Ever wondered, “How do wireless microphones work?” In this article, we’ll go over some of the technologies and equipment involved in making a wireless microphone work.
Quick Answer: Wireless microphones work by sending a radio signal from the transmitter (mic or bodypack) to a receiver that is listening out for signals on the specified frequency.
A wired microphone converts sound to an electronic signal, which it sends down the cable. A wireless microphone replaces the cable with a radio signal.
There are two components involved in sending and receiving the radio signal; a transmitter and a receiver. Think of the radio in your car; in simplified terms, the radio station is the transmitter, and your car is the receiver.
Wireless Microphone Radio Transmitters
In the case of wireless microphones, the microphone is the transmitter. The actual radio transmitter component will vary depending on the type of microphone.
- Handheld wireless microphones
The transmitter is built into or connected to the body of the microphone.
- Bodypack transmitters
Body-worn transmitters accept a variety of sources such as lapel or headset microphones. They work with instruments too.
Radio Receiver / Frequencies
A radio receiver is a standalone unit that listens for incoming radio signals on specific frequencies. The microphone transmits the signal, and the receiver’s antenna picks it up.
Governing bodies define set frequency ranges for particular uses. Wireless microphones generally operate in the 500 Hz range. 700 Hz is now illegal, and 600 Hz is being phased out, so check your microphones before use, especially older wireless systems.
2 Types of Radio Transmissions
The microphone broadcasts a live analog radio signal that can be listened to by anyone with a radio receiver.
Encrypted radio transmissions control who can listen to a radio signal. The transmitter and receiver need to be paired, allowing them to share an encryption key to protect the radio signal.