Tiny mics have thin cables, so it’s essential to make them as rugged as possible to resist the bends, pulls, and other abuses of live performance.
Connectors must be water-resistant and long-term reliable. Kevlar and related high-strength fibers that used to be more closely related to bullet-proof vests, along with specialized alloys that combine flexibility with fatigue resistance, have become standard materials.
With the MKE 2, Sennheiser uses stranded stainless-steel reinforced cables to increase pull strength. For rigorous touring applications, DPA has just released enhanced cables for its d:screet mic line that include a stainless steel housing, additional strain relief, and a thicker 2.2-mm diameter.
The Countryman H6 uses Para-aramid fibers (from the Kevlar family) to more than double the pull strength of the cable, along with specialized polymers for the inner insulator and outer jacket to maximize puncture resistance while minimizing induced mechanical noise. Specialized plastics and hydrophobic coatings add protection from water and dust entering the cables, connectors, and mic elements.
Point Source Audio “x-tails” adapters for wireless transmitters. The top adapter is for Shure, Line 6 and other transmitters, while the bottom adapter is for Audio-Technica transmitters.
Making It Wireless
Given that headsets and lavs are designed to provide unobtrusive freedom of movement to performers, it follows that they’re usually connected to wireless transmitters. When used so close to radio-emitting sources, RF and EMI immunity of both the mic element and the cable is required. Also, with the variety of connectors used by different wireless manufacturers, offering mating connectors is a necessity.
Audio-Technica supplies versions of the BP-894 headset terminated with 3.5 mm, Lemo, Hirose, and TA-4F connectors. The H6 has detachable cables to fit virtually all wireless transmitters or wired connections, and DPA, Avlex Mipro, and others have adapters for the same purpose. Point Source Audio provides what it calls “x-tails” (X-Connectors) – short adapters featuring a variety of connectors that thread to a mini-connector at the end of the headset’s cable.
When it comes to being discreet, light in weight, mobile, and close to the source, headsets, lavs and other miniature mics bring significant advantages. They’re available from a variety of quality manufacturers and at many price points, with some companies making a major commitment to the format and pushing the technology to new levels of performance.
Gary Parks is a pro audio writer who has worked in the industry for more than 25 years, including serving as marketing manager and wireless product manager for Clear-Com, handling RF planning software sales with EDX Wireless, and managing loudspeaker and wireless product management at Electro-Voice.