Why go digital: analog vs digital wireless microphone?

The progression from analog to digital wireless microphone has continued for years. Today this type of microphone can offer performance that reaches the expectations of most end-users, covering sound quality, ease of operation, latency, reliability, etc.

What is a digital wireless microphone?

A digital wireless mic tries to encode the sound as a digital signal which is sent over the air and picked up by its receiver where that signal is converted back to sound. By contrast, an analog wireless microphone uses companding to compress the signal from the microphone and expand it again at the receiver. This process helps maximize the dynamic range of the audio signal and minimize the noise; however, it may bring artifacts such as “pumping” and “breathing”.


Why is it better than analog system?

Sound Quality - It’s cogent that the audio provided by mic wireless digital is significantly better than any analog wireless, a result of the former’s expanded dynamic range and frequent perspective. This is very important because the best quality audio at your receiver would allow your other equipment and even the whole sound system to shine all the time.

Security - If you have a strong intention to protect sensitive information, you will need a digital wireless system. Digital signals can be encrypted, which is totally different from analog signals. For example, the SYNCO 2.4 GHz microphone G1, including one-to-one and one-to-two connections, features robust, secure SyncoderTM 128-bit encryption to guarantee a secure and stable transmission.

Licensing - Wireless systems are allowed to operate in dedicated radio frequency bands on both licensed and unlicensed basis which are shared with other technologies, such as television and radio broadcast services. However, the width of band is limited and the spectrum available for analog wireless systems is less. Fortunately, the digital wireless microphone systems like those operating in the 2.4 GHz space which is a global, license-free standard, have not been adversely impacted the way analogy systems have.

Spectral Efficiency - Digital systems use only binary code, meaning that they make no use of frequency modulation which occupy great space around the transmission frequency in traditional analog RF (= radio frequency) systems. As a consequence, professional digital wireless systems operate reliably with less space between frequencies and more systems are allowed to operate at the same time in the same location.

The entire above mentioned are the significant advantages taken by digital wireless microphone over analog wireless. But there’s more.

  • Ease of Frequency Coordination - Digital systems, not susceptible to the interactions of operating frequencies, behave much more predictably. Many digital systems perform their own scanning and frequency coordination.
  • Power Efficiency - Wireless digital microphone runs in a more efficient way, requiring less power and thus extending battery life.  
Obviously, there are a lot of reasons for us to go “digital”. The only question is whether there are any drawbacks on the way.

Probably latency is the only downside to digital wireless system as a whole. Analog systems, of course, has zero to negligible latency. But those digital are different. It takes a bit of time to convert acoustic sound waves from analog to digital and back again. The amounts of latency differ depending on the processing and RF mechanisms employed in the specific system. Today, the amount of time can be just a few milliseconds in the best digital wireless microphone thanks to the fast, powerful chips.

Finally, one last advantage of digital wireless microphones is that they are portable. Whether the system you choose operates in the UHF band, VHF band, or gigahertz-level unlicensed frequencies, digital systems deliver the same benefit. A less expensive digital wireless mic may have fewer features such as encryption, but its core competency - pure and pristine sound quality - would stay the same.

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