The advantages of the wireless microphone are obvious. The wearer and the camera operator have complete freedom of movement, although they must stay within 150 to 300 feet of each other for optimum reception.
The major drawbacks to wireless microphones are cost and the possibility of interference. Wireless systems start at about $250 to $300, with the top of the line being well in excess of $1000. Low cost wireless microphones can be obtained for considerably less than this, but usually are of poor audio quality.
Wireless Setup Basics
Setting up a wireless mic involves a few more steps than just plugging in and turning up. But, after you've done it a few times it will become an easy habit. The following will also help you decide which type of system you might want to purchase for your situation. Also, the following is very generic information. We always suggest that you follow the tips found in your owner's manual.
- Regardless of what type of transmitter you have, always be sure you start with a fresh battery. Battery life varies from system to system; check your manual. A good rule of thumb? If your battery has served more than half the listed life, replace it.
- Make certain your transmitter is off.
- Turn on your receiver.
- If your system has Automatic Frequency Selection, press the receiver's select button. It will scan and locate a suitable frequency.
- Temporarily turn down the receiver's volume or level control.
- Turn on your transmitter.
- If your system has Automatic Transmitter Setup, press the transmitter's Sync button. It will lock on to the receiver's selected frequency. Check the receiver's LED or meter to confirm that it's picking up the transmitter. Turn the receiver's volume control up to a ?normal level.
- Now adjust the transmitter's audio gain. This is the key to getting a good sound and good levels! You might need a screwdriver for this. Sing or speak loudly into the mic and increase the gain slowly until the receiver's RF Level or meter occasionally flashes to indicate a peak during the very loudest moments.
- Do a walk-around through the performance area while observing the receiver's Power LED or RF meter. It should indicate sufficient reception in all areas of coverage. If you experience a dropout, reposition the receiver or its antenna for better reception.
Simply stated, setting the proper input gain is the most important adjustment on a wireless microphone system. Set too low, the signal to noise ratio of the system will suffer. Set too high, severe distortion and/or compression of the dynamic range will occur. Adjusting the transmitter input gain is very much like setting the record level on an analog tape recorder. It is important to consider the features and controls offered on any wireless transmitter that enable accurate gain adjustment.
The transmitter to receiver distance has a major effect on the signal to noise ratio of a wireless system. As the transmitter moves farther away from the receiver, the overall signal to noise ratio grows worse as the transmitter signal gets weaker. When the system gets near the limit of its operating range, dropouts will become more frequent and a buildup of steady background noise (hiss) may be audible.
Wireless System Application Types
No matter what you do onstage, there's a wireless solution to your microphone needs. Here's a rundown on the available types of wireless mics.
||Handheld Microphone w/ Built-In Transmitter|
This is the perfect mic for lead vocalists. It's also great for stage situations in which a mic will be passed from person to person. Models such as the Shure ULX2/SM58 use the same capsules as popular vocal mics.
||Headworn Mic w/ Bodypack Transmitter|
Ideal for singing dancers, singing drummers, dance and fitness instructors, and anyone who is active onstage. Headworn mics, such as the Sennheiser EW 152 G2, almost always have a cardioid or supercardioid pickup pattern, essential for rejecting bleed from onstage instruments.
||Lavalier Mic w/ Bodypack Transmitter|
A standard for public speakers and presenters, worship leaders, and stage actors. These mics are available with omnidirectional pickup patterns such as the Sennheiser ME 2, and also in cardioid versions like the ME 4. The Sennheiser EW 112 G2 is a great example!
||Clip-On Mic w/ Bodypack Transmitter|
Frees brass and woodwind players from the tyranny of the mic stand! Mount one on a djembe or surdo and set your percussionist free. The Samson Airline/Series One Wind Instrument mic has an integrated transmitter, eliminating the need for a bodypack.
||Instrument Cable w/ Bodypack Transmitter|
Guitar and bass players were among the first to go wireless onstage. And don't worry - the days of the Spinal Tap nightmare are long past! The Audio-Technica ATW-3110 system features a compact transmitter that stays in place no matter how much you duckwalk.
Last update: 09:55 AM Saturday, February 25, 2006