inDesign 640 wireless microphone system
As restrictions begin to lift and crowds can gather again, Chris Downer tests out inDesign’s wireless microphone range and has a sound experience.
With the world on its way back to normal, we might soon be able to hang up our Zoom licences (at least part-time) and get back to in-person meetings and events. For that to happen however, venues have to have the right audio systems in order to be heard.
Many schools and not-for-profit organisations may still need to upgrade their wireless microphone systems to adhere to the changes to the usable Radio Frequency Spectrum implemented by ACMA in 2015. Budgets and demand to purchase new systems over the past two years are likely to have diminished in environments where compliance in all forms is a high priority.
inDESIGN wireless systems can be a great option in these markets to support budgets, neat installations, sound quality and assist organisation compliance by removing potential tripping hazards. Presenters can then focus on the most important task, to engage with their audiences and roam around cable-free.
Set up and testing
The inDESIGN models under review include: the iDR-111-640 single-channel wireless receiver (which comes in 640MHz-690MHz and 530MHz-580 MHz ranges); the iDT-HM1-640 handheld wireless microphone (640MHz-690MHz); and the iDT-BP1-640 transmitter (640MHz-690MHz).
The set-up procedure was straightforward to connect the iDR-111 Single Channel Receiver to my PA system using an XLR cable connected to the unit’s single balanced output. The upgraded iDR-222 appears to have dual balanced outputs and there is also an unbalanced line out on offer via a 6.35mm TS phono jack on both receiver models. The two large A & B Antennas were connected and secured to the rear of the rack-mountable unit so I was ready to power up.
The first thing to do was to perform a scan to determine the best interference-free channel by simply pressing the SET button twice, neat and easy. This process is confirmed by the SCAN symbol flashing to let you know something is happening. The outcome was the identification of the best interference-free channel available in my immediate testing space (653.500 MHz). It is recommended that you perform this auto-scan function each time the system is used in a new location.
Group (options 1-8 or U group) and channel selection are also available in the menu to manually set your preferred group and frequency channel. The “U” group is for advanced users who may choose a specified frequency rather than the system predetermined frequencies.
After pressing the SET button a few more times to bypass the other menu options (five times), I was back to the home screen and ready to pair the iDT-HM1-640 handheld wireless transmitter with the now optimised for interference receiver. The wireless inDESIGN iDT-HM1-640 Handheld microphone is easy to turn on via a small button on the bottom of the mic in the same location I have used for other wireless handheld transmitters. To pair this transmitter with the receiver was also a breeze, simply press the SET button once on the receiver to enter into the IR sync mode. Then unscrew the handle of the iDT-HM1 handheld transmitter and hold the IR Sync window in front of the SYNC window on the front of the receiver. Both the receiver and transmitter now displayed the recommended 653.500 MHz frequency and further confirmation of the connection is displayed on the receiver showing signal level.
Volume can be easily adjusted via the arrow up and down buttons on the front of the receiver unit. (+18db down to -24db in steps of -/+3dB). This could be very helpful when level adjustments further down the signal path are not an option.
To further assist level adjustments, the handheld transmitter provides capsule sensitivity (-6 dB to +6db), I found that 0 dB was sitting nicely however when compared against my SHURE BETA 58A SLX2 transmitter the comparable db setting was -6db. The iNDESIGN was a little brighter than the SHURE and sounded great overall. There is a handy mute button on the opposite side of the small LED screen on the HM1. This screen also displays the battery indicator and the frequency.
The IDT-11 receiver provides four EQ options that allow for users to further fine-tune the sound. I can see this being very helpful for AV guys to apply a quick tweak.
The 001 Flat is the default option with no signal alteration. The 002 Low Cut provided a nice low frequency roll-off that could be helpful in rooms where acoustic treatment may not be a priority. The 003 High Boost setting could be helpful to improve speech intelligibility issues – it sounded particularly usable for many environments. And finally, the 004 Low Cut and High Boost saw the lows rolled off nicely while the highs were boosted.
Given that the receiver is well equipped to change the sonics, the Lock function provides value for installations where end-users could access the system and apply unwanted changes. A clever feature of the lock function is that it still allows users to adjust the receiver output level.
The HM1 handheld transmitter also provides a lock on/off to assist with unwanted setting adjustments. SQUELCH is also provided and the default setting of 0.5dB appears fine with no need to adjust. If you experience RF noise interference then simply adjust the SQUELCH between 0 – 25dB.
The RF transmission signal strength on the HM1 can be adjusted to suit the environment. For distances of 20-40 meters between the transmitter and receiver, it is recommended to set the transmission strength to High (10mW), and for anything under 20 meters, a Low (3mW) setting would be applied. The battery life of the handheld transmitter will decline a little on the high setting. Users can expect approximately 10 hours in Low mode and 8 hours in High mode.
To boost antennas connected to the receiver, inDESIGN does provide extension options – each port is 8-12v, 300ma DC power. The included whip antennas can be extended via coax cable up to 5-10 meters that would suit many installations. Past five to ten meters would require an active inline booster or an active amplified antenna.
Now that the handheld wireless microphone was working well, it was time to give the iDT-BP1 wireless lapel microphone a whirl. The lapel microphone clip snapped into the mic capsule nicely, the windshield foam cover fits well and the belt clip is secure and easy to attach. The lapel was then connected to the TA 4m microphone socket on the lapel transmitter. To sync this iDT-BP1 unit, the same procedure as mentioned prior was applied to the receiver unit by pressing the setting button twice and holding the IR square icon of the lapel transmitter to the iDR-111 receiver – very easy and again the correct 653.500 MHz frequency was now displayed on the LED of the lapel transmitter unit. Similar to the handheld unit, there is the option to select RF transmission power (Low 3mW and High 10mW) and again the recommendation is that in low mode users should expect 10 hours of battery operation. There is also a High and low gain switch for rapid volume adjustment that could assist in boosting signal on the fly. The low battery indicator will prove to be very helpful for end-users.
The INDESIGN wireless microphone offerings will suit many installations and will provide operators with the ability to easily adjust both level and EQ quickly without relying upon adjustments further down the signal path. As crowds begin to regather, if you are thinking about restoring or upgrading your wireless microphone system, the inDESIGN range is worthy of your consideration.