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Wireless Microphones: No Longer Shall The Singer Be Tied! by Adrian Adams
Gone are the days when the person on the stage was ruled by the cable coming out of his microphone. Whether it was TV shows or live stage performances, the presenters and performers were very restricted in their movements. Pitiful was the situation of those rather lively singers, who had to stay around the microphone stuck on the stand or had to check their movements, kicks and flips to avoid getting tangled in the cable spread across the floor. Entered the wireless microphone and solved all the problems of these restless souls.

The wireless microphone is a very intelligent innovation. It is, basically, a smaller version of the FM radio broadcasting system. The person speaks in a microphone, connected to a transmitter, which transmits these signals as radio frequency waves. An FM receiver somewhere picks up these waves, converts them back in to audio signal and we listen to it through the speakers. The powerful the transmitter and receiver, the better the quality at our end.

There are different types of these microphones available in the market these days suitable to different needs.

The Hand held microphone: This is the commonly used microphone for TV shows or by singers. It has the transmitter, battery, antenna and the mic, all fitted inside the housing.

The Lavalier microphone: This term is now broadly used for any microphone that is worn on the body, be it hidden or visible. These mics are used for stage performances and are used extensively on TV during talk shows. These microphones have a separate body pack transmitter, which is normally a small box that can be kept in the pocket or clipped to the belt.

The Head-worn microphone: This is a gift from heaven for singers and dancers. This microphone can be worn on the head almost like a headphone and has the mic attached to one end. The transmitter is carried in a body pack separately with this type of microphone as well.

The range of these mics depends on the antenna present, either in the casing of the mic or attached to the body pack. The rang of a wireless mic normally is around 300 meters but with obstruction present it can go down to around 70 meters or less. Once the signal is transmitted, it needs to be received by a receiver. In the beginning there used to be many issues related to interference and poor reception with the wireless microphones. These days though the problem has been almost eliminated. To receive a signal without facing the issue of fading, losing the signal or getting interference, the receivers have two, rather than one antennas, one of which will be a ground antenna. This eliminates the chances of fading and dropouts, and is termed as true diversity in the wireless microphone world.

Receivers with a single antenna are non-diverse, as when the signal fades or drops out, it just drops out and you wait for things to get better. At the end of the day, the performance of a wireless microphone is a combination of the quality of the mic, transmitter and the receiver. One thing is for sure though, the technology has made life a lot easier for our performing artists; imagine the kind of feats Elvis could have performed if we had given him a wireless or better still, a head-worn microphone!!!

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