Tech Focus: Bodypacks, Part 2 — A Look at the Leaders in Wireless Transmitters
Several are designed specifically for sports production
With RF bodypack audio transmitters increasingly important to broadcast sports, here’s a selection of leading current models.
Click here for Tech Focus: Bodypacks, Part 1 — Wireless Transmitters Are Integral to Sports Audio’s Future
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 seven hours of battery 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 (two AA alkaline). 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 simplifies 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 magnetic sliding latch and lock mechanism keeps the battery door securely closed and makes opening to access the batteries effortless. Recharging contacts provide for functional use with the optional BC2 charging station, allowing the NiMH rechargeable cells in two bodypack transmitters to be charged without removal. www.electrovoice.com/
The DBu digital encrypted beltpack transmitter features AES 256-bit CTR encryption with four key policies; among them is the “shared key,” designed specifically for sports-broadcast applications. The DBu offers 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, talkback, 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 weighs only 2.3 oz. with battery, 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. The 2.52- x 1.48- x 0.57-in. 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, export only).
The SMWB (single AA) and SMDWB (dual AA) transmitters can be configured as either transmitters or as recorders, with files stored on Micro SD card memory in the industry-standard Broadcast Wave (.WAV) format at 24 bits. The units 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 found on all previous SM Series units and all current TA5 beltpack units. The Micro SD memory card can be used to update firmware in the field. The transmitters also 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 is a fully water-resistant transmitter with a membrane keypad and a specially designed machined-aluminium housing. The WM offers 1,024 frequencies in 25-kHz steps and is available in nine frequency 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/
Developed in collaboration with Shure, the new family of QT-AD10 Axient Digital transmitters offer Q5X’s safe, small, and rugged form factors with Shure’s market-leading Axient Digital technology, which adds encryption and improved spectral efficiency. They are available in various frequency blocks between 470-694 MHz and 941-960 MHz. Both the QT-AD10 transmitters and Q5X’s long-established family of QT-5100 analog transmitters (470-700 MHz) are available in identical form factors developed over the past decade specifically to meet the demanding requirements of the sports sector. All models — PlayerMic, AquaMic, RefMic, CoachMic, BeltMic — are standard with an eight-hour runtime. The PlayerMic S version is the smallest remote-controlled PlayerMic to date and features a soft, tough, sweat-proof, and flexible polymer 3- x 1.5- x 0.4-in. enclosure and offers a four-hour runtime. The waterproof AquaMic is suited to watersports or burying in the ground and is available in a long-life version with a 16-hour runtime. Both the RefMic and the CoachMic feature a large, robust, integrated non-popping audio-mute switch.
All control parameters for both digital and analog Q5X transmitters are adjusted through the same QG-H2 MicCommander handheld remote-control unit using Q5X’s proprietary RCAS (Remote Control Audio System). RCAS allows the user total control without physically touching the transmitter; the perfect capability for distanced workflows demanded by COVID-19 protocols.
The new QT-AD10 Axient Digital transmitters work exclusively with Shure Axient Digital receivers. QT-5100 analog 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 new high-quality “Mode 2” companding. QT-5100 analog transmitters can also be implemented with analog receivers from Shure, Sennheiser, Lectrosonics, or Wisycom using compatibility-mode settings. Every Q5X transmitter uses the latest lithium-ion battery technology to maintain a green environment while providing four to 16 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 comprises the TR-1800 beltpack, the AP-1800 access point, and accessories: 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 virtually unlimited half-duplex beltpacks, easy-to-read LCD display, 2- and 4-wire intercom interfaces, XLR in/out for interfacing with general audio systems, auto-select for condenser or dynamic mics, and wired or wireless TR-240 beltpack operation. www.rtsintercoms.com/
The G4 series, part of its evolution wireless portable systems, is fully compatible with all previous evolution wireless generations, safeguarding earlier investment. 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, which offers 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 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 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 device features an icon-based menu user interface and infrared synchronization with the receivers, as well as exchangeable energy packs with lithium-ion batteries. The SK9000 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 amplifier’s linear headroom. Other features include HiDyn Plus noise reduction, backlit LC display, adjustable audio sensitivity in steps of 1 dB from –30 dB to +40 dB and a switchable low-cut filter. www.sennheiser.com/
Axient Digital ADX wireless transmitters include a variety of application-specific form factors, including a frequency-diversity handheld and the first micro bodypack with an internal self-tuning antenna, delivering high-performance RF, software command and control, and hardware scalability. A durable, lightweight option, the ADX1 bodypack transmitter features a removable antenna and fully concealed buttons for discreet performance. Providing advanced interference protection, rechargeability, and ShowLink remote control for real-time parameter adjustments and automatic interference avoidance, all ADX transmitters enable excellent functionality and range, and each includes two 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 provide 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, constructed of soft yet durable silicon rubber, is able to bend and flex, providing an elevated level of safety for the professional sports player. The design also has rounded corners, is only 0.4 in. (1.02 cm) thick, and weighs only 3 oz. (85 g). Part of the company’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, preventing file corruption due to a dead battery or early card removal. zaxcom.com/products/zmt3-flex