Survive the Wireless Transition

Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, Compiled by Sarah Benzuly

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The looming FCC deadline (February 17, 2009) for the digital TV changeover that opens analog TV frequencies to other uses will spell changes for many wireless mic users. Here are 10 tips to ease the transition:

  1. Check your system's frequency. Wireless in the 698 to 806MHz band are most affected, while others are not.

  2. If you are in this frequency range, contact the manufacturer. For a fee, some companies may be able to modify or change your system to a different frequency range.

  3. Move receivers closer to the transmitters. Proximity is everything, so instead of placing your receivers at FOH, try finding a spot for them onstage and snake the receiver's line-level output to the house position.

  4. Look into a better antenna. Highly directional antennae offer more gain for improved RF performance.

  5. Upgrade your antenna wiring and keep signal paths as short as possible. Larger conductors and beefy shielding equate to reduced signal loss.

  6. Watch your battery life. As batteries wane, so does signal strength.

  7. Most wireless manufacturers have online frequency locators and frequency coordination programs to help avoid trouble spots. And run some RF tests at the location or venue in advance to prevent last-minute “surprises.”

  8. Consider whether you even need wireless. Many times, wireless is essential, but does a mostly nonmoving bass player really need that wireless rig? Reducing your wireless channel count means fewer problems.

  9. Look into alternatives. A colleague recently replaced the wireless rigs in a theater show with some well-placed shotgun mics with great results. On location shoots, a pocket digital recorder and lavalier mic may provide a solution in RF problem areas.

  10. Time to upgrade? If your current wireless has been around the block (or world) a few times, maybe it's time to step up to the improved performance of today's new systems. And with some manufacturers offering rebates on new purchases or exchanges on existing gear, the timing couldn't be better.






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