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Wireless Microphones

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Wireless Microphones information

Since they completely remove the need for any cables, wireless microphones provide maximum freedom of movement. Singers are supported by handheld wireless microphones on stage; fitness instructors couldn't do without their wireless headset microphone; and stage actors or presenters would be nothing without a discreet clip-on wireless microphone, leaving their hands free to express exactly what they mean.

Wireless Handheld Microphones

With a wireless handheld microphone, the transmitter is integrated into the body, so no external beltpack transmitter is required to connect to the receiver. There are plenty of wireless editions of popular cabled vocal microphones available, and the capsule of more expensive handheld microphones can even be removed and replaced with a different or better model. So there's no need to buy an entirely new microphone if the capsule breaks and you can easily upgrade the sound or adapt a microphone for a specific performer.

Wireless Clip-On Microphones

A wireless clip-on microphone system or 'lavalier' microphone system is made up of a clip-on microphone, a bodypack transmitter, and a receiver unit. Clip-on microphones are as small as possible so they can be easily hidden away in the folds of clothing or clipped onto ties or the collar of a shirt, making them virtually invisible, and leaving the speaker's hands free. Generally, clip-on microphones are available with two possible polar patterns (describing the spacial way that the microphone responds to sound): cardioid and omnidirectional. Since it captures natural and open sound, doesn't need to be directly pointed at the sound source, and is almost entirely insensitive to wind and handling noise, an omnidirectional clip-on microphone will be fine in most situations. Clip-on microphones with a cardioid polar pattern are more focussed, so will need to be pointed at the mouth of the speaker. Because they're so focussed, they're also less sensitive to feedback and crosstalk (picking up other unwanted sound). As such, cardioid clip-on microphones are perfect when speaking in front of a full audience.

Wireless Headset Microphones

Like wireless clip-on microphones, wireless headset microphone systems also include a bodypack transmitter and a receiver. While the capsules are the same, instead of a discreet little clip-on mike, the microphone is mounted onto a headset which can be worn much like a set of headphones, and is connected to the beltpack transmitter. The headset construction can be roughly divided into two categories: more robust and clearly visible, which is more suited for fitness instruction; and extremely thin and lightweight, which is more suited for theatre performers and presenters. There are headsets specifically designed for fitness instructors where the transmitter has been integrated into the headband, removing the need to worry about an awkward body pack coming loose when you move around too much.

The Difference Between VHF and UHF Frequencies

VHF stands for Very High Frequency and UHF stands for Ultra High Frequency. The lower frequencies of the VHF band is excellent for bridging longer distances, free of obstacles, making it perfect for setting up a wireless microphone system at outdoor events. The VHF system usually offers fixed frequencies and is often used for walkie-talkie systems and less expensive wireless microphone systems. While UHF frequencies can't travel as far, they're better at passing through walls and obstacles, making them more suited for indoor systems.

Wireless Camera Microphones

Wireless microphones are immediately associated with the world of journalism, film, and television. Here, we'll take a look at the other end of the system: the receiver. With standard wireless systems, the receiver simply needs to be plugged into a power socket, but this gets less convenient when capturing sound on location. The receiver as well as the transmitter of wireless camera systems are battery powered, or rechargeable, making them ideal for recording audio outdoors. The audio ports of these systems are often also different. Most consumer cameras will have a mini-jack input, while wireless camera microphones are connected to professional cameras via XLR ports.

Smartphone & Computer Wireless USB Microphones

These days, you can get both normal USB microphones and wireless USB microphones. These are extremely popular among vloggers, since they can be directly hooked up to a smartphone to produce YouTube or TikTok content with good sound and without any cables. This kind of system usually operates over the license-free 2.4GHz frequency band, and most systems will include a rechargeable or USB powered receiver.

Bluetooth Microphones & Wireless Karaoke Microphones

Like wireless headphones, some wireless USB microphones are coupled via Bluetooth rather than the usual frequency modulation. As well as vlogging and other applications, Bluetooth microphones are commonly used for things like karaoke systems. But because of the limited range and variation in possible latency (slight signal delay) of different Bluetooth codecs, it's not recommended to use Bluetooth microphones for more professional setups.

Frequency Asked Questions About Wireless Microphones

How do wireless microphones work?

A wireless microphone system is made up of a separate transmitter that sends a signal to a receiver. The transmitter could be integrated into the body of a handheld microphone or a headset, or it could be a bodypack transmitter that you can then plug a clip-on microphone or headset microphone into. Just like a radio, the sound captured by the microphone is sent through the air via frequency modulation and is then picked up by the receiver.

What's the best wireless vocal microphone for me?

If you're a solo artist or sing in a band, then a wireless handheld microphone is probably the best choice. If you have a really critical ear when it comes to your stage sound, then it's worth going for a wireless microphone system with a replaceable microphone capsule. If you move around a lot while singing, whether playing an instrument or performing in musical theatre, then a wireless headset system is probably a better idea.

Which wireless microphone system should I pick?

When picking out a wireless microphone system, it's wise to take note of the transmitter model as well as the receiver model. There are two kinds of transmitter: handheld transmitters (integrated into the body of a vocal microphone), and bodypack transmitters (that you can plug a microphone into). If the system is going to be used for performances and presentations, then you'll need a mains-powered receiver, while stage actors and vloggers will probably prefer a rechargeable or battery-powered receiver.

Which frequency should my wireless microphone system use?

The receiver and transmitter of most wireless microphone systems are coupled via frequency modulation, like a radio. But not all frequencies can be used, since some frequency bands are used for specific things, like mobile phones, and to use other specific frequency bands, a license may be required. Make sure to check the frequency band of a system and make sure that it can be used in your region. You can find more information about wireless microphones and frequencies here.

How do you connect up a wireless microphone system?

The transmitter sends a signal to the receiver without the need for a cable, but the receiver always needs to plugged into a mixer, audio interface, or recorder. Most receivers will come fitted with an XLR output, so you can use a standard microphone cable to connect the receiver to the microphone input of your equipment.

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