Me & The Audio-Technica 4000 Series (Or How A Single Wireless System Can Make An Impact)

Times are tight. The last thing most of us want to do right now is spend scarce church funds on new audio equipment.

The solution, however, lies not in completely shutting the door, but in setting clear priorities, choosing carefully, and investing wisely. In doing a complete inventory of what we have that works well, works OK, and works horribly to the point of seriously compromising our primary goal of the Word being heard.

Because right now, as we grapple with life’s rougher seas, hearing the Word is paramount.

With that in mind, I have a recommendation for any of you who might be in serious need of a new wireless microphone system, or are looking for a worthwhile upgrade. 

A couple of months ago, Audio-Technica sent me a 4000 Series Artist Elite wireless microphone system, both for evaluation in terms of my “day job” as a systems integrator and also to take for a test-drive at my church, where I serve on the technical team in support of both contemporary and traditional worship services.

While the 4000 Series was introduced over five years ago, it’s still formidable in every aspect, including my two primary factors: sound quality and rock-solid RF performance. If it doesn’t sound good, forget it. If it’s plagued by drop-outs and other anomalies, double forget it.

The 4000 Series also has a deep set of really smart features, and with an MSRP (retail/list price) that starts at $1,059 and ranges to $1,939 (and estimated “street prices” – what you’ll likely end up really paying – ranging from $769 to $1,399),  it better be good. No, it better be great.

In fact, it better make a difference.

What I found in my experience with the 4000 Series is that it does indeed make a difference, both in terms of vocal sound quality as well as making life easier for system operators. Here’s why.

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Overview
With 200 channels per band and 2 bands available, 541.500 – 566.375 MHz (TV Channels 25 – 30) and 655.500 – 680.375 MHz (TV Channels 44 – 49) this offering from Audio-Technica will fit your every wireless need, from a single mic for a talking head to a complete array of wireless for a full blown production.

Note that the operating frequency range completely avoids the troublesome 700 MHz band that’s the subject of so much uncertainty now, and likely, in the future. (You can read A-T’s latest statement on the 700 MHz issue here.)

The specific package I evaluated is the A-T AEW-4313, consisting of an AEW-R4100 half-space rack-mount receiver, AEW-T1000 UniPak belt pack transmitter, and AEW-T3300 cardioid condenser handheld microphone/transmitter.

Additionally I was provided with an AT892 MicroSet omnidirectional condenser headworn microphone. The company offers nine different transmitter options for the R4100 receiver, accounting for the price range quoted above.

My specific package has a list price of $1,739 ($1,259 estimated street price), with the additional AT892 mic starting at $439 list ($299 estimated street price).

Right out of the box, I liked what I saw. First, and albeit it’s a small thing, the receiver unit comes with a standard “computer style” power cord – NO wall wart or bulky inline converter in the cord.

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Too many times I’ve had to search for a power cable for a receiver that of course has a voltage and current requirement that is not common, in addition to having to figure out if the connector on the power supply is tip “+” or “-“. 

Beyond the power cord, the initial impression was great – everything is included to rack mount (dual or single) or set on a counter. Also in the package is a link cable to connect multiple units together to use the IntelliScan feature that automatically determines and sets the best available frequencies on all linked receivers.

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