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Audio Technica Diversity Radio Microphone - Click for larger image

MAIN FEATURES

INTRODUCTION.....Back to Top

Radiomicrophones seem like a great idea and feature heavily on TV, but be warned, they are prone to problems. By far the worst issue is battery life although other issues such as interference and signal dropout can also be major headaches. It takes care and dedication to ensure reliable operation, especially where equipment is shared and batteries are recharged.

Batteries - Are the number one cause of problems with radio microphones - always have a fresh spare battery available. Can I use a rechargeable battery? Yes is the answer to that but with some important caveats:

1  Use top quality NMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) industrial type batteries as they have no memory effect and can be topped up without adversly affecting performance. Best of all, use Lithium ion batteries.

2  Rechargeable batteries provide typically 8.4V dc output which is less than the 9V produced by alkaline or "off the shelf" batteries. This WILL affect performance in a number of ways that MIGHT cause problems and the only way to be sure is to experiment BEFORE going live. Principly, the effective range before signal fade or drop out will be reduced.

  • Duration of the microphone will reduce significantly so be prepared to have a spare fully charged battery available.
  • Range of the microphone will be affected and it may start to experience blind spots where the audio drops out (adjust squelch control to compensate).
  • Maintaining a reliable charge policy can be difficult where many operators are involved - nominate one only.
  • Fitting a fully charged NMH battery the wrong way into the microphone WILL DESTROY THE MICROPHONE ELECTRONICS (repair bill typically 75).
  • Fitting a NMH battery the wrong way into a battery charger may 1) EXPLODE 2) GET VERY HOT 3) DESTROY THE CHARGER.

Poles.....Back to Top

Can I fit the radio microphone on a pole? Yes you can BUT:
Putting an expensive, quality microphone on the end of a pole is asking for trouble - In time someone will inevitably try to rest the pole against a wall and the whole thing WILL fall down. You will get away with this for a while but over time, audio quality will degrade, perhaps unnoticably at first, feedback will get worse and the microphone may even start to fail intermittently. Over time, those who cannot hear well or those struggling to catch the high frequency consonent edges which add so much to the overall clarity, will progressively miss more and more. Since this may be a gradual process, the loss is all the more telling as large sections of the audience miss parts of the spoken word.
Radio microphones are by nature meant to be held in the hand and used quite close to the mouth (2"). Also, since they contain a battery, they are heavy when fixed on the end of a long pole and can be difficult to hold for any length of time.
Using a radio microphone fixed to a pole invalidates the warranty if damage is sustained by dropping.

Conclusion - Poles are not a good idea for radio microphones. It is far better to train the user in their correct use.

Summary.....Back to Top

Radio microphones eliminate the trip hazard associated with long lengths of microphone wire BUT they need careful attention if you are to get the best performance from them. Modern true diversity types have built in features to eliminate outside interference from Taxis etc.. and have a sound quality every bit as good as a normal wired microphone. If you plan to use more than three radio microphones, then you will need to use a mix of three UHF (1400 series) and up to five VHF (1100 series) to avoid the need to pay annual licence fees.

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