In the early days of music all musicians and performers enjoyed the freedom to move with their instruments wherever the mood took them. Musicians had the freedom to swing and sway as the beat or rhythm moved them. As music evolved into the twentieth century, we enjoyed the addition of electrical input, blasting out sounds further and louder than we could ever imagine. Along with that new power, unfortunately came restrictions through the inevitable binding ties and electrical cables needed to transmit the power and the sound from the instrument to the speakers. Whether that instrument was a base guitar or an angels singing voice, we required hard cable technology to expound the message.
Enter the 1980s and we find a few forward thinking stars breaking the mould and venturing into the realms of wireless transmission from their headsets, bringing back the freedom of music and expression craved by so many. Those early days used basic analogue radio transmitters which were bulky, weighty, unreliable and not very energy efficient. Thankfully all that has changed for the better and we are now in the age of digital wireless systems.
The scope of digital wireless
A digital wireless system for music and audio applications is a method of transmitting sound that enables music and theatre performers as well as live presenters to be able to move about their chosen arena without the limitations of cables attached to their microphones and instruments. Theatre productions are a prime example of the need for wireless sound where each individual performer may need their own discreet microphone system.
There are two key aspects to a wireless sound system which are the transmitter and the receiver. The transmitter transmits the sound from the performer or presenter or from the musical instrument. The receiver will be in the form of a microphone that is either hand held or connected in some way to the performer or presenter, or will be a microphone connected to the musical instrument that is optimised to the sound of that particular instrument. The receiver picks up the sound from the transmitter and is usually positioned next to the sound mixing equipment which enables the sound to be processed and mixed for optimised output.
Modern wireless systems, expertly configured can actually produce higher quality audio than many wired systems. The key to a highly functional and high quality output through wireless systems is to ensure the transmitter and receiver are not so far from each other that it weakens the signal which can adversely affect the sound quality. An ideal range for transmitter to receiver is between 20-500m with no physical barrier between, although as the technology evolves it is becoming increasingly easier to span further with more potential interference being over-ridden.
Recent advances in wireless technology mean that just about all onstage requirements can be accommodated and there is a wireless application for a wide range of scenarios. This includes handheld microphones for vocalists, headset mikes with body-pack transmitters for anyone who requires unrestricted movement on stage, and instrument mikes for a wide range of musical instruments. Another great advance in the latest technology is the low power requirements needed which relates to longer lasting equipment in real time situations. Many pieces of wireless digital equipment can now run for over 4 hours at a time. This gives greater freedom to the user for continued performance without fear of interruption.
We look to bring an understanding of the technology and provide information on the latest news, views and developments in all that is digital wireless.
How the new digital age has changed the music industry
Recent years have shown major changes in the music industry brought on mainly by the advent of digital technology. The latest music streaming services are driving significant change with the likes of Deezer and Spotify providing free access to huge databases of music.
Spotify has over twenty four million users and this is the basis of a powerful force of change that the recording industry can’t ignore.
This revolution however, whilst bringing welcome benefits to the consumer, has not been without its casualties. Recent years have seen many recording labels vanish and industry icons file for bankruptcy. This in theory has led to a less competitive recording industry which is not necessarily a good thing for the consumer. The rapid growth however of the new digital streaming services has more than offset this downside and continues to bring added benefits to the consumer.
In a wider sense these changes have affected physical media retailing and the days of huge high street retailers offering an incredible selection of video, music and books are just about gone. The widely reported financial difficulties experienced by Borders, one of the largest retailers of its kind, followed by its eventual demise, has been seen as the death knell of a once hugely successful market sector.
Many of the smaller outlets that were so popular in their day have also suffered and this has resulted in disastrous financial difficulties for their owners. There was the usual cycle of falling sales with lack of revenue being propped up by extra borrowing and increased debt levels. Because many of these organisations were run on a sole trader basis the owners became personally liable for the debts when the businesses failed. This resulted in many of them having to enter into formal debt solutions such as an IVA or trust deed and others were forced into personal bankruptcy.
So the change has been significant and continues at a pace. It would certainly seem that the consumer in the end will benefit from lower prices, increased access and better storage options for their music. The likes of Spotify and the seemingly ever-growing options on this front will see to that.
I review my Sennheiser RS 170 Digital Wireless TV Headphones with Dynamic Bass and Surround Sound. These are one of the best TV headsets I have used, much better then a pair of Sony’s that I had owned previously. The RS 170 is very light weight, but does gain a bit of heft once you insert the AAA batteries. These digital wireless headphones from Sennheiser are exceptionally comfortable and are perfect for long term use when watching movies.
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