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Author Topic: Entry-level wireless mic for exercise instruction: Shure BLX, PGDX, or...?  (Read 875 times)

Matt Staroscik

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My wife has a small hobby business doing exercise instruction. It's time to move on from the crummy Nady wireless mic we started her with, and get something more durable.

I could really use some recommendations for a quality 1 channel wireless mic for speech. I know Shure is a pretty safe bet... but I don't know the ins and outs of the lineup, or much about options in other manufacturers.

The mic will mostly be used in suburban rec rooms and yards, where even cheap Nady 900 MHz analog and digital gear has not had problems with interference. It is possible it might get taken to a downtown venue with a more hostile RF environment. Durability/reliability is more important than sound quality in this application. 

I am looking at the Shure BLX, and wondering if the PGXD is worth an extra $100. I'm open to other manufacturers if there is anything else I should consider.

Budget is up to $500. Of course I don't want to spend more than I have to, but I want a long-term investment, and I am generally happy to spend a little more for reliability and flexibility.

Thanks much if you have any guidance.

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Jason Raboin

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Samson Airline series has a few options where the transmitter is built into the headset which is preferable for fitness classes..  That's what the spin studio I go to has and it's fine.
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Jason Raboin
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Mike Caldwell

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The all in one headset transmitter combo eliminates the failure point of a headset cable that connects to the transmitter pack, and they will fail, even faster with exercise instruction use.

If you go with the BLX get the "R" version for a better receiver.

Matt Staroscik

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Thanks guys, I will investigate the all in one headset option.

Does the rackmount BLX have better electronics, or are the improvements the quality of the case and detachable antennas?


Edit to add: The Airline 99 or 88x loo like really good options. She loves the idea of no bodypack. They aren't making it easy to figure out what the differences are between their two exercise-related headsets, though. The mics have different pickup patterns but I am not sure if it really means anything.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 05:41:24 pm by Matt Staroscik »
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Mike Caldwell

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Does the rackmount BLX have better electronics, or are the improvements the quality of the case and detachable antennas?


I going to say the electronics are better, the metering is handy, quality of the case is much better as are the external antennas.

Matt Staroscik

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After discussing it with my "client," looks like we will try Samson. She's totally sold on the lack of a bodypack.

I am leaning towards the 88x as the headset looks more durable.

Now to figure out D (542-566 MHz) or K (470-494 MHz). Well, according to this report from Sennheiser's tool (http://sennheiser.us/freqfinder/index2.html) I at least have one slice of green in K. The data is a couple of years old but it is the best I can find.

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Mac Kerr

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The data is a couple of years old but it is the best I can find.
This particular data a coupe of years old is completely useless. There has been an auction of RF spectrum and a repack of all the TV stations that will be complete July 13, and is for all intents and purposes complete now that changed all that data.

If you post the zip code you will be using the mic in someone here can check more up to date information for you.

Mac
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Scott Holtzman

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This particular data a coupe of years old is completely useless. There has been an auction of RF spectrum and a repack of all the TV stations that will be complete July 13, and is for all intents and purposes complete now that changed all that data.

If you post the zip code you will be using the mic in someone here can check more up to date information for you.

Mac


You have to admit Mac, somebody outside of the business caring about frequency coordination and legality?  Be still my heart.

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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Matt Staroscik

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If you post the zip code you will be using the mic in someone here can check more up to date information for you.

That would be super helpful, thanks! I'm in 98072 and that's where the vast majority of use would be.

If it matters, nearest metro area is Bellevue WA (98004) at ~12 miles, and I am ~25 miles from Seattle (98104).

I'm a ham guy so I'm in to following rules. ;)
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Tim McCulloch

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That would be super helpful, thanks! I'm in 98072 and that's where the vast majority of use would be.

If it matters, nearest metro area is Bellevue WA (98004) at ~12 miles, and I am ~25 miles from Seattle (98104).

I'm a ham guy so I'm in to following rules. ;)

https://www.rabbitears.info/search.php?request=zip_search&zipcode=98072&miles=60&address=&lat=47.7742762&lon=-122.1358875&dbtype=dBm&height=

https://www.rabbitears.info/market.php?request=station_search&callsign=35862&sorting=physical
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 05:26:59 pm by Tim McCulloch »
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Matt Staroscik

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Thank you for the links. If I am reading Seattle market table correctly, physical channels 15 & 17 in K-band are unused. Physical channels 26-29, all of D-band, are all in use though most transmitters are distant. So, K looks like the better choice.
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Mac Kerr

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Thank you for the links. If I am reading Seattle market table correctly, physical channels 15 & 17 in K-band are unused. Physical channels 26-29, all of D-band, are all in use though most transmitters are distant. So, K looks like the better choice.

At least one of those 2 channels may be used by public service land mobile radios, like police fire and other emergency uses. If so, it is out of bounds.

Mac
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Russell Ault

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At least one of those 2 channels may be used by public service land mobile radios, like police fire and other emergency uses. If so, it is out of bounds.

Maybe I'm looking at the wrong regulations (47 CFR 90.303, right?), but I'm not seeing Seattle as a listed urbanized area.

-Russ
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Matt Staroscik

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If any of the slots that look free are in use by the government, where can I look that up?

As to "urbanized" Seattle, I am in the Seattle TV market... but I live 20+ miles away in unincorporated county land, 98072. The mic will live in the suburbs, nowhere near Seattle itself, or any other metro area.

Edit to add: I do have a variety of radio gear... a couple of scanners, and a SDR radio dongle. I guess I could scan my environment, though that would not tell me about a licensed gov't station that was not in use at the time of the scan. (e.g. https://dbbaudio.com/2016/inexpensive-rf-spectrum-analyzers/)
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 05:54:36 pm by Matt Staroscik »
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Jason Glass

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If any of the slots that look free are in use by the government, where can I look that up?

As to "urbanized" Seattle, I am in the Seattle TV market... but I live 20+ miles away in unincorporated county land, 98072. The mic will live in the suburbs, nowhere near Seattle itself, or any other metro area.

https://d24z4d3zypmncx.cloudfront.net/KnowledgeBaseFiles/cjrhnq22f0w4q0189as3rhlwv/UHF_20Spectrum_20After_20DTV_20Transition.pdf

If you're using Shure Wireless Workbench to coordinate your frequencies, as you should be, it automatically excludes Public Safety T-Band when you do a proper TV stations search.

Seattle does not currently have protected Public Safety T-Band and you don't need to worry about it as long as you are operating locally.

Matt Staroscik

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If you're using Shure Wireless Workbench to coordinate your frequencies, as you should be, it automatically excludes Public Safety T-Band when you do a proper TV stations search.

Seattle does not currently have protected Public Safety T-Band and you don't need to worry about it as long as you are operating locally.

Thanks much for the reference. Glad to know there is no public safety issue in Seattle. I also looked up a list of frequencies in use by my county and there is no K-band conflict.

I will take a another look at Shure Wireless Workbench. When I looked at it a few days ago the site made it look like it was only for users of Shure hardware. I mean, it looked like it required a Shure receiver to do anything. I didn't realize it was a general reference tool.

For fun I dug out my old DVB-T receiver and set up RTLSDR Scanner. These plots are with dwell 1 sec, gain 14 db, FFT 512 samples, which is advice from the article I link I posted earlier. I am using a generic garbage antenna but this is the best I can do with what I had on hand. K seems more congested than D in these plots, but I really don't know if this test is meaningful at all.

D Band


K Band


« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 08:33:13 pm by Matt Staroscik »
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Matt Staroscik

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Now, this I don't understand. I rescanned the bands this morning and got different results. However it still seems like I should order a K-band mic as there are more clear areas. If anyone can make a case for D please speak up. :)

D Band
Missing the wide and strong TV station peaks? Do stations not broadcast constantly?


K Band
This plot is similar to the original, though the noise floor and hash on the right side look different now. However, I did move the antenna.


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Scott Helmke

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A TV station would look like a block, 6MHz wide.  The first channel starts at 470MHz, so that ripple starting at 482-488 could be a distant station.
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Matt Staroscik

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A TV station would look like a block, 6MHz wide.  The first channel starts at 470MHz, so that ripple starting at 482-488 could be a distant station.

Makes sense.

Thanks everyone for the help, I think I am all set.
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Matt Staroscik

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Last update: the Airline 88x, K-band, arrived today and so far my "client" loves it. No RF issues so far, and it fits her well. Thanks again for the suggestion @Jason Raboin.
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