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Above the Fray

Sep 19, 2011 2:14 PM, By James Careless

UWB for wireless microphone clarity and security.

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A Word about UWB

Ultra Wide Band (UWB) is a radio communications technology that can currently transmit data at speeds between 40Mbps to 60Mbps and eventually up to 1Gbps. It is already well known in the computer and video wireless space but relatively unknown for audio; Audio-Technica claims SpectraPulse is the first viable commercial audio product to use the technology. UWB transmits ultra-low power radio signals with very short electrical pulses, often in the picosecond (1/1000th of a nanosecond) range, across all radio frequencies at once. UWB receivers translate these short bursts of noise into data by detecting patterns in the pulse sequence sent by the transmitter. Due to the low power, UWB transmissions are generally only used over short distances. However, the large range of frequencies allows for extraordinarily high bandwidth, resulting in the fast data rate the transmission is capable of.

In early conception dating back to inventor Guglielmo Marconi in the late 1800s, a UWB signal was a spark-gap transmission that was used for long-range communications. These early communications systems were replaced by more efficient, longer pulse duration, narrowband techniques.

Short pulse technology was only revisited nearly 80 years later in the mid 1960s. At this time, as technologies, methods, and materials allowed engineers to work in much higher frequency ranges, UWB began to emerge as a novel form of communications due to its low probability of detection characteristics. The successful use of UWB by the U.S. government and military led to the FCC’s groundbreaking rule making that permitted unlicensed commercial use of the technology for the very first time. They set the definition of an ultra wideband signal as having an instantaneous bandwidth of at least 500MHz (where the spectrum is defined as the 10dB down points from the center of the transmission) or a signal with a greater than 20 percent fractional instantaneous bandwidth. (500MHz is approximately 20 percent of a 2.4GHz center frequency signal. 2.4GHz is a popular wireless frequency with many available parts, and many engineers have experience working at this frequency.)

Audio-Technica SpectraPulse

Audio-Technica SpectraPulse UWB Specifications

  • Frequency range: 6.100GHz–6.600GHz
  • Center frequency: 6.350GHz
  • AD/DA: 16 bits
  • Clock: 24.576MHz
  • Sampling rate: 24kHz
  • Pulse duration: 2 nanoseconds
  • Frame length: 1 ms
  • Time slots per frame: 15
  • UWB rate: 8Mbps
  • Compression: None
  • Companding: None
  • Latency: <3ms
  • Average RF power: 40 nanowatts
  • Sync/Re-acquisition time: <3ms
  • Range: 23 meters (75’)
  • Simultaneous channels: 14
  • Power input: 100-240V AC, 50/60Hz
  • System frequency response: 100-12,000Hz
  • Mains (aci707): 100–240V, 50/60Hz RoHs-compliant power supply

    Read the SpectraPulse whitepaper for more information.

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