (since the chances of having drop signals from each antenna are unlikely). You should look for a system where these settings can be changed effortlessly on both the body pack or handheld microphone, as opposed to just the receiver.
We have covered some of the best wireless microphones and both Sennheiser and Shure provide several top-quality technologies with regards to receiver dependability and microphone quality.. We are more lenient towards the Sennheiser models because they are simpler for ourselves to set up compared to the Shures.
This Sennheiser EW 100-953 G3 system is accompanied by a cutting-edge microphone of high quality. The receiver is simple to use, has a variety of features, and its reception is strong. This is the hands-free model of the same system.
Selecting the Proper Wireless Frequency
Wireless microphone system setups are sometimes complex and it’s easy to make mistakes. Several receivers come with embedded scanners that monitor frequencies before presenting you with ones containing the least interference. This is like how your old TV tuner scanned for channels available when you set it up. The Sennheiser system and similar systems provide immediate data on noise transmitted from that frequency while you scan channels. On the receiver’s left display, you’ll see a couple of bars that indicate volume and signal strength. As you scan across every frequency, pause for a moment, and look at those two bars. The channels with minimal activity are the ones that are most suitable for microphone setup. After your receiver is set up with a channel, you can begin to synchronize it with your microphone by utilizing the ‘quick sync’ function accompanying the Sennheiser model. If your model lacks a ‘quick sync’ function, your receiver will need to be tuned into the same frequency as your microphone.
You still have work to do after you find a signal, though. Ensure you scan and set up your frequencies in the very area where your microphone will be used. Your wireless microphone may have connected without a hassle in one room, but this connection might not be so strong when you move it around. In theory, this act of scanning and choosing frequencies should transpire at all new locations. Several receivers and microphones give you the option to go back and forth between preset channels, much like the way radios stations are present in your automobile. If you’re regularly using your wireless system in one space, you can locate working frequencies, have the presets saved, then go back and forth without hassle after the initial scan at every location.
Making Your Wireless Microphone Signal Stronger
With regards to external antennas, for anything bigger than a 50-foot gap between the receiver and microphone, an external “elephant ear”-type antenna is essential. You’ll be able to use any antenna brand with any microphone brand, assuming the antenna’s frequency range matches the microphone’s. Fortunately, one pair of antenna can handle up to a dozen microphones!
You’ll require a pair of antennas if you’re using a True Diversity receiver – that is, if you want to experience the advantages of real diversity technology. I’ll suggest a couple of Sennheiser A2003-UHG Directional Antennas: these need to be ordered separately, so ensure you have a couple of them in your checkout cart.
These antennas are easy to install above a microphone stand, much like a microphone clip. You’ll need to have the antenna face the direction of your microphones. By using these coaxial cables, a couple of these antennas can be plugged into the microphone receiver. Things can get complex when you start connecting more than one receiver to your antennas.
It Isn’t Impossible To Set Up a Wireless Microphone System
There are a couple of methods of plugging numerous receivers into a single antenna. You can use active or passive splitters. Passive splitters divide the signal without amplification. You’ll lose approximately six signal decibels per splitter when passive splitters are used. If you’re splitting it less than two times, you can get away with this approach, which is more economical than the use of active splitters.
Active splinters let you divide the signal without losing any sound. The Sennheiser ASA1 Splitter will perfectly function with the equipment mentioned earlier. It also includes eight coax cables! Your receivers will also run this unit, and as such, you won’t have to use AC adapters to run each separate receiver, allocating plenty of room on your power strip or conditioner.
Every splitter is accompanied by a pair of antenna slots (one per antenna in the True Diversity system) and eight receiver slots. You’ll attach a pair of cables to each receiver, one per antenna signal, allowing you to connect a quartet of receivers to a couple of antennas. Although I did say before that up to a dozen receivers can be connected to a pair of microphones, this can be expensive. However, it can be accomplished by attaching four splitters to a single main splitter (as opposed to 4 receivers to a single main splitter). From there, each splitter can be attached to four receivers, letting you connect a maximum of 16 receivers to a pair of antennas.
Wireless microphone setups can be expensive and complex. That said, it is worthwhile to spend more money to do something correctly from the start than to fix something in the future that wasn’t done properly in the first place.