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Microphone systems: six of the best wired and wireless options

As well as offering excellent sound reproduction, microphones – whether wired or wireless – need to offer ease of use and, increasingly, the ability not to get in the way of the user. Here is a selection of manufacturers’ current offerings.

Shure Microflex Advance rejects ambient noise
Shure’s Microflex Advance is a range of networked ceiling and table array mics, audio interfaces, and control software suited to meeting room and AV conferencing spaces.

The MXA910 is a networked array ceiling microphone that captures audio from above the meeting space with Shure proprietary steerable coverage technology, enabling up to eight lobes that are configurable in three dimensions. It can be flush-mounted in any standard ceiling tile grid, or installed below the ceiling with standard VESA-D and wire hanging mounts.
The MXA310 table mic captures high-quality audio and provides flexibility in a variety of AV conferencing environments. Within the onboard IntelliMix DSP Suite, Shure’s steerable coverage technology deploys up to four discrete audio channels around a table and uses a ‘toroid’ ring-shaped polar pattern to reject unwanted sound artefacts from overhead, such as HVAC or projector fans. Programmable capacitive-touch mute switches ensure simple user operation with the ability to customise LED colour and shape to indicate microphone status.

The mics use the Dante protocol. All control, audio, and power signals are carried through a single standard Ethernet cable connection.

All Microflex Advance hardware features built-in control software, providing an intuitive interface to simplify the process of adjusting microphone attributes. Microflex Advance products integrate with third-party controllers such as Crestron and AMX.

Revolabs Elite enables wired and wireless to blend
Revolabs’ Elite Wired Microphones are intended for use in workspaces such as huddle rooms, boardrooms, conference rooms, or wherever wireless options may not be an optimal fit. They are available as tabletop (directional or omnidirectional) and gooseneck (6in and 12in) designs. They can be used alone or in tandem with wireless microphones, and can be integrated with audio post-processing and mixing appliances in support of any unified communications application.

Revolabs says that Elite Wired Microphones feature a unique mute capability that completely eliminates the sound coming through the microphone, rather than reducing it to an undetectable level.

The microphones feature mute functionality and red/green status LEDs, which can be managed locally on the microphone or via a connected DSP. It is possible to have the same user interface in rooms with wireless mics and rooms with wired mics while keeping the look and functionality of the microphones the same. Three colour options, black, white and brushed nickel, are available.

The microphones are optimised for speech out of the box, rather than exhibiting a simple flat response curve – enhancing the intelligibility of speech. For applications that require fixed microphone locations, an optional mounting adapter provides a lockdown capability.

Taiden array can hide away
TAIDEN’s HCS-4851 series digital conference microphones hide away discreetly within the table when not in use. A cover plate hides all electronics when the microphone is fully retracted.

The HCS-4851D/50 delegate unit is a flush-mount device with a retractable line array microphone and mic activation button.

The mic array is 20cm long and features a 30º lean angle when in use, offering proximity to the sound source. Its array technology is said to ensure excellent pick-up of the human voice while rejecting ambient noise from above and below.
Different talk modes can be selected: pressing the button on the delegate unit can either open the microphone straight away, override the first microphone to be opened once the preset limit of open mics has been reached, or issue a request to speak. Alternatively, microphones can be set to activate on speaking without the need to press a button.

Similar in appearance to the delegate unit, the HCS-4851C/50 Chairman Unit includes a microphone priority button. Pressing this causes all currently active delegate microphones to be switched off temporarily or permanently, allowing the chairman to take control of the meeting. The chairman unit can also be used to grant or cancel a request to speak, and to turn off all active microphones.

Audio-Technica bridges AV and IT with Dante boundary mic
With Dante becoming an increasingly popular networking protocol across a wide variety of application types, Audio-Technica took the opportunity to release what it claims was the first wired microphone that transmits audio and control data together over a Dante network.

A simple Ethernet cable connection allows Audio-Technica’s ATND971 Cardioid Condenser Boundary Network Microphone to communicate across an existing network of Dante-enabled devices. With the microphone’s programmable user switch, any of those devices can be controlled at the push of a button. So equipment attributes such as video camera pan/tilt, room lighting presets and much more can all be controlled from the microphone.

Intended for boardrooms and other meeting spaces, the ATND971 is powered over Ethernet and features Audio-Technica’s UniGuard RFI-shielding technology and UniSteep low-cut filter, plus a red/green LED status indicator. Mic gain can be controlled locally or remotely.

Coverage pattern is half-cardioid, although omnidirectional or hypercardioid patterns can be achieved through the use of interchangeable microphone elements. Sampling rate is 48kHz, frequency response is 30Hz to 20kHz. Audio-Technica describes the sound quality as outstanding. Since Dante can support up to 512 bidirectional audio channels, the microphone offers an easily scalable solution.

TX-RX combo tackles congested RF environments
Lectrosonics says that its SSM (Super Slight Micro) transmitter, combined with the Venue 2 Digital Hybrid Wireless receiver, is particularly well suited to the theatre installation marketplace.

The ultra-small SSM is easy to conceal on performers. It uses the rugged, industry-standard Lemo 3-pin microphone connector – so existing lavaliere and headworn microphones featuring this connector can be used without an adapter. Different bias voltages and termination impedances can be selected via the transmitter’s menu for optimum performance with a wide range of microphones. Preset values for several microphones are included as menu choices for DPA, Countryman B6/E6, Sanken COS-11, Sennheiser MKE1/MKE2, along with standard dynamic microphones and line-level input sources. An infrared sync port on the SSM allows for quick set-up with compatible receiver systems.

The Venue 2 modular receiver is designed to address the challenges of increasingly congested RF environments. Venue 2 tunes across a wide 220MHz range and can house up to six receiver modules in its 1RU frame. Each module covers 75MHz, and employs IQ dynamic tracking filters that reject out-of-band RF energy and enable very tight channel spacing.

The receiver modules can be operated independently, each with switched diversity reception for a total of six audio channels, or operated in pairs for more robust diversity reception with one audio channel per module pair.

DPA’s Microphone Base enables aesthetic mic placement
No matter how well a microphone performs, it is unlikely to get specified if it doesn’t fit into its surroundings visually. For instance, no-one would want to drill a hole in an antique boardroom to install a mic; and a conference venue that frequently broadcasts its sessions may prefer to have its mics out of view, mounted on the ceiling.

It’s to suit a range of install scenarios such as these that DPA created its Microphone Base, which works in combination with the d:screet SC4098 Podium Microphone. Designed to be placed on a table or podium, or attached to the ceiling or even the wall, the Microphone Base comes with either a MicroDot connector, an XLR connector, or unterminated leads for connections to Phoenix blocks.

As well as the versatility of its placement, DPA believes the Microphone Base is particularly suited to the installation market due to its low-profile design and built-in shock mount – which is very effective at isolating handling noise.