Life Is Beautiful… When You Attend JBL Fest!

Being that I am now 42 years old and have worked in Telecom and AV for the better part of 2 decades, I have 12+ trips to Las Vegas completed and feel like I know what to expect each time I fly into Harry Reid International Airport. First, it was the annual DIRECTV Revolution Conference, then it was Channel Partners, followed by InfoComm in alternating years. As I have explained to my wife (who has never been), I feel like the mystique of Las Vegas wears off after the first or second trip out there. However, when I was approached back in 2019 with the chance to attend my first ever JBL Fest, I felt the type of excitement as if I had never been there and was eager to experience a new list of firsts. Unfortunately, a family health scare cancelled my trip that year and 2 years-worth of a Pandemic further delayed my first JBL Fest until 2022. Having enjoyed last year as much as I did, I still felt a certain sense of the “exciting unknown” when I was invited to attend again this year. Along with our Exertis Almo Incentive Winners – Josh Taylor, Kyle Smith, Randy Robinovitch, and Ray Farler, I headed out to Las Vegas and made sure to document JBL Fest 2023 for all of you!

Landing Las Vegas, you are almost immediately greeted by hosts holding “JBL Fest” signage at the baggage claim area and are ushered to a waiting shuttle (aka a rather swanky party bus) which took us to the Park MGM where we would be staying for the next 2 days. Surprise #1 on this trip was while I was checking in and I lift my head to notice Kevin Humphrey, Harman Distribution Manager (and close friend), standing next to me. I have always said that I am only as successful as those around me, so to be able to share this experience with someone deserving like Kevin made the event that much more rewarding. We then walked to the Hospitality Suite where I received a welcome packet and the “infamous” JBL Fest Swag Bag. This year, the bag contained several JBL branded items such as water bottles and hand sanitizer, but the highlight was the customized pair of JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds. If you are not familiar with these, they are JBL’s newest noise cancelling earbuds which were featured in WIRED’s Best of CES 2023. Spatial Audio, wireless charging, and a first of its kind touch display on the charging case make these anything but your typical earbuds. I had to open and pair them with my phone the second I got to my room! Once we got to the complimentary lunch, I was able to meet with our team as well as with Frank Joseph and Whitney Bosch from the Harman marketing team as we game-planned the day and discussed all that was happening.

Next stop was a VIP-access tour of Allegiant Stadium which is where the Las Vegas Raiders play their home games. Seeing as how I just recently took my daughter on a tour of Citizens Bank Park as well as Lincoln Financial Field, this was right up my alley! Aside from going down to the field level and experiencing this newer facility up close, we received some behind the scenes sneak peaks into the A/V which included their control/IT room which housed an impressive 50+ Crown DCI4x1250N amplifiers and multiple BSS Processors amongst other items. Simply standing next to the rack of amps was eye-opening as you realize how much it takes to truly power that type of operation. While we didn’t get up close to the speakers, we did learn it was the JBL VLA Series of Line Array Speakers which are typically found in stadium-type applications. Following the tour we had a little downtime before meeting up for the evening welcoming reception at the Hotel, which we were greeted by a team photo opportunity and another swag bag complete with a custom JBL Fest Masterclass Bluetooth speaker. This opening event was followed by an even bigger party at the onsite club. Mingling with a diverse group of worldwide influencers and Harman executives is always fun but I was fortunate enough to make my way to the Harman VIP lounge which then led to a once in a lifetime opportunity! Kyle Smith and I were invited into a back room where we met and had a photo opportunity with Lenny Kravitz! To finish things off was a rather surprise appearance from Grammy winning artist Bruno Mars who sang along with some of his biggest hits. Not a bad way to spend a Thursday night!

Waking up on Friday I knew we were in for a long but rewarding day. First off was breakfast which came complete with a Johnny Fly Sunglasses gifting station! You essentially walk up and try on several pairs of high-end sunglasses and then say “ok ill take these”. The wrap them up in a custom JBL case and you are on your way! We then made our way to the Installed Audio Masterclass presented by Saben Shawhan, Director of Partner Business Development for Harman. If you have never attended one of Saben’s classes, it is a MUST ATTEND. The passion he has for audio comes through loud and clear and he also plays a very eclectic mix of music to demonstrate all the features of JBL’s product categories. During the Masterclass we learned about the CBT Series column arrays, the portable PA category, the SRX900 Series, the VTX Series line arrays, the new outdoor landscape speakers, the performance software they have for the line arrays, and the new SLP slim surface mount series. This was a lot of products to be in one space they their team demo’ d all of it! While I had to fight my urge to belt out the chorus of “Hello” by Adele, I was really excited for Rage Against the Machine being played on the VTX arrays and subs. As I mention to our team multiple times, “you really felt it in your chest!”

After the Masterclass was complete, we all headed nearby to Flyover Las Vegas. Dubbed the “ultimate flying ride” this attraction straps you into your seat in front of a fully immersible screen that makes you feel as though you are flying through the sky of amazing landscapes. Now, for those of us who might have some issues with motion sickness, such as yours truly, you are urged to make an “X” symbol with your arms and the very nice ushers will take you off the ride. There is no shame in my game, and I was very happy to have my feet back on the ground asap! After some much-needed rest time back in our rooms, the shuttles took us to the Life is Beautiful festival which was being held on Freemont in downtown Vegas. I personally have never been to this area in the past, however I was amazed that they closed down and fenced in the entire area to set up 4 concert stages along with vendors and other private access locations. We immediately went to the JBL Stage with VIP access where we all met up for drinks, food, and music. I ventured off while Bebe Rexha was performing and found myself with perfect view of the main stage where an EDM DJ was getting the crowd fired up for the next act. After looking through the street vendors and other areas, I called it a night as I listened to Bebe Rexha perform with special guest Tyler Hubbard (from Florida Georgia Line). The Killers were the headliner of Friday night and through videos I saw from Josh Taylor, it seemed our entire team left the trip on a high note!

To close things out, it was really a phenomenal experience and somehow the Harman/JBL team took an already great event and then amplified it even more (pun intended!). I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to experience this time with a vendor like JBL but to also receive all access looks at their product lines and be up close and personal to the a lot of the very people who designed it. There is no better place to be and if you ever get a chance to attend JBL Fest in the future, I promise you will leave with a much better understanding of their vast product lines as well as the perfect applications for each. Job well done to all involved in the planning of this “must attend” event!

Enjoy this blog?
Let Rob know over on LinkedIn …and/or connect with #ExertisAlmo on our LinkedIn company page.

Robert Voorhees
About the Author

Rob Voorhees | CTS, CTP, DSCE, CTNS, Dante

BDM II – Technical Specialist

Supported Manufacturers: Business Communications Services, and Harman: AKG, AMX, BSS, Crown, DBX, JBL, Soundcraft, Martin Lighting

Behind the Panel: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks, or: How I Learned to Study Again!

Welcome back to “Behind the Panel.” For this edition, I thought I would delve into something truly relevant to most of us in the AV world: studying and preparing to take the CTS Exam. CTS (Certified Technology Specialist) is a certification process given out by AVIXA that is the industry standard in Pro AV. According to their website:

A Certified Technology Specialist (CTS®) performs general technology solution tasks by creating, providing, operating and servicing network-based AV solutions, while conducting AV management activities which provide for the best audiovisual resolutions of the client’s needs, both on time and within budget

When I arrived at Exertis Almo, my job description mandated passing the exam and becoming CTS certified. I had nine months to complete this task. This was a little exciting to me, as it is something I always wanted to accomplish. This was also very terrifying, as I had tried some of the online study guides in the past, but never got far. Topping all of that off is the fact that I have not studied for an exam in close to THIRTY YEARS! Thinking about that number gave me pause, and although I have always considered myself someone who learns and takes tests well, it has been more than a minute since I used my brain in this way.

First, I set a goal and a timeline: Although I had nine months, I wanted to finish it before the end of the year. My goal was five months, and I wrote it down, so I had to commit to it. Second, I spoke to two colleagues that had recently passed the test; taking detailed notes of what worked for them studying and recollections of what their testing experience was like. This was invaluable, because it let me know there was someone who just went through it and survived. Texas Instruments TI-30XS calculatorNext, I made two important purchases: the most recent edition if the CTS Study Guide, and a Texas Instruments TI-30XS calculator. Both are vital. It’s important to become familiar with the way the calculator works – I cannot stress this enough. I was eager and got started right away on the AVIXA website. Highly recommended, check it out. These courses are designed to give you a basic understanding of the concepts you will be learning and offer quizzes at the end of each section to evaluate yourself. I set parameters for myself that I would not move onto the next section until I could get a ninety-five or above on the quizzes.

CTS-study-guide-ed3This worked for three days, because on day four I went back and retook the first few quizzes. To my sheer terror, it was as though I never studied at all. I was having a difficult time recalling the previous info. Panicked, I did the worst thing I could do. I stopped trying. I was convinced that at my age, I could not just go in and memorize things the way I could when I was a college kid. My mind was not working the way I needed it to. I started reading about it, studies that have shown how just a general decline in cognitive abilities as you age could affect one’s ability to learn. Just for my own peace of mind, I went to my doctor and explained what I was going through, and after a series of cognitive tests showed I was doing very well cognitively speaking, I decided I needed to change the way I studied.

brain-powerMy approach was to hit my brain from all sides and try and load the information from a variety of sources. I used the online prep path, but at the same time, I started reading the actual book. Things started to stick for longer, so this was a positive sign. I continued doing this for a few weeks when I received some valuable advice: Book the test! Set a deadline and book the exam, because the worst case scenario is that you fail and use it as a practice test. I took this, ran with it, and scheduled myself to take the test in eight weeks.

I also concluded that I would need to set up rigid conditions to overcome my brain’s ability to retain new information. I needed a routine, so here is what I did:

  1. I set aside time and shut everything out. This allowed me to concentrate on what I was reading or looking at and focus solely on that. Ringer off, no emails, no TV. Luckily, my kids are older, so I did not have to worry about toddlers bursting into my office!
  2. I studied from multiple sources. This was a big part of my program. I would set aside a certain amount of time to read in the book, usually forty minutes to an hour. My next step would be to incorporate the online path to certification, again, giving myself a set number of modules to cover. As I got closer to the exam, I also incorporated the study guide that runs with AVIXA’s online CTS class. Which leads me to my next point:
  3. Don’t try and cram too much at once. This was a huge point for me, because when I would try and do too much, I ended up not retaining key facts. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
  4. Music or no music. I found myself listening to classical music when I was reading and studying. There are a couple schools of thought on this. Some say if you listen to music while studying, you will also need music to play during the test. There are other theories that music can activate both sides of your brain at the same time, which can maximize learning and improve memory. I chose classical music because there are no lyrics to distract, and it was helpful having that background noise because when it was pure silence, I felt I could not focus. The best answer is what works for you!
  5. Take a walk. I cannot stress how much this was a huge help. Before I would begin my study sessions, I took a walk around my neighborhood for about 20-25 minutes. I found that I came back feeling noticeably clear minded and it was much easier to focus. There is actual science behind this, as studies have shown that low-intensity exercise can provide a boost to energy levels – ideal for studying for lengthy periods. It has also been shown to improve concentration and help you focus your learning.
  6. Don’t stress about the math. Whoever I speak to now, if they are preparing to take the CTS, the vast majority tend to be very nervous about the math and formulas associated with CTS, which at face value can seem overwhelming. I have two things to say about that: First, while I cannot give exact numbers, when I took the exam, I only used the calculator a handful of times. Second, my colleague, Tom Kehr, has an informative video that helps you learn, understand, and retain AV Math. Check that out here: Math Prep. It is also worth noting that Tom was a huge help, who always made himself available to walk me through things I was not quite grasping. Thanks Tom!

My actual taking of the exam was delayed a few times due to extreme weather, but when I finally took it, I was noticeably confident going in. The worst part was having to take a survey before I received my results, which was probably the most stressful five minutes I can remember. I passed, which was a big accomplishment for me. If you are taking or plan to take, don’t let it stress you out, give yourself time to prepare, and you will do great! Thanks for reading, hope to have you back to read the next edition of “Behind the Panel.”

Patrick Booth, BDM

About the Author

Patrick Booth | CTS, DSCE

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: Legrand AVChief, C2G, Da-Lite, Luxul, Middle Atlantic, Vaddio, Wiremold

Hydrate Yourself with a Thirst for Knowledge

Seeking out the Proper Certifications and Learning Opportunities

CTS, CTP, DSCE, CTNS, Dante3. That is what you will find next to my name in my email signature and LinkedIn profile. To the non-Pro AV crowd, those letters probably don’t mean much, but to me they each signify a moment in my career where I set out to further my education and better position myself for the future. CTP (Certified Telecom Professional) was the first certification I attempted/passed during my first week of employment with Almo Corporation. DSCE (Digital Signage Certified Expert) was my first foray into Pro AV as I wanted to become more familiar with the lingo used and technologies we spoke about. CTS (Certified Technology Specialist) was the crown jewel in my eyes. It was a goal that I set for myself specifically so I could achieve longevity in my role and better support my company and customers. I needed to learn more to be the “expert” in other words. CTNS (Certified Telecommunications Networking Specialist) was something that I sought out to help differentiate Almo from the competition. Lastly, Dante 3. This certification came in 3 levels and challenged me more than I anticipated. Having worked with AVoIP and Dante-enabled audio products I saw this as a chance to “future proof” myself against newer emerging technologies and gave me a great base for which to learn. The reason I listed these out is to illustrate how each one meant something different to me at a certain time in my career. This does not include the countless others I have received whether it be Harman’s Core Curriculum, Comcast’s Hospitality Certification, or even Microsoft Teams Rooms Sales Certification which all are valuable in their own right. We have certainly all heard the saying “Always be Closing”, well I adopted “Always Be Learning”. Sure, it might sound cliched on its own, but allow me to share how’s, why’s and where’s of this cliche and the benefits it provides.

The How’s: How Do you Continue Your Learning?

There is no magic answer to this question. In my opinion, you either have a thirst for knowledge or you do not. Even if you do not, that is completely fine. Everyone is at a different level or stage of their career and that will dictate a lot. Do you have the time to spend on learning or researching? Do you have the financial stability to pay for some of the new certifications? Do you feel that a new course or learning track would even benefit you at this time? All of these are viable questions so by all means if you answer “no” to any of these, don’t feel bad. One particular reason why I have become a proponent for the “A.B.L.” mantra is because I work for a company who encourages and leads by example. Almo Corporation/Exertis Almo place a value on their employees’ development/training and to me that is infectious. Any time I decide to seek out a certain opportunity, the first thing I do is vocalize that to my management. I find that this helps hold me accountable and is also a tangible goal we can discuss in future interactions. Another way to continue my development is simply asking questions. There have been countless times where I find myself on calls and am not understanding what is being discussed so quite simply, I speak up and ask. Afterwards I will then use my trusty friend- Google and will continue my learning until my comfort level is achieved. It is a small step like this that has helped me more than others.

The Why’s: Why Should You Seek Out Learning Opportunities and Certifications?

I get this question more than you would believe. “Why Do you Have So Many Certifications?” or “Why Bother Taking all those Courses?” Again, it is quite simple. As I laid out in the very beginning, all the certifications that I have achieved thus far each hold a certain value to me in one way or the other. What I will never do is take an exam or spend the time on a learning track just for the sake of completing it. I am very methodical in what I take and when I take it. I have a specific interest in the subject matter and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t even start the course. When I set out a goal to achieve a new learning opportunity, I must set out the reasoning why. Why do I want my CTS? Why do I think this will help me or my employer? Once I’m able to candidly answer those questions with viable answers I proceed to registering etc. and getting started. When you work in an industry such as Pro AV, or any other industry that involves technology, the trends are always changing. Something bigger, faster, and better is always around the corner and if you were to stop and say “well I have my cts, so I’m now done learning” you will eventually find yourself left behind.

The Where’s: Where Should You Look for These Opportunities?

Literally EVERYWHERE! The places to look for educational opportunities will all depend on the topic or goals you set forth. For example, when looking for a certification involved in Telecom, I would head to Google and type “most popular certifications in telecom”. It is here that I uncovered the CTNS, found reviews from past students, and also uncovered similar courses that I could use to expand on the CTNS itself. Outside of search engines, I find that some of the most valuable courses are within our industry. For example, everyone might be most familiar with CTS, CTS-I, and CTS-D offered by AVIXA. However, looking beyond those you will find entire online trainings and “universities” that are offered by the different manufacturers. My absolute favorite is Harman Pro Training and I have previously credited this site for helping me achieve my CTS in the past. I find that these courses are most beneficial because while some do center in on specific Harman products and technologies, they also feature their Core Curriculum which is perfect for anyone trying to learn the basics and build momentum on future learning. Another method is one of my newer “go-to’s” which is Linkedin Learning. Linkedin offers a tremendous opportunity for furthering education, and they allow you to tell them and select what you want to learn. Would you believe I recently achieved a certification for “Writing an Effective Blog?” That exists! I would challenge everyone to check out Linkedin Learning and find your own tract to help!

The Benefits

The benefits of A.B.L. come in different ways. First, the most obvious, is you are developing new skill-sets and broadening your own education. Second, there are financial benefits. For example, by completing a certification such as Dante from Audinate, you are now able to speak more knowledgeably on the technology, the equipment needed, and how to best help the customers. This in term could lead to growth in sales and growth in revenue. Thirdly, to position yourself as the expert. The reason why so many in Pro AV add “CTS” to their email signature is to highlight that you are up to speed on the latest technologies and trends and are the “expert” that can answer their questions and concerns. I take pride in that and while I certainly don’t know everything, I am taking the steps to always get closer! audio experts teamLastly, I think with any line of work, you run the risk of it getting stale. Doing the same thing every day and never trying to change things up. I like to always be learning because quite frankly, it excites me to have an extra tool in the tool belt. Finding new ways to differentiate myself and my employer while also increasing the product knowledge for which I can confidently speak in future calls and meetings. Confidence is king after all!

In closing, I hope that shed some light on what those letters/certifications mean to me and why I hope it will prompt you to achieve your own. Set out some new goals and challenge yourself to achieve 1 new certification this year. They don’t need to be the most time consuming or the most costly to provide value. As long as you can identify something tangible or intangible that you got from it, then I feel as though it served its purpose! I am always eager to lend a hand, so if anyone would ever like further tips or ideas on how to prepare for education, etc., you can always find me on LinkedIn or contact me here.

Enjoy this blog?
Let Rob know over on LinkedIn …and/or connect with #ExertisAlmo on our LinkedIn company page.

Robert Voorhees
About the Author

Rob Voorhees | CTS, CTP, DSCE, CTNS, Dante

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: Business Communications Services, and Harman: AKG, AMX, BSS, Crown, DBX, JBL, Soundcraft, Martin Lighting

Xilica…Not a new drug but very addictive!

When InfoComm 2023 was approaching, Exertis Almo launched an exclusive relationship with Xilica. You might ask, what is Xilica? It sounds like the latest cure for something. Well, maybe that is where we start. Xilica features conference products for medium and larger spaces, as well as DSP to fit most any application. The unique characteristic of these processors is that they are card-based so you can build the processing to fit the application, thus saving time and cost as well as increasing functionality.

Xilica has already seen great success in other parts of the world with conference and system processing applications. Besides the card-based approach to the DSP, they have also developed a plenum rated POE+ amplifier (SONIA AMP) that sits atop a passive ceiling speaker (SONIA C5) and provides power for up to 8 speakers in a given space. The connectivity is all based on using premade ethernet cables for ease of installation above the ceiling. The Amplifier also provides a Dante network connection to a beam forming ceiling microphone, such as the Sennheiser TeamConnect Ceiling 2, or others for a complete conference system.

This synergistic approach with other manufacturers’ products allows the Xilica system to be a widely used platform for varied types or sizes of rooms. Where some try to create their own ecosystem, Xilica approached the conference space with an adaptive approach that works in harmony with other products to fit most applications with ease. The Xilica approach also includes camera integration with Lumens and other products for complete room systems.

On top of this, two versions of control appliances allow simple, user-friendly control of any system. The Lucia, single gang wall remote can provide the most common type of functionality with volume and source control while the XT80, 8-inch touch panel can provide more advanced control of user defined parameters in an easy-to-use format. Controls can also be integrated with other well-known control platforms such as AMX as needed.

We are just getting started – the loudspeaker system processing is also very powerful with a full slate of tools, equalization, FIR filters and all the functions of any DSP with up to 64 channel capability and 64×64 Dante capacity. As you might imagine, the uses are exponential for all types of systems. This will allow the integrator to build many configurations on one platform, and scale the DSP to match the application.

Maybe you are beginning to see where the addiction begins…this powerful yet easy to deploy and program system can make quick work of even more complex conference systems and keep the integrator stress to a minimum! There are already bundles built for medium and large conference rooms, with more versions to be launched soon to include cameras. Exertis Almo and Xilica have teamed up to bring one of the most viable conference solutions to the industry.

Exertis Almo and Xilica invite you to contact us and get up close with this powerful new system. You will be amazed at the simplicity as well as the capability of these products. Our Services Team can even work with you to provide full system design, programming, and commissioning as needed. Contact us today for more information and find out why Xilica has such an addictive personality!

John Fuqua
About the Author

John Fuqua | CTS, Dante

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: Audio Applications, Amplivox, Audix, Bose, Denon, Marantz, Rane, Shure, Sennheiser, Yamaha UC

Choose Quality AV

One of the worst case scenarios is when the client’s equipment budget expectations and reality are not one-and-the-same. I had one of those recently.

We look at some of this equipment they’re considering and think, “Bargain Bin.” You know, like those $5.00 DVDs movies found in the round bins at the Big Box store with titles that no one has ever heard of? There are no Oscar winners in that bin. I guess there’s a reason those bins are round. At $5.00, they’re a throw away if they’re no good.

Where do these budget numbers come from? If our clients and end users do some cursory surfing on the ‘Net, it’s amazing the things you’ll find for so little money. I did a generic search for “conference room microphone” and up pops a $27.99 speakerphone as well as a $89.99 conferencing microphone that’s advertised for “8-10 people” on a popular buying website.

This is what our clients see in front of them every day when they surf the ‘Net for information. I’ve even received product links with the question, “Do you have this equivalent?” Before I respond with what I’m thinking, I remind myself that the client often doesn’t know that there is a difference. It says, “professional” in the product description, right? (If it says, “professional” that’s usually my first clue that it’s not).

As an example, back in November of 2022, Recon Research published a comparison matrix of features and functions of 120 USB podcast mics.

The least expensive I saw on the list had a MSRP of $22.99 and the manufacturer listed it as a “Professional USB Studio Condenser Microphone for Chatting.” $22.99. That’s less money than a large pizza with a side order of breadsticks. For a few dollars more, you could get the next model up that also featured LED lights. You can guess the website.

There are a lot of USB mics listed in Recon’s matrix for around $99.00 MSRP and there’s some pretty cool mics that start at a bit over a C-Note up to around $199.00. I would not hesitate to suggest some of those to a client for a podcast and admittedly, I’m an audio snob.

I have colleagues that purchased some inexpensive podcast mic/boom arm/pop filter bundles from that popular buying website. Results have varied. Some threw out the mic because it was so awful. Another threw out the boom because it wouldn’t support a real microphone.

May I suggest a different way to reduce your carbon footprint?

Buy quality. It could be quality products or quality services. Either way, buy something only once.

Have you considered the costs associated with a lack of quality? Time to research, order, receive and set up. Time to use and evaluate and discover the deficiencies. Time to decommission and dispose. Time to re-research, re-order, re-receive, re-set up, and reevaluate. Where did all that time come from and who pays for it? It comes from productivity and profit. Mistakes and failures are costly. If you follow the acquisition flow above, it took about three times as long to get something that actually worked when price is the only consideration.

My neighbors had a yard sale recently, and amongst the treasures was an older Master Appliance heat gun. It was missing the base and the nozzle was a little beat up. I snatched it up right away. Why? Because I knew I could order replacement parts like bases, elements, switches, and more. It is not a throwaway product. It’s a quality product that you can keep running for decades, because if something does need attention, parts can be obtained, the unit fixed and put back into daily service easily.

How many $22 microphones and cheap boom arms do you think have been thrown away? How is that sustainable? Buying cheap junk is a waste. It is a waste of raw materials, energy, and labor to manufacture, fuels and materials to ship, heat, and A/C as it takes up room in a warehouse, labor to unload, inventory, pack, and ship. Time to unbox, set up, and discover that it’s less desirable than a rusted Yugo. Plus, now you have to go through the research and buying process all over again. What are we thinking when we shop in the bargain bin? “If it’s no good, I’ll just throw it away.” This is not a sustainable mentality. The throwaway society with single-use disposable items came into vogue in the 1950s. Here we are seven decades hence and we’re doing it again – but this time it’s not plastic utensils and paper plates. The materials are now much more costly and sometimes even toxic.

You and I have purchased a lot of microphones over the years, and some of us have collected some classics. Real microphones cost real money and I still have a couple I want on my bucket list. No one will be dropping a mic in my house without incurring severe monetary penalties. But microphones are only a part of our industry. Quality audio-visual equipment costs real money, and a system needs to be professionally designed, engineered, installed, tuned, commissioned, and placed in a space that also considers environmental and ergonomic factors so that it will provide the end users with many good years of faithful reliability while delivering quality results.

As audiovisual practitioners, we look for products that we know are offered by reputable manufacturers, fit the client’s need, work within a reasonable budget, and will serve the client and end user well for many years to come.

If you are at all uncertain about equipment decisions and/or needing design, CAD, programming, or installation assistance, we have an entire team that can help you make the appropriate quality choices given the need and budget. None of those options will include a $22.00 microphone.

Want to know more? Check out Tom’s “Project Questions & Needs Analysis” post.

Did you find this post helpful? Engage with us over on LinkedIn.

Tom Kehr

About the Author

Tom Kehr

CTS-D, CTS-I, Network+, LEED Green Associate, ISF-C, ATD Master Trainer

In-House System Designer and Trainer

Supported Applications: System Design

DECT Wireless Technology…Where does it fit?

Wireless Frequencies

With the ever-decreasing bandwidth associated with wireless microphone technology in the UHF band, other wireless bands had to be explored. There is the VHF (Very High Frequency) band with a range of between 25 and 300 MHz, with most of this now unlicensed for wireless microphone operation. Then there is the 900 Mhz band. This falls into the 900-928Mhz range and is used frequently, although restricted by internet service providers who have established networks in this range. The UHF band, which operates in the 400 Mhz to 900 Mhz range. UHF has been widely used for various types of wireless microphones as well as other commercial communications. UHF was severely impacted by a FCC ruling that effectively banned any wireless microphones in 698 to 806 MHz portion of the UHF spectrum in 2010. Then in 2020, largely restricted this further to 600 MHz or above.

This portion of the wireless spectrum is now controlled for UHF TV broadcast and commercial use only. Then there is 2.4Ghz, which is allowed to operate within the 2.400 Ghz and 2.483 Ghz only. As you might imagine, this portion is also heavily used by Wi-Fi devices, which can cause unwanted dropouts as well as low component use, typically 4 units or less.

Finally, we come to DECT, which stands for “Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications” and was originally launched in 1993. This operates in the 1880-1900 MHz band with channels available from 1881.792 to 1897.344 MHz with a gap at 1728 MHz. In the United States, the DECT frequency allocation is 1920 to 1930 MHz. This is now commonly referred to as DECT 6.0. This band will not interfere with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technologies and allows for significant channel counts to be used.

Why DECT?

This technology virtually eliminates interference from other wireless devices and connectivity up to 350 feet. In some cases, this system can also use high channel density with up to 96 microphones capacity. The downside is that the system requires it’s own wireless network with access point and repeaters in some cases. There is additional cost for this equipment, but for larger systems, it is offset by the functionality of the system. Also, no other devices use this portion of the wireless spectrum.

The only other disadvantage that must be understood with DECT is the TDMA (Time-Division Multiple Access) technology it uses. There is an inherent delay or latency with the system, as each device must connect to a predefined time slot. This delay or latency is typically 18-20ms between the input of a microphone to the output of the access point. This can impact live applications and must be understood as part of any DECT system. For UC usage, it is unlikely that is would ever be noticed as there is already inherent delay for any UC communication.

According to Holger Stolze of Yamaha UC, “The problem of latency can be controlled by where the loudspeakers are placed with respect to the microphones in a voice lift scenario, and therefore DECT devices are not typically recommended for performance use such as singing or other live performance applications.”

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So, with this understanding, DECT has quickly become the most widely used wireless technology for conference applications. Also, in many instances, the manufacturer will assist with applications, access point, and/or repeater location and how the system should be set up for the intended use. Panasonic Professional has a team of engineers who will provide a complete set of instructions, programming notes, and even room diagrams to assure the system functions properly. Petro Shimonishi of Panasonic US tells it this way:

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“Panasonic leverages our 30+ year history of innovation and leadership in DECT wireless technology. These products have been designed with the end-user in mind. The system can even be integrated with our PTZ cameras to allow for voice triggered camera presets for a more seamless conference experience.”

Finally, the other real advantage of DECT over other more prominent wireless microphones like UHF is that it does not require frequency coordination, as it is automatically managed by the number of microphones in a given system. This is unlike UHF, which requires careful and sometimes difficult frequency coordination where multiple channels are used or where adjacent units can bleed into the spectrum, causing unwanted dropouts or interference.

The bottom line here is the DECT wireless has quickly become the gold standard for teleconference and videoconference applications. Excellent sound quality and ease of use keep these products in high demand. When you think of conference applications and need a wireless solution, contact your Exertis Almo representative or visit ExertisAlmo.com. Our Audio Team has all the right tools for your application with products by Shure, Sennheiser, Audio Technica, and Panasonic, just to name a few. We are always ready to assist you with the very best solutions for your project.

References:

John Fuqua
About the Author

John Fuqua | CTS, Dante

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: Audio Applications, Amplivox, Audix, Bose, Denon, Marantz, Rane, Shure, Sennheiser, Yamaha UC

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