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Scott Holt September 27th, 2015 10:03 AM

I need a wireless mic system
 
I am looking for a handheld wireless mic system that has a range of at least 400' or even a little more. It will be used for sideline reporting and other things but when doing sideline reporting it will be a long distance from the base to the mic. I would like to keep it under the $400 mark as we are a school on a budget. I really like the Audio-Technica System 10 Digital Wireless - Handheld System range but it only has a range of 100' is what they say. Does anyone know of any good deals out there that would work? Thanks.

Andrew Smith September 27th, 2015 10:21 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Rode have a wireless mic system that will fit your needs, and they have a new product coming out at the moment which gives you a reporter style wireless TX that fits on to the bottom of a handheld microphone.

Andrew

Don Bloom September 27th, 2015 10:28 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
400 feet for under $400 is a lot to ask. You might need to look at a repeater antenna (booster antenna) to accomplish your needs. There are other solutions I know but none are cheap.
Good luck in your quest.

Paul R Johnson September 27th, 2015 10:33 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
I responded to this on another forum, where the same question was also posted.

It details one solution, as I agree, the distance is too far for normal methods if reliability is needed.
I need a handheld wireless mic system - Blue Room technical forum

Mike Watson September 27th, 2015 10:38 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
What about running an XLR from the booth to the side of the field your reporter will be standing on, and attaching the receiver there - leaving 50' or 100' between your TX and RX but still achieving 400' in distance?

You will not find a receiver in your budget that will do 400'. Once you get into repeaters, you are adding complications that are probably beyond your troubleshooting capability.

If you read in the specs that a TX will go 100 feet, that means it will go 100 feet on a crisp clear night in Alaska with no interference. At your football stadium with 1,000 cell phones on a warm humid day with 50 radio stations within 10 miles, it will do half of that.

Andrew Smith September 27th, 2015 10:42 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
My apologies as I am in a metric country. Will 328 feet suffice? :-P

Andrew

Paul R Johnson September 27th, 2015 10:52 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Frankly, none of the usual entertainment type products are going to work. They're not designed to do long distances, and we always treat any manufacturer who give a distance measurement as marketing hype. It is quite possible to increase the range of these devices - by using tracking aerials. Long beams, operated by on the ball people, feeding diversity receivers can increase the reliability, but it will never be 100% reliable. Digital systems work differently - so you get solid audio, until there is suddenly no audio. Analogue goes hissy as the signal drops. Opinions differ on which is best.

Broadcasters use different systems - higher power, which here in the UK, where the forum is firmly based, but not exclusively - has to be licensed.
There is something else you can consider. I assume your 'sideline' is the space between the white line and the crowd? It is possible to use an ordinary radio mic system, with multiple aerials, which you distribute along the path the user can take. For a British football pitch, 4 aerials, down the touchline with each one feeding a combiner, pairing every other one to one of the two receiver channels works quite well. You use the diversity switching as a kind of selector - the person moves down the line and starts to drop off aerial 1, as this is happening, aerial 2 is going up. The receiver switches, and as the person passes aerial 2, the signal starts to come up on aerial 3, paired with aerial 1 and again as this increases in strength, the receiver switches again and so on. You use low loss feeder cable - Westflex 103 works quite well, but there will be a US alternative, I'm sure. This isn't everyday stuff for people who work with radio systems, but could let your cheap solution work. Just needs some attention in the receiver placement and cabling. I did this quite successfully a few years ago on a TV job where the presenter needed to walk towards the camera down a long garden in a stately home. Far too far for the usual radios, and we hid the aerials in the shrubbery, running out the cables down the garden, hidden. The receiver was half way along, with car battery power supply, and then a very long XLR cable back to the mixer. Pairing was with T-pieces, which means there is an impedance mismatch, and a little loss in the combining process. It made little difference in practice.

You can probably use any of the popular systems, and add the extra bits as required. Dipoles on microphones stands might be the simple solution if the system needs to be simple.

Rick Reineke September 27th, 2015 12:38 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Four hundred (400) feet for $400 ain't gonna happen.. at least not reliably. 300 ft. may be possible, in near perfect line-of-sight conditions. If you spend more (a lot), a higher power transmitter and a receiver which supports a remote antenna system may get you there. Otherwise, as was suggested, get the receiver/antennas in closer proximity to the transmitter (line-of-sight), and run balanced audio the rest of the way by cable.
FWIW, generally, the new 2.4GHz systems have less range than a similarly priced UHF system. VHF systems are better for reception around obstacles. Pros and cons to each frequency type and VMMV.

Scott Holt September 27th, 2015 12:38 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
As I rethink my distance I don't know why I decided 400'. I guess that would be by running a cable down, around under and over things to get it to where I need. I guess as the crow flies and in a straight line it would be closer to 200' max. Does that help my cause?

Rick Reineke September 27th, 2015 12:46 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
"200'.. Does that help my cause?"
Yes.. in a perfect world, but still a long way for a reliable link in your conditions.. then there's the frequency selection issue. The low cost (under $2k) receiver's on board scanners ain't worth sh__.

Scott Holt September 27th, 2015 12:54 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
It will be a straight line of sight and no obstacles in the way. After taking a measurement I have found that the distance is going to be less than 150' at the possible farthest. We can always make sure our sideline reporter is never too far away I guess. I have no idea how I judged it to be so far in the first place. I guess I'm a guy judging distance. :)

Rick Reineke September 27th, 2015 02:14 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
You might get lucky.
I would think a UHF system may be better in your scenario, at least 95% of the spectators and support staff will have cell phones (though I haven't used the newer GHz systems in highly concentrated conditions and cell phones can be problematic in any scenario for that matter).

Scott Holt September 27th, 2015 02:47 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
I guess what I need to do is see how I can get cable down to the field.

Richard Crowley September 27th, 2015 03:35 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
It is impossible to find a decent traditional analog wireless kit for less than $600+ Anything less than that is a cheap, fiddly, plastic, disposable toy and a waste of money. Unless you can find a quality piece of used kit, however BEWARE that old 700 MHz-band is no longer legal to use in North America.

That said, the newer digital products that share the 2.4GHz band with WiFi, BlueTooth, and microwave ovens are pretty amazing devices if you can live within the limitations.

Yes, the advertised range of the AT System 10 is "100 ft" but IME, that is a VERY CONSERVATIVE distance and you can expect much greater range depending on the conditions. For example, see this review online. This is one of the few decent knowledgable reviews/demonstrations of the System 10 on YouTube:


You might actually get 400 ft out in open-air, line-of-sight in a space that is not expected to be heavy with competitors for the 2.4GHz channels. You would certainly NOT get 400 in a modern office buliding with hundreds of WiFi (and BlueTooth) competitors.

With ANY wireless system, I would certainly position the receiver in a central location (like the 50-yard line). Expecting any inexpensive system to work worst-case diagonally across a football field is unreasonable unless reliability is not important.

I have a couple of System-10 kits, and I will try to do a demo video in our very high-tech WiFi-rich office environment. I believe you have a good enough chance at success that it would be worth getting a System 10 kit and trying it. Be sure to buy from a vendor who will allow returns if it doesn't work for you.

Paul R Johnson September 27th, 2015 04:11 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
I've not tried it myself, but maybe what is called a 'leaky feeder' system might work. They're used in tunnels underground, and seem to do what you need. I'm just not up on the technicalities. They are in essence a piece of coaxial cable with a screen that allows the RF energy to escape, and get back in along it's length. I wonder if one of these running along the long and narrow path would actually do the trick?

Scott Holt September 27th, 2015 04:25 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
I guess running a cable would be my safest bet.

Gary Nattrass September 27th, 2015 04:49 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
How about one transmitter and two receivers at either end you can then choose which one has the best signal?

We do this a lot in TV to allow us to rig one set on presenters but then zone the pick-up points according to where they are positioned.

Mike Watson September 27th, 2015 05:07 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott Holt (Post 1899288)
I guess running a cable would be my safest bet.

If running a cable is a possibility, running cable is always the safest bet.

I agree that $600 is the floor for a pro quality wireless system.

Andrew Smith September 27th, 2015 05:28 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Actually, the Rode wireless kit is rock solid. Here's a review and demo that I'd been looking for to post here. A heap of RF around and it doesn't skip a beat. Head to 6min 33sec for the impressive in-the-field stuff.


On the other hand, in a worst case scenario, the occasional drop-out might be forgiveable if it's just some school/student thing. But I don't think you will get this with the Rode kit.

Andrew

Richard Crowley September 27th, 2015 06:33 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Thanks for sharing that RodeLink review video.
It also shows that 2.4GHz digital wireless kits do remarkably well for their low cost and ability to play nicely with other 2.4GHz competitors for the limited (12-13) channels.

Note that the Rode claim a much more realistic 100m (300ft) range. The RodeLink uses virtually identical basic technology with other 2.4GHz units like AT. IMHO, AT could have easily claimed the same 100m range.

The Rode has the additional feature of remote Mute where the receiver can un-mute the transmitter remotely. Of course this is just another firmware feature as the transmitter is also receiving, and the receiver is also transmitting to keep them in sync with each other.

Andrew Smith September 27th, 2015 07:57 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
I suspect that Rode's product is partly courtesy of a chip-set that has become available for equipment manufacturers to use, by which the smarts can therefore be done. Thus, the other products that work on the same spectrum will be using the same base technology that allows them to perform as they do with WiFi signalling.

The difference with Rode will be the firmware and the industrial/product design. Plus, the guys at Rode are awesome. :-P

Given the frequency changes that happen every 6 years or so, it's pure genius to use the WiFi frequencies as they'll never get touched. It's too politically sensitive to have the entire population up in arms over their gear not working any more.

Andrew

Richard Crowley September 27th, 2015 10:09 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Andrew Smith (Post 1899299)
I suspect that Rode's product is partly courtesy of a chip-set that has become available for equipment manufacturers to use, by which the smarts can therefore be done. Thus, the other products that work on the same spectrum will be using the same base technology that allows them to perform as they do with WiFi signalling.

Yes, that is exactly why we are seeing many 2.4GHz products appear in the marketplace. WiFi technology as become so ubiquitous and the chipsets so dirt-cheap, it is much easier to make a high-performance digital audio device now than it ever was before. Of course, the downside is that they must share the same 12-13 channels with all the other WiFi and BlueTooth users. But then micro-controllers are well under $1 each, so it is easy to build interference-sensing and automatic frequency-hopping technology into them as well.

Paul R Johnson September 28th, 2015 12:35 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
The frequency and mode of transmission is irrelevant when there is no signal because there is a sudden obstacle in the way, or an unexpected reflection that is destructive. Anyone who wishes to use a radio system at the far end of the performance envelope is going to have to cope with sudden, unexpected dropouts. A ten grand radio link is nearly as reliable as a ten dollar cable!

The videos on YouTube of people doing tests are pointless and misleading. Anyone who has spent ten minutes watching signal strength meters on a radio receiver will have spotted that signal strength does not smoothly drop to zero as transmitter to receiver distance gradually increases. The level stays high, then suddenly dives, then goes up again, then down again. Gradually, the downs become more common and then the dropouts start. Mount two aerials many wavelengths above the ground and move them apart. This produces a more gradual reduction in signal strength. Do it near the ground and obstacles, and it behaves differently.

I was on stage on Saturday with an IEM system and a wireless guitar system. The guitar system was solid, on 2.4GHz digital, and the channel 38 IEM unhappy near the drum kit, and in one particular spot less than ten feet from the aerial I could see sticking up! Moving the mic stand one foot to the left cured that one, and the guitar was great until the monitor guy turned on his wireless node to use his ipad. Luckily, he realised straight away, and pulled the plug and normality was restored.

Gary's solution of using multiple local receivers seems a good move too, perhaps easier to manage than multiple aerials.

What is very clear is that if the manufacturer says 100 ft, then this is on a good day, on a hill so the RF runs downhill, with the wind behind you. It has nothing to do with real world performance.

Chris Harding September 28th, 2015 05:00 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Wise comments Paul

I have had situations on my UHF kits where the groom as been 300' away in the toilet and his signal is crisp and clear and I can hear every word and sound and not a single dropout. I then have the same groom and same system a mere 50' away from me and the dropouts are there with monotonous regularity despite the fact I can see him, the camera can see him and technically the receiver can see him!!

The biggest issue is that the human body (being mostly water) attenuates signals like crazy so the guy in the OP's case might have the transmitter clipped to his belt and he can see the camera BUT there is around 150lbs of body soaking up the signal before it has even gone a few feet.

I wonder if you can daisy chain the 2.4GHz systems so have a transmitter on the guy ...a receiver on a tripod/stand about 50' away and it's output coupled to a second transmitter which would go back to the camera???

Mike Watson September 28th, 2015 06:20 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Harding (Post 1899312)
I have had situations on my UHF kits where the groom as been 300' away in the toilet and his signal is crisp and clear and I can hear every word and sound and not a single dropout. I then have the same groom and same system a mere 50' away from me and the dropouts are there with monotonous regularity despite the fact I can see him, the camera can see him and technically the receiver can see him!!

This phenomenon is similar to that in which when he is in the bathroom the sunlight is perfect, and when he emerges for the event the clouds clear casting a harsh shadow across his nose and a terrible, unavoidable lens flare.

Or that you can stand outside the capitol waiting for the governor for 5 hours, cautiously and methodically checking batteries, but the moment the Gov approaches the podium "LOW BATT" will start flashing in the viewfinder and you will loose all power three sentences in.

It's what I thought when watching the video shared above where the guy walks 100 yards down the road and the sound is crystal clear and perfect. Immediately, I wanted to sell my G3s and buy these new gizmos. And then reality set in... wait... what happens when somebody presses the "popcorn" button on the office microwave?

Scott Holt September 28th, 2015 06:30 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
So, in all actuality, a wireless mic is great but not necessarily reliable. If you are under 20' I am sure most will work more reliable but once you start getting over those distances the farther you get you are playing Russian Roulette on it working without dropouts. If wired would work then that is the best way to go is what I am hearing. I guess that is the way it is for anything.

Don Palomaki September 28th, 2015 06:56 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
There are a wide variety of wireless on the market. UHF FM and the new 2.4 GHz digital dominate.
Most include lav mics, a few offer a plug-on transmitter option for a handheld and some offer phantom power as well. But the $400 price point is very limiting, but the used market might have something usable.

All moderate no-license-required systems are limited in transmitter power output, which translates to limiting the reliable distance you can get.

Max range will be with unobstructed line of sight. Something as simple as having the transmitter on the other side of a human body will hurt range significantly.

I've been using an AT1800 system of late with satisfactory results. The application is mics on the sideline at the 40s, receivers on top of the press box. I have not run tests to determine the max usable range however.

Paul R Johnson September 28th, 2015 07:01 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
That's it Scott - if you can use cable, it's the most reliable connection. As for daisy chaining systems, it does actually work quite well. Modern comms systems use links all the time.

A few years ago, I had to provide music and announcements on a local field for a schools sports day, combining many local schools - so they picked a big park. The Elf of Safety decreed that no cables could be on the surface of the grass, and slicing the turf to lay in a 100v line cables was not going to happen. The distances were pretty tough tool All the jumps between loudspeakers were at least 50m (150ft). No poles were allowed to be put in the ground either. They let us park vehicles on the grass at the loudspeaker locations (near each event). Caravan aerial poles clamped to the bumpers, each one with a speaker. Each pole also had a VHF or UHF radio mic transmitter at the top, and the receiver in the car - so it started out on UHF with an IEM transmitter, at the next pole, a UHF receiver with dipole on the pole, and the receiver going to a VHF transmitter taped to the top of the pole. Same thing at the next pole, but reversed UHF and VHF. The car kit running off 12V with the speakers using 12V boy racer car amplifiers. The pole mounted transmitters we inside a sandwich bag for waterproofing! Quality wise it worked pretty well, and with the aerials above head height by at least 3 or 4 feet, the paths were solid. A real bodge, but it worked fine!

Scott Holt September 28th, 2015 07:24 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Does anyone have any ideas what system would work well in a daisy chain? How could I do that? The cost would mount up though I suppose because of transmitters etc.

Richard Crowley September 28th, 2015 09:01 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott Holt (Post 1899319)
Does anyone have any ideas what system would work well in a daisy chain? How could I do that? The cost would mount up though I suppose because of transmitters etc.

Are you kidding? With everyone here warning of the unreliability of wireless and the infinitely better performance from ordinary wire, you want to use MULTIPLE wireless systems. Nobody does that. It is categorically impractical. Even if you had unlimited budget.

Scott Holt September 28th, 2015 09:43 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
No, I am not going to use a multiple system. I was just asking.

Karl Winkler September 28th, 2015 12:53 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott Holt (Post 1899255)
I am looking for a handheld wireless mic system that has a range of at least 400' or even a little more. It will be used for sideline reporting and other things but when doing sideline reporting it will be a long distance from the base to the mic. I would like to keep it under the $400 mark as we are a school on a budget. I really like the Audio-Technica System 10 Digital Wireless - Handheld System range but it only has a range of 100' is what they say. Does anyone know of any good deals out there that would work? Thanks.

The only way I can think of to do this with relatively off-the-shelf equipment that will be very reliable, will cost a lot more than $400.

I do think you'll want to have a standard, wired microphone for starters, and use a belt-pack transmitter that is mounted probably on your hat so that the antenna sticks up over your head so that the majority of the RF energy is not absorbed by your body. The transmitter should be capable of a minimum of 100 mW or, if possible, 250 mW, which is the legal limit for UHF frequencies.

Most handheld transmitters are 30 mW, although some higher-end units will go to 100 mW. The problem is that the antenna in the tail of the unit isn't in an optimum position.

Next is your receiver system - probably directional antennas are best, and circularly polarized if possible. They should be mounted fairly high near the booth so that they have line of sight covering the entire area. They should be spaced at 14 ft apart or greater if possible. And then they should be connected to the receivers via low-loss cable.

Next, the receivers should be highly selective, i.e. well filtered. They need offer diversity reception (most decent units do this).

With a setup like this, and good frequency choice via scanning before you set out onto the field, you should have nearly 100% reliable signal. That said, this setup is likely to cost $3000 or more.

Scott Holt September 28th, 2015 12:56 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
After all that, I think a wired setup may be the easiest in the long run.

Scott Holt September 28th, 2015 02:17 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
I don't know why I didn't think of this before. I will have a camera on the sideline with the reporter. The camera will have XLR inputs for sound. I am running the video up through a Balun that includes sound. Muxlabs 500053 to a 500052-Pro-BNC Balun. What if I would get a wireless setup and hook it up to the camera which will only be several feet away from the talent. It would then run into the camera, into the balun, through the cat 6 cable and upstairs. Then I would take the sound from the Balun and into the mixer. Anyone care to comment?

Mike Watson September 28th, 2015 02:41 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
That is the way it'd traditionally be done, yes.

Scott Holt September 28th, 2015 02:56 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Recommended wireless mic system?

Mike Watson September 28th, 2015 03:22 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
I'd say the Sennheiser G3 is the defacto standard.

Scott Holt September 28th, 2015 03:50 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Then someone on another forum mentioned something that a stupid guy like me never even thought of. Are you planning on hooking up the mic directly to the camera and send it through the Balun? If I would have had any brain in my head whatsoever, I would have thought about that. Sometimes I can be pretty scary. I'm learning this stuff on my own and with the help of forums like this. There is nothing better than a wired connection when you can use wire. Thanks for everyone's help. You got my mind working again. Kind of. :)

Gary Nattrass September 28th, 2015 03:55 PM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Don't worry about it as sometimes the really simple solution is the hardest to think of.

We have done numerous live TV stand up's for soccer etc with just the camera chain available so a radio mic straight into the back is probably your best bet. I just use a G2 but most of the time have a lav and a stick mic sent back via SDI.

We also used the second talkback channel on the sony 1500 cameras to feed the reverse IFB for live links, I still have all the looms with the 5 pin XLR for it.

John Willett September 29th, 2015 07:30 AM

Re: I need a wireless mic system
 
Personally I would use a Sennheiser G3 100 series with co-linea anennas at the receiver.

More than $400, though.


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