Frank Klimko for Government Video / 08.06.2012 11:40AM
Wireless Microphones Shrink in Size, Grow in Range, Reliability
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Bosch Security Systems’ PolarChoic Satellite Desktop
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.”
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-by-1-7.8-by-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.
Lectrosonics Inc.’s SMV Transmitter
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
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.
Point Source Audio’s CO-5w
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.
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.
Point Source Audio’s CO-7L
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.
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.
Revolabs’ HD Single Dual Mic System
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.
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.
“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.”
Sanken Microphone Co. Ltd’s COS-11D HWM
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.
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,
Sennheiser’s SK 2000
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.
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.
Sennheiser’s Neumann KK205 Capsule
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.
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.”
Shure Inc.’s ULX-D
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.