Wireless microphones have become a standard across the entertainment industry. Almost every television channel uses them, and you can also see them in events that involve public speaking. If you want optimal performance from these active devices, you’ll need a wireless microphone frequency scanner. It allows you to find the best frequency range for the mic, ensuring no interference.
Keep reading to discover everything about the device!
Table of Contents
- The Anatomy of Wireless Microphone
- What’s the Best Frequency for My Equipment?
- What Other Frequencies Can I Use As an Alternative to UHF?
- The Importance of Finding a Clear Frequency
- What You Should Know About RF Scanners and How They Work
- RF Scanners – Extra Features
- How to Get the Maximum Out of Your RF Scanner
- Baseline Scan
The Anatomy of Wireless Microphone
You’ll find three significant components in these systems, the microphone, a receiver, and a transmitter.
Three Common Microphone Types
Caption: A broadcaster in front of the camera holding a mic
Wireless mics have a wide range of uses. Individuals can connect them to a laptop for blended learning, but professionals also use them across different industries. Depending on your use, you’ll pick one of the following mics:
- Handheld. It is the basic type since the performer needs to keep it in their hands, which is not convenient for an extended period. The improvement compared to traditional mics is that these don’t have cables. Some come with options to adjust audio levels or turn off the mic if necessary.
- Headset. These are convenient for musical theater productions and stage entertainment performers. These microphones have a setup that keeps them at the same range as your mouth. If you move around the scene, the sound quality remains identical.
- Lavalier. Some call them lap or lav wireless microphone systems depending on the country. You put them on a clothing piece with a clip while maintaining proximity to the mouth. Additionally, the advantage of these systems is that they give a fine ratio of signal and noise. You’ll often find them in situations where the microphone can’t be visible, such as filmmaking.
A wireless transmitter gets the signal from the microphone. Next, they convert it into a movement that fits the receiver modules. The transmitter picks the microphone signal as an analog and then sends it digitally.
A conventional receiver is on the other side of the radio link. It gets the signal from the transmitter and processes “0s” and “1s.” Next, it converts them back into the audio signal. Depending on the system, they can work on multiple digital channels. Furthermore, you can find handheld transmitters and those that are the size of an average desktop PC.
What’s the Best Frequency for My Equipment?
Caption: A wireless microphone in a man’s hand
You got your wireless devices ready to work. Before using the system, it’s necessary to find the right operating frequency. Unfortunately, that won’t be an easy task since many factors affect the acceptable range of frequencies.
First, some are better for voices, but music signals won’t have the same audio quality. Furthermore, you might have an extensive system. Some frequency bands don’t have the range enough to fit them all. Now, you can go with license-free fields, but that’s where you can face a lot of interference.
The initial consideration is to confirm the exact frequency coordination you can use in your area. However, the regulations vary from one country to another. Some might be illegal, while other bands require a specific license you didn’t get. Going on an international tour can lead to additional legal implications if you are going on an international tour.
Most countries have a specific frequency list for wireless operations. You’ll need to ensure the spectrum covers the needs of your entire system. So, the UHF band is the band you should aim for when choosing a frequency range. The International Communication Union designated it for radio frequencies from 300MHz to 3GHz.
Unfortunately, the television spectrum has taken most of this space. That’s because the digitization of TV channels had an advantage, and there aren’t many frequencies remaining in the UHF range. Wireless networks wanted to move to the 400-800 MHz band, where you could find TV analog systems.
However, the regulations prohibited some ranges in various countries, such as the UK and USA. Furthermore, some frequencies now serve commercial and public wireless networks. They have priority, making it hard for other wireless systems to find a suitable option.
What Other Frequencies Can I Use As an Alternative to UHF?
Caption: FM/AM radio frequency scale
First, check out this table of different frequency bands:
|VLF – Very Low Frequency
|LF – Low Frequency
|MF – Medium Frequency
|HF – High Frequency
|VHF – Very High Frequency
|UHF – Ultra High Frequency
|SHF – Super High Frequency
|EHF – Extra High Frequency
Now, the actual available space depends on the country. If you can’t use the UHF range, it’s only natural to pick the categories next to it. Furthermore, your equipment might be suitable only for specific brands.
You’ll find wireless microphone systems that work at a low VHF frequency range of 49MHz. The higher bands in the VHF range mainly serve professional uses. Therefore, you can consider them for premium equipment. The Federal Communications Commission in the United States set aside eight frequencies in the 159-172MHz range for wireless microphones. They are free to use across the US without worrying about television channel interference.
Another option is to go higher than the UHF range. On the other hand, 2GHz is the frequency used by many Wi-Fi networks. That might cause limitations and lead to interference in small spaces.
The Importance of Finding a Clear Frequency
Caption: Spectrum analyzer on an abstract background
Another thing to consider is that you need frequency coordination. A precise frequency is imperative for wireless systems. Even the premium equipment will face interference if you don’t find one. Televisions often have multiple wireless microphones on the same premises. These systems cannot collide because it will disrupt their operation. And it’s not only mics that can cause interference, but also signals from the intercom, PC equipment, etc.
You’ll notice interference since it causes a lower operating range than usual. Now, let’s say you are an audio professional whose system was reliable at 100 feet. However, its maximum today is 20 feet. You face static, noise, loss of sound, etc. The RF activity coming from another source disrupts your transmitter or other parts.
If you want to secure optimal operation, it’s essential to analyze the location first. You can do a frequency scan, but make sure to turn off all transmitters first. Now, activate them one by one to see which ones will get to the receiver first. You can use an RF scanner, and some receivers have an automatic option to recognize signals inside it. The results you see on display will be helpful to decide on a frequency that has no interference.
What You Should Know About RF Scanners and How They Work
Caption: A vintage radio tuner
RF scanner serves to identify RF signals at the specified frequency range. The most common example of these devices is a car radio. It searches for FM or AM signals, depending on how you adjust them. These devices serve as a tool to find precise frequencies for new wireless devices. Furthermore, RF scanners can help identify interference if you start having signal quality problems.
The wireless spectrum changes often. Therefore, you should use RF scanners regularly and before any significant event. These devices are easy to operate. You only need to type the desired frequency and see if it has any existing signals. Any RF activity indicates potential wireless mic interference if your transmitter isn’t active.
Another essential thing to note is that the interference could be on nearby frequencies, too. So, you need to check the adjacent positions to detect any potential problems. That is simple if you check a single frequency, but what if you have a wide range to scan?
RF scanners come with a “Scan” or “Search” option. These will look through the chosen frequency spectrum to look for potential interference. Based on the results, you’ll know which frequencies to avoid.
RF Scanners – Extra Features
Caption: Network and spectrum analyzer tool
The primary function of RF scanners is quite helpful. However, some models come with advanced features. The first one includes looking for interference in a particular range repeatedly. Therefore, you can catch any potential issues that the first scan missed.
A neat trick is to connect a sound-activated recorder to your scanner. If there’s something on a particular frequency, the writer will note it. That will ensure you catch interference on-site, which means you don’t have to waste the afternoon waiting for the issue to occur.
How to Get the Maximum Out of Your RF Scanner
It would help if you went for scanners that have squelch control. That removes any background noise on frequencies that are usually inactive. You can adjust squelch control, but make sure to find the right balance. If it’s too low, your device will stop after identifying low background noise. But if it is high, you might miss something that features a relevant interference. Here is a trick – pick a precise frequency first. Increase the squelch adjustment until you eliminate background noise. Now, add a bit more to be on the safe side.
RF scanners can take a long time to scan the chosen frequency range. That’s why you need to pick only the bands that have Wi-Fi microphone systems. Check the potential frequencies in your area and decide accordingly. If you plan to be in the UHF range, frequencies below it probably won’t lead to interference. The only exception is if a powerful radio transmitter is within a mile from your location.
Caption: Various frequencies – an illustration
A spectrum analyzer is your best choice to identify and avoid interference. Your first task with it will be a baseline scan.
Here are the quick steps on how to do it:
- First, deactivate all your equipment. That means any electronics, lighting, and gear that could send RF.
- Pick the desired frequency for your mic receivers on the spectrum analysis. Set about 30MHz below and above the default range. So, if your microphones work at 480-520MHz, you’ll search from 460 to 540MHz. If you detect interference, expand the range.
- Position the analyzer in a position where there are no obstructions. Make sure it has a clear line of sight across the location. Use an Omni antenna for optimal results. Store the measurements made since you’ll use them as a baseline.
- Next, begin activating the gear you’ll use. First, activate the lighting gear, and then proceed to audio. Finally, activate monitors, projectors, and other devices. Your task is to see how much things have changed regarding noise. If the measurement changes are low or none, that’s great.
- Did you detect interference? You should assess its location and source. If you can’t remove the source, you might adjust the frequency range of your system. The important thing is this will give you a better idea of which bands to choose.
A wireless microphone frequency scanner ensures that your equipment maintains consistent performance. It serves to adjust the frequency to eliminate any noise or interference. Therefore, you’ll know everything works the way it should.
If you need any further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Clooms. Also, our experts specialize in custom coaxial cables to help with any wired setup you might have planned!