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Wireless Microphones

Susan Miller

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I asked "I need to purchase my first cordless microphone and would appreciate any recommendations on what and where to purchase."

-- Geoffrey Bryan

There are a lot of choices, made more complex by the recent emergence of UHF microphones along with the pre-existing VHF ones.

"Freedomike," manufactured by Lectrosonics, sells a very compact system, which is an adaptation of a system used by electronic newsgathering crews. Both the belt-pack transmitter and the receiver are small (about the size of a cigarette pack) and can be carried conveniently. You need to keep fresh batteries in both. Bill Johnson's prices are not the lowest, but he is wonderful to deal with and will hold your hand extensively.

I use the LX series of VHF wireless microphones manufactured by Shure (www.shure.com). The wholesale price to a dealer for one of these systems is about $420, so you can expect to pay at least $500 after the dealer's markup. The transmitter is small but the receiver is the size of a hardbound book, and requires AC power. Shure also has a less expensive "T" series which I have seen other speakers using. Shure recently introduced a low-cost UHF line called the UT series, which is worth looking into. Another reputable and widely-available manufacturer is Audio-Technica.

I'd stay away from the inexpensive, consumer-grade units sold by Nady and Samson. These companies also make commercial-grade systems, but I think you're better off with Shure or Audio-Technica. If you can afford it, be sure to get a so-called true diversity system. This uses a dual-receiver technology to avoid the problems of signal dropout as you move around, and is well worth the modest extra cost. (If you've used a cordless telephone and heard the buzz and static as you walk around, you can understand the problem that true diversity solves.)

The big challenge with wireless systems comes if you are moving around to many different cities. Depending on the transmitting frequency you choose, you will run into interference from a local broadcast station about 10-20% of the time. The high-end UHF systems allow you to switch among a number of frequencies to sidestep this interference. However, although prices have come down a lot recently, the top UHF systems still cost over $1,000. Shure and Sony are good brands to look at for these. Most cities have a "pro audio" distributor who carries products like this. In Los Angeles I deal with a company called Ametron, which is on Vine Street in Hollywood. Some of the larger music stores carry these products, although they will not have the models most suitable for speakers in stock.

The July, 1996 "Professional Speaker" has an article I wrote about wireless microphones posted on the SpeakerLink area at the NSA national Web site. (Read the article)

If you want to give me more information about exactly what your needs are, I can be more specific. For instance, it would be helpful to know:

  • Do you prefer a lapel mike or a handheld mike? (Or, for that matter, the headworn mike that aerobics instructors use?)
  • What cities are you typically traveling to?
  • How crucial is miniature size? Can you accommodate a receiver unit that is the size of a book?
  • How technical are you?
  • What kind of price range are you looking at?

-- Ben Levitan

Call Christian Duplication International, which sells audio equipment and cassette duplication mainly to churches, 800/327-9332 or www.christianduplications.com. I got their catalog and got a new mic with all sort of options (a wireless AND handheld and some connectors you need for $350).


-- Rita Derbas

I've been very happy with a "SHURE Wireless System, the Presenter Diversity." SHURE is a premier brand, The presenter version is specifically for speakers (not guitarists or vocal artists), diversity ensures performance under different conditions.

-- Jennifer Esperante Gunter

I use a Shure TV58D handheld wireless microphone. It's available from Mike at Zone Music at 707/664-1213 for around $479. It can easily be connected with the location's house system.

-- Marshall Dodd

My current mic is the Shure system. I purchased a T4V with a T1 transmitter. Cost about $350 from Big Dude's Audio in Kansas City.

-- Mark Brown

I use the SHURE TPD wireless. Compact, affordable (under $400) and very effective. I've had mine for 2 years and I swear by it. See their Web site at www.shure.com.

-- Joe Healey

Call Shure Brothers Inc. (800) 516-2525 tech support and have them give you advice based on your needs and then you order from a local Audio Visual store.I have used Shure mics for years -- they are good. Invest more in the mic and sending unit (belt pack) if you can. I believe you can put your own package together now with Shure. Good luck -- remember your voice needs care and protection -- buy a good one. Quality begins in the mind!

Freedom Mic

-- Patti Hathaway

I really like my Freedom Mic -- purchased it from Bill Johnson. It is small, always works well and I use a Marantz audio recorder that records very well with it in taping my programs. I used to use a cheap Radio Shack wireless mic -- worked incredibly well for over 7 years. Switched because I wanted to upgrade the quality.

-- Scott Sindelar

I'd HIGHLY recommend a FreedomMic. I've had mine 5 years, used it internationally and have NEVER had a problem, unlike many other brands. We just had a meeting at NSA HQ -- their Shure wireless malfunctioned repeatedly. Bad impression.

Contact Bill Johnson at bjcsp@aol.com. He is the distributor, and a wonderful person to deal with.

It is expensive -- but the sound quality is unmatched (most video/TV studios use them), the reliability is unmatched, and it is very compact! The belt transmitter runs on a 9V for up to 14 hours. Even the receiver will run on a 9V battery! This is really cool. Sometimes, the hotels do not have an electrical socket near the Audio/PA socket. I've had to use the battery only a couple of times, but was thankful the FreedomMic had that capability. Also, the receiver has 2 types of outputs -- standard 3 prong, and a mini plug. So you can record directly from it while still using the 3 prong for the sound system.

By the way, I get NO kickbacks for my testimonials. I was burned by previously "cheaper" systems. That didn't work sometimes or picked up local truckers radio messages -- not cool.

-- Eric Parish

By now, you may have heard about the freedom microphone marketed by Bill Johnson. It is the choice of hundreds of speakers throughout the country. You can visit Bill's Web site at www.billjohnson.com for more information.


-- Karl Walinskas

I remember from my days playing music that Nady is one of the leaders in wireless technology. My wife just bought me a Nady Duet unit for Xmas, which has 2 lavalier mics (you can get handheld or one of each). The instruction manual is a little weak, but the unit seems to work well. It was only about $300 or so. I got it from Markertek (www.markertek.com).

-- Michael Herman

I use the Nady Duet htsxw.lav mic. Around $700. Also, the sx body pack transmitter. Nady's is 510/652-2411. It is a great unit. You can also add wireless handhelds on the same transmitter on a separate frequency. I have had great success with it.

Also, Bill Johnson, CSP sells a good mic called The Freedom Mic. I have not used it, but it has a good rep and is very sleek in design.


I (Susan Miller) also received a phone call from Tom Antion who talked about the Azden Wireless and 1/4" plugs and other tech-sounding stuff...I don't remember too many specifics.

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