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jeffl
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I recently participated on a post here about a wireless microphone and I know there's some interest out there in finding alternative ways to fulfill that need, because frankly they're kind of expensive for what they do. Well it turns out that a smartphone offers a number of ways to fill that gap, sometimes all that's needed is a free or very inexpensive app, but I have to say I feel kind of odd being the person to bring this up because frankly I've never owned one! (What can I say, 2014 was "kind of a bad year" for the day job, luckily it'l be over soon, on the calendar at least, so I can start playing around with this stuff myself.) Let me start by saying though the whole premise is based on use of the phone as a "platform", you're certainly NOT "restricted" to using the actual on-phone mic element (I suppose it MIGHT be usable for some purposes), you're also NOT "phoning in" your sound, the whole idea is you've got input means (a TRRS "headphone jack" or USB connector) and a digital way of communicating other than the phone network (generally using the phone's wi-fi capability, which by itself may be good for about 100 meters range even without an external antenna). It COULD be possible to get audio over Bluetooth but I'm told that mechanism is restricted to 8000 sample per second mono, therefore only "telephone quality" audio so forget that option for now.

So I guess your first question might be "do I need iPhone or Android"? Actually either will work, according to some sources even Windows Phone will do this! Now obviously you'd like to use a good external mic. On an iPhone you'd be using a mic with an analog output for use with the TRRS jack, here I'll mention (this is NOT an endorsement, I've never even had one in my hands but it WAS their ad that got me looking into this) something like the Rode smartLav+ (there's entire lists of possibilities in the articles I'll link below). Now they have an app for their device but the app itself is NOT for use as live PA, just recording and streaming, but there ARE a whole host of eithe free or cheap apps readily available that will do the job. I'm told that with the current release of iOS you can't reliably send audio over Airplay (Apple's "general purpose" wi-fi interface) but apparently you CAN send it over Apple TV, and it's very UNclear whether the Airplay situation is a "bug" or some issue about copyrights or strategic marketing, sorry I have no insight about that! Now if you have an Android phone, at this point in time you're in even a litle better shape, you can use the same microphone device and interface OR you can use a USB mic (which converts the analog signal to digital first), apparently Android works quite well with regular wi-fi, heck you can even use a STEREO mic over USB on Android if you want to! Some of these apps also include auxiliary functions like mic EQ etc.

I think I'll stop "spreading my ignorance" right here and let you folks peruse the links below with LOTS more about using an exiernal mic with a smartphone. Like I say I've probably "blown my tech cred" on this service by admitting I'm not even a smartphone OWNER let alone expert, I hope you'll at least let me keep a few "brownie points" for being the first to bring up the topic! (The lengths I'm willing to go to for my fellow man...) It'll be up to the rest of you folks to "post back" what you find works well for this etc.

http://www.lifeisaprayer.com/articles/ph......io-input

http://www.wildmountainechoes.com/equipm......rtphone/
w_s_anderson
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Thanks for posting that! Very interesting!
David Garrity
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Wireless mics are expensive for what they do?

This Sennheiser system (arguably the industry standard in wireless sound) wireless headset system is $650. http://www.musiciansfriend.com/headset-m......d=803928

There are less expensive alternatives; Shure; Nady; Audio Technica.

Buying the Sennheiser, for $650 (or one of the options above for less), you are getting frequency agile, true diversity wireless technology with a good mic element that is going to ensure that your audience hears and understands what you are saying during your show.

It's magic, if they can't SEE you and HEAR you, there isn't a show. I don't understand why performers will spend thousands on magic equipment and then scrimp on their sound.

Even if you are just doing a silent act to music, you should have a good quality sound system to play that music at least as a back up. So, when you show up at a venue and all they have are 4 inch speakers in a ceiling in a hotel meeting room, you'll not blow them out or have the music sound terrible which then reflects on your performance.
John Martin
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Quote:
On Dec 25, 2014, David Garrity wrote:
Wireless mics are expensive for what they do?

This Sennheiser system (arguably the industry standard in wireless sound) wireless headset system is $650. http://www.musiciansfriend.com/headset-m......d=803928

There are less expensive alternatives; Shure; Nady; Audio Technica.

Buying the Sennheiser, for $650 (or one of the options above for less), you are getting frequency agile, true diversity wireless technology with a good mic element that is going to ensure that your audience hears and understands what you are saying during your show.

It's magic, if they can't SEE you and HEAR you, there isn't a show. I don't understand why performers will spend thousands on magic equipment and then scrimp on their sound.

Even if you are just doing a silent act to music, you should have a good quality sound system to play that music at least as a back up. So, when you show up at a venue and all they have are 4 inch speakers in a ceiling in a hotel meeting room, you'll not blow them out or have the music sound terrible which then reflects on your performance.


Bravo! Well said. I think the links posted above address more the side of recording sound rather then amplifying sound. I did get a great idea off the first link on how to make an iPad camera mount...so thanks for that.

John
jeffl
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David,

Of course you need a great sound system, and to be heard well through it, in order for your show to be a success. (I have a few legit credits in pro audio myself, including a patent or two, but those were earned awhile back and are pretty much off topic as far as this issue is concerned.) I'm coming at this from a completely different point of view, the "traditional" wireless mic uses fairly complicated analog technology (I notice some of the newer Shures are digital, there may be others too), that technology is pretty much paleolithic compared to what modern digital communications can do, and do both well and inexpensively. I mean the Sony Trinitron color CRT displays threw a GREAT picture in their day, but if you invited someone over to your house to watch a movie TODAY on one you wouldn't seriously expect anyone to be impressed by "the level of your technology", would you seriously?

In a modern smartphone audio system if you use the auxiliary wireless channel you combine the power of the modern high-bit-rate hardware audio codec with a modern wi-fi wireless digital transmission system. A simple modern audio codec can reliably encode at the S/N ratio of 20 bits of audio (and frequently stereo) at the sampling rate of CD audio or higher into a digital bitstream, that capability simply didn't even exist when the first "pro" wireless mics came out. (If you use a "USB" mic you're actually using a codec outside the phone itself.) Perhaps even more impressive is the bit error rate of the wifi digital transmission mechanism, the system won't let even a single bit error through over many terabytes of data transmitted! If the system COULDN'T provide that then you wouldn't be able to download new apps or new versions of your smartphone's operating system, A SINGLE UNDETECTED ERROR WOULD RENDER THE NEW PROGRAM INTO JUST A NONFUNCTIONAL ANNOYANCE. The combination of these technologies "just happens" to enable the "lowly" smartphone to provide a MUCH more than adequate basis for MANY very useful auxiliary capabilities, one of which happens to be a wireless mic with a very high level of functionality, and plenty of range to boot.

But do I need to be careful here, you can't be "arbitrarily cheap" and expect to have a system that works well! What the smartphone technology did a wonderful job with was providing an alternative to "modulation" (the hardware codec) and also the error-free digital transmission. I need to be clear that that's the part of the job that it does well and cost-effectively. What this "solution" didn't even try to address is the remaining analog aspects, and of course what I'm really talking about here is the microphone element itself. If it has a "peaky" audio response, either on- or off-axis, then THAT will cut down on the maximum potential acoustic gain that the sound system will allow you to get (because the system will just "feed back" at whatever frequency delivers the highest gain through the acoustic signal path, which could be a lot less gain that you need to be heard in the back of the room). It must also have a useful "pop filter" and perhaps an element of directionality if that's what your setup calls for. (Now in practice those 4 inch speakers in the ceiling that you HAD to use, they ALSO probably have quite a "peaky" response and may also be a big part of the problem, but that's a whole different article!) So what I'm saying here is if you want to spend more money on your mic system and actually get better performance, you might VERY WELL consider using a "super-premium" mic element like a Countryman (there's electrical interface issues with a smartphone that need to be addressed but they CAN be overcome). Now if it were me bringing a moc like that I'd bring my own reinforcement speakers so I'd know that BOTH ends of the "acoustic system" were basically flat, and maybe EQ for the room too, but not every performer or "gig" has the experience or deserves or can afford to have all that attention lavished on it.

In conclusion there really ARE times and situations where you really CAN do better than "you get what you pay for", and they're usually brought about by significant technological change. I just wanted to let folks know that this is one of them. Of course if you have an end-to-end system that you're happy with and you have no real reason to change, then just consider this an introduction to how you ought to think about your NEXT system when you need to upgrade. But if you're starting from scratch and you really NEED to get decent performance out of every equipment dollar, then it's just possible that I might just have saved you a few hundred bucks IF you're willing to proceed carefully and smartly (since you can pick up a used Android smartphone very cheaply on the 'net, of course it doesn't have to be on an active phone account or contract). Or at least I'm trying to help!
fireisyummy
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I've been trying to use my android as a wireless mike for a while. I tried every app there is. They all have a half second delay which is enough to drive your audience nuts and throw you completely off. All the developers say that there's no way to make an android microphone app that doesn't delay at all.
jeffl
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The developers you're talking to are technically correct about there not being an Android app that "doesn't delay AT ALL" but you can certainly do much better than half a second! The hardware sigma-delta converter/filter combo has a few milliseconds minimum processing delay but in the scheme of things that's just barely worth even adding in, and there can be MANY other factors in both hardware and firmware that can contribute as well. This is really WAY more technical than most magic enthusiasts are going to care about, but for the few of you who haven't fallen asleep yet one technical writer labored and put forth the following technical report from about a year ago showing the audio "latency" for a range of both Android phone models and Android OS releases:

http://www.androidauthority.com/horrendo......-624171/

So as you can see you might LIKE to get latency down to about 20 milliseconds where it's "barely detectable", but you certainly CAN get it down to about double that where I would assert it's hardly noticeable, and you'll notice that the article also mentions that for Samsung phones there's a special "SDK" that developers can use for their phones that CAN get it right down to 20 milliseconds (if you can find an app that was built with that SDK, or maybe Samsung can point you to one that is). Now in my career I have done real-time software development but I was never an app developer, but even while I never said this was an "easily solved" issue you'll certainly have to agree with me that IT IS PRACTICAL.
I don't have current street prices for these phones but I'm sure some of these are affordable, probably not as readily as the $10 Kit Kat model I picked up from Tracfone but then again I wasn't anticipating using it for this service anyway, and I'm sure there's a good reason I don't see it on this chart...!
Ray Pierce
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After designing audio systems and running sound for about 4 decades, I'm reminded of a Max Maven quote, "It's technically possible to cut a piece of steak with a sewing machine but why do that when I knife is so much easier." To tie up a phone with all of it's computing power and try and make it do something it's really not suited for might not be the best solution. Even a lower priced RF system will be a LOT better than the most expensive phone option. Use your dollars and time wisely.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
jeffl
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Sorry Ray, I have to disagree with your last statement. A lower priced RF system will be strictly analog (usually FM) processing and subject to carrier dropout even at very close distances, and if the carrier drops then there will be an audible "burp" in the program, it's absolutely assured, even with "diversity reception". Think about it, a cheap "wireless phone" you might use in your living room (DECT 6) is MUCH better suited to "dropout-free" communications (other than bandwidth flatness) than what's still being sold at the low end for theatrical use! A digital system using Wi-fi isn't GUARANTEED to get the packet through "the first time" but we're talking about a communications medium that's hundreds of times faster than the underlying program it's attempting to send intact, the retry is automatic and completely "buried inside" the communications medium. Besides who says it's "not suited to" the auxiliary functions provided by these apps? The modern cell phone contains a computer that's probably 10 to 20 times as powerful as the final generation of minicomputers before the PC came along, the whole PURPOSE of apps is to find ways to put some of that power to work. You're misinterpreting my purpose here, I'm not proposing putting together a SPECIAL phone to make a communications option, I'm proposing using something you probably already have in service for another purpose and SAVING money, why am I being so poorly understood here? My whole point is that there has been SO much change in communications technology in the last couple of decades that it may compel you to make an extra effort to QUESTION decisions based on assumptions that may have been "safe" earlier because there's a great likelihood that they're completely WRONG today.
Ray Pierce
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For the record, by "lower price systems" I'm looking at most systems below $1K, usually ion the $500 - $600 range. Commercial systems we would use in theater and on TV shoots cost a good deal more. I'm sure not against cell phone apps in the theater as I have many that are very specifically suited for live shows including playback and cue light apps. I'm just not sold on them for a wireless mike with the latency and fidelity issues. To be fair, I'm not doing smaller shows with a portable PA where the sound isn't as critical but usually larger events in a 2500 seat union house so I'm just not willing to take a chance on my phone for that. I'll stick with my RF mikes. Good luck!
Ray Pierce
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jeffl
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As I said Apple's iOS has dome a much better job to date minimizing audio latency than has Google's Android, but things HAVE been getting better for Android - slowly! I'm certainly not going to try and convince anyone what ought to constitute their "acceptable standard" for audio latency, but I certainly think in most cases there will be various "inputs" into making such a determination including of course your project budget. (I mean most of us aren't going to have thousands to spend on a high school talent show!) So I decided to post the following link which is a page you can go to with your own smartphone so you can test the latency of what you have (iOS OR Android) and FIND OUT whether it's in a range that YOU consider to be acceptable for YOUR needs, it also has a few links to some technical background on the topic which will help you perhaps figure out what you would need to do if you wanted to improve your latency, and ultimately what that might cost (THAT part's not automated but you could look around on eBay and other sources to get prices on used phones and such). So here's the link:

http://superpowered.com/latency

As far as Android apps that achieve low latency by using Samsung's professional audio SDK, Samsung's "Soundcamp" looks interesting, but I'm not personally in the market for a device with such a high price tag to test it right now. Maybe someone in a more favorable position to evaluate such a setup could do so and report back. It would also be nice to know how well the iOS/AirPlay over Apple TV works and whether there are other AirPlay "targets" that actually work and can be used, since I've spent most of my life on the Windows side of the world. Like you I could wish this were all MUCH easier but I do think overall it's very good news that the "technology price points" are SO MUCH better, and if everyone helps out and contributes what they've learned this will seem just as routine someday as everything else we do to prepare.
jay leslie
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I just can't imagine strapping a phone to the side of your head when you can hang a mic or pin a lav or (in a theatre) use multiple shotguns or others like small audio technics

Plus the phone is more apt to pick up unwanted sound and generate feedback - but I suppose- someone could write an app with a graphic equil..... I'm sorry this is getting way too ridicules to consider seriously. In my opinion.
jeffl
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No Jay, you've got this all inside out, you just plug (for example) a lav into the iPhone's TRRS jack, the iPhone stays in your pocket, the links I put in at the first panel at the top have some examples.
jay leslie
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Ahhh

Interesting
gothike
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Possible with the correct app with the correct latency but how do you then send the audio/mic signal to a PA/mixer.

Bluetooth would be the answer but the iPhone/androids Bluetooth antenna is limited to about 30ft and the signal suffers from interference from wifi, RF, i.e.

I personally would look for a cheap VHF unknown brand over an iPhone/android app.

Even a used Sennheiser UHF system is $250 on Craigslist.

So while this is possible it's not practical.

For as little as $13.00 you can buy a Pyle-Pro PDWM96 Lavalier Wireless Microphone System on Amazon.
Control your Show Music from a PC from 800 ft away with a remote control. Send me a message to find out how......
jeffl
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Gothike, I would appreciate it if you would please carefully read the technical details of what I have already written before posting, I'm getting tired of answering the same questions. As I said wifi is the preferred medium, the range of Bluetooth is generally inadequate among other technical issues. For Apple smartphones you'd use AirPlay (which is a slight technical variation from DLNA but apparently not compatible with it) and we know you can receive the audio over AppleTV and plug its output into the mixer, and there may be other options. For Android smartphones the most obvious option for the mixer is the output of the Chromecast Audio which I don't believe was on the market when I opened this entry, and there are others. As for the Pyle-"Pro" (I use the term with great consternation) this is exactly the type of analog FM mic (that's their technology according to their own manual) with NO digital technology with which to implement forward error correction, poor range and very dropout-prone that the new approach is designed to spare us from. The smartphone of course is always digital (the Sennheiser I suppose depends on model?) and using 2.4 Ghz band wifi is actually UHF and the 5 Ghz band is even SHF, you would prefer analog VHF?? Plus even if you put some money into buying a Chromecast Audio dongle or other component it's compatible with any wifi system and other audio units and therefore doesn't need to be considered a "dedicated investment". I can't begin to understand what isn't "practical" over using equipment guaranteed to be compatible with published IEEE and other international communications and networking standards and a WIDE RANGE of equipment made by manufacturers all over the world, instead of "one box that GENERALLY works with the other, IF they're both working properly" and ZERO resale value, but I suppose you'll enlighten me shortly.
Ray Pierce
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I love new technology and new toys. As soon as there is any professional performer using it in an ongoing professional venue, I'll consider it. Until then, I'm sticking with a proven technology that is a standard in the industry.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
gothike
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@Jeffl,

You did not describe in detail your workflow.

FYI, I run Senneheiser G3 equipment and Countryman mics.

It is Possible to setup a SmartPhone Wireless Mic with a Wi-Fi router and Apple TV. If Latency is fixed, in theory it should work. Your setup would be a do it yourself digital wireless mic system with a few limitations.

Apple TV=$149 New
Wifi Router=$50
Iphone=$400-$600

Chromecast=$30
Android=$100

The Learning curve with your system is steep for the average magician. Not practical price wise and not user friendly for 95% of magicians.

A big problem I see would be Wifi interference from the different venues that you will be performing at. Which requires being able to select a different channel in your router, an easy solution would be Tomato or DD WRT. With wireless mics system on the market you can select different frequencies easier.

However if you manage to find a App developer to fix latency issues and your setup works for you. Go for it.
Control your Show Music from a PC from 800 ft away with a remote control. Send me a message to find out how......
jeffl
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Yeah but the whole premise is you don't NEED a "dedicated" phone (if the one you have is low enough latency as shown by the test I linked), you just yank the SIM card card on the one you've got (so you don't get calls) and you're good to go.
jeffl
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One thing that's become pretty clear is that Apple's way ahead of Android in terms of minimum latency. The only real "limitation" with selecting Apple gear is you need to have a system that supports peer-to-peer AirPlay, with iPhone that would be iOS 8 and the oldest iPhone that works with that version would be iPhone 4S which is running around $55 on ebay. The cheapest Apple TV that supports peer-to-peer AirPlay is 3rd generation running TVOS 7 which is also iOS 8, and those are running around $50 on ebay. It's a little confusing to me how you proceed if you have a 4th gen Apple TV because that runs tvOS which is NOT the same as TVOS, it's more advanced because it can run apps but I can't tell if that means you need to select some apps to run in order to make this work...? Anyway with iOS 8 on the iPhone it guarantees that you can check the latency if you want, but since it's Apple you're really not much at risk anyway. (Not being that much of an Apple person I got much of this info from Wikipedia, so I hope they know what they're talking about!)
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