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  • Wireless Mic recommendations?

    I'm in the early planning stages of production for a musical theater run that will need 8-10 handheld wireless mics (yes handheld, not body-pack headsets - it's what the director wants). This will be a touring group that will do a weekend in multiple venues, so the systems need to be rugged and easily portable (preferably rack-mount receivers and mics hat are easy for the performers to understand and use). I also have to assume that the performers will not have handheld mic skills, so easy-to-use would be helpful. The portions where the mics will be used are intended to come off like a "rock concert", so something that acts like a SM58 would fit the bill.

    What I think I need is something similar to this:


    Given the price point and source, I am assuming that this is probably not what we really need. What I like, though, is having a bunch of the receivers in a single rack piece, the case, and having the mics color-coded without tape/labels that will peel off at the most inopportune moment.


    What handheld wireless mic system would you guys suggest for a small touring theater group using 8-10 mics at a time?


    Is there anything else I need to be thinking about in using these systems in a variety of places with very little tech time to get them dialed in? Any features or accessories that would be particularly helpful?

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    You should take a look at Audio Technica's System 10 Pro. You can fit 10 receivers is just three rack spaces.

    They are feature rich and affordable IMHO.

    Bill Cronheim
    Entertainment Systems Corporation
    Back stage since 1965
    Equipment specialist since 1973


    • #3
      How long is the tour? Have you thought about renting quality gear instead of buying cheap? Are any of these fly dates, or will you be driving the whole way?

      Shure ULXD would probably fit the bill here, and it's great stuff. You could run 8 channels in 2RU without a distro, with 2 paddle antennas to feed them. If you need more than 8 channels you'd need a distro (or a splitter, but a distro is better), but you could do up to 32 channels with one 4 output distro. That would be 32 channels in 9RU. The Shure rechargeable lithium batteries are great too, they last 12+ hours on a charge, you just drop the whole transmitter into a charging dock and it charges in an hour or 2, and you don't have to carry cases of AA's with you (and figure out what to do with them later).

      Whatever you get, it would be best to have everything on an antenna distro, with remote antennas (probably paddles). The units Bill posted are very nice for what they are, but could be a nightmare on a large stage or in a venue with a lot of RF interference, and the 2.4GHz range is pretty crowded in some venues. You'd also be pushing the capacity limits of that system, since it maxes out at 10 channels. ULXD maxes out at over 60 channels per band, and all the "pro" grade wireless systems can do at least 20 or so channels in a given frequency range.

      I have 12 channels of ULXD, and it's one of the best purchases I've made. I'm guessing that's way over your budget to buy, but you could rent it or something similar. You should definitely talk to rental houses and see what a quality system would cost for the time you'd need it.

      Also, you mentioned tape peeling off at inopportune times. I've never had the tape peel off my wireless, probably partly because I tape them fairly high on the housing, near the mic element. 3M electrical tape works great, and it's nice to be able to change it easily if you need to swap out a mic for any reason. Back when I used to use ULXP I'd label the mics at the top and bottom, and it would get a little torn up on the bottom, but never peel completely off. In any case, I certainly wouldn't make color-coding part of the requirements for your wireless system, keep your eyes more on (in no particular order) durability, form factor, available mic elements, battery life, audio quality, and RF performance. All those things are much more important than little bits of colored plastic.


      • #4
        I second the System Pro vote. I'm using 4 channels in some fairly demanding long distance, high multipath environments with very good success.
        Former product development engineer: Genz Benz, a KMC Music/FMIC/JAM Industries Company, continuing factory level product support and service for Genz Benz

        Currently product development engineer: Mesa Boogie


        • #5
          Well, the director now wants body-pack mics, not handheld.

          If I went with something like the A-T setup, is there any reason not to use Galaxy headsets? At $100 for the ESM-3, they're pretty compelling....but do they work well enough to rely on?


          • #6
            The Galaxy ESM3 lists a max SPL of 110dB, so it will likely distort heavily at singing levels. You may be able to handle some distortion, but I don't know how good those mics will sound when pushed past the (very low) limit. I like Galaxy in general, I have a bunch of powered Hot-Spots that are great, but I don't think that mic would be on my list of options for musical theatre.

            I'm a Point Source Audio dealer, and their lowest priced single-ear headset, the CO-3, which is also $99 and is intended for voice only, lists a max SPL of 116dB. So 110dB on the Galaxy seems really low. For comparison, PSA's more expensive CO-8 mics have a max SPL of 136dB (and are waterproof). The CO-8 has quickly become my go-to recommendation to my customers in need of headset mics, even more so than DPA, which I also carry. I'm fairly certain that something like that isn't in your budget though.

            Microphone Madness headsets often get recommended as budget-friendly headsets with good performance, although I have no direct experience with them. They're worth a look though.

            The absolute cheapest thing I'd kinda-recommend is a Pyle headset. I've used them on plenty of occasions, and they sound much better than their price point suggests. Their max SPL is listed at 130dB, although they have some distortion at any level. They're a little fragile, especially where the cable exits the headset, but they can last a while if they're taken care of and their gain before feedback is actually pretty decent. I think they're only available with a TA4F connector, not Hirose, so that would be an issue if you plan on buying AT wireless. But if you want something super cheap that actually works OK, these fit that description. I've included an Amazon link for reference.
            Buy Pyle-Pro PMEMS10 In Ear Mini XLR Omni-Directional Microphone (For Shure System): Wireless Headset Microphones - Amazon.com ✓ FREE DELIVERY possible on eligible purchases


            • #7

              We ended up renting a set of 10 of the ATs, then supplementing with a Sennheiser G3 and a newer Shure operating in totally different bands.

              The headsets have been a real pain. Turns out that what we rented came with a bunch of very cheap Countryman knock-offs ($39 on the internet), so I ended up having to scrounge at the local GCs and other shops to find as many Galaxy sets as I could to get something decent going (no time for ordering). Not fun, but we finally have them working properly.

              One thing to remind anyone looking at this thread for reference: Turn off the 2.4GHz band on any router you are using for your console or other sound gear. It's easy to do - just use the 5G band for WiFi, and you will be glad you did.

              We were 7 seats from sold out last night, and sold out tonight. Things could be a lot worse.
              Last edited by SteinbergerHack; 04-07-2018, 11:37 AM.


              • #8
                Try selling the real brand name headsets to customers who are sure they are being ripped off because the see "the same" headset on the internet for $25... of course there's no comparison but first impressions can really screw the pooch over trust going forward (or get you dumped off a project because they perceive that you are ripping them off).
                Former product development engineer: Genz Benz, a KMC Music/FMIC/JAM Industries Company, continuing factory level product support and service for Genz Benz

                Currently product development engineer: Mesa Boogie