Microphone Blog

What is a windshield for and do I need one?

What is a windshield for and do I need one?
A customer of ours recently asked if it would be OK if they just cut up a kitchen sponge to use as a windshield and then went on to ask what they actually did and if he really needed one. This inspired us to write a little blog post just to clarify the situation.

So, windshields, muffs or windscreens are often assumed to be those little black, or coloured, foam heads that slip over a microphone and whilst this is one form of a windshield it is not the only form. Essentially all windshields are design to protect your microphone from unwanted noise or damage and the level of noise rejection, or damage control, will determine which type of windshield is best for you.

Generally, microphones that are used on inside sound systems don't need a windshield because there should be no wind! However, a windshield could still help if the person using the microphone is a little breathy or the microphone is being hit with plosives from the persons speech. Don't get us wrong, if there is an issue with plosives, that's the little blasts of air that come with the pronunciation of P's and B's, then you really should be using a pop filter but a little extra attenuation and protection from a windshield would help especially when the use of a pop filter simply isn't practical.

If you have decided that wind, or other unwanted air, is affecting the audio then you need to move on to which solution is best for you. Some hand held microphones have a basic built in windshield, under the metal grille, but you can still add additional windshields if required. The density of foam is an important consideration for you; the denser the foam the more noise rejection will be achieved but this will affect the microphones ability to pick up higher frequencies. A less dense, more porous, foam will provide much better acoustic transparency but will also result in the potential for more of that unwanted noise to creep in. If you're concerned about losing that high frequency content then it may be worth considering a fur based windshield instead. These are more transparent for audio passing through but still do a great job at getting rid of those wind and air noises. 

If you do need to record outside then further consideration needs to be made to the potential weather conditions that you'll be working in. In very light wind you could be fine with a foam or fur windshield but higher winds may need you to invest in a Dougal or Blimp. These are essentially cages that suspend your microphone in the centre giving an area of calm air around the microphone. The outershell is then covered in a wind absorbing foam or fur. These are by far the most professional setup and will provide the best audio capture for you but you really do need to consider the application and budget before making a commitment. 

Don't forget about the potential damage element too. Microphone capsules are very sensitive and working in high wind environments without suitable protection will put your microphone at risk. This should be considered when you're making a purchase; does your £500 microphone really deserve that £3 windshield off eBay or should you really be buying a device that will protect your investment?

So to summarise:

Working indoors rarely needs a windshield.
Consider a pop filter to get rid of plosives.
Foam windshields will help block very light winds and breathiness.
Fur based windshields will help block light winds and keep higher frequencies in the mix.
Dougals or Blimps will provide the best level of protection and noise rejection.
Created On  27 Jan 2020 17:35  -  Permalink

TOA Flashing LED's - What do they mean?

TOA Flashing LED's - What do they mean?We get a few telephone calls about this one so we thought we'd give you a quick run down of why it happens.

You may have a TOA radio microphone transmitter that has a red and green LED to show that the unit is on and also to let you know when your battery needs replaced but what happens when these start to flash from green to red?

The reason they alternate from green to red is to let you know there's an issue with the unit but you probably already know that due the fact there's no sound coming out! This can be an easy fix or it may occasionally need to come back to us for repair.

The most common reason for the flashing lights is that you've simply selected the incorrect channel. On the microphones you will find one or two small rotary controls under the battery cover that lets you select the output channel and bank that the unit will use to transmit to the receiver unit. If this is selected incorrectly and there's no frequency stored in the microphone for the combination you've selected then the lights will flash to let you know.

The incorrect selection can be easily resolved; firstly make sure that the channel selection control has clicked into a position correctly. The rotary control has a notch feel as you rotate round and leaving the selector between channels can cause this problem so make sure it is correctly set. If you look down the hole you will also see that the slot has an arrow to show you which channel you've selected so make sure you're on the channel you want. In addition to the channel selection there is also a bank selector too. Most of the microphones we sell are programmed with 16 channels so only Bank 1 will have any frequencies stored. If you've selected Bank 2, 3 or 4 then the chances are your lights will be flashing so make sure Bank 1 is selected. The bank control is there to allow 64 channels to be programmed; this is used for other countries and other bands in the UK but generally you'll be using one of the first 16 in bank 1. Some professional and licenced users may use other banks but this post is not for those users.

Finally, there is a chance that the microphone has been corrupted for some reason and the stored information for frequencies has simply been lost or is inaccessible. If this is the case then you'd need to send it back to us for a re-tune and repair.

So, to summarise, the lights flash because there is no frequency stored for the selection you've made on the rotary controls or because the unit has been corrupted. Select the unit to Bank 1, Channel 0 and see if it works - it probably will.

Any questions about this or any TOA product just drop us an email to [email protected]

Created On  9 Jul 2019 9:47  -  Permalink

Wireless Pulpit and Lectern Solutions

Wireless Pulpit and Lectern SolutionsHouses of worship are often challenging places to cable and wireless solutions are always requested but lack of solutions for lecterns and pulpits normal result in the inevitable nightmare microphone cable run needing to go in. This is fine when the microphone is in a fixed location but what about those scenarios where there's a portable lectern or reading table? And, what about those areas that it's simply impossible to get a cable to due to physical restrictions or lack of permission from heritage committees? Well there is an answer....

AudioTechnica are a leading manufacturer of microphones in the UK and they have a solution. The have a fantastic gooseneck microphone that is ideal for houses of worship and comes with a range of mounting solutions. The U857AL range also currently has a version terminated in a 4 pin connector that drops quite nicely into any of their UniPack transmitters. A little bit of work fitting the microphone to the stand and finding a good spot for the transmitter and the job's done.

Depending on your budget you could look at the new 3200 series kit or even the good old 2000 series will be a great match too. Both of these systems are available in UHF CH70 licence free bands and UHF CH38 licenced bands. The second reason that we'd opt for these in conjunction with the U857 is that there's a drop-in charging station available for both ranges! As you well know one of the worst things about radio mics is having to remember to change the batteries to make sure they're working for the service. Wireless transmitters are often left on and it's so frustrating when you realise the batteries are flat and there's none left in the safe. This 'leaving it on issue' is even more relevant to the wireless lectern or pulpit scenario as the belt pack isn't on a person and therefore more likely to be left switched on. At least with a charging dock you can simply drop it back in for a few hours and get some life back into the batteries without having to go the expense of putting new alkaline's in every week and more so doing away with the panic run down to the local shops to pick up some new batteries.

There's also a 2.4GHz option available with the superb System 10 from AudioTechnica but this system doesn't have a drop in charger solution. The boundary and XLR wireless base units can be charged via a simple USB charger so it'll still save you money on those batteries in the long run.

Feel free to give us a call if you need a wireless solution for your lectern, reading table or pulpit and we'll be happy to help. In fact, get in touch if you have any queries for systems in houses of worship!

Created On  6 Mar 2019 16:37  -  Permalink

Can you mix and match Trantec and TOA?

Can you mix and match Trantec and TOA?We often get asked if you can use one manufacturers wireless transmitter with another manufacturers receiver. Generally we'd advise that it's always best to use equipment from the same manufacturer that has been designed to work with each other as this is the best way to ensure the system will work as expected and when needed. You can guarantee that you'll do a test and all will be great then for some unknown reason it all goes wrong at the worst possible moment.

We do appreciate however that in some situations there may not be a budget available to purchase the correct equipment or there's often times where organisations such as charities or places of worship get donated a box full of stuff from the place down the road or from someone clearing out their garage or loft.

Earlier this month we had an enquiry from a long standing customer who couldn't afford to buy a replacement TOA transmitter to go with his WT-5810 receiver unit and wanted to know if the S4.04-BTX from Trantec would work instead. So we looked into this for them and did some testing. We identified that the Trantec transmitter do work with the TOA receivers but the chances of matching up frequencies are slim.

The S4.04 range from Trantec has 4 channels available using the following frequencies:

CH 0 transmits on 863.150MHz
CH 1 transmits on 863.725MHz
CH 2 transmits on 864.150MHz
CH 3 transmits on 864.850MHz

Now it starts to get a little bit messy because depending on which TOA receiver you have will determine what you may get to work. If you look on the TOA receiver somewhere it will have a sticker with a model number on and also an indication as to the frequencies in use; this will be a D02 or D04. Once you have this information you can use the information below to see if you can match something up. If you do have a D02 unit you should really have it retuned as the old CH69 frequencies should no longer be used and are illegal in the UK.

If you have a 16 channel receiver on the old D02 frequencies then the following would apply:


Channel 0 on Trantec would not match up with any TOA channel

Channel 1 on Trantec would not match up with any TOA channel

Channel 2 on Trantec would not match up with any TOA channel

Channel 3 on Trantec would not match up with any TOA channel


If you have a 64 channel receiver on D02 then the following would apply:


Channel 0 on Trantec would not match up with any TOA channel

Channel 1 on Trantec would match up with Bank 2 Channel 2 on TOA

Channel 2 on Trantec would not match up with any TOA channel

Channel 3 on Trantec would not match up with any TOA channel


If you have a 16 channel receiver on D04 then the following would apply:


Channel 0 on Trantec would not match up with any TOA channel

Channel 1 on Trantec would match up with Channel 9 on TOA

Channel 2 on Trantec would not match up with any TOA channel

Channel 3 on Trantec would match up with Channel F on TOA

TOA's 64 channel receivers only have 16 channels programmed in as standard so you can apply the above to their WT5800 and WT5805 receivers too.

If you are desperate to make a mismatch of TOA and Trantec work it could be cheaper for you to send them all to us and we'll do our best for you. This would probably still be cheaper than new equipment but as we said at the start you'll not get a better more reliable solution thank sticking with the correct kit from a single manufacturer.

If you ever do need any advice give us a call on 0191 4144241 or drop us an email to [email protected]

Created On  28 Mar 2018 12:48  -  Permalink

Hypercardioid Pickup Pattern

Hypercardioid Pickup PatternAs part of our explanations on microphone pick up patterns we've been requested to include the hypercardioid pattern the we previously mentioned but didn't expand on.

A hypercardioid pattern is very similar to a supercardioid pattern but it has an even narrower front pick up angle. This can be very beneficial if you are trying to filter out unwanted noise or control feedback in an acoustic environment but it does have its downsides too. Because of the narrow front pickup a very disciplined microphone technique will be required to make sure the user directs their speech or vocal within the pickup angle. If the user can be taught the correct microphone technique then the benefits will be fantastic.

As with everything in this life you don't get anything for nothing so the tighter front control will also result in a rear pickup lobe which will be greater than a standard cardioid microphone. This is best understood by looking at the great polar pattern provided by our friends at Shure.

So to summarise, the hyper cardioid microphone pickup pattern has a very narrow forward pickup pattern ideal to help control noise pickup but you'll need to be careful about what rear noise is picked up and don't forget about the proximity effect whereby the bass response of the microphone increases if the user gets too close.


Created On  5 Mar 2018 10:04  -  Permalink

Multi-Pattern Microphones

Multi-Pattern MicrophonesOver the last few weeks we've been picking away at different microphone pickup patterns and provided a brief overview of each pattern in turn; these included the most popular cardioid pattern along with the super-cardioid, omni-directional and figure-8 patterns. There's a few other patterns too such as the hyper-cardioid and sub cardioid but we've decided to just focus on the basic set for now.

So now that you're a bit more clued up on what each pattern is you may have a clear idea of which microphone you should be looking for but what happens if you have the need for multiple pickup patterns? There's the obvious choice of purchasing different microphones to cover different applications and this is the most popular route to go down as you can also choose microphones that suit the tonal requirements of the application in conjunction with the pickup pattern however, there are still situations where you may only want to purchase a single microphone for all situations.

Well there's no need to panic because a lot of the major manufacturers offer microphones that allow you to choose the pickup pattern at the flick of a switch. The selection on the microphone is normally marked up with small icons relating to pick up pattern and if you check out the image of the Audio-Technica AT4047MP you'll see an example of typical markings. If you look closely enough you'll see that each symbol looks like the pickup pattern that we've previously covered in our other blog entries so now you know which one to choose!

We hope these recent posts have provided some help to those of you either just starting out with sound equipment or maybe provided a little refresher to those of you who have been around a little longer.
Created On  22 Feb 2018 9:54  -  Permalink
Blaydon Communications Limited, Factory Road, Blaydon, Tyne and Wear, NE21 5RY.
Registered in England 01051050 

Telephone 0191 4144241 | Email [email protected]