Groups' pricey wireless mics now useless

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Thursday, July 8, 2010 02:55 AM
By Elizabeth Gibson 

Liz Wheeler, left, and Vicky Welsh-Bragg rehearse for the Actors' Theatre production of Dark of the Moon at Schiller Park. They'll have to use different wireless microphones.

When the stars of the Columbus Children's Theatre start to sing, a wireless microphone carries their lyrics over the chords of musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar or The Wizard of Oz.

So when the Federal Communications Commission banned a common variety of wireless microphone, it was a problem.

"Now we have very expensive equipment that's worthless," said William Goldsmith, the theater's artistic director. "There are thousands of these microphones around the country that are now worthless."

Goldsmith said the four microphones that the theater had used cost about $1,000 to $2,000 each.

Whether for a sermon, a corporate board meeting, a school assembly or even a children's karaoke machine, wireless microphones that operate on a 700-MHz frequency are out.

"If you're not off it, you need to get off it. This is a matter of public safety," said Matt Nodine, chief of staff of the FCC's wireless telecommunications bureau.

The vast majority of wireless microphones are fine, especially newer equipment. But the FCC identified 3,000 different types of organizations with the problematic microphones. The FCC has more information at

These microphones use frequencies that existed in the space between the signals from television stations. When TV went digital a year ago, it freed up most of the 700-MHz frequencies.

But once the TV stations were out of the way, companies spent about $19 billion buying up the frequencies in an FCC auction. Large blocks of available frequencies don't pop up often, and they were in demand for new Internet-friendly cellular-phone systems.

The microphones could cause interference when a phone company or a police department tries to use its newly acquired frequency.

"You might be sitting in church listening to the preacher's sermon and a trooper drives by the church, and suddenly you're hearing the trooper's radio traffic instead," said Darryl Anderson, director of the MARCS radio service used by police and safety agencies across the state.

The worst-case scenario is that the police dispatcher would hear the preacher instead of an officer calling for help, although Anderson said that was less likely.

The state's radio system is expanding to the 700-MHz bandwidth so it can take advantage of modern technology. The first eight towers that use that frequency will be going up in Cuyahoga County within the next three months.

FCC officials tried to spread the word in advance, but it still cost microphone users money.

Xenos Christian Fellowship on the North Side spent $8,000 to $10,000 on new equipment, and Faith Life Church in Johnstown had to spend a few thousand dollars.

"I guess it's an excuse to get new stuff," said John Ondo, Faith Life Church's media director. "We weren't hit too bad because we just moved and got a new system, but I'm sure other people had it worse."

Actors' Theatre, which depends heavily on wireless technology for its outdoor performances in Schiller Park, relied entirely on 700-MHz microphones, Artistic Director John S. Kuhn said. The group is halfway to raising the $8,000 needed to replace 12 microphones.

"We're sort of all (affected)," Kuhn said. "Nothing is going to change. The deed has been done, and it's going to have a large impact on so many organizations and nonprofits with no recourse."


Carrie Underwood Chooses Heil RC35 Vocal Microphone Element

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Carrie_MicsCarrie Underwood will be performing at the Academy of Country Music awards on her new custom Heil Sound RC 35. The Heil Sound Custom Shop prepared two versions of her handheld and one of them will be used when she performs live on the show. Carrie is nominated for six awards and if she wins Entertainer of the Year, she will be the first women to win that award twice.

The 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Sunday, April 18, 2010.

The three-hour show airs on CBS Television at 8 pm ET/PT.

Check it out!


Note: The Heil RC35 is the Heil PR35 prepared for use with Shure wireless microphone systems.  The RC35 and RC22 are in stock for immediate shipment.


RSS M-48 Personal Mixing System Live on NAACP Image Awards

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The 2010 NAACP Image Awards were broadcast on FOX on February 26 live from The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, with audio production services provided by ATK Audiotek of Valencia, CA.

image_awards_04_smThe live band was lead by Rickey Minor and consisted of drums, percussion, bass, guitar, keys, three background vocalists and a 5-piece horn section.  Each musician had their own M-48 Personal Mixer providing fully personalized control to their in-ear monitors or headphones.

For the Image Awards Band, the RSS by Roland M-48s were used as an extension of the normal monitor position with the lead and front-line singers on wedges and the band on personal mixers. The M-48 system is designed so the monitor engineer can still be in control of everything including an individual’s personal mixer if necessary.

image_awards_01_smAndres Arango, staff engineer for ATK commented, “At first we went with the typical setup where the musicians used the personal mixer for communication, click track, along with support from floor wedges – but after the horn section heard themselves through their M-48s, especially with the reverb ability, we took away the wedges and they went on in-ears alone.”

The unique part of the M-48 system is that each personal monitor can view up to 40 sources. Each musician can be setup to arrange the sources in any way they want - single, stereo or grouped. In this case, the drummer had kick, snare, hit, and tom stems spread out over many stereo groups, then a vocal and horn stem.  All sources were individually controllable on his M-48 unit so he could get the exact mix he wanted. The horn and vocal sections simply had a single drum stem, and other band/horn/vocal sources on their own M-48s with their own "more me" control.

image_awards_05In addition, each musician controlled their own reverb, limiter and EQ via their own M-48 if they so desired. All sources came through the monitor board first so basic level EQ and compression could be applied as required by the monitor engineer. Each M-48 is supplied power and 40 channels of audio via a single Cat5e cable making cable management very clean and easy to install.

Andres concludes, “The band loved this new M-48 setup so much that we’re planning on using it on a number of other projects moving forward.”


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Kramer Electronics releases free iPhone app to control VP-729 Scaler/Switcher

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Kramer Electronics has released both an iPhone App and PC based control software for Kramer’s popular VP-729 ProScale Digital Scaler/Switcher. The new iPhone App and the PC based control software provide easy-to-use interfaces to control both switching and operation of all menu features of the VP-729.

Kramer has created an iPhone App called “VP-729” that allows users to conveniently operate Kramer’s popular VP-729 scaler/switcher. The VP-729 App provides an intuitive and easy-to-use interface for the most necessary functions of the VP-729. To operate, enter the IP address of your VP-729 and press the connect button. You can switch inputs, increase and decrease the audio output volume and adjust all menu items over your wireless network. There is no need to manipulate the front panel buttons or look for the wireless IR remote control. Just grab your iPhone and start working.

The new iPhone App can be found in Apple’s App Store within iTunes®. Once in iTunes, search for “VP-729” and download the app. There is a video posted a video on YouTube demonstrating how to use the VP-729 App.

Kramer has also created new PC-based software for the VP-729 that also works with the VP-728 via the RS-232 port. This freeware switching and control program can be obtained from the Kramer Web site via the “Downloads” tab on the VP-729 or VP-728 product pages. After the program is installed on a local computer, it connects via Ethernet to a Kramer VP-729 or via RS-232 to either a VP-729 or VP-728. All the switching and menu functions of the VP-729 and VP-728 can be set and controlled remotely from the connected computer.

The PC-based control software emulates the appearance of the front panel of the Kramer VP-729/VP-728 scalers on the computer screen so that the user can control switching by clicking on the inputs buttons. If menu control is selected, the VP-729/VP-728 menu appears on the computer screen. The on-screen menu is visually identical to the menu generated by the scalers on a connected display and the user has full control over all features including the ability to define and set custom resolutions.

The new VP-729 and VP-728 PC-based switching and control software can be found on the VP-729 or VP728 product pages via the “Downloads” tab or under the heading “Software” on the “Software Firmware Updates” page on the “Support” tab of the Web site at . It is available at no charge as a value-added freeware program.

If you would like to order the Kramer VP-729, please click here or call (800) 747-7301 for more information.


FCC Consumer Alert on Wireless Microphone Issues

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As of February 28, 2010, we are required to post the following announcement to every single page of our website where wireless microphones are for sale.  We've complied with that request delivered to us via U.S. Mail as of February 25, 2010.

You might want to take a look at the notice.  Of course, you'll see it on every page of the site where wireless products are for sale.  Take a minute to read the notice and if you have questions, please feel free to call us.



Most users do not need a license to operate this wireless microphone system. Nevertheless, operating this microphone system without a license is subject to certain restrictions: the system may not cause harmful interference; it must operate at a low power level (not in excess of 50 milliwatts); and it has no protection from interference received from any other device. Purchasers should also be aware that the FCC is currently evaluating use of wireless microphone systems, and these rules are subject to change. For more information, call the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC (TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC) or visit the FCC’s wireless microphone website at


What does this mean?  In a nutshell, it means that if your wireless microphone (any unlicensed wireless microphone) may not interfere with anyone else's licensed wireless microphone or other radio system and that, as an unlicensed user, you have no assurance of reliable wireless microphone performance.

That said, today's wireless microphone systems are the most advanced and best sounding systems ever made.  They are reliable and will work well for you in the current radio climate.  You can expect good performance.  If you have 700MHZ wireless systems, it's time to get new ones.  The FCC has ruled that all units operating between 698-806MHZ be phased out effective June 12, 2010.

We can help you make the best decision for new wireless microphones going forward - whether or not you have existing microphones that need to be replaced.



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