"There are times when you need to make sure that you're ___-ing..."  Was that a dropout?  I quickly looked over at the RF meters on the wireless receiver.  Solid.  Battery?  Solid, too.  Must have been my imagination.  Whew!  "And this principle is so important that you better make sure that you're really  ___-ing..."  

My pastor repeated the same phrase and in the same syllable of the same word, but we didn't hear what he said.  I haven't had a chance to debrief with him today, but whatever that was can't happen again.  Well, at least I need to make sure that I do my part to make sure that it doesn't. 

Today's post by Mike Sessler is a great reminder that more isn't always better, especially in the case of RF power.  As Mike explains, when setting up wireless systems, you should use as little RF power as is necessary.  Sure, it's counter-intuitive because we think that in order to have rock-solid performance that the sacrifice of battery life is worth the cost, but the actual cost might just be the hurting of system performance. 

More is also not better in terms of the crowding of the wireless spectrum.  10 years ago, we used to worry about whether all of our wireless systems would work together with each other, in the midst of the well-established broadcast TV uses.  And we sometimes had to change things around when the church across the street bought a microphone on the same frequency. 

To wireless systems for worship today, we're adding in-ears, wi-fi, HDTV, and there's a battle on for the "white spaces" -- the unallocated part of the wireless spectrum between the broadcast TV channels.  Those white spaces are where most of our current wireless microphones systems operate, and where more and more companies are proposing uses for that part of the spectrum that we hold dear. 

As Mike wrote, we need techs need to bone up on RF, in order to make sure that we properly coordinate new wireless uses into worship.  I've seen 15 well-coordinated wireless systems behave perfectly until 800 people's worth of cell phones arrive for the service.  Has your own iPhone ever given you fits when it induces a buzz into your audio system?  Multiply that times the number of people that come for any given worship service. 

Even less expensive wireless systems like the Audio Technica 2000 Series have automatic frequency scanning.  Those start at under $400.  Having your wireless system evaluate its own environment is a great thing.  Today, virtually all systems at this price point and above have similar features, but what will happen if things change again and we're blindsided by another decision by the FCC to sell off the frequencies we use?   That happened a couple years ago (and several years before that) and will probably happen again at some point. 

Right now, the major wireless manufacturers are working on new technologies to adapt to known changes, but it's always prudent to make use of the best that today has to offer, when you have a "today" need.  And if you have older VHF wireless units (169-216MHz), you might want to hold onto them.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published