What's new in wireless microphones?
In June of 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) changed the landscape of how we all use wireless microphones. For years, most manufacturers made equipment in the same general parts of the radio spectrum and users and dealers simply coordinated wireless microphone systems in and around unused pockets in the existing broadcast television airspace. What made that easy was that television stations don't move around and the space between the stations was clearly defined, and relatively unused.
With the conversion of all television stations to high definition (HD) transmission, the radio spectrum between 698-806MHz was cleared out for other uses (primarily wireless internet and wireless phones). The result was that all wireless microphones in that range were deemed illegal. And many television stations were forced to operate in two parts of the radio spectrum (one for digital, one for analog) which made things pretty messy for both broadcasters and users of wireless microphone systems. Suddenly, about half the wireless microphones in use had to be replaced, and those users had to dodge twice as many television stations when selecting new equipment.
With the analog television transmitters turned off, those stations now operate on just one part of the spectrum, so there's actually more airspace available today than there was then. Any of you who still have older VHF systems (169-216MHz) operate in a fairly wide-open part of the radio spectrum, and there don't seem to be many companies looking to fill it with the next hot wireless gizmo.
Unfortunately, your VHF units are aging and I can't think of any wireless manufacturer who repairs them, since they are considered to be obsolete. If you have older Shure L, LX, or SC wireless systems, we do have a great service center to which we can direct you.
With the explosion in use of wireless phones, tablet computers, laptops, and wireless modems, successful use of wireless microphones has become much more difficult, but there are plenty of great options.
The fastest growing wireless brand out there right now is Line 6. Its digital systems are leading the way in the $500-700 price range. Step up to the Shure ULX-D digital wireless at between $1300-1500 per user, and you'll find fantastic performance that rivals anything from the past at $2000+. And Audio-Technica still features their 2000 and 3000 Series systems that operate in the almost-always-clear I-band from 470-504MHz. Due to its professional features (metal receiver chassis, detachable antennas, automatic frequency scanning, and rackmountable enclosure), we think that the 2000 Series from Audio Technica is a tremendous value starting at just $299.95.
Despite the changes of the past couple years, wireless microphones can work extraordinarily well, and we can help make sure that you get exactly what you need.
If you have questions about which wireless systems make the most sense for you, or if you need some help making what you already have work better, please give us a call.
A solid understanding of how to make wireless microphones work and play well together is what we offer.
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