Any “live sound” guy always has uses for wireless mics, whether for voice or instruments. The flexibility and freedom afforded by “wirelessness” is high on the list of sound reinforcement must-haves. Any new wireless mic that comes along, especially one by Electro-Voice, is going to get a hard look by the live sound types, however….
Product PointsApplications: Live sound, installation
Key Features: Handheld and bodypack transmitter versions; ClearScan frequency finder; Posi-Phase diversity reception; dual-band compander; choice of capsules for handheld transmitter; George L solderless cable for guitar/bodypack
Price: Handheld transmitter package – $1,550 beltpack transmitter – $1,490.
Contact: Electro-Voice at 800-667-3968, Web Site.
I’m not an audio equipment freak – meaning I don’t really care about looks, “cool,” what’s hot, trendy, etc., but rather, how user-friendly, reliable, hassle-free and capable the equipment is. I am big on functionality and simplicity, set-it-and-forget-it is perfect for me. If I can get through a show without any component calling attention to itself – “disappearing” so to speak, while in use – that’s what I want. In that context, the RE-1 (starts at $1,490) certainly didn’t disappoint.
The new RE-1 Series Wireless Microphone System is a programmable frequency agile system with what Electro-Voice calls Advanced ClearScan, a scheme that scans all (user) defined frequency groups to find the ones with the greatest number of receiver channels that are clear of interference and then looks to find the best channel within that group.
The RE-1 system I tested consists of a receiver that is programmable in 25 kHz steps across a 24 MHz operating bandwidth, creating over 950 possible channels. Finding a clear channel is virtually guaranteed. Electro-Voice’s Advanced ClearScan is an automatic group and channel selection feature that allows a quick setup of a clear channel. Electro-Voice’s patented DSP Posi-Phase Diversity System is said to maximize range and audio quality. The audio quality was simply superb, and the range… I’ll take their word for it since I never managed to get far enough away in any venue for it to cut out.
Electro-Voice has incorporated a three-function “Sound Check” mode that allows one person to walk-test the microphone in the performance space with results that are displayed on the receiver screen. The Sound Check display, accessed on the receiver’s menu screen, has a peak hold audio meter that allows you to set the transmitter gain to the maximum signal-to-noise ratio. Second, there is a Squelch Break Counter that tells you to back off if you are pushing the range or if you may run into interference problems. Third, a “Hi-Low RF” (radio frequency) meter lets you know if you have satisfactory coverage in the performance area.
The receiver’s front panel (where else) display is a backlit LCD-type display that shows the Group/Channel you are operating on, the transmitter battery status, Posi-Phase Diversity System status and RF and audio level meters. There’s even a space for a “custom label.” You can put the name of whomever is using whatever mic. If you are on the road a lot, you could, I suppose, put your wedding anniversary as a reminder. This might stave off your future ex getting 3 dB of everything you have worked for.
The receiver’s output choices are balanced XLR and a 1/4-inch unbalanced adjustable line level output. Rackmount hardware is included.
There is an LCD display and the same four control buttons as the receiver for channel or frequency programming.
There are “low battery” LEDs that light when the battery is, well, low. And, you can check the battery level whenever you turn on the transmitter.
There is an on/off switch that “acts as a mute” (don’t they all?) but I take this to mean that it doesn’t pop or click when turned on/off, which my unit did not, at least not audibly, which is what counts. The on/off switch can also be disabled, which is cool. If you have ever had a mic go off at, of course, the worse possible time in a performance, and people look over at you, the sound dude, you will appreciate this feature. Even If it was the performer’s fault, if they’re on their toes, they will shoot you a look, confirming that everything’s your fault. You won’t have to put electrical tape over the switches anymore.
The handheld mic features Interchangeable microphone heads which allow a choice of elements to fit a vocalist’s style and environment. The N/DYM 767 head is “a premium dynamic vocal mic with VOB (Vocally-Optimized Bass)” that which provides “excellent gain before feedback for high SPL stages.” The wired version of this mic is my wife’s personal mic.
The other mic head is EV’s “new RE510 premium condenser vocal microphone for experienced vocalists, spoken word and quieter stages.”
There is an internal 1/2-wave antenna which is nicer than the little external cell phone-looking antennas that I have always found to be visually distracting, seeming to amplify the hand movements of the performer… just a personal quirk, I suppose, but I certainly prefer the more pro look of the EV.
Finally, the handheld mic uses EV’s comfortable “Over-molded Warm-Grip” which feels nice and reduces handling noise.
The bodypack features a cast magnesium housing that is light and very solid feeling. It definitely does not share the feeling of lesser quality bodypacks that, when squeezed, squirm around like a plastic garage door remote control unit. In fact, squeezing hard and twisting with both hands did not elicit a creak or crackle. These things are very solid, yet nice and lightweight. You could probably drive over it and it would survive.
The bodypack comes with a cell phone-style beltclip that is detachable via a spring-loaded button. This makes a very secure clip that will not accidentally pop off when pushed up from below. My cell phone is now under the back seat of some Vegas cab because of the lack of this very feature. Optional pouches are also available for hiding the bodypack under costumes. This will be appreciated by performers allergic to duct tape adhesive.
EV also has a wide selection of lapel and headworn microphones and accessories to go with the RE-1 bodypack transmitter. Guitar bodypacks are also available which has a mic/instrument switch that adds a 20 dB pad in the transmit path so the standard bodypack can be used for microphone and guitars. Also, a dual-band compander circuit provides the audio bandwidth required to cover the lows of a bass guitar to the highs of a solid body. And, of course, a patch cable to hook into your guitar.
Fit and finish on all components are first rate and exude quality and professionalism.
A local “cabaret” doing a two-night performance offered a good chance to put the RE-1 through its paces. To evaluate the ease of setup (or not), I decided to go through the “Quick Set-up” procedure in the manual, as someone might do when using the RE-1 for the first time. This is a one-page, follow-the-numbers procedure for the receiver, the transmitter, and then the system as a, um, system. The whole procedure took four minutes. Three minutes to read the step-by-step and one minute to actually do what it says.
The ease of setup allowed me extra time to play with the many functions of the RE-1, in particular, the “Sound Check” mode. Not surprisingly, this function worked exactly as described in the manual. This is a really helpful feature takes some of the guesswork on system setup.
I could really go on about all the features, functions and adjustments available to tailor the RE-1 to the specific environment, but that would take the whole magazine, and I’m way over my allotted word count already.
The multitude of singers provided a great test for the RE-1 system but especially the mic sound qualities. I used both the handheld and lav or lapel mics, My choice (I got to make the call) depended on the experience of the vocalist in using a handheld mic. Some of the singers had never sung in public or handled a mic. Right! Those people got “assigned” the lapel mic.
The sound quality for either mic was superb – clear, intelligible and natural. I am very familiar with thet sound I could expect from the loudspeakers, etc. so the only component changed in my system was the RE-1. RF Interference never was an issue, but probably wouldn’t be in Maine. I think I own 50 per cent of the things that run on electricity in Maine, so I’ll just say that it’s not a complex RF environment.
I did change the RE510 condenser mic head for one vocalist, picked at random, but luckily, turned out to be, by far, the best of the group. Luckily, because I could really evaluate the condenser mic with someone who could really bring out its best, which it did – oh-so-clear, airy, detailed, precise. The airy part might have been her, .a Rita Coolidge smoky voice-type. Later, I played a recording of her performance on my home Magnepan ribbon speakers – what a great compliment to the RE510 condenser. If something isn’t very “right,” it’ll sound lousy on the Maggies. If something is great, it will be magic on the Magnepans.
The RE-1 system is a very high quality, very well constructed and well thought out wireless microphone system that would be on the A-list for any sound reinforcement use. The programming flexibility and sound quality are among the best systems I’ve used. Highly recommended!