Tech Focus: Bodypacks, Part 2 — Wireless Transmitters Are Smaller Than Ever, More Flexible
Leading models come with a variety of features and functions
Increasingly essential to audio capture for broadcast sports, wireless bodypack transmitters are small, light, flexible, and powerful. Here’s a look at some current leading models.
Click here for Tech Focus: Bodypacks, Part 1 — Wireless Transmitters Reflect RF-Industry Challenges.
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 5 V DC bias to power condenser microphones. Switchable RF power provides seven hours of battery (two 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 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. A magnetic sliding latch-and-lock mechanism keeps the battery door closed securely and eases opening to access the batteries. Recharging contacts provide for 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/
DBSM (single AA) and DBSMD (dual AA) digital encrypted beltpack transmitters feature AES 256-bit CTR encryption with four key policies, including “shared key,” which is specifically designed for sports-broadcast applications. The DBSM and DBSMD offer wideband tuning (470-608 MHz for U.S., 470-614 MHz for export), a highly linear RF-output stage for reduced intermodulation distortion, and 10, 25, and 50 mW RF power settings for a wide variety of applications from broadcast studios to the playing field. A special super-narrow HDM (high-density mode) transmission option allows packing more than 24 channels per 6-MHz TV channel without the need for frequency coordination. The DBSM and DBSMD feature 24-bit/48-kHz digital audio for pristine sound quality, and the extremely compact, all-metal casings are well-sealed from sweat and dust. Each unit has a microSD card slot and can be configured as transmitter or recorder. The DBSM and DBSMD 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 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. It measures 2.52 x 1.48 x 0.57 in. 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, export only).
The SMWB (single AA) and SMDWB (dual AA) transmitters can be configured as either transmitter or recorder, with files stored on microSD-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 also found on all previous SM Series units and all current TA5 beltpack units. The microSD memory card can also be used to update firmware in the field. These 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. It 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 newest additions to the Q5X family of QT-AD10 Axient Digital transmitters offer Q5X’s safe, small, and rugged form factors and Shure’s market-leading Axient Digital technology, which adds encryption and improved spectrum efficiency. The QT-AD10 transmitters are available in various frequency blocks between 470-694 MHz and 941-960 MHz. Both the QT-AD10 Axient Digital transmitters and Q5X’s family of QT-5100 analog transmitters (470-700 MHz) are available in identical form factors specifically developed over the past decade to meet the demanding requirements of the sports sector. Models include the PlayerMic, AquaMic, RefMic, CoachMic, and BeltMic; all standard with an eight-hour runtime. PlayerMic S is the smallest remote-controlled PlayerMic to date, featuring a soft, tough, sweat-proof, and flexible polymer enclosure measuring 3 x 1.5 x 0.4 in. and providing a runtime of four hours. The AquaMic is totally waterproof for watersports or burying in the ground and is available in a long-life version with a 16-hour runtime. The RefMic and the CoachMic each 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 facilitates total control without physically touching the transmitter, a feature particularly suited to 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 wide-band (470-700 MHz) and feature a 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 latest addition to the line of OMNEO IP intercom solutions, the DBP (Digital Beltpack) joins the recently launched OMS (OMNEO Main Station) as a key member of a major new product family: RTS Digital Partyline. DBP is a four-channel/four-button wired beltpack that runs on PoE (Power over Ethernet 802.3af and 802.3at) and connects via OMNEO IP technology. DBP’s hybrid design supports both digital-partyline and matrix-keypanel modes: for use as a digital-partyline device, DBP connects to an OMS; for use as a portable keypanel, with such functionality as point-to-point communication, DBP can be connected to any RTS digital/IP matrix product using OMNEO via OMI cards in ADAM/ADAM-M frames or OMNEO ports on ODIN frames. Connect DBP to a PoE switch via an OMS/ODIN/ADAM, and up to six DBPs can be daisy-chained. DBP automatically selects the correct mode of operation (digital-partyline/OMS or keypanel/matrix) when connected and switched on. Every detail of DBP is user-friendly, with lightweight and ergonomic design with full-color icon-based menu navigation for quick setup and intuitive operation.
The 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, 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. www.rtsintercoms.com/
The G4 series, part of the company’s evolution wireless portable systems, is fully compatible with all previous evolution wireless generations, safeguarding earlier investment. The ew 100P G4 series comprises the ew 135-p G4 Portable Handheld Set, two Portable Lavalier Sets, the ew 112P G4 (omni) and ew 122P G4 (cardioid), 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 top-of-the-range Digital 9000. The 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 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 utilizes an icon-based menu structure and infrared synchronization with the receivers, as well as exchangeable energy packs with lithium-ion batteries. The SK9000 accommodates up to 8 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 1-dB steps from –30 to +40 dB and a switchable low-cut filter. www.sennheiser.com/
Axient Digital ADX wireless transmitters offer 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. The ADX1 bodypack transmitter is a durable, lightweight option and possesses 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 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 ZMT4-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 sports player. The design also features rounded corners and is extremely thin at only 0.4 in. (1.02 cm), weighs only 3 oz. (85 g), and has an eight-hour runtime. Part of the company’s patented Digital Recording Wireless line that can transmit a fully encrypted digital audio signal while 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. zaxcom.com/products/zmt4/