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Author Topic: Question about advancements in wireless IEM  (Read 1331 times)

Mark Scrivener

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Re: Question about advancements in wireless IEM
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2019, 03:11:23 pm »

I find it interesting that IEM systems have stayed mainly analog. I realize there is inherent latency in digital systems, but we have numerous well regarded 2.4 GHz digital systems for wireless mics and instruments, and surely latency is just as critical there....not to mention almost all of use digital mixers for live with no latency concerns. The latency of digital seems like a non issue here and could solve the bandwidth and noise floor limitations we find annoying. Of course there would be a development investment by the mfg and ROI questions, but seems like an opportunity.

John Sulek

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Re: Question about advancements in wireless IEM
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2019, 04:59:32 pm »

The P10R+ is a whole new ballgame. These are the current PSM-1000 receivers (belt packs), and they sound amazing, particularly when it comes to separation and noise floor.
+100
They do sound awesome.
 There were some incremental firmware updates to the original P10R packs and also a hardware upgrade to that model about a year or two out that made a vast improvement in the stereo separation and frequency response.
P10R+ is the next step in this continual improvement.

I have gone through all the psm models on tour over the years..600,700,900,1000. The improvements have been striking over the years.

You need to remember that one of the reasons touring folks love the psm1000 units is the frequency agility and rf robustness.
It doesn't matter how "golden" your mix is if the talent can't reliably receive it at their location.

Disclaimer...my primary client is heavily endorsed by Shure, but they are not deaf either. lol

« Last Edit: September 27, 2019, 11:49:49 am by John Sulek »
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Russell Ault

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Re: Question about advancements in wireless IEM
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2019, 06:03:47 pm »

I find it interesting that IEM systems have stayed mainly analog. I realize there is inherent latency in digital systems, but we have numerous well regarded 2.4 GHz digital systems for wireless mics and instruments, and surely latency is just as critical there....not to mention almost all of use digital mixers for live with no latency concerns. The latency of digital seems like a non issue here and could solve the bandwidth and noise floor limitations we find annoying. Of course there would be a development investment by the mfg and ROI questions, but seems like an opportunity.

Total latency (i.e. from input to output) is a budget, and it's a budget that changes depending on the circumstances. The latency budget for a broadcast mix is basically infinite (as long as you sync the audio and video before distribution, that is); the latency budget for an FOH mix can be as much as 20 ms or more in large venues or less than 10 ms in small rooms. When you get into monitoring, where people are relying on what they're hearing to keep time, that budget gets smaller. The rule of thumb I've heard in general for monitors is a latency budget of ~10 ms, but that includes the ~6 ms propagation delay from wedge to ears. The latency budget for IEMs depends on what they're being used for, with singers and string players being the most latency-critical (they hear the sound of themselves being propagated through their bone structure as well as through the IEMs and the margin of error to line those two sounds up is very small); there are singers for whom 3 ms from mic to IEMs is too much. Humans also tend to be more forgiving of timing issues in a reverberant space, so with IEMs (i.e. a non-reverberant space) latency budgets tend to be smaller, often much smaller.

Since analogue IEMs have effectively no latency they have no "cost" to the latency budget. For a singer, this can make the difference between IEMs that work and IEMs that don't work, especially if you've already spent 2-3 ms on a digital wireless microphone and another couple of ms on a digital console.

-Russ
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Caleb Dueck

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Re: Question about advancements in wireless IEM
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2019, 08:40:28 pm »

...we have numerous well regarded 2.4 GHz digital systems for wireless mics and instruments...

Really? 

IEM's and digital - there are more issues at play than simple latency. 
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Henry Cohen

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Re: Question about advancements in wireless IEM
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2019, 09:58:05 pm »

I find it pretty sickening that you can spend $2k+ on a wireless IEM unit and then need spending another $2k+ on some super wazo earbuds to extract the last 5%. I mean, what the literal hell...... It is not rocket science, it shouldn't cost $4k to replace a damn $1 per foot cable........ I DGAFF what anyone says, it is 100% BS.

There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of what it takes to create a very high quality audio link to begin with, and that's without considering the form factor and use constraints of an IEM receiver. For the sake of this discussion, "high quality" means performance comparable to a good quality wired microphone with whatever latency is deemed acceptable to the "A" level clientele.

RF system performance, any RF system, in today's RF congested and high noise floor environment, is determined primarily by receiver performance. High selectivity and sensitivity are the key factors, which are diametrically opposed to wide tuning bandwidth and small form factor, both of which are mandatory features in any top tier IEM product offering. High selectivity requires proper filtering, which in turn requires a specific volume (size) based on the frequency range of operation, and by it's very nature is band limited. Tracking filters are not very selective so sensitivity will suffer. Want some flavor of advanced diversity (dual receivers or phase correlation/comparison/combining); add more filters and DSP. Basically, take the same circuit in a rack mount receiver and cram it into a body pack. Then take the rack mount receiver's remote antennas that are just about in free field and make them a quarter wave (about 5MHz worth of decent VSWR and apply it across 60 - 120 MHz) and cram it up against a sweating salty water bag.

Then lets look at the business case: Given the paltry quantity of unit sales in our industry, 6 figures is considered great over the life span of this type of product, but more likely 5 figures, and I'm surprised the current top tier offerings are only $4k for a full link. The economy of scale for this sophisticated a product is a difficult balancing act. To put hings in perspective, a typical high end cell phone today costs between $500 and $1k, and that's only one half of the link, the other half costing about $2M per cell site. Any given popular cell phone model is selling in the scores of thousands every quarter. Compared to the current upper tier IEM offerings, the cell phone has miserable latency, mediocre telephony audio quality and requires at least one $120k base station and three $1.5k+ sector antennas (at just one cell site BTW) to function. 

Now, if a $4k/channel IEM link doesn't make sense for your business model, then it is absolutely the wrong product. You need to use the equipment that makes you money. But there is substantially more to this than merely the perception of what one thinks something should cost.
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Henry Cohen

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Tim Halligan

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Re: Question about advancements in wireless IEM
« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2019, 10:38:19 pm »

Given that IEMs in live music situations are primarily used as an alternative to wedges/sidefills, the fact that they may not be a completely transparent audiophile experience is a non-issue.

Certainly wedges never were.

Both wedges and IEMs are used to give the performer sufficient pitch and time cues in order to deliver a consistent, compelling performance.

The fact that everyone can have a stereo - or stereo enough - portable device which can deliver enough level, yet not be detrimental to other's stage experience (i.e. keeping stage levels under control) for the kind of dollars that we see these days is something of a revelation.

Certainly we want to give and get the best possible audio outcome, but for their given purpose good enough is good enough. Perfection would be nice, but is not necessary.

Cheers,
Tim

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Philip Roberts

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Re: Question about advancements in wireless IEM
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2019, 11:01:32 pm »

... but I see a substantially better new generation digital IEM in the near future.
Can you offer any comment on how near this might be?

Iíd love a PSM-D. Dante/WWB integration/SBC200 with a ULX-D like RF link.

I have two channels of Duet that seems to have killed its self over a bad power supply. I had no audio performance complains but the need for lithium batteries is a pain. The lack of complaints may be my users (church volunteer musicians) donít know how to communicate what they donít like.  I can also tell that physical build is no where close the the Lectro quality of 15-20 years ago. I was running their 200 series until about 18 months ago.

Thanks

Philip
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Jason Glass

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Re: Question about advancements in wireless IEM
« Reply #27 on: September 27, 2019, 01:52:51 pm »

I haven't read the FCC regs (although I'd guess that they're fairly similar to the ISED Canada regs), but isn't this basically what Telex did with the BTR-800? Am I missing something?

-Russ

BTR-800 carries two audio paths on two carriers, but since it is an intercom they are considered discrete channels that are not necessarily correlated.  A stereo program mix falls under the definition of a single audio transmission.  I suppose that this could be challenged by the lawyers.

Mike Caldwell

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Re: Question about advancements in wireless IEM
« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2019, 02:38:45 pm »

I find it interesting that IEM systems have stayed mainly analog. I realize there is inherent latency in digital systems, but we have numerous well regarded 2.4 GHz digital systems for wireless mics and instruments, and surely latency is just as critical there....not to mention almost all of use digital mixers for live with no latency concerns. The latency of digital seems like a non issue here and could solve the bandwidth and noise floor limitations we find annoying. Of course there would be a development investment by the mfg and ROI questions, but seems like an opportunity.

All other IEM discussion aside I would not consider buying any wireless IEM or mic that operates in the 2.4ghz bandwidth.

Mark Scrivener

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Re: Question about advancements in wireless IEM
« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2019, 04:57:27 pm »

All other IEM discussion aside I would not consider buying any wireless IEM or mic that operates in the 2.4ghz bandwidth.

The Shure GLXD systems are 2.4 GHz and are used by tons of guitar players in everything from local bars to touring bands. I've personally used one for years in all sorts of situations and have never had a problem on stage. I will confess that during sound check if I roam the venue to get a first hand impression I can experience dropouts, but never seen this while on stage. My current band is using 3 GLXD systems, including one for the lead vocal mic and it has been rock solid in everything from small cafes with tons of WiFi hot spots nearby and microwave ovens in the venue to bigger shows with tons of people and their cell phones.

I should also add that my use case for wireless is quicker load in and strike, less clutter on stage, and fewer trip hazards. I'm not interested in running all over the place during a show. For this the GLXD systems have been perfect.

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Re: Question about advancements in wireless IEM
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