The question often arises of ‘Which are the best wireless microphones?’ and ‘What makes this wireless microphone better than the less expensive one?’ Unfortunately there is no short answer that we can offer, microphone preferences are subjective and will often be personal to each performer.
However, we can elaborate on some great examples of digital wireless systems and the advantages that they offer over products in lower or similar price ranges. This should help you to decide the best wireless microphone for you.
Specifically we will be looking at 2.4GHz technology in this blog post, and so we have to highlight the intrinsic advantages and disadvantages of the technology and then investigate how the five examples we provide answer some of the problems that need to be solved.
- 2.4GHz has a large bandwidth, some manufacturers fit up to fourteen simultaneous wireless transmissions.
- 2.4GHz is license free and available worldwide.
- 2.4GHz is often used for transmission of digital streams, for clean unattenuated transmission
- 2.4GHz is popular, it can be prone to interference or drop out from local mobile, bluetooth or wifi devices.
- 2.4GHz is a very small radio frequency, it does not easily penetrate walls, so line of sight is important.
Manufacturers often do not need to address the intrinsic advantages of the technology, as the whole product is based around taking advantage of this. So in this blog post we are looking at how the AKG Tetrad, Audio-Technica ATW1302, Line 6 XD-V75, Sennheiser D1 and shure GLXD24UK systems address the issues of interference, dropouts and line-of-sight. We will also include other tidbits of information that might be useful.
The first in the round-up is the AKG DMS Tetrad D5 Vocal Set, and included are two handheld transmitters and a single receiver. Like all of the wireless systems in this article, the Tetrad features fantastic vocal performance.
However more importantly in this article is the quality of the wireless transmission, and the Tetrad is positively brilliant. The Tetrad sends an uncompressed audio transmission, which translates to natural performances every time.
The DMS Tetrad is extremely effective at protecting against interference, and is packed with three key features to improve performance in this regard.
- Firstly, the use of Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) allows the microphone and transmitter to automatically jump frequency if interference is detected.
- Secondly, the Tetrad includes Time Diversity, a system that automatically detects a lost signal and requests the microphone to resend it.
- Lastly, Antenna Diversity, the Tetrad has two Antennae to choose from and will select based on which has the best reception.
While these countermeasures are great at helping to prevent dropouts, the AKG developed DROCON Technology steps in to clean up any potential mishaps. Standing for DROpout CONcealment, the system accurately extrapolates missing signals and covers them to prevent the clicks that would otherwise occur without the technology.
Overall, a great quality product and an excellent example of what 2.4GHz can offer you.
The Audio-Technica ATW1302 is part of the Audio-Technica System 10 series and includes its own list of cool features that help to separate itself from the rest, while still maintaining the same level of quality that runs throughout all five systems discussed in the article.
While the ATW1302 includes a single handheld transmitter and receiver, there are various other configurations of the same system that either come as a single lavalier, pair of lavaliers or combination of lavaliers and handheld microphones.
Much like the previously discussed model, the System 10 series includes great quality audio, wrapped in a 24-bit, 48kHz stream of data for professional quality, and uncompressed audio that will leave your audience breathless.
Where the System 10 series sets itself apart from the rest of the pack is on the front of the receiver. Included on each System 10 unit is a handy eject function for quick addition and removal of antenna. The cool doesn’t stop there, as these receivers can then be connected to the back of the unit with up to 100m of Ethernet cable, a great nod from Audio-Technica to theatres that they are there for serious business.
Having had the pleasure of testing these units in store, we can confirm the units are built to last and both Audio-Technica and ourselves are more than happy to support any questions you may have about installation.
The Line 6 XD-V75 is the second least expensive model on this list, but by no means is it slacking, offering up to 14 simultaneous channels of audio, the XD-V75 offers an affordable and scalable solution for many of our customers, and they have a great track record for impressing.
Like the previous 2.4GHz systems, the Line 6 includes professional quality audio with its uncompressed, 24-bit audio stream. They have cut no corners on diversity, so your experience should be un-interrupted and natural depending on your local interference and wireless activity.
While not offering as many or large bonus features that set it apart like the first two units discussed, it is tried, tested and affordable. Perfect for any performer or venue that needs his or her own wireless systems, but does not need the added features the previous systems offered, or the price tag that is associated with the extra features.
As an additional note, the Line 6 XD-V35 Handheld System and Line 6 XD-V55 Handheld System are both competent 2.4GHz systems, so if you are looking for a system that is less expensive than the ones listed in this article, we recommend that you consider theose and weight any other options you may have against them as the benchmarks for that price range.
The Sennheiser D1 is the second most expensive model in this list and offers a unique set of features that come included for the extra money. Primarily focussed at performers, the entire experience is streamlined to be as simple as possible.
The feature that is most attractive about the Sennheiser D1 is the ability to remove and swap capsules on the handheld transmitter with absolute ease. Currently there are six great capsules to be chosen, including the e835, e845, e865, e935, e945, and e965. So if you already own a Sennheiser evolution microphone and love the sound, there’s a good chance it is available on the D1.
Sennheiser use their ‘True Diversity’ system that covers the three main diversity (Antenna, Time and Frequency). We spoke to Sennheiser about this for clarification and they had this to say:
“Two channels are always available: besides the actual audio transmission channel, the system runs a redundant back-up channel, thus providing frequency and time diversity. Transmission reliability is further increased by fast-switching antenna diversity.”
Sennheiser state on their website that the product reviews your radio channels 133 times per second and can even boost the transmission signal if required to override performance. This high level of reliability and the other various integrated features such as the equalizer and de-esser, make this a perfect choice for individuals looking to take this wireless system with them wherever they perform. Sennheiser have confirmed that they can ‘confidently’ handle six wireless systems in less-than-ideal situations, with a theoretical maximum of 15 simultaneous transmissions in more ideal circumstances.
Coming in as the least expensive option in our list of five 2.4GHz systems, it is safe to assume that this system offers less features than the more expensive in our list. Instead, what you get is an affordable wireless system that functions brilliantly, with up to 4 simultaneous systems for most situations, but a theoretical maximum of 8 systems in perfect conditions.
Shure have antenna diversity, so when a signal is weak in the primary antenna, it will automatically receive with the strongest antenna. They also incorporate back-up channels for up to five systems, so if the frequency of your microphone has interference, it will automatically adjust to another frequency with less interference. It should be noted that if you decide to use the maximum of eight systems, you will likely have problems with interference as there are no back up channels for that many systems so the recommended amount is up to four systems.
The legendary sound of the SM58 is transferred perfectly to the GLXD24UK receiver and really is a no-fuss, great quality wireless system on a 2.4GHz transmission. Shure recommend that this system will be great for touring purposes and we agree totally and if you are looking for great results and familiar sound, then this could be the microphone for you.
Future of Wireless Technology
As we can see, inside the 2.4GHz market there are many products available that can offer professional results. Many of these include diversity and various other patented technology to reduce interference and dropouts that are inherent in all 2.4GHz current systems. If you are in the market for these products, you are definitely in good hands. However, should you find that you have any further questions about 2.4GHz systems, or wireless microphones in general, then feel free to contact our professional and friendly technical advisors.
Moving forwards we expect the 2.4GHz to become the most popular license-free bandwidth. The reliability of Channel 70 is quickly becoming questionable and for larger installations we recommend that users look for Channel 38 instead. However, the above products offer signs of hope for 2.4GHz.