How Do I Choose A Wireless Microphone?

How Do I Choose A Wireless Microphone?

That is a “loaded question” depending on who you ask. Having been in the industry 25+ years, the only way I know how to answer is to share my opinion in this blog.

The first option and least expensive wireless microphones (mics) are VHF transmitter wireless units. VHF stands for ìVery High Frequency.î These will be the least expensive mainly because the microphone manufacturers have discounted the quality of these mics. The reason being is because of interference from products that we no longer use today. Now that technology like cordless phones and TVs have gone digital the interference of these bandwidths are almost non-existent. VHF signal is incredibly strong, if not the strongest signal of all the wireless choices. The downside is the major manufacturers stopped producing VHF systems over a decade ago so finding a quality VHF system that will last and be durable is a difficult talk. Yet another downside is the amount of systems you can run simultaneous without interference; four systems are about the limit.

The second option you have is UHF systems. UHF stands for ìUltra High Frequency.î These are very viable systems that, with recent technology, are very easy to setup and use. Most major venues are using UHF systems because they give you the ability to run unlimited systems due to the bandwidth being so wide. Even entry level systems can use up to 8 units. The downside to the UHF systems is the government. A couple of years ago the US government seized the 700mhz bandwidth in response to 9/11. They said it was for emergency broadcast reasons, but then wound up auctioning off 80% of it to TV stations and in turn making billions. This put most of the microphone manufacturers in the 600mhz range which made the broadcast pie smaller. We all know where there is money, there is greed. I predict that within the next three years part of the 600mhz bandwidth will be seized and sold, making a ton of these systems obsolete. With this being said I have read on the FCC website that as long as the system emits less than 50mw, is not a licensed transmitter, and is not interfering with emergency broadcastsÖ you are safe to use them. My concern is how it is interpreted by those enforcing the laws; so better safe than sorry. You will see the UHF system continue to go up in price as the bandwidth gets smaller and the manufacturers have to spend more for the licenses to operate in them.

The third option for wireless and the fastest developing on the market right now is digital. Currently most digital units you can be used with 8 simultaneously. I am sure this number will increase as technology improves. These units are easy to link together and, one of the best benefits, they work anywhere where UHF and VHF frequencies have to be purchased by region. The digital units have all the ìbells and whistlesî like the UHF units as well at the great sound.

In review, for most situations, I would choose the digital systems. You get major brands with quality, all the feature sets that make wireless mics easy to use, and no worries about the government making the bandwidth obsolete. This will give you many years of worry-free use.

Now all you have to is decide if you want handheld, lavalier, head-worn, or instrument systems. Pick your preference and make some noise.

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