How to verify if a UHF wireless mic will work in your area
Before you order a wireless system, it is important to verify that the frequency band of the system is available in the area of use. Wireless UHF systems share the same band as local TV stations. In some metropolitan areas, the noise floor or frequency spectrum can get crowded, which can make your wireless system unreliable. Use the FCC Frequency Finder by typing in the zip code of the area that the system will be used.
VHF vs UHF
UHF does have many advantages. However, UHF bands have become more crowded in many areas, and remain mired in FCC regulatory uncertainty. There are a number of important factors to consider when choosing between UHF and VHF, including where and how a system will be used, as well as the number of systems needed.
UHF systems do not hold any large technical advantage over similar VHF systems. Interference due to electrical equipment, digital devices, computers and other electronic equipment is generally lower at UHF frequencies. VHF wavelengths are longer than their UHF counterparts, enabling them to travel greater distances and pass through obstructions like walls and ceilings. As far as cost, VHF systems are usually less expensive
In addition to cost, range, interference, and band availability, here are a few other issues to consider:
- Whether the choice is UHF or VHF, frequency agile systems are highly recommended. Agile systems can scan and find the ideal channel based on your current location. Agile is especially valuable for UHF systems because dropouts due to multi path are more troublesome at UHF frequencies.
- If the wireless equipment will be used in different cities, VHF systems operating on the special frequencies in the 169-172 MHz range, known as traveling frequencies, will be a good economical choice (applicable in U.S. and Canada).
- Fixed-frequency (single channel) systems in the TV bands may not be good choices for traveling use. This is because most channels are used in one location or another, and frequency conflicts will eventually occur. Frequency-agile systems will be a better choice.
- If the wireless equipment will be used in situations where several other wireless systems are likely to be present, UHF systems are recommended. This is because more frequencies are available, reducing the chances of interference.
- UHF systems are good choices in situations where the smaller and less-visible antennas are highly important, such as when the transmitters must be concealed on the body. UHF may also be preferable if external antennas must be used to extend range.
Shure PGX Digital
These systems operate 900 mhz spectrum, generally known as the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) band. 24 bit audio gives you high quality sound, comparable to a wired mic. The advantage is that this band is free of the regulatory issues wireless microphone users currently face, or may eventually face, in the heavily-saturated UHF TV band. In many heavily populated metro areas, the UHF bands are so crowded that some UHF systems are unusable. In these situations, a 900 Mhz digital wireless system would be an ideal choice. However, the range on these systems are about 40% shorter than the UHF equivalent. Some LED scoreboards and digital billboards operate in the same spectrum, so interference is possible when operating a 900 mhz wireless PA in the vicinity. Sound Projections offers their Voice Machine and Sound Machine packages with the option of Shure Digital PGX wireless systems, which use the X8 band (902 - 928 Mhz)
2.4 Ghz Wireless Systems
These systems are a popular alternative to UHF and Digital systems. These systems (also referred to as Wi-Fi audio) are commonly used by businesses and churches that travel outside the US and Canada. They are license-free world wide, and are currently free from the threat of FCC spectrum auctions. We do not recommend 2.4 Ghz if you need long transmission distances or have obstructions between the transmitter and receiver, because range is usually shorter than UHF, VHF, or Digital.
You may want to avoid a 2.4 Ghz system if you will be near lots of gear that are also on 2.4Ghz spectrum. This is because Wi-Fi Internet access, a digital mixing console with tablet remote or remote video camera controls, and other items sharing that spectrum can limit operating distance, reduce channel count, cause dropouts, or combinations of all three.
If you're in a dense commercial or residential neighborhood, you could get interference from adjacent buildings or neighbors. We recommend using a phone or computer app to analyze any potential problems before purchasing a 2.4 Ghz system.
Bluetooth transmits audio between fixed and mobile devices over short distances using short-wavelength UHF radio waves in the industrial, scientific and medical radio bands, from 2.400 to 2.485 GHz, and building personal area networks (PANs). Transmission range is shorter, up to 30 feet or less. It is a convenient way to connect your smart device to a receiver without wires. Many systems we offer have Bluetooth built in, or as an upgrade. However, pairing devices can sometimes be unreliable, depending on firmware versions, nearby competing devices, interference, and other factors. We always recommend to have another option to transmit audio (Wired or UHF long range transmitters) if you encounter Bluetooth pairing problems.
1.9 Ghz Wireless Systems
The 1.9 GHz range was originally designated for home and business cordless phone operation. Due to increased usage of mobile phones, this range had become more available for license-free and interference-free use of wireless microphone systems. There are some cordless phones still being used at the 1.9 GHz frequency, but the odds of getting any interference from them nowadays are quite small, and most cordless phone technology has moved to the DECT 6.0 technology,
Newer Anchor Audio wireless mics are currently operating in 1.9 Ghz (the Air wireless speakers are in the 900 mhz spectrum). The band available in 1.9 GHz is much narrower than 2.4 GHz. Since it’s such a small frequency set, the systems that do operate in this range are typically point-to-point operation only, meaning the transmission signal can only pass from 1 transmitter to 1 receiver.