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Author Topic: UHF vs VHF for USA touring  (Read 3980 times)

Luke Geis

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Re: UHF vs VHF for USA touring
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2017, 06:24:52 pm »

I usually suggest renting from a local supplier as an at best way to go. You will find that each area has a whitespace that of course is not the same. So while 500mhz may be great in one city, the next may be a disaster. Local providers have this sort of stuff figured out already and renting from them usually saves the headache of realizing you have NO wireless that is worth anything due to interference.

The exception is small numbers. If you are only using a few channels of RF then you should at least always be able to find a few clean channels. If you are walking in with 5-10 channels or more, you may find that some are not going to be clean as you would like. As expensive as RF is, it is rather cheap to rent. You may even be able to work with a nation wide vendor that will rent the RF to you from multiple cities and provide a better rate? It never hurts to ask.

VHF and UHF are really not far separated from each other in terms of modern technology. VHF is technically more stable at longer distances, but is not without it shortcomings. Same can be said for VHF. While each band has its strength, neither is better than the other anymore. What I find disappointing is that we are reverting back to 1980's technology and spending thousands to replace a simple $1 per foot cable........
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Jason Glass

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Re: UHF vs VHF for USA touring
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2017, 08:42:02 pm »

I usually suggest renting from a local supplier as an at best way to go. You will find that each area has a whitespace that of course is not the same. So while 500mhz may be great in one city, the next may be a disaster. Local providers have this sort of stuff figured out already and renting from them usually saves the headache of realizing you have NO wireless that is worth anything due to interference.

The exception is small numbers. If you are only using a few channels of RF then you should at least always be able to find a few clean channels. If you are walking in with 5-10 channels or more, you may find that some are not going to be clean as you would like. As expensive as RF is, it is rather cheap to rent. You may even be able to work with a nation wide vendor that will rent the RF to you from multiple cities and provide a better rate? It never hurts to ask.

VHF and UHF are really not far separated from each other in terms of modern technology. VHF is technically more stable at longer distances, but is not without it shortcomings. Same can be said for VHF. While each band has its strength, neither is better than the other anymore. What I find disappointing is that we are reverting back to 1980's technology and spending thousands to replace a simple $1 per foot cable........

People who assume that reverting to a "1980's" frequency band (VHF-TV) correlates to reverting to obsolete technology are making an enormous error of logic and judgement.  Today's VHF equipment is more technologically advanced than the 10 year old UHF equipment that is the current but soon outgoing industry standard.  By far.  It's more reliable, sounds better, and is less expensive per channel unit (when adjusted to historical $ value) than it was in the '80's.

Luke Geis

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Re: UHF vs VHF for USA touring
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2017, 10:56:39 pm »

I said specifically that "UHF and VHF are not far separated in technology". In fact, VHF technology is as it was then as it is today in terms of ability. Touring class systems used to be VHF. 1980's technology is not really meant to be a negative as much as it was meant to express distaste that we are paying a crap ton of money for technology that was pretty much at its peak in that era; all to replace a 100', $100 cable. 1976 is when Nady ( of all companies right ) created the patent for the FIRST companded RF system. This technology was later shared with Sennheiser and in 1996 they collectively won an emmy for the creation of a wireless broadcast microphone. VHF was still winning awards in 1996!!!
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Jason Glass

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Re: UHF vs VHF for USA touring
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2017, 01:42:42 am »

I said specifically that "UHF and VHF are not far separated in technology". In fact, VHF technology is as it was then as it is today in terms of ability. Touring class systems used to be VHF. 1980's technology is not really meant to be a negative as much as it was meant to express distaste that we are paying a crap ton of money for technology that was pretty much at its peak in that era; all to replace a 100', $100 cable. 1976 is when Nady ( of all companies right ) created the patent for the FIRST companded RF system. This technology was later shared with Sennheiser and in 1996 they collectively won an emmy for the creation of a wireless broadcast microphone. VHF was still winning awards in 1996!!!

I'm sorry, Luke. I didn't mean to imply that you specifically were equating current VHF tech to obsolete tech, but rather that it's a common mistake. I can see now that quoting your post made it appear so.

However, having used VHF gear extensively while touring back in the old days, I can assure you that modern PLL tuning alone makes today's gear far more advanced, capable, and reliable than previous generations of RF tech. And that's only one of many advances that we enjoy today. These advances are the result of millions of $ and thousands of hours of R&D that someone has to pay for.

Jerome Malsack

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Re: UHF vs VHF for USA touring
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2017, 11:45:08 am »

And as more gear gets moved the crowding and overlap will continue.  If modern and old are used the band usage and overlap will be there and still be the problem.  Because I use the older analog and you may bring a digital.  I will be using about 5 to 10 bands of your digital.  So I will be working on the budget to update my gear.  This will take time at the cost of the new systems. 
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Luke Geis

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Re: UHF vs VHF for USA touring
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2017, 02:43:27 pm »

Until there is a fully digital way to move audio that is near limitless in channel count and is as robust as a cable, I see us fighting for bandwidth and replacing said multi-thousand dollar unit every 10 years until it is so. Wireless audio has been about the worst investment that can be made since about the mid 90's when TV and cell phones started lobbying the air waves.

If it was mandatory to get a radioman certificate to run RF mics at all, then I think it would be a different game. This would leave some tooth in the music industries argument to keep and maintain a spectrum. The race to the bottom as it has been said, is probably the nail in that coffin though. The wanton disregard for spectrum respect and selling cheap units that allow any Tim, Tom, or Marry to run out and play with has stepped on more than a few toes over the years I would bet. I don't think we would have some of the rules applied today that we do if it wan't so. I also think that by this point in time we would simply have a spectrum of our own. By our own, I of course mean a spectrum owned by the music industry in which all those in the game must learn to play well in. Rf mics are definitely a nice toy, but there is a large disparity in performance between the $500 units and the $2000+ A la-carte units. So much so, that from a cost benefit standpoint, that 100', $100 cable should be a no brainer.

The amount of R&D that has gone into RF mics in just the last 10 years is laughable when you consider it is simply trying to replace a length of copper cable......  You can probably tell I am not a huge fan of wireless mics :)  It is not so much because they are expensive, I can deal with that, it is more because we keep trying to re-invent the wheel in order to stay in the race, only to have the finish line moved. I have bought 4 RF units in two sets over the past 10 years and all of them are paper weights right now...... So I have to make another large purchase to replace copper cables that I already own hundreds of feet of. Super Duper Stoked about that.

Then as mentioned, it only gets worse as the playing field gets smaller and the number of players greater. This is why I say it is best to RENT the gear from a local provider. It is a win win. They get to recoupe the money of that investment and you don't have to make an investment that may never pay off before it goes obsolete. With a local provider you are more likely to get a band ( VHF band ) that works best for that area. RF channels are relatively cheap to rent vs. their retail cost. You don't even have to buy the batteries most of the time!!!! The upside to not buying your own RF is that if less people own it, then there is less crowding. This improves the odds that you won't have issues.

To be honest I think RF should cost 2X what it does now. This will make it cost prohibitive for punters like me to be able to own it and it will make it only viable for those who have the money to REALLY REALLY want / need it. I only do local events with the RF I own and I only own it because it is just cheap enough for me to make money off of it. If it costs too much to own, I just rent it. Shameful really that an $80,000+ mixer can be rented for around $400-$500 a day. That is less than 1% of retail!!!! RF mics almost universally rent for around $75 per channel. That is roughly 2% of retail at least for high end units and that's not even factoring antenna distribution, cases and batteries ( rechargeable or not )!!! Lets not forget having an inventory of mic head options to choose from. Just ranting really, never mind me.
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: UHF vs VHF for USA touring
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2017, 03:03:17 pm »

Until there is a fully digital way to move audio that is near limitless in channel count and is as robust as a cable, I see us fighting for bandwidth and replacing said multi-thousand dollar unit every 10 years until it is so. Wireless audio has been about the worst investment that can be made since about the mid 90's when TV and cell phones started lobbying the air waves.

If it was mandatory to get a radioman certificate to run RF mics at all, then I think it would be a different game. This would leave some tooth in the music industries argument to keep and maintain a spectrum. The race to the bottom as it has been said, is probably the nail in that coffin though. The wanton disregard for spectrum respect and selling cheap units that allow any Tim, Tom, or Marry to run out and play with has stepped on more than a few toes over the years I would bet. I don't think we would have some of the rules applied today that we do if it wan't so. I also think that by this point in time we would simply have a spectrum of our own. By our own, I of course mean a spectrum owned by the music industry in which all those in the game must learn to play well in. Rf mics are definitely a nice toy, but there is a large disparity in performance between the $500 units and the $2000+ A la-carte units. So much so, that from a cost benefit standpoint, that 100', $100 cable should be a no brainer.

The amount of R&D that has gone into RF mics in just the last 10 years is laughable when you consider it is simply trying to replace a length of copper cable......  You can probably tell I am not a huge fan of wireless mics :)  It is not so much because they are expensive, I can deal with that, it is more because we keep trying to re-invent the wheel in order to stay in the race, only to have the finish line moved. I have bought 4 RF units in two sets over the past 10 years and all of them are paper weights right now...... So I have to make another large purchase to replace copper cables that I already own hundreds of feet of. Super Duper Stoked about that.

Then as mentioned, it only gets worse as the playing field gets smaller and the number of players greater. This is why I say it is best to RENT the gear from a local provider. It is a win win. They get to recoupe the money of that investment and you don't have to make an investment that may never pay off before it goes obsolete. With a local provider you are more likely to get a band ( VHF band ) that works best for that area. RF channels are relatively cheap to rent vs. their retail cost. You don't even have to buy the batteries most of the time!!!! The upside to not buying your own RF is that if less people own it, then there is less crowding. This improves the odds that you won't have issues.

To be honest I think RF should cost 2X what it does now. This will make it cost prohibitive for punters like me to be able to own it and it will make it only viable for those who have the money to REALLY REALLY want / need it. I only do local events with the RF I own and I only own it because it is just cheap enough for me to make money off of it. If it costs too much to own, I just rent it. Shameful really that an $80,000+ mixer can be rented for around $400-$500 a day. That is less than 1% of retail!!!! RF mics almost universally rent for around $75 per channel. That is roughly 2% of retail at least for high end units and that's not even factoring antenna distribution, cases and batteries ( rechargeable or not )!!! Lets not forget having an inventory of mic head options to choose from. Just ranting really, never mind me.

I can make a strong case for the presenter at a conference that know how to get out from behind the lectern.  Or the worship ceremony with a mobile officiant.  Many singers and musicians also make good use of the mobility afforded to them. 

Being able to hand a wireless out to the speakers at a wedding is nice too.  They just never hold it right.

Where the angst comes is the punters on postage stamp stages in clubs that insist on wireless or bring their own shit wireless (It's a Shure has to be good) and when it doesn't work it's always "I never had trouble before" calling into competence your abilities and running the risk of the microphone being inserted in part of their anatomy.

This year we added to QLX-D and DPA to our inventory.  Short of some hard good it is one of our most popular rentals.

Just a little balance to Luke's rant.

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Jason Glass

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Re: UHF vs VHF for USA touring
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2017, 05:28:43 pm »

Although performers and artists are notable a percentage of unnecessary spectrum consumers (due to ignorance and overwhelming desire for personal CONVENIENCE), the real, necessary, and majority of legit users are those who absolutely require two-way intercom at events. It isn't a genuine hardship for an artist to tote a cabled mic on a 40x30 foot stage, but it is unreasonable to expect technical crew members to drag 300 feet of cable around a venue to achieve the constant communications necessary to do their jobs. The biggest problem emerges as a lack of people with the guts or the authority to say, "No, you will not do that in this performance" to a performer, in order to make spectrum available to those who actually need it to fulfill the intended audience's expectations. Unfortunately, our industry places the performers on an a plane of whim where practical considerations are secondary to artist comfort and threaten the careers of those who would make mention of it.

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brian maddox

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Re: UHF vs VHF for USA touring
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2017, 05:48:11 pm »

Although performers and artists are notable a percentage of unnecessary spectrum consumers (due to ignorance and overwhelming desire for personal CONVENIENCE), the real, necessary, and majority of legit users are those who absolutely require two-way intercom at events. It isn't a genuine hardship for an artist to tote a cabled mic on a 40x30 foot stage, but it is unreasonable to expect technical crew members to drag 300 feet of cable around a venue to achieve the constant communications necessary to do their jobs. The biggest problem emerges as a lack of people with the guts or the authority to say, "No, you will not do that in this performance" to a performer, in order to make spectrum available to those who actually need it to fulfill the intended audience's expectations. Unfortunately, our industry places the performers on an a plane of whim where practical considerations are secondary to artist comfort and threaten the careers of those who would make mention of it.

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I 100 percent agree with you.  Although i must say that at least a third of the RF Comms i hand out on a show probably aren't really necessary either.  Either the person doesn't really need to have unfettered communications, or they don't really need to talk and would do just fine with some sort of single Frequency IEM monitoring solution....
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Luke Geis

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Re: UHF vs VHF for USA touring
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2017, 07:43:21 pm »

I will say that RF comms do make life much easier, but I honestly don't care if I have to run cable or not. It pays the same, technically more if you look at it by the hour :)

I love that I can simply patch in an RF mic and not have to clean up the cable between every act. They do have a cleaner stage presence. For all the ups, there sure are a lot of downs. I just laugh when I am near an airport and I have 5 mics and 2 clean channels...... Do you really need that thing to walk 10' in either direction?????
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Re: UHF vs VHF for USA touring
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2017, 07:43:21 pm »


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