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RF stalwart comes back to what he knows

This year's IBC saw the low-key but significant first appearance of a newcomer to the radio microphone market, Audio Wireless. Company founder Aldo Hakligil talks to Kevin Hilton about starting again and his enthusiasm for all things RF.

Sticking with what one knows might be playing safe but it also makes sense. Aldo Hakligil describes the radio microphone business as “the only industry I know” and after a two-year hiatus from it, he is back with a new company and brand new range of products for the broadcast, film and sound recordist markets. Hakligil spent 26 years at Audio Engineering, manufacturer of the Micron range of wireless mics, much of which he either designed himself or supervised the design of. He was also managing director of the company but says in 2009 he “decided to move on” for reasons he does not want to go into. “I’m proud of my past at Audio Engineering but I’m out on my own now,” he comments. “Making radio microphones is the only job I know so it was natural to set up my own company. I’ve spent the last year and a half listening to broadcasters and sound recordists talking about what they want and have come up with a new product range.” The first products from Audio Wireless are the AWT-1 transmitter, AWDR-1 diversity receiver and AWMR-1 monitoring receiver, which are analogue systems with digitally switchable RF front-ends and frequency bandwidths up to 120MHz. Settings are shown on each unit’s backlit LCD, with users able to choose from frequencies between 470MHz to 790MHz. Hakligil has assembled a team of engineers with individual expertise in mechanical engineering, analogue and digital audio, RF and software programming, which he oversees as chief designer as well as MD. Hakligil says a priority in producing the products was to make them international, so they can be used anywhere in the world on any frequencies available. “Our key objective was to create a new system that could effectively address the widespread problems of over-crowded frequency spectrum and the non-harmonised frequency allocations prevalent in many territories,” he says, observing that the radio mic industry is about to move on to a new chapter in its history and development. With the changes to the UK spectrum due to come into force after the London Olympics next year, Hakligil comments that he was fully aware of the need to provide broadcasters, filmmakers and sound recordists with equipment that would not only work within the new 470-790MHz frequency range but also be a single system that was flexible enough to do everything the user needed. “The aim was to give them something so they didn’t have to worry about hiring a different system every time they went somewhere,” he explains. Like the majority of the radio mic industry, Hakligil has been concerned at the approach taken by UK regulator and licensing body Ofcom in dealing with the reallocation of spectrum in general and the needs of the PMSE (programme makers and special events) sector in particular. “I worked with BERIG [trade pressure organisation the British Entertainment Industry Radio Group] when I was at Audio Engineering,” he says, “and we lobbied Ofcom. This whole business has taken since 2006 to get where it is now and people have not been investing in new equipment because they were not sure what was happening.” Digital is regarded as the ultimate solution to the problem of covering all frequencies and Hakligil certainly sees it as the future for wireless microphones. At the moment, however, he says there are still problems to overcome in getting current “to acceptable levels” and dealing with transmission delays. Which, he explains, is why the new Audio Wireless products are using traditional analogue FM technology to begin with. The units have been designed to work with “any lavaliers that people currently have. Another feature, which Hakligil says came out of his discussions with broadcasters and recordists, is monitoring capability that allows the system to be used with in-ear monitors at the same time as the radio mic. “This can be monitored from the camera or the mixer and is something that people wanted,” he says. Audio Wireless is in the process of moving into premises at Elstree Studios, to the northwest of London. Hakligil says this location puts the company close to an important centre for both film and TV production in the UK. All design and manufacture will be done at this site; Hakligil says everything is “proudly done in the UK” so that all aspects of the equipment can be controlled. From a low-key launch at the recent IBC, where the company was on the stand of its German distributor, lighting company bebob, Audio Wireless will be raising its profile from the end of this year and into 2012. Hakligil says there are orders pending and is encouraged by the reaction so far. “I’m very happy to be back,” he concludes. “I feel excited looking forward because radio mics have always been my passion.”