1

I'm currently researching a few options for setting up a wireless connection between a lavalier microphone and my audio recorder (Tascam DR-40) here and have stumbled over a specific question that I would like to post separately to keep things simple...

I was recently offered a second-hand wireless receiver (from the AKG SR series, forgot the exact number). On the product page it is mentioned that this is the "receiver for all transmitters of the AKG WMS series"... so, does that really mean that I can only use it in combination with very specific transmitters or can it be made to work with other brands, as well? If that's infeasible, is there a technical obstacle? Any, more generally: Do I always need to buy transmitters and receivers of the same brand?

Any help would be much appreciated.

2

It is sometimes possible, but not advisable, to transmit from a wireless audio transmitter designed by one manufacturer, to a wireless audio receiver made by a different manufacturer.

Cross-manufacturer compatibility is much, much more likely to succeed when both transmitter and receiver are analog wireless ("FM"), and much less likely to succeed when both transmitter and receiver are digitally modulated ("digital"; "FSK"). And impossible to succeed if either one of the transmitter-receiver pair is analog and the other is digital.

Let's assume both transmitter from manufacturer(A) and receiver from manufacturer(B) are wide-band analog FM wireless. There needs to be precise or loose equivalence of the following parameters in the following features/ways for cross-compatibility to succeed:

  • Both Tx and Rx must have an overlapping tuning range, or bandwidth. In audio pro terminology this often is described as being in the same "block," "band," or "frequency range." Here's an example of what doesn't work: if Tx.A tunes in-between 530-540 MHz and Rx.B tunes 550-560 MHz, you will NOT succeed, because neither device shares spectrum (airwaves) with the other. The tuning range must overlap.
  • The tuning step frequencies must overlap. A simplified example, if Tx.A can only tune to a single frequency, say 550.125 MHz, and Rx.B only tunes to three frequencies, say 520.050 MHz, 523.050 MHz, and 529.125 MHz, then the receiver has no way of "tuning in" to the carrier frequency of the transmitter. Even with receivers that can tune "manually" into the same tuning range as the transmitter, the steps between frequencies in pro audio are course - 25 kHz - and may not overlap perfectly. Stated another way, if you want to listen to a broadcast radio station on 93.9 MHz, but for whatever bizarre reason your car's radio only tunes to 92.1 MHz, followed by 92.7 MHz, followed by 94.5 MHz, the transmitter frequency you want (93.9 MHz) ain't on the dial! and you're out of luck.
  • If using analog, AND, the tuning ranges overlap, AND the tuning steps align, you'll probably hear something, and it's totally possible you'll be able to understand every single word that's spoken into the transmitter on a receiver of the same tuning range. But will the audio sound good? Er. Maybe. Probably not. Why not?
  • Because good sounding wireless has almost nothing to do with the abstract mathematical matching of frequencies between Tx and Rx, even though tuning to the same frequency is an essential pre-requisite for wireless to work and there's no way around it. A large amount of engineering and creativity goes into pro-grade wireless audio that one effectively destroys when crossing manufacturers. In particular, audio compression, gain structures, AF or RF pre-amplification and amplification, and/or companding parameters and de/modulation signal chains are mismatched between one manufacturer and another. And as a result you'll rarely hear the same quality with different manufacturers vs. using TRx pairs from the same manufacturer. You might get lucky, or, maybe you don't mind crappy sounding audio. Guess that's a personal choice.
  • Oh, and essential things like squelch tones and subcarriers probably won't make it across

Refrain: All of the above ONLY works if BOTH Tx and Rx are analog.

-ARM

(Source: thousands of conversations with wireless audio pros)

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you very much for the elaborate answer. I was aware of the difficulties regarding frequencies, but the last two points in particular made a few things clearer for me. Much appreciated. – Marcus C. May 7 at 11:23
2

Some receivers will be compatible with transmitters from other manufacturers but this is generally not a common case. For example, Lectrosonics receivers can receive audio from Sennheiser G3 series transmitters if using the correct modulation mode.

It has to be said though, this is not usually the case and you should follow the general rule that you should stick with the same manufacturer and wireless model for both Tx and Rx to get the best performance.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks, that clarifies a few things for me. :) – Marcus C. May 2 at 20:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.