Wireless Audio Basics
This lesson is all about Wireless Audio Basics. Please help me in welcoming Andrew Jones from Deity Microphones to help us with this lesson.
There is one thing for certain in the world of wireless audio. You cannot just turn on a wireless system and expect it to work. There have been many times when working events at Red Carpets (or other massive events where there are multiple sound mixers with different crews) where you see beginner crews struggling. They will walk over and say they are getting massive hits and being only a few feet away is getting severely stressed out.
These beginners haven’t taken these courses and learned about wireless audio basics. They don’t understand that you need to reserve your frequencies in the audio spectrum to ensure others don’t pick the ones that you are on!
The Audio Spectrum is an invisible world that lives all around us. This world, that is similar to the shadow realm from Dr. Strange is where all of our wireless frequencies live inside. We can’t see them, but we can receive their transmission nonetheless.
When it comes to wireless audio basics, we must dive into the spectrum that is available to us. This is simply because the wireless audio equipment that we use works in these frequency ranges.
Professionals have Backups
As a professional, it is our job to capture the audio from our talent regardless of the demands that are placed onto the production visually. Sometimes you will start with a specific brand of wireless in a specific spectrum will discover that you may need to switch to a different spectrum in order to receive a signal.
Different locations in the world have different frequencies in the air. They are all around us, and they are not the same frequencies from city to city. What this means is that you always need to have different frequencies ranges (or blocks) that you can switch to if you are having problems.
Newer wireless systems in the UHF Band (which is commonly used by professionals) have wideband capabilities. This means they have so many more opportunities to find a frequency to use in an ever-growing congested spectrum. When you span such a great range of frequencies, it gives the professional sound mixer a much greater peace of mind.
The only thing to be concerned with when using wideband equipment is that it will take longer to scan your wireless every time.
There is a new addition to the wireless spectrum recently, and that frequency is 2.4 GHz. If it sounds familiar, that is because you probably have devices that work within the same spectrum in your home right now. For example, WIFI Routers, Phones, Computers, Tablets, and even TVs have wifi chipsets in them that allow them to connect to your home network and the internet outside of your home.
Systems like the Deity Connect Wireless or even their Deity Interview Kit use these 2.4 GHz protocols. No, you will not be able to check your Facebook accounts from your transmitters. Your wireless system will create its own wireless network and pair all of its transmitters within its protocols.
What does this give you? A very intuitive wireless system that will auto-change its frequencies if it finds interference in the area that is causing problems. UHF systems are different in that they do not change frequencies on the fly. It is a more select and goes type of deal. You can always change the frequency after a take or even remotely with some systems, but it will not just auto-change frequencies like the Deity System. For more information and details on how to use your Deity Wireless System, check out this Deity Connect Primer.
Why is this Beneficial?
If you are just starting out in the world of production sound, wireless can be extremely complex. Having a system that minimizes the risks of your audio dropping out during your productions.
These systems are great for producers, directors, and camera operators that need a basic wireless system to help get them through passion projects and other lower budget interview shoots. It is a great starting point with incredible features that will help people who are doing sound the first time be a little safer.
When Does 2.4 GHz NOT Work?
These systems work great when you have smaller track counts. For example, the Deity Connect System as of this writing can only handle 4 channels in the infrastructure without having intermodulation issues.
This is great for most people, however, for film and narrative work, this is unacceptable because we will need more tracks than this system can handle.
With a UHF System, you can use up to 30 or 40 channels in any given area. It is not easy by any means to coordinate that many channels. There are Frequency Coordinator Positions that are available for Live Shows and other events that are very prestigious positions.