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Wireless microphones have become mainstream everywhere, ranging from places of worship to music concerts. They offer the performers the liberty to move around freely on and off-stage and also have an overall hassle-free setup.
However, while operating multiple microphones simultaneously, it is quite tough to pick the right frequencies. Many organizers hire professional wireless operators to ensure trouble-free performers.
That said, after this guide on “what is the best frequency for wireless microphones” hopefully, you will not require professional help. We have tried to make this guide comprehensive yet easy, so everybody can set up a wireless microphone system in their places.
Things to Understand Before Picking The Right Frequency
Before moving to the best frequency for wireless microphones, you must know about certain factors that influence the operations of microphones. The lack of basic understanding of these factors will cause problems in picking up the right frequency. These include the following;
The Number Of Systems Needed
The first thing you must be aware of is the number of wireless systems you need in a particular space. Each wireless system has varying specifications – some allow operations of up to 20 microphones, while others can go as high as 80.
You see, as the number of microphone systems goes up, it also makes the wireless system more congested. Each system takes a certain space in the spectrum, and when too many systems are used at once, it increases the incidence of interferences.
While premium wireless systems are excellent at minimizing interference, budget ones are not great at it. So, it is better to avoid a system that allows more microphones when you do not need them. For example, if you want to set up a system at a small church, there is no need for a microphone that offers 80+ microphones.
Other Wireless Devices in Proximities
Another factor you need to undertake is the number of other devices in close proximity to your system. The signal from other wireless devices can interfere with the signal of your system. To avoid interference, it is best to use the same system that is used in the other areas.
Location of Use
This is probably the most critical factor, as the spectrum of operation of microphones varies between different countries. It can even vary within the cities of the same country. For example, the open spectrum that works in Philadelphia may not work in Dallas. Similarly, a system that is legal in the United States might not be legal in Japan.
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Best Frequency For Wireless Mic – How To Pick One
Typically, the microphone system operates on VHF and UHF TV bands. You do not have to do much yourself as these systems can autotune and find the right frequency across the bandwidth available for the TV channels. That said, there are some models that can go even beyond the standard bandwidth of TV, such as 5 Ghz, 2.4 Ghz, and 1.9 Ghz.
Naturally, the systems that operate on TV bandwidth are influenced by the number of TV channels in the area. Thus, it makes it important to look at the number of channels and their bandwidth before purchasing a microphone.
Some brands have made it easier to find the right product for you. Shure, a popular microphone manufacturer, offers a Shure Wireless Frequency Finder, which lets you know about the TV channels that are available for Shure frequency in your area. You have to enter your address, and it will show you all the needed information.
Another important point is the location of where you will operate the microphones. In large metropolitans such as New York and LA, there are only a couple of open TV channels, which warrant you to find those channels and ensure they can accommodate the signals of the microphone system you want to purchase. In contrast, rural areas have more open channels, so you are not likely to run into any problems in those areas.
Compliance With Local Regulations
The United States has banned microphone systems from operating above 608 Mhz on UHF TV channels. A couple of narrow slices of the spectrum have been allowed, but only at reduced power. Other countries are following suit and imposing similar restrictions on microphone systems. Thus, if you are operating a microphone system, ensure that it complies with new local regulations, and if they do not, retire them from the service.
Channels Reserved For Public Safety
In the United States, some TV channels are reserved for the communication of agencies to ensure the safety of the citizens. For example, channels 14 and 16 which operate at 470-476 MHZ and 482-488 MHz are reserved. Other cities where such reservation is made on TV channels include Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, New York, Miami, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.
Best Wireless Microphone Frequency – How To Ensure Minimum Interference
Now that you understand the basics of microphone frequencies let us tell you how to avoid interference while operating multiple microphones at different frequencies.
Operate At Different Frequencies
If two microphones are in the same area and operate at the same frequency, they will interfere with each other. They will either augment the noise or cancel out each other’s signals. It is exactly why the two radio stations never operate at nearby frequencies. So, you also need to transmit different and distinct frequencies to avoid interference and problems in the audio.
Essentially, it is the continuation of the previous section, but it must be mentioned separately. You see, receivers are not very strict when picking audio from a particular channel. They will also pick some signals from the channels that are adjacent to the ones that you are using. Thus, when you use multiple systems, it is important to ensure both frequency channels are sufficiently spaced from each other so they have a broad window to transmit signals.
When two or more transmitters are operating, they tend to produce ghost signals. These ghost signals go on to interfere with another system. However, these signals are predictable, and some calculations can be done to determine the frequencies where they would interfere the most. While digital microphones produce fewer ghost signals, their concentration is higher on closely-spaced frequencies, so you must adjust the frequencies accordingly.
Automatic Frequency Selection
Most reputed companies, such as Shure and Audio Technica, have completely automated the frequency selection process. Their wireless systems are pre-programmed to be compatible with each other and work without causing any inconvenience.
Furthermore, the receivers are also equipped to find the right channel to transmit signals. Most models allow you to sync the receiver with the transmitter via an infrared link, exactly how a universal remote can control multiple televisions.
That said, it must be mentioned some extra calculations have to be made when you combine new systems with the existing ones.
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Wireless Microphone Frequency Chart – The Difference Between VHF, UHF, and 2.4 GHz
We understand the terms used earlier in the article may confuse those new to this. Hopefully, this section will clear everything for you. See, there are four types of frequencies on any chart, including VHF, UHF, 2.4 GHz, and 5.0 GHz.
The VHF stands for very high frequency, which ranges between 49 MHz to 216 MHz and consists of a high and low band that range 169-216 MHz and 49-108 MHz, respectively. The high band is typically filled with cordless telephones, television channels, and wireless headset microphones that use assistive listening.
Ultra-high frequency uses bands higher than 4000 MHz instead of two of these frequencies containing several bands and allowing more space for wireless communication. Because of greater bandwidth, the dynamic range within these frequencies is also enhanced.
Moving on, several new wireless microphones operate in the 2.4 GHz band. It is the same band that is used by wireless routers and microwaves. So, if you are operating the microphone at these bands and it is around a wireless router and microwave, it might be subject to interference.
Conclusion – What is the Best Frequency for Wireless Microphones
To find the right frequency for the microphone, one must be aware of the number of wireless systems not only in the room but also in the surrounding areas. Furthermore, the number of TV channels available in the area is also an important consideration.
Lastly, it is important to ensure that the wireless microphone complies with local and state regulations so you do not get into any legal problems. We hope this piece was comprehensive and helpful.
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