Wireless Microphones Guide: Do these work equally well with a mixer, audio interface or any other amplifying equipment? Find out more here.
In the new age of technology, everything is mobile and wireless. You have wireless phones, wireless computers, wireless mouse, so a wireless microphone comes as no big surprise. The idea behind wireless microphones is the radio frequency that that transmit signals because of which you don’t need wires for your microphone. The microphones work on internal batteries that modulate and send radio signals to the receiver.
Wireless microphones have become relatively common now but they do come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let us look at some of them.
Table of Contents
Why use Them? Its Advantages
Cables and cords can quickly clutter up your work-space and also look very messy. Anything wireless is much cleaner.
The most obvious advantage is the part where it is wireless which means more freedom to walk around without any wires coming in the way. I know way too many stories of people either stepping on a cable or tripping over it and falling in midst of a live performance.
Secondly, it is clean, hassle free, simple, trendy and aesthetic. Most people prefer the wireless microphone as opposed to the wired one which is messy and ugly, needless to say. No one like a bunch of wires popping out from everywhere.
With microphones that have wires, you may have to face the problem of circumference. Circumference is an effect of signal distortion which causes some disturbance or noise which you may face in a microphone with wire. The wire of the microphone acts as an antenna, picking up signals from all around. You may not realize the noise distortions unless you have plugged your microphone to a large output unit, in which case the hissing and humming sounds become obvious.
The wired microphones also have problem of clear signals. Different frequencies have different effect on the signal and because frequencies travel through the wire, different frequencies behave differently and also travel at different speeds. In other words, the smeared signals could make the sound output weak and less expressive.
Top performing artists (especially the singers) use the wireless ones as:
With wireless you need not worry about these!
Recommended Wireless Microphones
Reviews of some of the best ones for various price range.
GTD Audio G-380H VHF Wireless Microphone System with 4 Hand held mics
GTD Audio G-380 is a reliable 4 channel VHF wireless handheld microphone system. You may use it for professional performance, in church or for home karaoke use.
Audio2000 Awm6032uh UHF Dual Channel Wireless Microphone System with Two Headset Mic
You get a wireless mic system with a wide audio frequency range, high S/N ratio, and outstanding performance. A delicately designed silence circuit eliminates static noise when the transmitters are either turned off or out of transmission range. It works well and sounds great.
GTD Audio G-622H 200 Channel UHF Professional Wireless microphone Mic System
Gtd-Audio’s G-622 wireless microphone system comes with professional features and is designed for a wide range of professional applications. It comes with 200 selectable channels and is easy to use. You can even place it next to speakers with no feedback or distortion.
Wireless microphone maybe a thing of today but it is not without its fair share of disadvantages.
The obvious one is the range; these have a much shorter range so for bigger range you have to invest in an expensive wireless mic.
The wired balanced XLR microphones can go as long as the length of the cord; besides extension cables are also available to make them longer.
Besides, you also have to worry about interference from other radio equipment and radio microphones, which can disrupt the sound. That is why mics with frequency-synthesized switch-selectable channels are becoming more popular.
Runs on Battery, which can die out; so operation time can be a concern. You will need multiple wireless microphones. Imagine your mic going out just when you are on stage in midst of your performance. At times, your mic batteries maybe charged but could have a loose connection with the connecter inside the microphone resulting in the mic going blank.
Wireless microphone does not eliminate distortion of noise completely. Although there is no wire here, there could still be a small amount of disturbance, although hard to notice yet not completely eliminated. At times two wireless instruments in close proximity could lead to interference. For instance, if you have two wireless microphones used at the same time, there could be interference. It is not just the instruments being in close proximity, but there are so many other radio signals everywhere in the environment that could also add to the interference. A radio silencer also can have the same effect on radio signals.
Wireless microphones also have a limit to how far you can take them. Ideally they have to be within the range of 30 meters although, different brands offer different range, the point here is there is a limit to it.
Wireless microphones are more expensive, sometimes two to three times more compared to wired microphones. With all that money spent on wireless microphones, they are just as prone to breakage as the wired ones, which is another disadvantage.
How Do They Work?
Like most other wireless devices, by transmitting radio waves using UHF or VHF frequencies, AM or FM. Some inexpensive ones also use infrared light.
So do you need a direct line of sight between the microphone and the receiving equipment? Not really, unless you are using an infrared one.
The more expensive ones do NOT need a direct line of sight.
Types of Wireless Mics
These are also known as Cordless microphone or Radio microphone, and are available in three types:
Types of Receivers
You get different types of receivers:
A VHF non-diversity system is great for places where you don’t expect much obstructions between the transmitter and receiver (schools, churches, etc).
It is always best to check the user manuals when setting up a wireless microphones as there is more to it than just plugging in and turning it ON.
To sum it up, Wireless microphones are definitely with advantages but I would suggest you use it as per your requirement or need for it. For instance, for a tv reporter, a wireless microphone makes more sense but if you notice, artists performing on stage usually opt for wired microphones. The reason being it is more stable and reliable. It is also easy to replace without having to change anything with the back end. Lastly, on louder stages, you cannot have movement as it may cause a PA squeal. This actually negates the advantage of a wireless microphone, i.e. freedom of movement.
There are several types of wireless mics out there. One good way of educating yourself on this topic is to visit any audio shop and check these out yourself. You can ask a lot of questions and also learn a lot from the sales guys there. You also should read online reviews to learn about the pros and cons of the various mics out there.
Also checkout the product comparison features where different models are compared to one another.