2015 Guide to Frequencies & Channels for Multiple Wireless Microphones or IEM's in the UK

Published on 08 May 2015



As we have a lot of enquiries on this particular subject, we have decided to put together the following guide with the above infographic for all of our customers and readers who require a little advice and guidance on wireless microphones, IEM systems, the frequencies operated on and the wireless technology now available in the UK.

Can I use Multiple Headsets/Mics with one Receiver?



This is where the confusion starts and the enquiries begin. In a nutshell, no, you cannot use multiple wireless transmitters with a single receiver - unless it is a ‘dual’ receiver then you can only use the two supplied with the system. It is understandable why many believe you can simply add another 4 or more single transmitter microphones to an existing receiver box when they state ‘14 channels’ on the box, but this is simply not the case. You do need to purchase 6 separate systems if you need 6 wireless microphones/headsets - or alternatively if the manufacturer does offer a dual system, you would only need 3 of these dual systems.

eg. A 14 channel Wireless System DOES NOT ALLOW up to 14 individual transmitter connections to one receiver box. It simply means the single system can be used alongside 13 other individual systems on the same band for optimal frequency selection during use.

What is the difference between a frequency, channel or band? If you have never worked with wireless products before then these three words may confuse you especially after reading the above on using multiple devices with one receiver. When a receiver or transmitter scans the band,

A FREQUENCY - is a dedicated radio wave signal measured in hertz(Hz) that you ‘tune’ into.

A BAND - is a range of frequencies between two different points. For example, 606 - 614Mhz (Ch 38) is a band range.

A CHANNEL - is a named band of frequencies (such as TV Channel 38) sufficient for radio communication - however some systems use the word ‘channel’ as channels of audio operating on a chosen frequency band. So for example, if you need 3 wireless systems setup and they are assigned to the band of 606-614Mhz (TV Channel 38), that would be 3 channels of audio running together on the same band.

Which Frequency Bands are used in the UK for Wireless Microphones and Headsets?



All of the wireless microphones and IEM’s we stock are currently assigned to only two bands, the licensed channel 38 band of 606-614Mhz and the new FREE 2.4Ghz band.

Channel 38 (which is an analog band) - is a tiny chunk of the frequency spectrum and thus requires a license to operate in. This also means that your wireless system has less to work with when considering using multiple wireless devices on a small range of frequencies. But because it is a licensed channel, this should make interference or clashes with other systems less of a worry as finding other licensed operators on this band in the area you are working in at the same time will be a rare occasion.

All new wireless microphone and IEM manufacturers are releasing the latest ‘analog’ gear assigned to this channel 38.

2.4Ghz Band - is a FREE and most notably newer band of higher frequencies dedicated to all household wireless devices - such as your WiFi router, mobile phone, iPad and such. This is used by ‘digital’ wireless systems, and because it is free you must be aware that you will share the same frequencies as everyone else in the area using WiFi on their mobile phone/tablet, or a network router next door and so on. The range is larger with this band, but there are more devices nowadays using this frequency band publicly you should be aware of.

Channel 70 - is the older FREE band of frequencies between 863-865Mhz which you may find some existing gear still use although on the way out. This is still currently free to use, but is extremely adjacent to the mobile phone frequency range and you may find you get some interference or drop outs - there is no guarantee of protection from possible interference sources. This band is disappearing as more and more of it gets sold off to new mobile phone technology (think 4G)

Will i get interference from other devices?



With analog devices - yes it is possible you may get interference from other devices sharing the same band as yourself, however the latest systems from Shure, Sennheiser and Line6 have adaptable technology which can reduce the chance of this and keep your connections as active as possible with some manufacturers offering failsafe features. The lower then number of devices used, the better.

The same applies to the higher frequency range of 2.4Ghz which is the free band and used by digital WiFi products. Whilst there won’t be any ‘interference’ from others, you could experience dropouts as the bandwidth becomes crowded. Again with the digital systems on offer they use the latest technology to keep the best signal quality and ultimately avoid any dropouts.

Do I need a Licence?



If you want to get a wireless system on Channel 38 then you would require a license for shared use on this frequency band only - It’s a requirement by law to be in possession of a licence to legally operate radio microphones or IEM’s in channel 38.

How much does a licence cost?



Currently at time of writing this article, an average yearly cost of using the dedicated shared spectrum of Channel 38 (606-614Mhz) would be around £75.

Where can I get a UK Wireless Microphone Licence?



You can apply for a UK Wireless Microphone Licence via the PMSE website on behalf of the regulator Ofcom - www.pmse.co.uk

Which is better for me? Analog or Digital?



In truth, neither is better. Both options have their pros and cons, although you would always assume digital would be a better option being newer technology. One will cost you an annual license fee to operate on offering a more rock solid chance of a worry free performance, whilst the other is FREE, easier to operate on but with a possible higher number of devices sharing the band.

TOP TIP: You can mix and match on both bands, for example, have 4 systems on Channel 38 and 4 systems on the FREE 2.4Ghz Band giving you a better share of the frequency spectrum and less chance of problems.



Recommended systems and setup

 

Different brands and manufacturers state different specifications on how many systems can be used together at any one time. Some state they can handle up to 14 systems simultaneously, however here at guitarguitar we would advise that the true maximum average is really about 8 - 10 depending on the situation, the location and other devices or systems active at the time.

RECOMMENDED: For a flawless performance with no headaches using wireless systems we would advise no more than 8 systems to keep it simple.

So if you are looking to kit out your 5 piece band or theatre company with multiple stage performers, you may need to really analyse the options or contact us for help.

Take a look at our table below which outlines the different brands we offer and using which band, technology and whether they need a licence....

Which models of Wireless Mic's and headsets do we offer?

 

Different manufacturers and brands of wireless microphone or in-ear-monitoring systems each bring their own technology to deal with the current demands of frequency management.