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Help with headset mics for 8 performers please

Damian Jay

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First of all I know very little about sound an microphones in general (I can hear you groaning and see a few of you rolling your eyes skywards, stop that! ** laughs out loud **)


I will be touring a show during December with a cast of 8 with each performer needing to be mic'd up

The full cast will alll be onstage for the finale. Therefore all mics must be able to be used together

(I realise I will need a license for this as I needed one last year, so that's no issue)


The cast consists of 5 very strong vocalists and 3 speech only performers in a very energetic show.


Last year we hired in a set of 4 VHF Trantec mics ... this was the system

We had quite a few problems with this system which I won't go into here, needless to say I'm not considering this as an option for this years tour.

Last year we had a great noise boy touring with us who managed to get the show mic'd up with the above system and a few headsets he had knocking about.

We don't have him this year as he will be working on a cruise ship.


As I said at the top of this post, I know very little about mics and sound. So my questions are this


1 - what's the easiest way to achieve my requirements (Budget of about £1,500) can I buy the individual sets of kit for this budget or is hire the best way to go?

what would be your suggestions please.


2 - I like the idea of the mic over one ear, or the ones that have no over ear part and are just taped to the performers cheek or forehead. The more discreet the better. I'm adament that I don't want the aerobic kind of mic's tho (the big black bulky things)

If I understand correctly these would be omni-directional mics ?? ( will google the difference between omni and directional after I finish this post, but I think I have the gist from reading posts on here)


3 - Elsewhere on this forum, and the net in general, I have seen just the mic part with one over the ear bit. It did'nt have the body pack transmitter or a receiving unit. Can these headsets be used with any belt pack and receiver? (as long as the connections are compatible with the mic and beltpack)


If I go down the hire route are there any suppliers you would recommend. If it's any help I live on the south coast in between Southampton and Portsmouth.


If I go down the buy my own (which would be my preferred option as then it's not dead money) which would be your suggestions to achieve my objectives ( 8 headset mics all able to be used at the same time. I'm guessing this would be on channel 38's shared licence)

bear in mind the budget of £1500 (not a vast amount I know :-( ) They don't need to be all boxed up in a flightcase as I have the means to do all that myself.


If I have omitted any details you need in order to give your advice and recommendations, please do ask and I will try to give as full an answer as I can.


Thank you for your help and advice



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A quick look on CPC shows that a new Trantec UHF system will cost you between £2500 and £4000 plus licence so on you budget hiring would be best. I would go for a complete system that is configured to work together that does not use channel 70. Channel 38 is good but you might run in to problems at certain venues where other people are using the channels. If you rent on an unusual frequency you should be OK for all shows. The hire company should be able to sort out the licence for you
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Cheers addoadda :-) although looking on the CPC site, the Trantec 8 way system is on channel 69. Isn't that the channel that is no longer in use ?


Looking about I found this HERE

Would it be possible to use 8 of these units together at the same time ? (if you can explain why not in 'Janet & John' speak it would be appreciated :))


Elsewhere on the BR In a different thread I read about carrier waves and sound waves overlapping on frequencies that may cause interference with each other, not to mention all those aerials (?) antenna's (?) together :unsure:

I'm so confused and googleing is not helping as there is so much info that all seems to contradict itself :(


I think learning Chinese would be easier than learning about microphone frequencies


Once again any advice is welcome


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The important thing is if you treat the radio system as the same thing as just ordinary microphones - would you spend your money on microphones to use on somebody else's PA? radio mics are a big investment and if you buy - then it's probably that it could be many years to recoup the expense if you only use them every now and then. If you are going to be touring often - then buying makes sense, otherwise hire and just treat it like an other expense for the tour. Don't forget to allow for replacements. The performers always break the mics. The hire companies will charge you for breakages and they're not cheap. Renting also means they'll sort the license (normally) and if anything dies, let you have replacements quickly.


You can choose lots of headset styles - the aerobics ones are rarely much use - far too visible, so you either have over the ear in single and dual ear versions. Virtually everyone uses omni mics because placement is so difficult with cardioids - they need aiming and accurate 'distancing' or the sound changes too much from show to show. Omnis are often available in smaller sizes too - cardioid types need an extra vent, so physically are bigger and more tricky to hide.


I personally don't like single ears - I find them less precise in the mic placement unless you use lots of tape. If the tape sweats off, they ping out, drop down if the performer has smaller ears (or sticky out ones) - so I like over the ears both sides with a rear band - they can still be tiny. If your hire company is friendly - they'll perhaps even have a choice of headset types.


The rack 'n' ready Trantecs are quite different from the elderly ones you linked to. I've still got some of those in the store, but they've not been out on a job for years. I'd also be surprised if they're on the correct VHF frequencies, I know mine are still on the old channels. They are crystal controlled and single frequency. Nothing wrong with this, just old technology.


If you really want to buy - the Trantecs are good value - but do buy the ch 38 version, not ch 69. The new Trantecs also have very small transmitter packs which is nice. Sennheisers are nice too - but price wise at the moment, a bit expensive. Hire wise - I'd be happy with any Sennheiser or Trantec UHF system.


Practically - your 8 way system won't be a problem, and will be quite reliable with a decent operator. I've seen touring shows that do this, and once the cast are indoctrinated into how the mics need to be fitted and treated, they'll be fine. By the way - single sided ones usually cause me the most problems when people do fast costume changes - they come off easily, even with a cheek tape, the loop and then a neck tape for the cable.

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The transmitted signal isn't just one single frequency, it's a range of frequencies centred about the stated (carrier) frequency. The receiver picks up a range of frequencies centred about the carrier and turns it back into audio. If you pick up stuff from an adjacent carrier that overlaps your transmitted band of frequencies you'll get interference. The cheap radio mic you've found may have eight carriers but there will be overlaps and you'll probably find that only four carrier frequencies are likely to work . The extra frequencies will allow you to pick a carrier that's less likely to be interfered with by other radio kit you might have in the vicinity. Most microphone manufacturers recommend using only four mics in the unlicenced part of band 70 (some claim 6) but you're better off in somewhere like band 38 where you can fit in at least 12 and the licence lets you use them anywhere (nearly).

Decent mics aren't cheap - if you want them to work reliably and last budget £300 - £400 per set. Watch out for cheap mics, many are channel 70 (only four available channels) some are still channel 69 (becomes illegal at the end of the year) and some are counterfeit Chinese copies.

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Hiring is the way to go. As you have found with your previous hire of 'cheap' radio microphones there is a world of pain here. You stand next to no chance of getting 8 of those cheap radio mic systems to work together. Don't be fooled by the '16 selectable frequencies' bit of the spec. They are not far enough spaced apart to be able to use 16 in the available frequency space (there isn't enough frequency space there anyway!). I would be surprised if you could get 4 working together, and I would never risk using that grade of technology on show critical applications. £1500 would buy you about 3-4 reasonable quality systems, perhaps 5 depending on how good you are at negotiating, but remember that if you don't include for antenna distribution then things start to get very clumsy and messy with 8 receivers.


Best advice really is to go and hire decent grade kit for the tour.



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The line 6 stuff is fine - in fact, I'm fairly impressed. The only thing to watch for is that it's sold in the UK by the musical Instrument dealers - and spares are not too easy to get. However - I have a rack of them, but I don't think I will buy more. Not for any problem reasons, but simply because I'm using wi-fi with my lighting kit, and when the line 6 transmitters are on, my control of the lights with my iPhone app, from stage end doesn't work reliably. You also get the performers moaning that the internet is slow and unreliable, and I know the reason - a pile of radio mics all working in the wi-fi band!
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Slightly OT - Paul, have you upgraded to the V2 firmware? With that, you can put them in to RF2 mode which uses different centre frequencies that (I'm told) play nicely with WiFi.

When I had a fault with one of my packs, Line6 fixed it for free within a few days. Other than that, they've worked well for me. However, you won't get more than four systems if you're buying on that budget. Another vote for hire here. The cost can be passed on to the company - if you were planning on buying kit and letting them use it below market cost, or even free, you're not doing yourself or anyone else any favours. Good radio kit costs real money so it needs to be paid for.

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Can't upgrade to V2 without one V2 to start the process off - so stuffed really. The Line 6 rep kindly got my replacement parts sent direct from the States and I'm very grateful for his help. Price wise, the OP is going to have trouble getting 8 plus the other odds and ends for his budget - even though I note the V70s are now less than £400!
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