The 6 Best Wireless Microphone Systems
6. GTD Audio G-622H
- extended operating distance
- rear-mounted antennae
- cheap feel to the plastics
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
5. Shure PGXD24/SM58-X8
- durable metal pop screens
- padded carrying case included
- too thick for standard mic clips
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
4. Sennheiser EW 145 G3-B-US
- g3 sync instantly links the system
- five band eq on the receiver
- may be too complex for basic users
|Model||EW 145 G3-B-US|
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
3. Shure BLX288/PG58 Combo
- 14 hours of battery life
- on-mic power status leds
- easy-to-read channel display
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
2. Nady U-2100
- range of up to 500 feet
- auto-scan feature to set frequencies
- stores channels to memory
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
1. Sennheiser EW 500-945 G3
- ethernet port for computer control
- supercardioid pattern
- full-sounding vocals
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
Live Performance: There's Nothing Like It
Music is one of our world's universal languages. The experience of live art is one that almost every human has enjoyed on some level. Whether it's ceremonial dancing around a campfire in the African plains or Justin Beiber prancing around an LED-covered stage, live music has a strong emotional pull on every person.
Technology, of course, has found its way into so many aspects of our lives. The presentation of art is certainly not exempt from this. New concepts in engineering have allowed artists to express themselves in truly cutting-edge ways, and this includes the technologies used to deliver live audio in performance settings. Specifically, advances in wireless microphones have increased the abilities of actors, musicians, and athletes to ply their trades and put on a good show.
After all, Mr. Beiber can't be bothered to lug a handheld mic across the stage as he croons lovingly to his shrieking, pubescent fans. And the famous Marsalis Brothers will, of course, not be bound by any earthly audio cable while soaring to the stratosphere on their jumping hip-hop or classical jazz melodies. For that matter, the cast of the Lion King simply cannot physically plug in, not when they must dance around on stage like gazelles.
Something must come the rescue of all these boundless performers. And that thing is high-frequency, FM-modulated wireless microphone technology.
What A Difference A Wire Makes
At first glance, it might not seem like such a big deal that a singer's mic is necessarily attached to a wire. If the cable is long enough, and the connectors are of a high enough quality, anyone on stage should have no problem maneuvering around the set without destroying plugs or distorting sound, right? Well, there are a lot of situations where that's not the case.
First off, when a band hits the stage, there are a lot of different cables in play. Obviously, the more cords involved, the greater the tripping hazard. Since part of the job of a lead singer is often to jump around like David Lee Roth while avoiding pyrotechnics, he or she could need a considerable amount of freedom to really let loose. The same could be said for a trumpet or trombone player who may, for example, wish to crowd-surf during a big solo.
There are benefits to wire-free audio beyond just not tripping over an extra cable or having a limited range of motion. When two standard audio cables or their connectors come into contact, there can be a bleed-over that causes an audible distortion or hum in the sound. A wireless system allows for what's called galvanic isolation, effectively eliminating this problem.
Because a standard mic cable carries an analog signal, the quality can degrade over the length of the wire even if it's not receiving interference from other electrical devices. Some wireless options are fully digital, from audio collection all the way to data transfer. These advanced systems ensure that the audio signal at the receiver is of a high fidelity and identical to the source.
Aside from freedom of movement and signal clarity, the lack of a cable between mic and amplifier helps to create a cleaner visual presentation, great for television broadcasts and video blogs. Fewer cords snaking around the floor means less clutter and a more immersive theater or musical experience — it's just good showmanship.
How They Work and What They Do
The versatility of wireless microphones is exemplified by the different varieties offered. Handheld models are pretty straightforward. They may have a slightly larger body compared to a standard, corded option in order to house the wireless transmitter. Overall, they're pretty interchangeable replacements and they fit in most available mic clips just like any other microphone.
One interesting use of wireless technology is in adapters made for older, corded units. These plug directly into the XLR port on a normally wired mic and are a great way to introduce attractive and unique pieces to your stage setup, such as specialty vintage microphones that otherwise aren't available in wireless configurations. And they're great investments because they can be used with different mics to suit your changing needs.
Bodypack setups are somewhat more specialized towards live stage or athletic events. Because they keep the user's hands free, they're great for performances that require a wide range of motion. These generally consist of headset, earpiece, or clip-on mics that connect to a small box worn on the body, often on the belt.
Wireless performance audio isn't without its issues. Interference from various sources is possible, as are dead spots due to range limitations and physical blockages on stage. A concept called diversity is an effective way to combat this. True diversity uses two or more individual receivers in separate locations to read the transmitted signal and then compares and matches those streams. This greatly reduces dead spots, as well as the phase shift that occurs thanks to different audio frequencies traveling at different speeds.
Companding is another process used to fight interference. The audio data is compressed before transmission so that it occupies a smaller range of frequencies, and then expanded when it arrives at the head unit. This lowers the chance that the signal will have to share the airwaves, thus preventing distortion.
Quality models will have selectable and dynamic frequencies, so you can select the right wavelengths based on the stage setup, number of wireless units, and available channels. Some advanced choices are programmed to automatically select the most effective ranges and avoid those that are clogged, making them perfect for productions with lots of cast and crew.
So, it's important to make sure your equipment is right for the job. Performers across the board, whether they're instrumentalists, singers, head coaches, or actors, appreciate the versatility, sound quality, and ease-of-use of today's leading wireless microphone systems.