Wireless Microphones Shrink in Size, Grow in Range, Reliability

From conference rooms, to studios, to police patrols, there are wireless microphones available
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Wireless microphone manufacturers are increasingly shrinking the size of their devices and making them more rugged—some even waterproof—in a quest to create a wave of unplugged mics that are easier to use with greater range and reliability.

A wireless microphone, as the name implies, is a microphone without a physical cable connecting it directly to the sound amplifying equipment. The system consists of a microphone and a small, battery-powered radio transmitter (either in the microphone or worn in a back pack), which transmits the audio signal from the microphone to a nearby receiver unit.

In the past, when a law enforcement officer or public speaker wanted to wear a wireless microphone, they were stuck with an awkward headpiece or had to lug around a heavy transmitter. The devices worked great because they freed users from a plugged audio cable, but they still had significant disadvantages.

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Beyerdynamic’s Quinta Since then, microphone technology has come a long way. Wireless microphones are no longer confined to a tiny transmitting range; they also produce far crisper and more reliable signals. Some of the wireless microphones, and their related products, buyers might want to consider are:

BEYERDYNAMIC
Beyerdynamic introduces its Quinta wireless conferencing system, which is the company’s fifth generation of wireless systems, according to Jim Reinhardt, the national sales manager for conferencing products.

The Quinta provides high-definition audio quality that reaches 24 kilohertz. It operates within three frequency bands—2.4, 5.2 and 5.8 GHz—making it very wireless-friendly, Reinhardt said. The system also has an internal “sniffer” that will search for an open channel, which it “lockdowns” once it is found. However, the unit “will slide over to an open channel if it’s discovered there is other data traffic on the channel being used,” he said.

In addition, the Quinta has “delegates and chairman’s stations.” There also are four different microphone options that are lockable, so they can’t be removed, Reinhardt said. Fully charged, the unit provides 30 hours of talk time. The system also has multi-session-capable zoning and language interpretation.

But, it is Quinta’s “multi-bandwidth capability” that potential users should consider, Reinhardt said. The feature “enables a user to open a number of different frequencies; yet for government users, it has the protocols that enable it to sit within an agency’s secure wireless equipment.”

BOSCH
Bosch Security Systems’ PolarChoice Satellite Desktop, a gooseneck, tabletop wireless microphone and base, is a popular choice for the government conference room, said Guy Low, a company spokesman.

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Bosch Security Systems’ PolarChoic Satellite Desktop The microphone sits on a low-profile base, which is actually a hollowed out chamber that allows space for most any Telex or Electro-Voice body-pack transmitter. Users can place the PolarChoice Satellite anywhere without cutting holes in tables, running long cables, or compromising the architectural integrity of an installation. The microphone is powered by a 9-volt battery in the base.

The microphone offers switchable omni, cardioid, supercardioid or hypercardioid polar patterns and has a mute switch, which can be programmed as either push on/off or push-to-mute. The device provides an extended low-frequency response and switchable high-pass filter.

Michael Jeanes, of Advanced Media Designs, an audio-visual communication and presentation company, found the PolarChoice to be the solution for a conference room decorated with expensive glass and granite tabletops.
“The clients don’t want any holes bored through these, so we investigated wireless options for microphones because ugly wires, holes and hardware compromise the attention to detail spent on fine furniture,” Jeanes said. “The PC Satellites helped make the system sophisticated, but also tastefully understated.”

LECTROSONICS INC.

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Lectrosonics Inc.’s SMV Transmitter Rio Rancho, N.M.-based Lectrosonics Inc. offers an interesting product for agency and law enforcement use in its tiny SMV transmitter, which measures only 2-1/4 x 1-7.8 x 5/8 inches. It has user-selectable power settings up to 250 milliwatts which is valuable for field work because of the extended operating range and resistance to dropouts, said Karl Winkler, the company’s director of business development.

Audio quality is enhanced through the Digital Hybrid Wireless platform, which improves clarity without companding the audio signal like other analog wireless systems, Winkler said. The system provides better dynamic range (110 decibels) and audio frequency response (flat from 40 Hz to 20 kilohertz) along with no companding artifacts. The SMV pairs with any Lectrosonics receiver systems including the UCR411A, UCR401, Venue Series or SRa.

The company has just released a new device that can be installed in its transmitters to permanently do away with the need for batteries. The SM-

SHAQUE incorporates a small generator, which provides power by simply shaking the unit, Winkler said.

POINT SOURCE AUDIO

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Point Source Audio’s CO-5w Point Source Audio introduced two products in June, a waterproof ear-worn microphone and a miniature lavalier microphone, said Kelley Brown, Point Source Audio marketing manager.

The company markets its products as the “toughest” ear-worn microphones in the industry and the CO-5w waterproof microphone follows that pattern with a durable ear-worn piece on a flexible boom, Brown said. The microphone is ideal for use in outdoor environments, and can handle steam, sweat and accidental splashing.

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Point Source Audio’s CO-7L The company’s Audio CO-7L Miniature Lavalier Microphone is tiny and can hide behind a button or even in a user’s hairline. It offers performance grade audio quality typical with larger devices and can be configured in multiple colors to blend with hair, skin or clothing, Brown said.

REVOLABS
The Revolabs high-definition line of wireless microphone systems includes the Single/Dual Channel (HD Presenter); the rack-mounted, dual-channel Venue; and the four- and eight-channel Executive HD, said Rachel Dwyer, company spokeswoman. The company’s “Designed for Speech” technology provides wideband frequency to improve the intelligibility and presence of speech and because it supports bandwidths of 50–14,000 Hz, it can pick up the entire human voice spectrum.

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Revolabs’ HD Single Dual Mic System The Single/Dual Channel system supports one or two HD wireless microphones and is designed for broadcasting applications. For agencies with bigger demands, the Executive HD system supports up to eight microphones for executive boardrooms and large conference rooms.

Tim Root, Revolabs chief technology officer, said the clip-on microphones incorporate a tiny transmitter in their lipstick-sized housing, making them very easy to wear. The most important aspects of the microphones “are the quality of the audio pickup and that the microphones are specifically targeted for speech, not music or something else,” he said. The microphones “combine robustness with a very small form,” he said.

SANKEN MICROPHONES
This year Sanken Microphone Co. Ltd. launched the COS-11D HWM, reconfiguring its lavalier device into a head-worn model, said Martin Ucik, company general manager. The ultra-miniature, new-generation microphone was designed for high-resolution audio and works with virtually all transmitter-receiver systems, Ucik said.

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Sanken Microphone Co. Ltd’s COS-11D HWM “Our initial customers are very impressed with this microphone,” said Jim Pace, president of plus24, a Sanken distributor. “Having that same great Sanken sound quality in a head-worn mic is a natural for working in live performance. The characteristics of the omni pickup make for very natural vocal sound.”

The COS-11D HWM is especially valuable when there is rigorous head movement, while the close proximity of the microphone to the vocal source provides consistently exceptional audio, the company said.

SENNHEISER

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Sennheiser’s SK 2000 Audio pioneer Sennheiser offers a broad range of wireless products for law enforcement, the military and public safety officers. The company has introduced a new line of “go-to” wireless choices, the 2000 Series, which is an improvement over their G2 and G3 series, said Jeff Touzeau, company spokesman.

The 160-gram SK 2000 body-pack transmitter is lightweight with an AF frequency response of 25–20,000 Hz. The four RF output powers provide longer transmission ranges or more channels per frequency range. It is an upgrade over previous versions because of the higher output power levels; the full metal construction; and the professional connections for lavalier or headset mics, Touzeau said.

The Sennheiser EW 322 G3 system features a clip-on microphone and a true diversity receiver, which offers both resistance to feedback and clear voice reproduction. The true diversity receiver produces the highest degree of signal reliability at all times, the company said.

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Sennheiser’s Neumann KK205 Capsule Having officers on patrol wear the equivalent of a mobile action camera to record audio and video during traffic stops is growing among police departments, Touzeau pointed out. Having high-quality, discernible audio is critical for archiving information, he said.

Then there’s the need for equipment to be rugged. “You might think a cop is rough on gear, until you meet an actor trying to change from one costume to another in less than a minute in between scenes.” he said.

Not only are Sennheiser’s wireless microphones tough, but so are the company’s microphone capsules, said Kevin Waehner, the company’s channel manager for integrated systems. Among the latest is the Neumann KK205 capsule, which works on the 2000 Series wireless system.

The 2000 Series is an all-metal system, which makes it rugged and resistant to abuse in the field. The Neumann Capsule is also rugged and increases sound quality, he said. Capsules like the Neumann KK205 have been available for Sennheiser’s high-end systems, but now the KK205 is available for the 2000 Series. “It is a combination of great sound quality and durability in the field,” Waehner said.

SHURE INC.

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Shure Inc.’s ULX-D Christopher Lyons, manager, technical and educational communications for Shure Inc., said the company’s new ULX-D digital wireless system is “a fully digital system, which means it has pristine sound quality and a lot of extra features.”

Those “extra features” include dual channels and multi-channel receivers. The digital transmission enables users to “get 17 systems to work in one television channel; but if more than that number is needed because the user is in an area where there is a lot of wireless congestion, it can be switched to high-density mode and use 47 systems in one facility, on one empty television channel.”

In addition, the ULX-D uses rechargeable lithium ion batteries, replacing AA batteries. The system has a smart charger, which does not require the batteries be removed from the unit, he said, adding that the ULX-D can be placed into a charger. The unit charges overnight with a charge lasting 12 hours.

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