About Wireless Microphone Systems:
Wireless Microphones for musicians and performers have become much more reliable and affordable since they first became widely available in the late 1970s and there is now a greater variety of systems from which to choose, with varying performance characteristics and features. You need a quality wireless microphone that won't drop your signal or pick up stray radio interference, yet will still deliver an audio signal comparable to what can be achieved with a cable.
Do you go with a system which transmits UHF or VHF radio signals, FM or AM or digital modulation methods, or perhaps an infrared system? Do you need a selectable frequency system that will allow for multiple mics on stage without cross-interference, or will a single-frequency mic do? Choosing the right microphone comes down to matching the capabilities of a wireless system to your needs and budget.
Probably the first aspect to consider is what type of wireless microphone will work best for your situation. For guitarists and vocalists, the most common types are handheld or headset microphones, with lavalier setups more commonly used for lectures, presentations, or situations like radio and TV interviews. Handheld wireless mics are usually a little longer than the familiar stage mic (like the Shure SM58
), because the casing has to have room for the transmitter and battery, but they are close in size, can fit in a standard mic stand
, and are generally very reliable. You can even buy a transmitter that plugs into a standard microphone, but an integrated unit is often more comfortable and rugged. Headset mics are a good choice for very energetic performers, like dancers, drummers, or guitarists who sing while playing. In this design, the headset contains the microphone, which is wired to a bodypack that contains the transmitter, which is then clipped to a belt or guitar strap
As far as transmission methods, the most commonly available are VHF or UHF (very-high or ultra-high frequency radio waves, respectively), or infrared. Infrared can be less expensive, but requires a direct line-of-sight from the transmitter to the receiver, and any obstruction will cause loss of signal. For radio wave systems, older wireless microphones tended to use VHF transmissions, and this design is still widely available. The UHF systems usually cost a bit more, but generally have greater range from their higher output, and are less prone to TV interference. Another factor to consider is the receiver's selectivity (the ability of the system to pick out the desired frequency from others that might be in use nearby), which is important if you will be using multiple wireless devices, whether for microphones, guitar, bass, brass or other instruments. There is also a feature called true diversity reception, which has to do with the use of two antennas (sometimes an additional receiver as well) to reduce signal "dropout" when moving around the stage. You can get more information about the technical and practical aspects of choosing and using your wireless microphone from manufacturer websites like Shure
, but the main factors will be your budget and whether or not you need multiple mics. So do some research, and get ready to get out from behind that mic stand!