Audio-Technica Unveils SpectraPulse Ultra Wideband at InfoComm 07
Jun 27, 2007 12:00 PM, By George Petersen
The February 2009 end of analog television brings serious concerns in the pro audio community about the possible loss of frequency bands for wireless microphone use. Unfortunately, pro wireless applications never had an official frequency allotment from the FCC. Users would typically transmit over unused "white space" frequencies, which are essentially guard-band easements between analog TV channels. As digital TV has no such guard-band requirements, a cash-strapped FCC looks toward auctioning these unused frequencies to other industries, with a keen eye toward the burgeoning wireless Internet market. It's already begun, with the FCC raising $13.7 billion last fall when deep-pocket players such as T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint Nextel, Verizon, ATT/Cingular, and U.S. Cellular snapped up spectra in the 1,710MHz to 1,755MHz and 2,110MHz to 2,155MHz bands. And once analog TV goes dark, vacant frequency bands in that region will be available as well, but to who is anybody's guess.
Offering a long-term solution to the wireless problem, Audio-Technica unveiled its revolutionary SpectraPulse Ultra Wideband (UWB) wireless microphone system at a press conference at InfoComm 07. A new application of the UWB technology that's been used in military and government communications for years, Audio-Technica partnered with Multispectral Solutions to develop SpectraPulse, which offers near hard-wired performance without concerns about RF competition, frequency coordination, white space issues, or infringement from other wireless systems or radio sources.
Recently licensed for commercial use by the FCC, Ultra Wideband technology allows the wireless transmission of data in extremely short-duration pulses over a wide spectrum of frequencies. Rather than using conventional channels and carrier frequencies, UWB uses a series of short nano-second pulses that occupy an instantaneous bandwidth of 500MHz within the 6GHz frequency spectrum. In precisely timed sequences, the signals result in the reliable transmission of information at near noise-floor levels. And latency—always a concern with any digital system—is said to be a low 2ms.
Another issue of growing importance in wireless communications is security, particularly in the corporate and government markets. The specialized technology employed for “decoding” UWB pulses makes SpectraPulse inherently secure, preventing signal interception by other wireless systems. For greater security, A-T offers an optional encryption package that meets the National Institute of Standards and Technology-approved (NIST) AES 128-bit encryption standard developed by the U.S. government for securing sensitive material.
Audio-Technica’s first implementation of UWB technology is the SpectraPulse Ultra Wideband wireless microphone system, designed for conferences, courtrooms, corporate events and more. Components include the mtu101 microphone transmitter unit; drm141 digital receiver module; aci707 audio control interface; and cei007 charger encryption interface.
The mtu101 combines a low-profile boundary mic with a touch-sensitive switch that can be programmed for push-to-talk, push-to-mute or toggle operation and 9-hour rechargeable battery. A gooseneck version is also planned. Signals from the mics are picked up by the drm141 digital receiver module, a single unit that integrates a UWB antenna and 14 channels of digital wireless transceiving—all housed in a compact wall unit that mounts in a 3-gang electrical box, with power and data carried over a Cat-5 connection to one or two audio control interfaces. Each single-rackspace aci707 handles the de-multiplexing and up to seven discrete audio outputs on standard Phoenix-type connectors. For more channel capacity, a second aci707 can be added for a full 14 channels. A separate charger/encryption unit can charge up to seven mtu101 mic transmittters and security encrypting using optional software.
The first SpectraPulse systems are already in manufacturing and are slated to ship this fall. As to the future of UWB wireless, especially in the pro arena, Audio-Technica is optimistic about its present and long-term prospects. "We're committed to this technology," says A-T's marketing manager Steve Savanyu. "We're changing the shape of wireless technology."
For more information about SpectraPulse and UWB technology, visit www.audio-technica.com. Audio-Technica has also made public a white paper on SpectraPulse UWB technology. It can be downloaded at www.audio-technica.com/cms/
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