Do you have a good microphone??

Okay, after a lot of research and time, you just got that nice set of speakers. If you are like me, you didn’t spend a ton of money. You probably got the Harbinger 60W speakers that comes along with a 4-channel mixer – a super deal – for about$200. Now that Black Friday is coming along, you might want to keep an eye open for deals on this kick-ass speakers for a home Karaoke party.

What about microphones? There are many choices. I have found the Behringer XM8500 for about $30 has served me well for over a year and a half. The XM1800S – a set of three microphones – for $39 is a super deal and have friends that swear by it. In any case, you don’t lose a lot if they go bad. I also have the microphones that came along with Singing machine 1028-N that I bought about three years ago with me still. One of these isn’t working, but the other is. But such is the case with these kind of equipment. If you want to have a microphone that lasts, say, 50 years, go get the Shure SM58 – the gold standard amongst professionals and they cost about $100 – not bad if you spread the cost over the years. But these are all wired microphones. Now-a-days, on stage such as American Idol or the Voice, where do you see wired microphones. These are things of the past. Wireless microphones have come a long way ever since they made it first onto the scene in 1950s. And you can get really cheap ones for less than $20. Check out 123dj.com – this is a great storefront for all equipment karaoke/music/DJ related. Go ahead and subscribe to their weekly newsletter. You will at least get to know a lot of equipment and prices and options. Good education for nothing. And if you like something and find that at a better price elsewhere, there is no stopping you either!

I got sick of the wires from my two microphones at my home singing parties. So I made up my mind to get something wireless. Researching something is always exciting, at least for me. 123dj presented a lot of very tempting choices. One thing I learnt is, like other electronics, reliability or wireless microphones is not there with the best. You can spend $549 on a pair of Shure wireless and get durability, but that is way too much money that could be used elsewhere, especially when there are other options for us home-KJs. If I were running a professional gig, then I would consider the money as investment. But for home use, you can try something for $20 and if it works, that is great! I did a lot of research and finally nailed it down to an unknown company – GTS Audio. They have the most positive reviews on Amazon. But there will always be someone who had a bad experience. That is a chance you have to take. After all, a Canon or a Sony does break down sooner than expected.

From Shure.com website.

From Shure.com website.

With wireless microphones, there is a wireless receiver that the wireless microphones transmit to. The wireless receiver is connected to your mixer or speaker, as you see in the accompanying picture.  You get them in either VHF or UHF – Very High Frequency or Ultra High Frequency. In short the difference between the two is that VHF is good for shorter distances (between the receiver and the mic) and consumes less power. UHF on the other hand is better suited for longer separation – as much as 500 feet or more. UHF can deal with interference much better. Interference can come in the form of frequencies used for your home wireless network, cellphones, microwaves, etc. All professional setup use UHF. Now don’t think you need to shell out a lot of money for getting one of these. You can find UHF microphones for as low as fifty dollars.  A great discussion of the differences can be found here.  I read about other models’ VHF systems incurring many dropout issues and went for the drop-safe UHF.

Coming back to GTS Audio, they have three products the 622h, 733h and 788h. Both the 622h and 733h have the antennas on the receiver in the front – something to keep in mind if you are planning to put the receiver on a table, rack, etc. You want these to be on the top so the antennas aren’t knocked down. All three support two wireless microphones. The 788h has two antennas for each microphone – to support traffic in both directions from the receiver. The 622h and 733h have one each per microphone. Also, each microphone can be operating on 100 up to 800 frequencies thereby giving the flexibility to switch frequencies if there is interference on one. The receivers come with auto-frequency scanning and auto-hookup with the microphones, so there is minimal setup required off you except holding down a button for a few seconds. All the microphones operate on a battery or source of power. Rechargeable batteries are a great idea, but I didn’t go for it as that to me is an additional point of failure in the not-s0-reliable electronics world. Make sure the microphones use AA (double-A) batteries are these are fairly inexpensive. All the three of these models have their microphones lasting 8-16 hours on a single battery – which is good enough for at least two parties or many weeks of practice time. The 788h provides what is called as ‘true diversity‘ – which reduces drop-out of signals. A drop-out is where one notices that the audio isn’t coming on the speakers even though one is speaking/singing. This is because some ambient noise/frequency has cancelled out the voice’s frequency. With the dual antennas on the 788h, the receiver can automatically switch to the best antenna to reduce such drop-outs. There are other features such as squelch control which is basically used to suppress the channel noise when there is no signal.

GTS622h_Now, given I use my microphones at home in a much smaller area than a party hall, I went for the 622h. At $169, it is a great deal compared to what one would spend for a professional pair of wireless microphones. I got feedback from many DJs that they have used the GTS wireless microphones for over a year without any issues. I got to see how long mine will last. BTW, another good thing is a spare 622h microphone is $39!! So it won’t burn a hole in the pocket if I have to replace one. The reviews I read touted audio quality and I can attest to it after some practice time. One has to keep these unidirectional microphones very close to the mouth – that is the nature of these. These eliminates feedback issues – that screeching noise you hear when you the speakers’ sound gets caught by the microphones and the loop continues.  Each microphone has a battery-level indicator on the display and displays which channel on the receiver that it is attached to. This is good to know so you know which channel’s volume you need to tweak, if need be. The receiver has one combined, 1/4″ output – that is, the receiver mixes the input from two microphones and outputs as one single audio source. There is a separate XLR output for each microphone as well if you want to input separately onto a mixer.

It is a lot free not to be tied by wires anymore!!

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