Wireless Spectrum Update

From 1 January 2015 it will be illegal to operate wireless microphones and other audio devices in the 694-820 megahertz (MHz) frequency range.

LPA has supported the Australian Wireless Audio Group (AWAG) in their efforts to lobby the Federal Government to provide compensation to organisations forced to replace their wireless microphone equipment.

However, due to the current budget conditions LPA are not hopeful that compensation will be forthcoming.

As such, we strongly encourage LPA Members to check their equipment and start planning for the change now to ensure equipment will comply with the change by 1 January 2015.

Click here to view a useful ACMA infographic which clearly outlines how wireless microphone users will need to prepare for the changes to the use of wireless spectrum.

Disposal of Old Wireless Equipment

eWaste created from the constant upgrading of technology devices is a growing problem in Australia and LPA strongly encourages Members to recycle old wireless devices. Your nearest electronic disposal service can be found through Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You website, or alternatively contact your local council directly for eWaste disposal details.

Benefits of Rechargeable Batteries in Wireless Microphones

The need to upgrade wireless microphones presents a significant opportunity for members to consider investing in rechargeable systems. Though concerns have been expressed in the past about the reliability of rechargeable batteries in wireless microphones and other devices, the evidence now suggests that rechargeable systems have significantly improved and are a reliable and cost effective option.

If you are looking to purchase rechargeable batteries, the recommendations from industry are:

  1. Use good batteries - Nickel Metal Hydride or NiMh rated for at least 2000 mAh (milliamp hours).
  2. Charge them properly - using a cheap rapid charger will not provide the reliability required for live productions.
  3. Cycle the batteries - fully charged batteries should always go from the charger into the microphone - once the charger is empty fill it with another set of batteries.
  4. Understand the discharge curve of the battery - NiMh batteries hold at full voltage for a long time, but then quickly drop charge completely. The alkaline battery meters in current wireless microphones are sometimes not programmed to support NiMh batteries, hence the false meter reading.

Investing in rechargeable batteries is likely to result in long-term cost savings for your organisation, as well as generating far less eWaste from discarded batteries.

Nearly all Broadway musicals now use rechargeable battery microphones. The Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera provides a good case study:

• Capital requirements to switch to rechargeable batteries included 144 rechargeable batteries, storage cabinets and power boards at a total cost of USD$1,516.

• To meet the same requirements with disposable batteries, in the same 18-month period the show would have had to purchase 39,936 disposable batteries at a cost of USD$14,775.

Further information about the potential cost savings from rechargeable batteries in microphones can be found in the Best Practice Venues Case Studies in the Greener Live Performances through Energy Efficiency web resources.

Your organisation may also wish to consider a fully integrated rechargeable system such as Shure.