Product Reviews

Eliminating Wireless Dropouts

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Multi-path interference is the most common cause of wireless drop-outs, and if you can get rid of multi-path, you can get rid of a good number of headaches. So what exactly is multi-path interference? 

This post explains multi-path, diversity receivers, and a new antenna for eliminating the problem.

When a microphone transmitter sends out a radio wave signal, it spreads through a room, like ripples on a pond. As the wave encounters flat surfaces, like walls and ceilings, it reflects and continues forward at different angles. Since there are multiple surfaces in every room, there are multiple reflections and hence multiple paths--some longer and some shorter--that a wave takes before reaching the wireless receiver.

Usually, the receiver is able to process two or more signals arriving at slightly different times without difficulty. But if the signals overlap in such a way that they cancel each other out (creating a “null”) you get a drop in volume or complete drop-out. Sometimes, the shape of the room can cause a multi-path null to perpetually hover over a receiver. Other times, when the speaker walks past a certain spot on the platform, a dead spot will develop and you’ll hear a quick drop-out.

Diversity receivers filter out multi-path interference by using two antennas instead of one. Most wireless receivers that have two antennas are diversity receivers. Since a multi-path null occurs only in specific and relatively small locations, it is less likely that a null will exist over both antennas. This is called “spatial diversity.”  But spatial diversity does not work 100% of the time.

Read more: Eliminating Wireless Dropouts

 

Our favorite intermediate class LCD projector - Panasonic PT-VW440U

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We like it.  It's bright - 4800 lumens, great color accuracy, wide-format projection, it has an HDMI input, and it's reasonably-priced. 

It's easy for people who sell products for a living to get excited about something they sell, but just 5 years ago, we were excited about another projector that was just as much of a relative bargain by comparison to what was out there at the time. 

At the end of 2007, my own church needed new projectors and Sanyo had just introduced the PLC-XU48.  3000 ANSI lumens, and an analog VGA interface.  3000 lumens for $1699?!  At half of what we would have paid the year before for something similar, we said "we'll take two!"  They're still doing a nice job for us on 6x8' screens.  At the time, the PLC-XU48 was one of the brighter ultraportable projectors, a class of machines that were more typically used in a boardroom than a worship space, but that's what we could afford.  And as it turned out, they were exactly what we needed. 

As we approach the end of 2013, I'm hoping to get another year or two out of those old Sanyos (and expect that we will).  But if I were choosing a new projector today, the Panasonic PT-VW440U would get my vote

You can read specs until you're fully informed (or confused), but let me tell you why I'd pick it.  First...

Read more: Our favorite intermediate class LCD projector - Panasonic PT-VW440U

   

Innovation or Copycat? Voice Technologies VT901 Earset

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It's been more than five years since Countryman changed the face of audio with its E6, an ultraminiature earset microphone.  With tens of thousands sold, you could argue that the lavaliere microphone is nearly obsolete for live audio and that the E6 has been a gamechanger for speech applications.  With its success, the E6 spawned a host of copycat products; some good, some not so good and some better, but no one can argue that the E6 set the standard. 

A couple weeks ago, I called one of our suppliers to order a product for a client and a familiar voice answered the phone.  It was my friend Bryce Boynton.  For several years, Bryce worked for another microphone manufacturer, and he had just started the new job.

We talked for a few minutes about how a guy from Colorado was settling in in the northeast, and as we talked, he said, "Hey Dave, I have a microphone that I'd like you to try. It's an earset, and I think that you'll like it."  Bryce came from one of the world's premier microphone manufacturers to this position, so he's a microphone expert, and I thought to myself...

Read more: Innovation or Copycat? Voice Technologies VT901 Earset

   

Your easiest streaming solution!

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When it comes to video streaming solutions, we've learned a few things the hard way.  And sometimes, after learning the hard way, video streaming is still difficult.  The primary reason is that the public internet isn't always consistently as fast as your ISP claims. 

Many of our clients are smaller churches.  Why?  Well, because most churches are smaller churches.  So when a smaller church wants to stream video outside its walls, how much can it spend?  And how hard can it be to make it work?  The answers: not a lot, and it has to be simple. 

This isn't the solution you'd want if you have a second campus and need a life-size HD picture, but if you have various groups of people anywhere else who want to connect with you, whether they speak your language or are just staying home with a sick kid, this might be just what you need.  People can watch from any tablet, computer, smartphone, or internet-enabled television.  And yes, you could project its output onto a screen, too. 

This solution does not require a computer, it does not require encoding software and it doesn't even require any ongoing cost, if you're willing to watch an occasional advertisement.

Read more: Your easiest streaming solution!

   

Heil PR22-UT - The best value in handheld vocal microphones. Period.

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by Dave Horn

Best. Value. Period. 

That's a pretty bold statement, and might make some of our other microphone manufacturers uncomfortable, but I think that it's true.  At $117, the Heil PR22-UT is the best value in vocal microphones, but what does that mean? 

Is it the best microphone available?  No.  Is it the cheapest microphone available?  Hardly. 

Since its introduction over 40 years ago, the benchmark for vocal microphones has been the Shure SM58.  It's still standard by which microphones are measured and for good reason.  It sounds good and there are tens of thousands in use every day.  We all know what to expect when we plug one in. 

In comparison to the SM58 which costs $99.95, the Heil sounds better, but it should.

Read more: Heil PR22-UT - The best value in handheld vocal microphones. Period.

   

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