Tech Focus: Bodypacks, Part 2 — A Look at Leading Wireless Transmitters

RF devices increasingly feature small size, smart functionality, ruggedness

RF bodypack audio transmitters continue to grow in number, features, and functionality. Here is a selection of current models.

CLICK HERE for Tech Focus: Bodypacks, Part 1 — RF Transmitters Get Smaller and Smarter

Audio-Technica ATW-T5201 bodypack transmitter

The ATW-T5201 bodypack transmitter features a rugged, ergonomic metal body, highly visible OLED screen, power/mute indicator LED, soft-touch controls, 80-Hz high-pass filter, and programmable function button that can be set to switch to a backup frequency or mute the transmitter. Available in two frequency ranges — DE1 (470–590 MHz) and EF2 (580–608 MHz, 653–663 MHz) — the transmitter provides complete coverage of the receiver’s bandwidth. It has a cH-style screw-down four-pin connector and supplies 5V DC bias to power condenser microphones. Switchable RF power provides seven hours of battery (2 AA alkaline) life in the high (50 mW) setting, nine hours in the mid (10 mW) setting, and 10.5 hours in the low (2 mW) setting. The ATW-T5201 includes a field-replaceable whip antenna and protective carrying case.

The WTU-2 compact metal bodypack solution for the RE-2 system is automatically compatible with the Telex RSB-2 mute switch for football applications. It offers selectable RF output power and, with optional BH-200 charger, rechargeable-AA-battery operation. The unit is compatible with RSB-2 referee mute switch.

The BPU-2 compact bodypack transmitter for the RE-2 wireless system is made from high-impact ABS plastic. The single on/off switch also functions as a mute, and the TA4 microphone connector is compatible with any EV lapel and head-worn microphones, including the RE97Tx and RE97-2-Tx. Other features include a rotating “cellphone” belt clip and a smart battery.

Lectrosonics DBu digital encrypted beltpack transmitter

The DBu digital encrypted beltpack transmitter features AES 256-bit CTR encryption, wideband tuning (470-608 MHz for U.S., 470-614 MHz for export), a highly linear RF output stage for reduced intermodulation distortion, and true 50-mW transmission RF power for excellent range and resistance to dropouts. A multifunction switch can be configured for mute or power, making the unit flexible as well as providing 24-bit/48-kHz digital audio for pristine sound quality.

The SSM (Super Slight Micro) Digital Hybrid Wireless Micro transmitter tunes across 76.8 MHz or three standard Lectrosonics frequency blocks, features power settings at 25 mW or 50 mW RF power, and runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Dimensions are 2.52 x 1.48 x 0.57 in.; weight is 2.3 oz., including battery. The SSM responds to RM remote commands compatible with the Lectro RM smartphone app. Frequency bands offered are A1 (470-537 MHz), B1 (537-614 MHz), C1 (614-691 MHz), and D1 (691-767 MHz, export only).

The SMWB (single AA battery) and SMDWB (dual AA) transmitters tune across 76.8 MHz or three standard Lectrosonics frequency blocks and come in several frequency ranges. RF power for these models is selectable at 100, 50, or 25 mW. The SMWB and SMDWB feature the standard TA5 connector with servo-bias mic input also found on all previous SM Series units and all current TA5 beltpack units. The SMWB and SMDWB units can be configured as either transmitter or recorder, with files stored on microSD card in the industry-standard Broadcast Wave (.wav) format at 24 bits. The microSD memory card can also be used to update firmware in the field. The transmitters feature IR sync for quick setup and can also be configured via RM remote commands, compatible with the Lectro RM and PDR Remote smartphone apps, for hands-free setting changes.

The WM transmitter features a membrane keypad and a specially designed water-resistant machined-aluminium housing. It offers 256 synthesized UHF frequencies in 100-kHz steps in nine blocks, each covering a 25.6-MHz bandwidth. Features include selectable RF power at 50, 100, and 250 mW, dual bi-color modulation LEDs for accurate gain adjustment, and a backlit LCD for ease of use. Two AA batteries power the WM, with internal switching power supplies providing constant voltages to the transmitter circuits from the beginning (1.5 V) to the end (0.85 V) of battery life. The WM responds to RM remote commands, compatible with the Lectro RM smartphone app, for hands-free setting changes.

Quantum5X RefMic

The new RefMicHD was implemented by the NHL in the 2018-19 season for on-referee audio. The model QT5100 transmitter has a large rocker-style mute switch physically integrated into the transmitter’s form factor. Previously, the NHL had been using the QT-256 transmitter with a separate on/off mute element. The RefMicHD combines all those functions into a single unit and underwent trials during regular-season games the previous season. The RefMicHD is compatible with receivers from Shure, Lectrosonics, and Wisycom as well as with Q5X receivers.

QT-5100 wideband remotely controlled transmitters are designed for sports applications and are frequency-agile from 470 to 700 MHz with 3,000 selectable channels across 75-MHz blocks in 25-kHz steps. Currently, there are five models of the QT-5100: Incognito, AquaMic (waterproof), RefMic (with integrated non-popping audio mute switch), PlayerMic, and PlayerMic S. The QT-5100 PlayerMic S, the smallest remote-controlled version to date, features a soft, tough, sweat-proof, flexible polymer enclosure; dimensions of 3 x 1.5 x 0.4 in.; and a runtime of 3.5 hours at a 50 mW RF transmit power setting.

The manually controlled QT-300 series, an updated version of the QT-256 legacy product, is available in three models: BeltPack, PlayerMic, and Incognito. QT-300 is tunable to 3,000 frequencies in 25-KHz steps between 525 MHz and 598 MHz. The output power is adjustable in preselected steps between 10 mW and 250 mW. Mic gain is adjustable as well. Every Q5X transmitter uses the latest lithium-ion–battery technology to maintain a green environment while providing four to 15 hours of runtime (depending on battery size and transmitter power) on a single charge.

RTS ROAMEO communications system

The new ROAMEO is an easy-to-use communications system based on a wireless keypanel in the form of a beltpack. The system provides high-quality audio and caters to a large number of simultaneous users across a wide coverage area. Operating like a wireless keypanel, ROAMEO can be fully integrated into an existing ADAM series and allows users to address either individuals or specified groups. The system consists of the TR-1800 beltpack, the AP-1800 access point, and such accessories as a charger, holster, and pole-mount kit. Connection to a digital matrix is established via a single Ethernet cable. In addition, the system can use standard IT infrastructure, ensuring easy installation and low maintenance costs. Capacity can be increased by adding wireless beltpacks and associated access points.

The BTR-240 bodypack uses license-free 2.4-GHz technology and offers multilevel security and audio encryption, ClearScan channel selection, a choice of two independent or simultaneous audio channels, eight full-duplex beltpacks or a virtually unlimited number of half-duplex beltpacks, an easy-to-read LCD display, two-wire and four-wire wired intercom interfaces, XLR in/out for interfacing with general audio systems, auto-select for condenser or dynamic microphones, and wired or wireless TR-240 beltpack operation.

The new G4 series, part of Sennheiser evolution wireless portable systems, is fully compatible with all previous evolution wireless generations, safeguarding earlier investments.

The EW 100-p G4 series comprises the EW 135-p G4 portable handheld set, two portable lavalier sets, the EW 112-p G4 (omni) and EW 122-p G4 (cardioid), and the EW 100 G4 ENG combo set, offering both plug-on and bodypack transmitters with an omnidirectional ME 2-II clip-on microphone.

The Digital 6000 Series uses the same long-range mode and proprietary Sennheiser Digital Audio Codec as the Digital 9000, the company’s top-of-the-range wireless series. The digital two-channel receiver works across a switching bandwidth of 244 MHz (470-714 MHz), which is covered by three transmitter versions (470-558 MHz, 550-638 MHz, and 630-718 MHz). Up to eight receiver units can be daisy-chained without the need for an additional antenna splitter. System latency is 3 ms, and the Digital 6000 features switchable AES 256 encryption.

The SK 9000 is a high-resolution, uncompressed digital wireless beltpack transmitter, compatible with three-pin LEMO-connector lavaliere microphones. The user interface features an icon-based menu structure and infrared synchronization with the receivers, as well as exchangeable energy packs with lithium-ion batteries. The SK 9000 accommodates up to eight receiver channels.

The SK 5212-II ultra-compact bodypack uses one AA battery and offers transmission over a switching bandwidth of up to 184 MHz in 5-kHz steps. The SK 5212-II features switchable output power of 10/50 mW, plus a low-intermodulation power mode that increases the linear headroom of the amplifier. Other features include HiDyn Plus noise reduction, backlit LC display, adjustable audio sensitivity in steps of 1 dB from –30 to +40 dB and a switchable low-cut filter.

Axient Digital ADX1 bodypack transmitter

Axient Digital ADX wireless transmitters deliver impeccable audio quality, control, and flexibility for remote productions. Featuring frequency-diversity handhelds and the first micro bodypack with an internal self-tuning antenna, ADX transmitters deliver high-performance RF, exceptional audio quality, software command and control, and hardware scalability. The ADX1 bodypack transmitter is a durable, lightweight option, offering a removable antenna and fully concealed buttons for discreet performance. Providing advanced interference protection, rechargeability, and ShowLink remote control, the ADX1 enables excellent functionality and range. The ADX1M micro bodypack transmitter delivers pristine audio with an internal self-tuning antenna for better concealment and comfortable wear in a variety of production and broadcast environments.

The new ZMT-Flex wireless transmitter is constructed from a soft yet durable silicon rubber that allows the transmitter to bend and flex, providing an elevated level of safety for the professional athlete. The device also features rounded corners, is extremely thin at only 0.4 in. (1.02 cm), and weighs only 3 oz. (85 g). Part of Zaxcom’s patented Digital Recording Wireless line that can transmit a fully encrypted digital audio signal while simultaneously recording the audio internally, the unit is versatile, capable of transmitting audio from a single mono microphone or dual microphones in stereo through two microdot inputs. The internal recording simultaneously provides a catalog of all audio, whether transmitted or not, to a microSD card with timecode. The audio is recorded in a highly reliable lossless format called MARF, preventing file corruption due to a dead battery or early card removal.

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