As of late, our industry is experiencing a significant transition to wireless audio and control technologies that effectively take the place of traditional cables, connections and other associated physical devices. From neat little input tools to outright cable replacements, these wireless technologies are all around us in 2017.
Though Neutrik is our industry’s de facto leader in connectivity—whether by sheer number of patented high-quality audio connector types, connector proliferation in the field, or both—the company’s most exciting XLR audio product is arguably its low-latency Xirium Pro line, built upon Neutrik’s DiWA (Digital Wireless Audio) technology. Reportedly providing compression-free and FCC license-free wireless transmission of audio within the 5 GHz band, Xirium Pro’s 20 Hz to 20 kHz audio transmission system provides latency equal to 3 milliseconds regardless of how many Xirium Pro devices are used. A variety of analog/XLR and digital AES/EBU and Dante input and output models are available within the Xirium Pro line. Most recently, Xirium has gained Version 3.0 control software;
Meanwhile, Alto Professional’s Stealth Wireless eliminates the need for cable between any traditional sound source and powered speaker, opening an affordable array of placement options in varied live sound environments. A simple, UHF-based way to bypass cables between a mixer and loudspeakers, the Stealth Wireless package consists of one Transmitter and two Receivers with three power adapters (12V DC, 300 mA) for each, plus mounting accessories: two M10 screws (for mounting Receivers to fly points on powered speakers) or “hook and loop” Velcro-style strips (for mounting Receivers on virtually any surface). The Stealth’s transmitter is switchable between mono and stereo, sending one or two channels of audio to every receiver in range (reportedly up to 200 feet away) and on the same channel (one of 16 UHF channels).
Switchcraft offers other modern connectivity solutions such as its AudioStix DI product line, ideal for audio environments that must employ new signal distribution forms on a budget. Specifically, Switchcraft’s 318BT is repoprtedly the world’s first phantom-powered Bluetooth 4.0 audio receiver DI. Featuring a Switchcraft balanced XLR connector and powered via standard 48V phantom power, the 318BT wirelessly transmits any Bluetooth audio source (via 2,402-2,480 MHz frequencies) up to 50 feet away (obstructed indoor) or 100 feet (unobstructed line of sight). The 318BT allows users easy access to what is now a popular wireless audio transmission feature without having to upgrade any other component in the systems.
Built for studio use, Heritage Audio has unveiled its BT-500 Bluetooth streaming module. It is designed to enable connectivity of iOS or Android mobile devices in a professional studio environment by streaming audio from a mobile device over Bluetooth. It delivers a fully balanced, +22 dBu stereo output and features include a Burr-Brown based analog signal path. The BT-500 automatically recognizes a device’s best codec option and uses it for streaming. As such, the BT-500 allows direct level comparisons while mastering or mixing with, for example, Apple’s iTunes Store or mobile stored reference mixes.
“I visited several very well-equipped studios and, on each occasion, either the artist or the producer wanted to have something played from their phones,” explained Heritage Audio managing director Peter Rodriguez. “On one occasion, the mini jack connector in the cable was too thick and it did not fit in the hole of the case the phone was in. Another had a mini jack-to-XLR adapter that was too heavy and was making intermittent connections, leaving the artist to hold the phone amid the array of adapters. Also, [after hearing] that Apple was going to drop the mini jack [in new generation iOS devices]—which indeed happened—I came up with this simple and convenient solution.”
Simple but quite useful in a variety of playback scenarios, Hosa Technology’s new Drive, a Bluetooth 3.0 audio receiver, can be paired with any audio source for quick and simple stereo file playback. It features built-in track buttons for control at the playback system, 3.5 mm TRS audio output and a USB Mini-B charging port.
ProCo Sound, a RapcoHorizon brand, is now offering the RapcoHorizon BTIBLOX, a Bluetooth-compatible device specifically designed for audio distribution that operates on phantom power or its own internal rechargeable battery. The BTIBLOX has a line-of-sight range of more than 75 feet to stream audio wirelessly. It is built with an XLR-male output that can connect directly to a mixer input and features a translucent back cover that allows the user to view its LED status.
Showcased at last month’s InfoComm 2017, Sennheiser’s intriguing MobileConnect offers a wide range of audience members the ability to live stream audio via WiFi to their own iOS or Android OS device, providing institutions (theaters, HOWs, etc.) with a means to distribute audio. The MobileConnect system is comprised of the ConnectStation—a streaming server providing near latency-free multi-channel audio streaming via Wi-Fi. As MobileConnect operates over any existing WiFi infrastructure, it is fast and cost-effective to install, and integrates with existing network infrastructure and audio equipment. In demonstration, MobileConnect appears to be very convenient to users: Without the need for extra equipment, individuals can use their choice of smart device and headphones to listen to audio via the MobileConnect app, available free of charge for iOS and Android users via the Apple App Store or Google Play.