Mark covers the dos & don'ts of using a wireless mic.
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So one of the most important tools for audio is a wireless microphone system. That’s what we’re gonna talk about today on tips and tricks. So we’re gonna talk about choosing a wireless microphone and how to use that, best practices, how to use that in your system.
Now wireless microphones are great for people who are running and gunning and it’s a great tool to add to your set. If that’s the – if you’re a one man band producer, a wireless microphone can save you a lot of time and hassle.
So there’s two wireless frequencies you can work in and that’s VHF, Very High Frequency, or UHF, Ultra High Frequency. If you had to choose between the two, VHF is a little more crowded. There’s more devices working in that frequency, so UHF has a little more lead room with choosing a clean frequency you can work in, but both do the same thing; transmit an audio signal, modulate it to a radio frequency and send it across to a receiver; demodulate and turn it into an audio signal.
So let’s get into the equipment here. Right here I have a body pack transmitter with a lapel microphone. So this is a typical microphone, lapel microphone that goes into your body pack transmitter and transmits on a selected frequency to your receiver. Here is our receiver with an XLR input. So we receive the signal, it demodulates and comes out the other end as audio.
A couple of things you’re gonna look for when you’re actually buying a wireless system is a battery, low battery signal. Some of the more professional versions will actually send a signal to your headphones telling you that a battery needs to be replaced, otherwise you just need to closely monitor what your battery levels are.
The other thing is it’ll tell you what frequency you’re operating on and those are the two most important things you’re gonna look for on the external of your receiver and body pack is a battery low indicator and what frequency you’re operating on so you actually know how these devices are gonna communicate.
Let’s take a look at our first tip for using these devices. Our first rule is try to always allow a line of sight between your body pack transmitter and your receiver. This increases the chances you’re gonna get a good connection between the devices but you’re not gonna get a lot of interference, but know that wireless devices can work around walls, around foliage. It just doesn’t give you the chances you’re gonna get the best connection and it really depends upon every situation. So give it a try and if it works just keep monitoring and make sure it keeps working.
Our second tip here is always be aware of your juice, your battery level. Always carry spares but monitor the battery level on both body packs and receivers. You never want to get in the situation where wireless allows you the separation and distance that your talent may be further away in a critical moment and running out of juice. So monitor them closely.
Our third tip is choose a diversity receiver and let’s set this up a bit. If you’re shooting with a wireless microphone in a room the signal from the body pack can bounce off the walls and, depending on the slightly different timings that signal goes to the receiver, you can actually cancel out your signal and you get a drop-out.
A diversity receiver creates a second antenna and a second demodulator, slightly different positions which means different timings and the device will actually monitor both and choose which one has the best signal and switch between both of them, ensuring that you’re gonna get the best signal in the end.
So when choosing a receiver type diversity will give you a better chance of getting the best audio, so we recommend using that. Let’s take a look at these again. First tip, always establish line of sight between your transmitter and your receiver. Second tip, monitor your battery levels and, third and final tip, try to choose a diversity receiver. It’s gonna improve your quality of audio, and actually all of those tips are going to improve the quality of your audio and you should try to employ them any time you’re going to use wireless technology in your video.
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