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Point Source Audio CO-7

Jan 4, 2011 12:00 PM, By John McJunkin

An affordable ear-worn microphone to keep the hands free.

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Point Source Audio CO-7

Point Source Audio CO-7

Numerous public speaking or singing applications require mobility and hands-free functionality simultaneously: product demonstrations that require the presenter to operate equipment or make adjustments, musical applications that keep both hands of the artist busy, or even just applications in which the speaker strongly prefers to have both hands available for gesturing to enhance communication. To accommodate these preferences, an integrator must decide between a lavalier mic and a head- or ear-worn microphone.

Over the years, I have begun to lean more and more strongly toward an ear-worn mic for public applications of this type. Lavs can offer incredible audio quality and clarity, but problems arise when a speaker tilts his chin downward to read a script or view a display, moving the mouth into closer proximity with the mic and radically changing the reflections in the environment surrounding the omni mic element. For that matter, even turning the chin left or right just a bit to acknowledge the audience or view a teleprompter to the side can reduce the level of the signal significantly enough to be noticeable. For most video, film, and broadcast applications, lavs work fine, but for most in-person applications, I now lean strongly toward ear-worn mics. They maintain a fixed distance between mouth and mic element, creating a consistent level, and they largely eliminate any weird phaseyness and/or reflection issues we get with lavs.

Point Source Audio introduced its latest offering in the ear-worn mic domain: the CO-7. This is one of four mics offered by the company, and the most sophisticated of the group. Point Source's microphones are generally more affordable than other manufacturers' similar offerings, and Point Source touts them as being in league with other mics in terms of quality, so I was keen to determine whether the claim would withstand my scrutiny. I evaluated a CO-7, and I found that Point Source's claims are indeed true.

The CO-7 is composed of a metal half-ring that surrounds the user's ear, with the mic's boom extending out from under the user's earlobe toward the mouth. The boom is approximately 4in. long, and it terminates with the mic's back electret condenser element. The element itself is very small, approximately 1/8in. in diameter. From the top of the half-ring ear surround, the mic's thin cable extends just over 4ft. to deliver the signal to a transmitter or adapter. Point Source makes several options available in terms of connectors or other terminations.

The mic's boom is a principal feature touted by the manufacturer. The company claims that it can be bent 360 degrees to accommodate any necessary mic placement requirement and that the boom can withstand up to 20,000 bend repetitions during its lifetime. Point Source offers video at its website to demonstrate the flexibility of the boom, in which the boom is essentially turned into a spiraling curly-cue.

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