Q
What's Key Wireless Receiver Functions and Features?
A
The true worth of a wireless system is determined by its overall sound quality, dynamic range, freedom from dropouts and interference, and its operating range. Essentially, you want a wireless system to sound like a wired system. You also want a system that has easy-to-use controls and easy-to-read displays. There are a number of other common features that are true for all wireless mic, instrument, and in-ear monitoring systems that are not so immediately obvious.
Diversity Circuitry
Diversity is all about reception and freedom from dropouts, and most wireless brands tout it as a selling feature. One external sign of diversity is the presence of two antennas on the receiver, although not all dual-antenna receivers have true diversity. Receivers with true diversity circuitry have two separate radio receiver modules, each connected to its own antenna. The signals from the two antennas are monitored and the one receiving the stronger signal is automatically selected. Reception is in part a function of position, and is influenced by the relative locations of the transmitter and receiver. By having two antennas, you reduce the chance of dropouts occurring.

If your system is intended for use in a single location, and especially an open location such as a house of worship, you likely won’t gain much by having a true-diversity receiver. However, if you will use the system in various locations that may have structures that block or deflect wireless transmissions, diversity is more important.
Frequency Agility
This term refers to systems that have several frequency paths you can select from. In any given location one frequency may work better than another, and be free of interference from competing signals from other wireless devices. It is a feature that allows easier use of multiple wireless systems at the same time. If more than one band member or presenter is using a wireless system, you need a choice of frequencies.

Multi-stage music festivals can be especially challenging, making a frequency-agile wireless system essential. On the other hand, if you plan to use a wireless system in just one location with no other wireless systems operating in the immediate vicinity, frequency agility is not so important.
Automatic Frequency Selection
With this feature, a frequency-agile system selects the frequency automatically. It's a nice feature to have if you need a system with frequency agility as described in the previous paragraphs, because you’ll be resetting your system fairly often. Some high-end systems offer automatic setup of your entire wireless system.
Choosing a Frequency
When purchasing a system (especially one that is not frequency agile), you will be asked to select from several frequency options. These choices are designated by a combination of a letter and a number, but these designations are not standardized from one manufacturer to the next. Each manufacturer has its own system, but the letter usually designates a particular band range for the unit. The second part, the number, refers to a specific frequency within the range specified by the letter. You should choose the letter that works best for your location, and a number that is different from other systems being used alongside yours. For the most part, the frequencies offered will work anywhere in the country.
Displays
As with any piece of electronic music gear, how well a wireless system keeps you informed of its status is an important consideration. Having a display that's highly legible and well-lit is a big help during setup and performance. It should indicate signal strength, identify the channel being used, and have low-battery level warning indicators or battery-level meters. Battery-status displays are usually located on the transmitter, but some high-end systems have them on the receiver too.

Next:Analog vs. Digital Wireless Systems