The latest word on wireless mics, 700 MHz and the FCC

There have been many changes in the wireless mic RF spectrum, and not very much clarity. Here's an overview of how those changes affect your wireless microphones, but there is much more on this blog:

1. There is not option for modifying the frequencies your existing wireless microphones. With synthesized tuners, it’s just not possible.

2. A few companies, including Shure and Sennheiser, are offering modest “rebates” for users trading in 700 MHz product for new wireless. These are not taking the industry by storm. Info on the rebates is here.

3. The DTV transition that’s so big in the news right now is unrelated to the 700 MHz issue; it’s just happening at about the same time. It will not have an affect on 700 MHz wireless microphones, and the effect on other wireless, provided that they are frequency agile, is likely to be minimal. More information here.

4. As far as I have heard (and I’ve been checking carefully), it is not illegal to use the 700 MHz frequencies for wireless mics at this time, nor has a date been announced when it will be. There are many false rumors that on this subject.

5. The new purposes for which the 700 MHz bandwidth has been sold will require a new infrastructure. That new infrastructure is not yet in place, and is not likely to be in place in the near future, possibly for a few years.

6. As Lectrosonics reports, “…it is unrealistic to expect that all users of low-powered devices (wireless mics) will stop using their current systems. It is very likely that most wireless mic users in this range will continue to operate illegally for some time.
I have had a number of “power users”, including some who work for wireless manufacturers, tell me that because of #4 and #5 above, they intend to continue using their 700 MHz wireless until its natural end-of-life, which they expect to be several years in the future. If the infrastructure for the new 700 MHz owners comes online in that time, they’ll simply move their channels around to avoid them.

7. Having said that, I am counseling my clients to begin changing out their “money channels” over the next couple of months: making sure their preaching mic and their worship-leading mic - any mics they can't do without - are on safe frequencies.

I’ll keep the blog updated: as often as I hear news on either the 700 MHz issue or the White Spaces issue, I’ll post them. I also post other articles intended to be helpful to volunteer sound engineers or tech directors. You can subscribe yourself or others in your team if you’re interested – typically only about one article a week.

I hope this is helpful. Please call with any questions!

David McLain | Technical Sales | CCI SOLUTIONS
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