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Wireless Mics for Presenters

2nd in a series about PA systems, covering issues such as which features to consider before buying, and how to use them.

We recently launched a series of articles about PA systems, targeting users who do not work with PA gear on a regular basis or wouldn’t consider themselves to be AV specialists. Since schools, businesses, and churches often use audio reinforcement for multimedia presentations, our first article covered how you’d connect an external audio source to a speaker system. This article picks up from there and will cover the topic of using wireless mics.

Not all speakers have wireless capability, so first make sure the one you’re planning on using does. (Portable) PAs can have wireless receivers for one or sometimes two wireless mics to work at the same time. The way you operate each mic is the same, regardless of the number of wireless mic receivers the PA has.

Before we delve into the PA itself, let’s spend a second talking about the microphones. Califone offers two styles of UHF wireless mics – a handheld model (Q319), and a beltpack transmitter (M319) which connects with one of five hands-free mics. The handheld mic and beltpack transmitter each work with Califone UHF-enabled speakers (three speakers in the 90 Watt PowerPro series, the wireless 30 Watt PresentationPro, 30 Watt PA419, and an Array speaker).

Each of these two mics has 16 channels, and whichever frequency is chosen, the wireless mic receiver on the receiving PA must always be set to the same frequency. If the wireless mic and speaker aren’t set to the same channel, there’s no way they can “talk” to each other. If your PA can handle two wireless mics, each needs to be set to a different frequency. If the two mics are accidentally set to the same frequency, the signal from each mic will interfere or even cancel each other out and very little (if anything) will be heard or understandable.

If you’ve followed this so far, then take a deep breath and congratulate yourself because the most confusing part is now behind you.

If you’re using a single PA, locate it where the audio can best reach the audience and turn it on before you turn on the power for the wireless microphone. After both are turned on, the next step is to slowly increase the volume of the speaker’s wireless mic receiver so that it can “hear” the microphone. A good place to start would be turning the volume up to 11 o’clock. Be careful not to crank it up right away to the maximum level or you might experience feedback (more on that later). While the Q319 doesn’t have a volume control, the M319 does and this too should be adjusted to 11 o’clock to start.

At this point we should pass along a precautionary warning about feedback. If you’ve not encountered it before, feedback is a condition when a microphone (wired or wireless) comes too close (5-10’) to the front of a speaker. The microphone picks up the sound from the speaker this begins a cycle resulting in a loud, shrill noise. Be sure to avoid this.

Once the mic levels have been set, you can then adjust the volume of the speaker through the “VOL+” and “VOL-“ buttons on the PA system or on the included Remote Control to the desired level (the volume is preset at the lowest level to prevent accidental damage to the amplifier. On the PresentationPro, volume is adjusted (+/- 4.5 dB) with each push of one of the volume control buttons. Maximum volume is reached after approximately ten pushes.)

After taking these steps, you’re ready to begin the presentation! The Califone wireless microphones can be used up to 150 feet from the PA system, providing lots of freedom to move about.

Click to read the next article in the series, go back to the beginning of the series, or read an overview of the entire series.

This blog was updated 8/2/11 to include the PA419


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