Handheld Wireless Systems

Jul 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By George Petersen



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To say that 2009 has been an challenging year in the wireless audio industry is truly an understatement. Yet, it's barely a month after June 12, the second FCC deadline for the changeover to DTV (and the elimination of the legal availability of the 698 to 806MHz bandwidth to audio users) and the sky didn't fall. For most pro wireless owners, that day came and went without incident. In fact, for a while, the 700MHz wireless band is probably pretty clear, although transmitting using those frequencies is certainly a bad idea, as it's now illegal, and at some point that particular spectrum is going to get very crowded, very quickly.

For those holdout owners of 700MHz gear who haven't made the conversion to legal operation, many pro wireless manufacturers — including AKG, Audio-Technica, Lectrosonics, Sennheiser, Shure and Sony — all offer rebate programs for existing equipment, while most companies will work with customers to update units that can be modified/updated to operate on different frequencies. In researching what's new in handheld wireless systems, we found that many companies — among them Audio-Technica, Electro-Voice, Lectrosonics, Shure and Sony — have kept their flagship offerings unchanged, although perhaps with different channel blocks.

he AKG WMS 4500 is available in two new frequency selections: Band 7 (500 to 530 MHz) and Band 8 (570 to 600 MHz).

he AKG WMS 4500 is available in two new frequency selections: Band 7 (500 to 530 MHz) and Band 8 (570 to 600 MHz).

That said, this is a great time to invest in wireless systems for many reasons. For the most part, the FCC reallocation dust has finally settled. Although the skies are somewhat more crowded than before, a wide range of frequencies are available, from the usual UHF bands to 2.4GHz (Sabine Smart Spectrum) and even 6.350 GHz, as used in Audio-Technica's SpectraPulse UWB systems. Digital wireless units are beginning to emerge, although analog systems carry a lion's share of the market. With a variety of online tools and programs for frequency coordination and system control, multisystem operation is less complicated and straightforward, with fewer onsite “surprises.”

Listed alphabetically, here's an overview of what's new in handheld wireless systems, although all systems mentioned here are also available with bodypack transmitters. And if you needed another reason to check out a new wireless system, today's units are simply better, more reliable and rugged than ever before.


AKG's (www.akg.com) latest DMS 700 digital wireless microphone system provides features such as digital audio encryption, infrared transmitter/receiver link for quick setups, onboard DSP (low-cut filter, 3-band EQ, dbx compression/limiting) and HiQnet networking with other Harman products. The single-rackspace receiver has two frequency bands, each offering a tuning range of up to 155 MHz (within the 548.1 to 697.9MHz band) for up to 100 simultaneous channels.

Two versions of the 50mW RF output DHT 700 handheld transmitter are offered: one with AKG D5 supercardioid dynamic capsule and one with a C5 cardioid condenser capsule. Integral to the system is a fast DC Pulse Technology charger that quickly charges the rechargeable batteries inside the transmitter for up to eight hours of operation.

AKG's top-end WMS 4500 analog wireless is now available in two new frequency selections: Band 7 (500 to 530 MHz) and Band 8 (570 to 600 MHz), allowing more options for multichannel systems in crowded RF environments. HiQnet operation is possible via the optional HUB 4000 Q, and with the System Architect software the WMS 4500 can be configured and monitored remotely from a PC.

The WMS 4500 system's SR 4500 receiver has onboard AutoSetup settings for intermodulation-free channel selection; EnvironmentScan settings for RF range scanning; and a Rehearsal mode for saving system data during rehearsal setups. The PT 4500 handheld emitter was redesigned to include a new battery casing for easier access. The mic accommodates interchangeable AKG capsule modules, including D5, D7, D3700, D3800, C5900, C5 and C535 EB.


Slated to begin shipping last month, the new Opus 600 wireless from beyerdynamic (www.beyerdynamic-usa.com) offers up to 12 channels per frequency range, interchangeable capsules for its handheld units (including the TG-X 60 capsule in the DM 960 mic head) and more than 20 hours of operation from two AA alkaline batteries. The receiver displays AF and RF levels, and the transmitters have a low-battery warning display. For quick setups, an AutoScan function enables automatic search for interference-free frequencies, with fast, easy infrared transmission of the frequencies to the transmitter.

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