Tech Focus: Wireless Bodypacks, Part 2 — A Look at the Leading Transmitters
Rugged design, hands-free setting, frequency-diversity are common features
With RF bodypacks getting smaller, tougher, and smarter, audio transmitters offer a wide variety of features. Here’s a selection of some of the leading current models.
Click here for Tech Focus: Wireless Bodypacks, Part 1 — Smaller, Tougher, Smarter
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. The transmitter is available in two frequency ranges — DE1 (470-590 MHz) and EF2 (580-608 MHz, 653-663 MHz) — to provide complete coverage of the receiver’s bandwidth. It has a cH-style screw-down 4-pin connector and supplies 5V DC bias to power condenser microphones. Switchable RF power provides 7 hours of battery life (two AA alkaline) at the high (50-mW) setting, 9 hours at the mid (10-mW) setting, and 10.5 hours at the low (2-mW) setting. The ATW-T5201 includes a field-replaceable whip antenna and a protective carrying case. www.audio-technica.com/
The RE3-BPT compact, lightweight UHF bodypack transmitter accepts a wide variety of input devices. The all-metal body is robust and durable and operates on two AA alkaline or rechargeable NiMH cells. An ultrasonic sync function enables simple system setup by syncing the transmitter to the receiver frequency tuning and other functional data. The selectable output power (band-specific) assists in overcoming the challenges of both long and short transmission ranges. The tuning bandwidth affords generous frequency-tuning options, helping to avoid various sources of possible interference. The device’s magnetic sliding latch and lock mechanism keeps the battery door closed securely and allows effortless access to batteries. Recharging contacts provide functional use with the optional BC2 charging station allowing the NiMH rechargeable cells within two bodypack transmitters to be charged without removal. www.electrovoice.com/
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. The unit features a multifunction switch that can be configured for mute or power, making the unit flexible as well as 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- or 50-mW RF power, and runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It measures 2.52 x 1.48 x 0.57 in. and weighs 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 are selectable at 100, 50, or 25 mW. The SMWB and SMDWB feature the standard TA5 connector with servo-bias mic input found on all previous SM Series units and all current TA5 beltpack units. The SMWB and SMDWB units can be configured as either a transmitter or a recorder, with files stored on Micro SD card memory in the industry-standard Broadcast Wave (.wav) format at 24 bits. The Micro SD memory card can also be used to update firmware in the field. These transmitters feature IR sync for quick setup and can be configured via RM remote commands, compatible with the Lectro RM and PDR Remote smartphone apps, for hands-free setting changes.
The WM is a water-resistant transmitter with a membrane keypad and a specially designed water-resistant machined-aluminium housing. The WM 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. www.lectrosonics.com/
New this year, the QT-5100 CoachMic transmitter features a large, easy-to-use rocker-style mute switch physically integrated into the transmitter’s form factor. It is designed to be worn either vertically in the inner breast pocket of a suit jacket or horizontally on the belt and has an LED indicator light visible in either orientation to display whether the unit is muted or transmitting audio. Also new this year is a Sennheiser-compatibility companding mode, which allows use of existing Sennheiser receiver inventory.
The QT-5100 family of 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, besides the original QT-5100, there are six models of the transmitter: QT-5100 Incognito, QT-5100 AquaMic (waterproof), QT-5100 RefMic, QT-5100 CoachMic, QT-5100 PlayerMic, and QT-5100 PlayerMic S. This last, the smallest remote-controlled PlayerMic to date, features a soft, tough, sweat-proof, flexible polymer enclosure with dimensions of 3 x 1.5 x 0.4 in. and a run time of 3.5 hours at a 50-mW RF transmit power setting. Both the RefMic and the CoachMic feature a large robust integrated non-popping audio mute switch. All features of QT-5100 transmitters are set and adjusted through the QG-H1 MicCommander remote-control unit, which facilitates total control without physically touching the transmitter.
Q5X transmitters can be used with proprietary Q5X QR-3200 dual rack-mount receivers or QR-M3 Mobile receivers. Both receivers are wideband (470-700 MHz) and feature a new high-quality “Mode 2” companding. Q5X transmitters can also be implemented with analog receivers from Shure, Sennheiser, Lectrosonics, or Wisycom using compatibility-mode settings.
The manually controlled QT-300 series, an updated version of the legacy QT-256, is available in three models: QT-300 BeltPack, QT-300 PlayerMic, and QT-300 Incognito. QT-300 is tunable to 3,000 frequencies in 25-KHz steps between 525 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 4 to 15 hours of runtime (depending on battery size and transmitter power) on a single charge. www.q5x.com/
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. The system allows users to address either individuals or specified groups. The system consists of the TR-1800 beltpack, the AP-1800 access point, and accessories: 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, which ensures easy installation and low maintenance costs. Capacity can be increased by adding wireless beltpacks and associated access points.
BTR-240 bodypack uses license-free 2.4-GHz technology and offers multi-level 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, 2- and 4-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. www.rtsintercoms.com/
The G4 series, part of Sennheiser’s 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, the ew 112-p G4 (omni) and ew 122-p G4 (cardioid) portable lavalier sets, and the ew 100 G4 ENG combo set, which offers both plug-on and bodypack transmitters with an omni-directional 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, Sennheiser’s top-of-the-range wireless series. The two-channel Digital 6000 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 Digital 6000 features switchable AES 256 encryption.
The SK 9000 is a high-resolution, uncompressed digital wireless beltpack transmitter, compatible with 3-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 is an ultra-compact bodypack that 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. www.sennheiser.com/
Axient Digital ADX wireless transmitters feature frequency-diversity handhelds and the first micro bodypack with an internal self-tuning antenna, delivering high-performance RF, software command and control, and hardware scalability. The ADX1 bodypack transmitter is a durable, lightweight option that offers a removable antenna and fully concealed buttons for discreet performance. Providing advanced interference protection, rechargeability, and ShowLink remote control for real-time parameter adjustments, the ADX1 enables excellent functionality and range. The ADX1 bodypack transmitter includes two SB910 rechargeable batteries. The ADX1M micro bodypack transmitter delivers pristine audio and is equipped with an internal self-tuning antenna, High Density (HD) mode, encryption, and ShowLink remote control. The contoured form factor and lightweight PEI construction offer both comfort and heat-resistance for better concealment and comfortable wear in a variety of production and broadcast environments. Sealed switches and LEMO connector protect against moisture, and the OLED display provides excellent visibility in low-light environments. The ADX1M micro bodypack includes two SB910M rechargeable batteries. www.shure.com/
The 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 features rounded corners and 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, which 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 to a highly reliable lossless format called MARF, which eliminates file corruption due to a dead battery or early card removal. axcom.com/products/zmt3-flex