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Headset radio mics. Which one to choose?

Doug Chadwick 30 Nov 09 - 03:50 PM
s&r 30 Nov 09 - 05:04 PM
foggers 30 Nov 09 - 05:17 PM
Leadfingers 30 Nov 09 - 07:07 PM
s&r 30 Nov 09 - 07:09 PM
Hamish 01 Dec 09 - 05:49 AM
treewind 01 Dec 09 - 07:17 AM
bruceCMR 01 Dec 09 - 06:49 PM
GUEST,John J....on safari 01 Dec 09 - 08:08 PM
Claymore 02 Dec 09 - 02:26 AM
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Subject: Headset radio mics. Which one to choose?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 03:50 PM

I'm thinking of asking Father Christmas for a headset radio microphone but I know very little about them. I'm sure that they have been discussed before but, as technology moves faster than a space shuttle, I thought I'd ask for some up-to-date info.

I am looking for something that I could use at open mic nights in the pub. It would therefore have to be suitable for relaying to a standard sound desk and be quick and easy to connect up. It would be quite handy if I could also link my guitar through it. Do such dual systems exist?

Can anyone recommend something, available in the UK, that won't break the bank but is durable and is suitable for public performance?


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Subject: RE: Headset radio mics. Which one to choose?
From: s&r
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 05:04 PM

There are good and bad points in practice.

UHF is in our experience better than VHF. Any radio headset will connect to the desk via its receiver - this is little difference from using a different mic. Talk to the sound man.

To connect the guitar as well you need to have a mixer to combine the vocal and guitar signals into one radio signal. The sound man can then only control voice and guitar together,so if he turns the guitar down he also turns your vocal down.

Headsets are good if you need to move about or haven't learned the discipline of using a stand mic. You can't turn away to make a remark, or sneeze however. Using the mic characteristics to vary tone (ie close in gives 'mellow' sound far out gives 'bright' sound) is hardly possible. We use four radio mics - one headset for the caller (to allow her to leave the stage) one for the concertina player who moves about a lot, one for me because I play around with the on-stage mix, and one as a 'guest' mic for bridegrooms etc.

We did once perform unwittingly at evensong in the church nest to the gig (that was in VHF days.


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Subject: RE: Headset radio mics. Which one to choose?
From: foggers
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 05:17 PM

Thanks for asking this question Doug - I am thinking of getting one because singing and playing an Appalachian dulcimer is proving difficult when I add a mike into the equation as I need to be able to look down at the fingerboard - it is all a bit complex!

s&r - what make are the headsets you are using?

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Subject: RE: Headset radio mics. Which one to choose?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 07:07 PM

Be Wary ! In UK they are talking about changing ALL the frequencies that Radio Mics use !! Check for petitions etc

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Subject: RE: Headset radio mics. Which one to choose?
From: s&r
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 07:09 PM

Shure Headset can't remember the model offhand.

The major problem is that the mic response is shaped to work at the side of the mouth: it's tempting to pull it to the front, and the response is then quite shrill.


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Subject: RE: Headset radio mics. Which one to choose?
From: Hamish
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 05:49 AM

I have one which is very uncomfortable to wear for more than a couple of songs: I get headaches with it :-(

So my advice is to try it out for ergonomics before committing to a particular one.

As for guitar and voice, there are dual systems which will send two separate signals over different frequencies so that they can be mixed at the desk.

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Subject: RE: Headset radio mics. Which one to choose?
From: treewind
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 07:17 AM

Mary's been using a Sennheiser G2-100 UHF headset (when needed) for years.

It's not cheap, but sound men love it. You just plug it in and it works, and the quality is better than the SM58 you'll find in a regular PA rig.

The better radio mic ranges are available in a guitar version. You can't easily combine a guitar with a vocal mic: you have to have two separate radio transmitters and receivers. This is desirable, as then each is a separate channel on the mixer so the sound can be balanced properly.


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Subject: RE: Headset radio mics. Which one to choose?
From: bruceCMR
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 06:49 PM

Before investing, ask yourself what you really need most - is it he headset/hands-free facility, or is it the wireless bit? Remember, you can get wired headset mics.

You can get many different qualities of wireless mics. Search Ebay, and you'll find something that costs less than 10 pounds. They're rubbish, of course, but may be fine for kids singing in their bedroom.

Move up to around 50 pounds, and you'll find some low-end branded kit. Again not fantastic quality, but fine for karaoke maybe.

If that's not good enough, spend around 100-150 pounds and you can get some decent low-end Sennheiser (Freeport) or Trantec S4 kit, which is very useable.

And 300-400 pounds will buy you some semi-pro gear. Sennheiser G2, Trantec S5 etc

If that's not good enough for you, you can pick up some pro-level kit for around 2000-3000 pounds per unit. That's the stuff the broadcasters use.

But if you want even better quality, spend 10 pounds on a bit of cable...

Seriously - the radio link is the weakest link in the chain. If you need the mobility, then go for it (and the Sennheiser freeport kit, or the Trantec S4.4, which is effectively the same component, are all decent products in the £100+ category). But if all you want is a headset, maybe consider a wired one. That way, you avoid interference, frequency clashes, dropouts, the need to change batteries...

If going wireless, best to get something with switchable frequencies, in case you find yourself on the same freq as the church next door - what's worse - them picking up you or you picking up them?

A decent head mic to use with the wireless beltpack can cost hundreds of pounds - brands like DPA or Countryman are the ones used in west-end shows etc. But there are also a lot of budget ones on the market which give perfectly acceptable results. Places like CPC in the UK sell them for around 30 pounds.

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Subject: RE: Headset radio mics. Which one to choose?
From: GUEST,John J....on safari
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 08:08 PM

PM 'Bernard', he works in the industry and is very free with his help and advice.


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Subject: RE: Headset radio mics. Which one to choose?
From: Claymore
Date: 02 Dec 09 - 02:26 AM

As one who has done all sorts of sound for years, I was troubled by the lack of attention paid to the key words, "Open Mike" and all of the attention paid to a headset as opposed to a lavalier (lapel) system.

Lets deal with the first; Open Mic. To properly set up a wireless system you have to do a fairly comprehensive but not particularly time consuming sound check. With a true diversity system you can still have drop-outs even at the stage and if the venue has a fair amount of florescent light or dimmers, you need to know that the sound man has RFI/EFI systems up to the task. UHF is definitely the best, but more modern systems are "frequency agile" instead of fixed-frequency systems (which can take care of picking up or sending out interfering signals). And the Europeans are far more unforgiving of non-licensed mic systems, so you go onto the list of Usual Suspects and may actually be required to show your license at the concert. (Don't laugh, It happened to me in Ireland at the Fleadh).

On the other hand, the idea of a wireless system for your guitar actually makes more sense because you can reduce some feedback problems if you set it up right. And as mentioned above, you can more easily "play to the mike" with your voice than with your guitar.

As to headsets, a good lavalier system will be far less expensive, some are not even wireless and can connect directly to an open line to the stage with little adjustment problems at the board, and in the case of the lady with the lap dulcimer, she will be singing directly into it without all of the paraphernalia that goes to it.

Remember that to use a wireless system you will need to arrive early, make certain you have a separate power source for the receiver, a line that connects to the sound board or (God Forbid) sound box, provide either TS/TRS or XLR cables from that receiver to the sound board, plus the room to set the box and its antennas up somewhere in the open to receive the signal from your mics. You will need to put in fresh batteries into the mic, and then you will need to "walk the room" at least to the stage and it's four corners to find out any "drop-out" spots. And during your performance you will need to remember that even if you have a switch to turn off the guitar wireless, you will also need a switch (which ARE NORTORIUS) for switching from the "mute" to "power off" bypassing the "on" button to your head set, while you tune. The end result is that when you again turn the headset mic on, it may be in "mute" or "power off" position. Then you're left literally scatching your ass trying to get your mic back on.

Or you can leave the mic on and signal the sound man to mute your channels while you tune (always a Loss Leader at an Open Mic). And if they are using a board that does not mute the monitors at the same time, you just might find the room harmonic that blows the speakers while tuning.

Don't get me wrong; I use wireless all the time and at the proper venue they are amazing. This week I gave Santa Claus a wireless hand held with a Beta 58 head and a windscreen and he bellowed "Merry Christmas" a block away from where he got out of the sled to a downtown area running eight 15 inch speakers on poles. When he drove the Gritch out of the Courthouse (a local custom) Santa was able to invite all the children to sit near his throne until each child was heard (for blocks).

All I'm saying is, look at your concept: you're going up to a stage in a pub to play a set of songs at an Open Mic, and then getting off the stage to put away your guitar and listen to the others while enjoying a pint. Where I come from, "that dog won't hunt", with what you need to attend to, using wireless.

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