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Wire-Lists #22: 5 Steps To Getting The Most Out Of The Broadcast Loop

Social Media WireLists22 300px The next time you're watching the news or a live narrative-type program - pay attention to the person speaking. You might notice their lavaliere mic, but more importantly, how it is placed. Chances are, it has a loop in it, with the mic head pointing up or down. Called a "Broadcast Loop" or "Newsman's Loop," this technique and mic head placement is effective for specific scenarios and, when hiding the mic isn't the main priority, can fix some common audio problems.

Why Would We Use A Loop?

The most obvious reason why you might arrange a Broadcast Loop is for esthetics and ease of movement. A lavaliere cord draping down the talent's chest is visually distracting, and the cord can get caught on things as the talent moves about the set. The loop addresses this by making only the mic head and the loop visible to the camera/eye (the remainder of the cord would be hidden under clothing).
The more important technical reason as to why you would use one is to preserve sound quality. A lav mic on talent offers closer audio than a boom mic, but by the same token, lavs notoriously pick up every bit of sound around them, particularly crunchy rustles from clothing and skin contact. Any movement of the cord can result in noise traveling up the cord (which your techs will mistake for static/interference in your signal). The Broadcast Loop creates slack in the cable at the lav clip, so if the cable moves, the slack creates a vibration-diffusing buffer. The orientation of the mic head can improve your frequency response and the quality of the sound you capture.

5 Steps To Mic and Loop

Most lapel-worn mics have a jawed attachment that resembles a tie clip, and some models have accessory hooks to help you fashion a loop. If you're using our M150 or M152, for example, the C-150, will also hold the cable for you.

  1. First, power up your transmitter and test the mic before placing it on the talent. Be sure the battery is fresh. Wipe the cord with some baby oil to keep it pliable and cut down on cable noise.
  2. Place the tail end of the lav cord on the talent, out of immediate sight. Hiding the cord is an art onto itself and most techs have their favorite ways to do it, but your main goal is to place it where it can be easily connected and disconnected to your transmitter and where it will not be in the way of free motion. Some techs prefer to hide it under clothing or tape it to skin, while others place it under jackets or around the talent’s torso.
  3. Next, consider the acoustics of your environment and the sounds of the talent themselves. Does the room have an echo or any audible ambient noise? Take a few minutes to listen to your talent's speech and breath patterns, relative to the room you're working in. This is a necessary step, even if you work with the same people all the time, because situations like allergies, emotions and dry mouth can alter a person’s normal speaking patterns. The things you are looking for are sibilance (the hissing "s" sound that is noticeable with higher-pitched voices), plosives (hard B,T and P sounds), and hard in/exhales, all of which can cause distortion and wind-like noise. If you notice these, you would address them through how you direct the mic capsule.
  4. Check the direction that the talent will primarily speak in. A reporter will speak directly to the camera, while someone on a panel might turn towards the moderator or other participants and a pastor might speak in a sweeping motion across their congregation. In the case of multiple speakers, you may have one that is much louder than the others. So, you would clip the lav on either the left or the right lapel area, or in the case of a forward-facing speaker, in the middle of their chest. You are aiming for a natural, well-balanced sound.
  5. Clip the lav to the talent’s clothing. If the clip has a hook built in, you would simply hook the lav head into it.
    If it does not have a hook, you will use the jaws of the clip to hold it in place. Open the clip, then loop the cord into a teardrop or circle shape and trap it between the fabric and the jaws of the clip. Although clipping the cord might go against your normal best practices, mic cords are designed to be used this way. The mic head can then be swiveled to point upwards (in the case of a forward-facing speaker) or downwards (accounts for speech patterns), depending on the sound you're compensating for. The end result will look something like this:

Photo of lav loop

The Broadcast Loop is an old-school technique that can offer some tangible advantages when working with today’s highly sensitive audio equipment. Need additional pointers for your unique situation? Reach out to us by email or on our Facebook group.


Wire-Lists#21: The #1 Way To Get Flawless Wedding Video Sound With MTCR

Social Media WireLists21 300Videography is one discipline where sound and visuals converge, and while it is not exactly new, wedding videography remains one of the most profitable projects that videographers undertake. And the demands for it are more stringent than ever before. No longer are wedding videos a simple chronological record of the day – they have become dynamic films featuring cinematographic camera work and even soundtracks. One of the newest trends is to show a “trailer” containing moments from the ceremony during the reception, which means that the footage needs to be edited an hour or two after filming and most likely onsite! With all of this going on, someone (that would be you) has to be mindful of the most important reason why everyone is there on the day: to witness the vows. The videographer has to figure out the best way to obtain a clean audio track while at the same time being unobtrusive and inclusive of more than one camera set-up. Many videographers plant mics throughout the venue or have the partners speak into wireless mics, but this isn’t always practical, feasible, esthetically pleasing to watch and in cases where the wedding is in a church with strict requirements, might not even be allowed.

Enter the MTCR. This is exactly the type of application that we developed it for. Similar units are already used extensively in reality TV and live action documentaries, and in a sense, these applications are not much different than what you are trying to accomplish.

The MTCR runs for over 6 hours on a single lithium AAA battery – plenty of time to capture a typical wedding ceremony and beginning of the reception. If you are using timecode to sync cameras and audio, the MTCR can be jammed to your camera’s external time code via the standard 5-pin Lemo connector. And it is small enough to be hidden in the most form-fitting wedding gown or tucked neatly into the breast pocket of a tuxedo.

If you are new to using this method, the steps are:

  1. Mic one of the partners with a MTCR and lav the morning or afternoon of the wedding. Usually, you’ll mic the groom, and the MTCR can go in the suit pocket, while the lav is clipped to his lapel, maybe 6 or 8” below his chin. Don’t forget wind protection! You will set the gain and volume in advance and jam with timecode that syncs with your camera(s). It is usually unnecessary to mic the officiant, as his or her voice will come through clearly on the mic. All three people are within a few feet of each other, and usually it is very quiet during the ceremony. In post editing, you would compensate with a “fill left to right or right to left” command to put the one mono track onto both tracks of the stereo audio. You may have to ride levels just a touch to compensate for the difference of distance between the people speaking and the mic.
  2. Enjoy the event.
  3. Remove the MTCR after the event or during a point in the reception where it is convenient to do so.

At the end of this exercise, you will have a microSD card with clean audio. In your editing stage, you would then choose “synch by timecode” or the similar command within your software, create synced groups with every angle’s action lined up with sound, and start editing immediately. If not using timecode, most video editing software offers a “sync to waveform” operation which aligns the audio tracks based on a reference, such as from an on-camera mic.

So whether you’re recording a solemn event or a real life reenactment of Tony and Tina’s wedding, the MTCR is a foolproof way to ensure that your wedding videos sound as perfect as they look.

WireLists21

Wire-Lists#20: Equipment Disinfection

Social Media WireLists20 300pxMany of you have asked us about the best way to disinfect your equipment and work safely in light of the current health situation we're all navigating.

The first things you should review prior to anything else are the CDC guidelines, which are updated as the information evolves. These are official government health guidelines and will take precedence over anything that we will tell you, now or in the future.

This situation also offers you an unplanned proving ground - a silver lining to this, if you will. If you're working right now, our wireless technology will allow you to maintain more distance from your subjects and a wider circle of personal space than you may normally need, and you will still get great sound.

Our Five Recommendations

In general, alcohol is our friend. Bleach or Lysol solutions are not recommended, as they can be corrosive. The solution we've made in our shop consists of 16oz. of 91% isopropyl alcohol plus 4oz. of water (which makes a 70% alcohol solution), mixed in a 32oz. spray bottle. Look for a spray bottle with a fine mist that will disperse the solution without soaking what you are spraying. You can also use 70% alcohol packaged wipes, as they are lint-free and save you from the worry of accidentally spraying or dripping solution into the equipment. Depending on the surface to be cleaned, it can be lightly sprayed, wiped or dabbed with Q-tips. Our general guidelines:

  1. Remove any batteries and disconnect power cords prior to cleaning.
  2. Wear rubber gloves when cleaning equipment, and discard the gloves after use. Do not reuse the gloves, as the virus can survive for a time on many surfaces.
  3. Likewise, use disposable lint-free cloths/wipes/Q-tips and do not be tempted to reuse them.
  4. Clean in an open area with good ventilation, alone or around minimal people, observing the 6' social distancing protocols.
  5. Once equipment is disinfected and is dry, you can keep it in Ziploc bags to ensure that it remains disinfected until you are ready to use it. Ensure that the unit is fully dry, then put it into the bag and squeeze out all of the air before closing. 

Cleaning for specific equipment

Lav mics: Wipe down the cord and head with the solution and a clean cloth. If the lav has a foam head (headbasket), remove it, lightly spray it with the solution and let it dry. You can then clean the head with a Q-tip. 

"Invisible" face-contacting mics: As these contact the skin and body and are in the breathing trajectory, wipe the surfaces with the solution and a clean cloth. 

Cords/antennas/power supplies: Wipe down with the solution and a clean cloth.

Transmitters and receivers: Wipe down with the solution and a clean cloth. You may also carefully clean the terminals and switch areas with a Q-tip, lightly moistened with the solution. Take care not to drip liquid into any of the openings.

Carry bags: As these are a fabric-like woven material, lightly spray with the solution and allow to dry thoroughly. Do not shake bags, as this can cause any viral particles to disperse into the air.

This is good information to have handy, even after this situation resolves. Many of you in broadcast work in environments such as medical news, crime scene, war zone or documentary, where maintaining cleanliness and safety are challenging. If you have any questions about proper disinfection of your equipment, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or reach out on our Facebook group. Although our business operations are currently suspended, we have a remote crew of Fanatics monitoring the email box and Social media, available to help you in a timely manner.

Stay safe out there!

Wire-Lists#19: ETSI standards, 75 and 50 kHz Deviation for Transmitters, and You

Social Media WireLists19 300pxAlong with the re-allocation of TV Frequencies in the US that were finalized in 2018 (and going into effect through July, 2020), regulations also have changed regarding the deviation of all new wireless microphone transmitters to a maximum of ±50kHz. For any questions about the spectrum re-allocations, repacks and new services in the 600 MHz band, see our page FCC & Spectrum Updates.

Since these changes were announced, many of you have called and written us, with understandable confusion: “Do I have to buy all new equipment?” “Is there any way that I can modify what I have?” This week’s post explains how this situation came about and what we and the industry have done/will do to make it easier for you.

* We are discussing transmitters and not receivers because only transmitters have a legal cutoff.

What Is Frequency Deviation?

For starters, frequency deviation is used when discussing audio, to describe the maximum FM modulation of the nominal carrier frequency. The transmitter pulls the frequency away - both above and below - to signal an instantaneous analog value proportional to the difference from the presumed carrier frequency. The amount of differential is called the frequency deviation, and the larger the differential at the beginning and end, the larger the presumed baseband (audio) signal is. In practice, the deviation is limited to a specific amount (according to FCC regulations) to preserve the bandwidth and bleed over into adjacent FM channels. The modulator is limited to a maximum permitted deviation.

Why And How Did All This Come About?

ETSI is the global standardization organization for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) standards, and it affects how we design and manufacture our products. One of the specifications standardized by this organization is known as the “ETSI Mask,” referring to the occupied bandwidth of any radio transmitter, and the shape that that signal is allowed to have.

Starting on October 1, 2018, American manufacturers and dealers of wireless microphone systems were mandated to market devices operating with a maximum of ±50 kHz deviation, and conform to the ETSI Mask. This was to align the US with EU standards that have long been in place.

The FCC did not set the new final specs until July 2017 - the original specs (announced in 2015) were impossible to meet for a battery powered design. The four major manufacturers (Sennheiser, Shure, Audio Technica and Lectrosonics) who were actively engaged with the FCC appealed various aspects of those frankly unattainable specs (including power, deviation, spurious emissions, etc.) in December 2015 and did not get a final answer until the following July. We were already doing R&D for the wideband tuning units in 2015. By the time the final regulations were agreed upon, our wideband units were already being lab-certified.

As a result, any transmitters manufactured or sold after October 18, 2018 have conform with the new regulations and also must, regardless of previous testing/certifications or modulation/deviation of pre-existing models, be retested and re-certified under the new rules (the ETSI mask). We re-tested and re-certified 13 unit models (SM Series, LT, LMb, SMWB Series, SSM, HMa, HHa, and IFB T4) and the FCC issued new acceptance numbers for them.

How Does This Affect Me?

The difference between the ±50Khz deviation and ±75 Khz is not as critical as you may be concerned about. In a quiet/sound neutral environment, when you are challenging your gain, you might hear a difference. In the vast majority of circumstances, you won't hear anything - or it won’t matter. For example, the 941 band units are already at ±50Khz since their inception in 2018.
Here is a case-by-case evaluation, depending on what units you have:

  • Units that can be re-blocked will be done so under the new deviation standards and will have new FCC Id’s. Older legacy units that were not re-certified by Lectrosonics certifications are ineligible for reblocking. We can, however, continue to repair and service the units unless the RF circuit board is unsalvageable.
  • We cannot reblock the following: All UM and UH Series transmitters, all MM400s, SM, SMa, SMDA, IFB-T1, IFB-T2, LMA, HH, HM, IM and all UTs.
  • New or reblocked transmitters will be fully compatible with most of your current receivers (UCR411a, wideband Venue, Venue 2, SRB, SRC, IFBR1a, LR). It's all a matter of the mode selected; you don't have to replace your entire inventory. There is already firmware available to add the Nu Hybr mode to most of the older receivers (excepting the original 2 block Venue).
  • New firmware includes a compatibility mode, “NU Hybr,” (Max ±50 kHz deviation) which replaces the former “NA HYB” (Max ±75 kHz) mode. For the best operational results in your matching receiver, set the compatibility mode of the receiver to either NU HYB or EU HYB (they are equivalent). Many of the receivers already have the EU mode. If your receiver cannot be changed to this mode, have your serial number and receiver model available and contact the Service Department to determine your best option.
  • Users keep using the ±75Khz (“NA Hybrid”) units , as they are regulatorily grandfathered. We just can't make or sell new ones.
  • Current devices using ±75 kHz deviation will still be allowed, but will only work with legacy ±75 kHz devices.
  • If you have a ±50Khz transmitter and ±75Khz receiver, you can still use those. However, you will have better results (lower noise, better range) by changing the receiver over to either the EU Hybrid or NU Hybrid mode. We’ll explain modes in a minute. Crystal-controlled units and those in the 200 series, which many of you still have and use, will not work with the new modes.
  • Can you still get your 600MHz units reblocked if you’re late to the party? Yes - if they are on the listed of continued models. They will then conform with the new regulations and you’ll just set your receiver to match accordingly. Eligible units include SMV, SMQV, IFB-T4, HHa, HMA, LT, LMB, SMWB, SMDWB, HHA, SSM, and WM. Call our Service Department regarding any other models.
  • The new 941 band units are already designed and certified under the new regulations and sound great. No action is required for them.
  • The D4T is Part 15 in a different spectrum class (902-928 MHz) - no action is required on your part.
  • Venue 2 has no issues – it has always had both NA and EU Hybrid modes. Recent firmware updates include the NU Hybrid mode, which again, is equivalent to EU Hybrid.
  • The SMWBs and SMQV/SMV family units were formerly ±75kHz (blue ID badge) in the US and have been changed to ±50kHz (black ID badge) for compliance. Firmware will be available to limit the deviation, if desired.
  • We are happy to offer re-blocking service for any eligible affected units, at approximately 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of new. Please consult the re-blocking price list for further details. For any questions about re-blocking or to schedule your products for this service, please contact us at 800-821-1121 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

So why has it taken years to get to this point? First, we were told to stop building to the old specifications as of October 2018. We could not build the ETSI mask into the transmitter before that because, as explained above, the new specs were not finalized until last July – we had to redevelop what we were working on (more than once…) to meet the specs as they changed. The test labs responsible for certifying these units also had to learn the new specs and develop verification testing procedures. Additionally, the FCC won't allow a new spec transmitter to have both types of modulation available or selectable. We intentionally waited to make any announcements about our products until we were confident of the new rules and had solutions for our customers lined up and available.

How Can I Tell Which Units I Have?

If the unit has a stick-on metallic label as opposed to the designations being engraved on the housing, you can tell the older units from newer ones by examining the FCC ID on the label. The old (±75kHz) units have a blue label and the new (±50kHz) units that have been re-designed and re-certified have black labels and a slightly different layout:

Black and Blue Label

The newer units have an FCC ID that contains an "A" after the band designation.  Let’s use the LMb as an example:

Label

  • FCC ID "LMBA1" is LMb in A1 band with ±75kHz deviation
  • FCC ID "LMBA1A" is LMb in A1 band with ETSI mask compliance and ±50kHz deviation.

In SMWBs, the single and double-battery models are electrically identical and share the same FCC ID. The older models use the single battery model number as the FCC ID, but the newer models use the double battery model number. The above logic still applies:

  • FCC ID "SMWBA1" is SMWB (and SMDWB) in A1 with ±75kHz deviation.
  • FCC ID "SMDWBA1A" is SMDWB (and SMWB) in A1 with ETSI mask compliance and ±50kHz deviation.

For block-wide units, the naming system has also been revised. The older units shared a common FCC ID for several blocks. A band designator of E, L, M, or H corresponded to bands A1, B1, C1, and D1 respectively. Now, each block gets its own FCC ID:

  • FCC ID "DBZWML" is a WM in block 21, 22, or 23 with ±75kHz deviation.
  • FCCID "DBZWM21A" is a WM in block 21 with ETSI mask compliance and ±50kHz deviation.

Considerations For Export Dealers

If you are an export dealer (depending on your country’s regulations), it is still possible to order former US spec models (with ±75 kHz deviation), in Bands A1, B1 and C1, in all frequency blocks, with the following understanding:

  • The units are ONLY sold outside the US;
  • The units have new model numbers to distinguish them from US versions. As of this writing, there is an “X” added to the model for “Export,” such as SMQV/X-22 or SSM/X-B1;
  • A minimum production run for us is five (5) pieces per model on any specific block or band. This doesn’t mean that you have to order 5 at a time, but it does mean that orders for fewer than 5 will need to wait until the in-house orders for that block/band total at least 5 before they can be produced. Lead time varies; feel free to ask if timing is a concern;
  • These products will have different firmware than the US units and no FCC markings. The technical data sheets and manuals address ALL models, though the firmware for the models will be different. Please pay attention to the documentation, especially where firmware is concerned. As mentioned in a previous Wire List, incorrect firmware being installed is the root cause of a fair amount of what we see in Service;
  • When market demand slows or parts become unavailable for any older model, we will cease manufacturing on a case-by-case basis. You will receive advance notice of this situation as we forecast production demand.
  • Models for E01 (Europe), E02 (Japan), E06 (Australia) and E07 (Canada) will continue to be available in all blocks and bands with no changes. If you have a customer who needs one or a few transmitters and doesn’t need high RF power (E01’s max RF power is 50 mW), then the E01 version will be the easiest to get/most available. Double check the regulations in the country of use before you order.

All of this is brand new territory for anyone involved in the audio industry, so you are by no means alone if you’re overwhelmed or confused. We’re happy to answer any further questions you have regarding the standards, the deviations or how they relate to your equipment. Give us a call or send an email – we’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

Wire-Lists#18: Everything You Need To Know About Firmware Updates: Part 3

Social Media WireLists18 300pxIn the previous two Wired Lists, we discussed what Firmware Updates are, where to find them, and the software programs needed to install them. In this week's List, the final one in our Firmware series, we'll talk about updates for specific models. There is not a "one size fits all" approach for these models, and you'll need to dive a bit deeper, depending on your specific situation. Look at the serial number plate or label on your device to exactly determine the Lectrosonics model number, then use the following to determine the appropriate firmware load that you need.

HHa

The HHa Firmware page is here

As you can see, there are four different firmware loads available on the page. The HHa, HHa/E01, HHa/E06 and HHa/X
models require different firmware loads:

  • HHa - Version 6.x firmware for the HHa is for use only in new product shipped after October 13, 2018 to US customers. These bear new FCC ID numbers (DBZHHAA1A and DBZHHAB1A), which indicate conformance to the ETSI standard now in effect for wireless microphone transmitters in the United States and Canada. The "Nu Hybrid" compatibility mode replaces the old "400" mode used in previous versions of the product.
  • HHa/E01 - This is the current firmware for the product version marketed in the European Union
  • HHa/E06 - This is the current firmware for the product version marketed in Australia
  • HHa/X - This is the current firmware for the product version shipped prior to October 13, 2018 to US and Canadian customers. Note that this firmware is appropriate for the HHa/X product which is available for certain export markets.

These are zip files. After downloading extract the file into a temporary folder. Use the USB Firmware Updater program to update firmware.

HMa

The HMa Firmware page is here

As you can see, there are three different firmware loads available on the page. The HMa, HMa/E01 and HMa/E06 models require different firmware loads:

  • HMa - Version 6.x firmware for the HHa is for use only in new product shipped after October 13, 2018 to US customers.
    These bear new FCC ID numbers (DBZHMAA1A and DBZHMAB1A), which indicate conformance to the ETSI
    standard now in effect for wireless microphone transmitters in the United States and Canada. The "Nu Hybrid"
    compatibility mode replaces the old "400" mode used in previous versions of the product.
  • HMa/E01 - This is the current firmware for the product version marketed in the European Union
  • HMa/E06 - This is the current firmware for the product version marketed in Australia

These are zip files. After downloading extract the file into a temporary folder. Use the USB Firmware Updater program to update firmware.

L-Series (current versions)

The current L-Series Firmware page is here.

As you can see, there are different firmware loads available on the page. The LR, LT, LT/E01 models require different firmware loads:

  • LR - This is the current firmware for all versions of the LR receiver.
  • LT - Version 6.x firmware for the LT is for use only in new product shipped after October 13, 2018 to US customers.
    These will bear new FCC ID numbers (DBZLTA1A and DBZLTB1A), which indicate conformance to the ETSI standard now in effect for wireless microphone transmitters in the United States and Canada. The "Nu Hybrid" compatibility mode replaces the old "400" mode used in previous versions of the product.
  • LT/E01 - Here, we find two different firmware loads for the product marketed in the European Union.
    - Version 1.x firmware. Use this file if your transmitter is currently running on Version 1.xx firmware. To check this, cycle power on your device and observe the firmware version displayed on the boot-up "splash screen."
    - Version 2.x firmware. Use this file if your transmitter is currently running on Version 2.xx firmware. To check this, cycle power on your device and observe the firmware version displayed on the boot-up "splash screen."

Special note for those using older LT transmitters:

  • There is a special firmware page or older LT transmitters, which originally shipped with V1.x firmware. Update these with the version 7.x firmware, found on this page. Note that this applies only to LT transmitters marketed in the US and Canada, not the LT/E01.

These are zip files. After downloading extract the file into a temporary folder. Use the USB Firmware Updater program to update firmware.

Duet System (M2T and M2R)

  • The Firmware page for M2 Duet System products is here.
  • Firmware updates for Duet products are bundled into a single file. Use our Wireless Designer program to update Duet products from the Duet firmware update file; it will automatically choose the necessary components. Instructions to update your Duet products with Wireless Designer are here
  • There are now two firmware choices offering either unencrypted digital transmission (the original mode) or AES-256 encrypted digital transmission (the "-Xî variation). The original unencrypted mode firmware is the version 2.x series, and the new encrypted mode firmware is the version 3.x series. If encrypted mode firmware is installed into M2T or M2R units, they are identified in Wireless Designer as M2T-X and M2R-X to indicate that they are operating in encrypted transmission mode.
  • When updating firmware in the M2T or M2R, the Wireless Designer Firmware Update wizard offers a choice between encrypted and unencrypted operation and automatically installs the correct firmware version. You may switch back and forth between them at will; but note that units running 2.x series firmware (unencrypted) and 3.x series firmware (encrypted) are not interoperable. In a Duet system, all M2T and M2R units use either all 2.x or all 3.x series firmware. DCHT versions 1.10 and higher work with M2R receivers using either 2.x or 3.x firmware, while DCHT versions 1.05 and lower work only with M2R receivers using 2.x firmware.

DCHT (Camera Hop System)

At the time of this writing, firmware updates for the DCHT transmitter are included in the Duet System firmware update file. Use our Wireless Designer program to update Duet products from the Duet firmware update file; it will automatically choose the necessary components. Instructions to update your Duet products with Wireless Designer are here.

SMWB

The Firmware page for SMWB transmitter series is here. On this page, you'll see a number of firmware update files for the following SMWB models.

  • SMWB, SMDWB (version 6.xx or version 7.xx)
  • SMWB/E07, SMDWB/E07 (version 1.xx or version 2.xx)
  • SMWB/E01, SMDWB/E01 (version 1.xx or version 2.xx)
  • SMWB/X, SMDWB/X (version 1.xx or version 2.xx)

It's easy to select the correct file for your transmitter. For example, if your transmitter is running version 6.xx firmware already, then select the version 6.xx update file. To check the version, cycle power on your device and observe the firmware version displayed on the boot-up "splash screen.î

Version 6.xx and 7.xx firmware for the SMWB and SMDWB is for use only in new product shipped after October 13, 2018 to US customers. These will bear new FCC ID numbers (DBZSMDWBA1A and DBZSMDWBB1A). These ID numbers indicate conformance to the ETSI standard now in effect for wireless microphone transmitters in the United States and Canada. The "Nu Hybrid" compatibility mode replaces the old "400" mode used in previous versions of the product.

The SMWB models do not have a USB port for firmware updates. Instead, the firmware is delivered to the unit via SD card. Download the Zip file from the firmware page and copy it onto an SD card for installation.

Special note regarding the transition to newer firmware versions with iXML header support:

When upgrading from older firmware versions without iXML support to newer firmware versions with iXML header
support, a bootloader update is required first. This applies if upgrading to the following firmware versions from older
firmware:

  • SMWB, SMDWB v6.52
  • SMWB/E07, SMDWB/E07 v1.50
  • SMWB/E01, SMDWB/E01 v1.50
  • SMWB/X, SMDWB/X v1.50

Instructions for updating the bootloader are found on the firmware update page. Don't hesitate to call our Factory Service
Department if you have any questions about bootloader updates.

SSM

The SSM Firmware page is here (link to: https://www.lectrosonics.com/Support/category/77-firmware.html)

As you can see, there are five different firmware loads available on the page. The SSM, SSM/E01, SSM/E02, SSM/E06 and SSM/X models require different firmware loads:

  • SSM - Version 6.x firmware for the HHa is for use only in new product shipped after October 13, 2018 to US customers.
    These bear new FCC ID numbers (DBZSSMA1A and DBZSSMB1A), which indicate conformance to the ETSI standard now in effect for wireless microphone transmitters in the United States and Canada. The "Nu Hybrid" compatibility mode replaces the old "400" mode used in previous versions of the product.
  • SSM/E01 - This is the current firmware for the product version marketed in the European Union
  • SSM/E02 - This is the current firmware for the product version marketed in Japan
  • SSM/E06 - This is the current firmware for the product version marketed in Australia
  • SSMM/X - This is the current firmware for the product version shipped prior to October 13, 2018 to US and Canadian customers. Note that this firmware is appropriate for the HHa/X product which is available for certain export markets.

These are zip files. After downloading extract the file into a temporary folder. Use the USB Firmware Updater program to update firmware.

Venue 2

The Firmware page for Venue 2 is here.

Use our Wireless Designer program to update Venue 2 from the Venue 2 firmware update file; it will automatically choose the necessary components. Instructions to update your Venue 2 receiver with Wireless Designer are here.


We hope that this series helped alleviate some of the confusion around firmware updates. If you prefer visual guides, we offer videos on firmware updates for most of our products on our YouTube channel. Our Facebook group is also a wealth of information. And remember, you can always call the factory. Detailed instructions for updating firmware in all of our products can be found in our product manuals, which are designed to be both informative and easy-to-understand. We update them frequently and upload changes to the website product page.

Wire-Lists#17: Everything You Need To Know About Firmware Updates: Part 2

Social Media WireLists17 300pxIn last week's Wired List, we discussed what Firmware Updates are, where to find them, and the software programs needed to install them. In this week's List, we'll talk about products that require either Wireless Designer or the USB Firmware Updater program to perform firmware updates:

Products that require the USB Updater are:

First, ensure that you have the USB Firmware Updater utility. You can download versions of it, for Windows and macOS, here.

After you've downloaded and installed USB Firmware Updater, the update process is as simple as going to the product page, reviewing the Firmware Revision History, downloading the relevant Zip archive, extracting it to a temporary folder, then installing it.

Products that require Wireless Designer (D² Digital System, Duet System, DCHT, SRc and Venue 2):
Make sure you are using Wireless Designer software v2.0.7 or higher for macOS, and v2.0.16 or higher for Windows PC.

For D2:
Go to the D² Firmware page and download the current update file. D2 update files bundle firmware for multiple products into one archive. Use Wireless Designer to install the update; it will automatically choose the necessary components from the file.

For Duet:
When using version 3.x firmware in a Duet system, a recent version of Wireless Designer is required; 2.0.16 or higher for Windows and Version 2.0.7 or higher for macOS. We will expand on the process to do this in the final list next week to discuss the choice between firmware loads for encrypted and non-encrypted modes of operation.

DCHT:
Go to the D² Firmware page and download the current update file. D2 update files bundle firmware for multiple products into one archive. Use Wireless Designer to install the update; it will automatically choose the necessary components.

SRc:
First review the SRc Firmware page. Firmware for this product can only be installed using the SRUSB Firmware Update Adapter accessory. Download the current update file. Use Wireless Designer to install the firmware. Instructions are found in the SRUSB technical data sheet.

For Venue 2:
The Firmware page for Venue 2 is here.

  • The Venue 2 firmware update files bundle the latest firmware for multiple products in one archive. Use Wireless Designer to install the update; it will automatically choose the necessary components from the file.

LecNet2/DM:
Firmware updates can be installed into these products using the Control Panel software (running on your PC or laptop computer) and a USB cable. Each DM series model has its own Control Panel program, which is used for the firmware. The latest firmware can be downloaded here.

  • Many LecNet2 and Venue software packages are currently bundled together. The files you download may have LecNet2 in the filename.

We hope that this post helps alleviate some of the confusion around firmware updates. To learn more, you can watch firmware update tutorial videos covering most of our product line on our YouTube channel. Our Facebook group also contains a wealth of information, and you can usually get helpful answers from the community (several Lectro employees and experienced soundies contribute). And remember, you can always call our Service and Support Department.

Next week, we’ll discuss the more complicated updates, for early build products and those that were modified per the requirements of the repack for non-US geographies.

 

Wire-Lists#16: Everything You Need To Know About Firmware Updates: Part 1

Social Media WireLists16 300pxWe’ve had a few recent inquiries through our Facebook page and Customer Service regarding firmware updates – along with some incidents where we discovered the incorrect firmware on a unit sent in for repair. The next three Wire Lists will cover the various pieces of equipment that require firmware updates and how to specifically go about performing them.

What Is Firmware And Why Should I Care About It?

Firmware is a specific type of software that provides low-level control for hardware. Typical examples of hardware devices requiring firmware are appliances, computers, and yes, our transmitters, receivers, and audio processing units. Common reasons for updating firmware include adding features or bug fixes. However, not all updates are things that affect you or the product’s performance, which is why we ask you to review the change log on the product’s Firmware Revision History page before deciding whether or not the update pertains to you. You can always contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are unsure (include your product’s serial number).

If you don’t see a product listed on the Service website, it may be because it is not field-updateable. Examples are the IFBR1A, IFBT4, SMQV and UCR411A models. However, these can be updated at a Service Center if necessary. Firmware revision histories are posted on our website. Consult these to see if there are any updates that you may want to install.

The recent changes to the TV band frequency allocations in the United States and Canada that occurred in the latter part of 2018 cued some to update transmitters with firmware with the “Nu Hybrid” mode. This is not and will not be mandatory; legacy products sold before the new rules took effect are grandfathered in and do not require updating to include the Nu Hybrid mode – as long as they are operated on a legal frequency. However, some users choose to update their products to the new version so that earlier generation and new equipment are interoperable, which can greatly simplify set up. Contact the Factory if doing this is of interest to you.

Where Do I Start?

The first thing to know is whether your model requires use of the USB Firmware Updater program. This can be determined by consulting the Firmware Update page for your model. Versions of this utility are available for Windows and macOS. These can be found here. You may also need to download the FTDI Direct USB Driver if your computer does not already have it installed. Please follow the instructions carefully for each operating system.

Where Do I Find My Firmware Updates?

Firmware updates can be found here, arranged by product. To be alerted when new updates are posted, sign up for the RSS feed on the Support page by subscribing to the Latest Updates, at the very bottom of the page.

Here Is Where It Can Get Complicated

To install firmware updates, either Wireless Designer or the USB Firmware Updater program is usually needed. In the case of products with an SD card interface, the firmware is copied to a micro SD card and then installed using a special procedure (which we will explain later).

Here are links to Firmware Update pages for the following products:


On these pages, you will find instructions for downloading and installing Firmware Updates, along with links to the product’s Firmware Revision History.

We hope that this post helps alleviate some of the confusion around firmware updates. To learn more, you can watch firmware update tutorial videos covering most of our product line on our YouTube channel. Our Facebook group is also contains a wealth of information, and you can usually get helpful answers from the community (several Lectro employees and experienced soundies contribute). And remember, you can always call our Service and Support Department.

Stay tuned for next week’s list, when we discuss products that require Wireless Designer and/or the Updater!

Wire-Lists#15: 4 Things To Check Before We Fix Your Equipment

(and 9 things to look at before we do)

Social Media WireLists15 300pxWe often receive equipment in for repair, with the nebulous explanation of “it doesn’t work.” Here are some suggestions to make the troubleshooting and repair process easier:

Before you send your unit in, first check four things. These account for 15-20% of root causes of items we receive, and checking them might save you some headache:

  1. Did you check to see if the batteries are good? Even though we advise to use fresh batteries at the start of projects, not everyone does. Dead batteries = dead equipment.
  2. Did you check the frequency that you intended to tune to? Transmitters and receivers sometimes “don’t work” or don’t communicate with each other because they’re not synched to the same frequency. Or, the frequency that the user is attempting to use is unavailable or is full in that city or country (frequency scans sometimes lock into what is available, not what is allowed or optimal!). We recall one customer who was working onsite and inadvertently tuned to the local Public Safety band! Some specifics on these issues are detailed in Wire List #2.
  3. Are the compatibility modes the same? Just like with frequency, incompatible modes can make transmitters and receivers perform poorly or just not work.
  4. If there is firmware available for your unit, did you check to see if an update is needed?. Not all firmware updates are necessary to the functioning of the unit, so you’ll want to read through the list for your product to see if the behavior you’re seeing was addressed with an update. To make sure that you stay on top of new firmware releases, sign up to receive the RSS feed alerts.

What if you checked the above and your unit is still inoperable or not working properly? Before you call us, it would be helpful to write down the exact model number, serial number and the actual firmware version that is installed on the unit. We will look up your unit, then provide you with a Repair Order number (RO#) and instructions for sending it in. Also, we’ll ask you what kind of batteries you were using, and information about the rest of the signal chain, so please have this information available as well.

The following details will be extremely helpful to the technician that works on it, and it will save them from having to spend valuable time playing CSI:

  1. Did the unit expire during use? Did you turn it on and get no signal or power? Or did you turn it on and it didn’t work (after checking the above)?
  2. What’s the symptom of your issue? Many people report what they think the cause of issues to us (i.e. – “I think the battery contacts are the issue”). What we need to know is the symptom (i.e. – “The unit has fresh batteries. I turn the knob and it does not come on or light up”).
  3. Where was the unit physically when it failed and what was the environment like? Detail is important, and more is best. In the case of a transmitter, was it on a belt or on the talent? What were the operating temperature and humidity level like (hot or cold, dry or humid)? What was the application (A concert stadium? Movie set? Theater? In the wild?)
  4. Did it fall into water…or something else? You can tell us – we truly have heard it all (talent dropping units into the toilet happens a lot). Knowing that the unit got wet, sprayed or submerged – and knowing in what – might guide our repair process. Some liquids are more damaging than others.
  5. Is the problem constant or intermittent? For example, are you not getting any signal at all…or is it cutting in and out? How often is it happening (Once an hour? Every 15 minutes?)? Please be aware that in the case of an intermittent problem, a rush repair is almost always impossible, since we need time to assess, duplicate and trace what you are seeing.
  6. Did you open the case or tinker with the unit in any way? This doesn’t necessarily void the warranty, so don’t be afraid to tell us if you opened the case to assess the situation.
  7. Do you notice any specific smells coming from the unit? Does it have a heated plastic smell? Or does it smell burned or like a chemical? Is it leaking any fluid, without having come in contact with any?
  8. Make sure that you write down the serial number of your unit and have not intentionally removed it. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t purchase any Lectrosonics equipment without first verifying that the serial number is legible and in place. We maintain a database of units that were reported lost or stolen, and if the serial number is missing from a unit we receive, that is our first suspicion that it might have been stolen or misplaced at some point. Resales are not normally an issue, but please be aware that our Authorized Service Centers cannot repair units that have had the serial numbers intentionally removed, and we will return a unit to its rightful owner if we receive one that has been reported stolen.
  9. If the unit is making a noise, try to get a recording of it and save that recording as a WAV file, which travels easily through email. Similarly, if you’re getting an error message, a video of it happening would be helpful. You can use a cell phone to make these recordings. These are extremely helpful to us, especially when we’re unable to duplicate the complaint in our testing. Our techs may recognize the sound as something they’ve heard before – this will likely cut down on the time it takes to evaluate the course of action.

While we’re discussing repairs, did you know that sending problem units to the Mothership is not your only option? We have factory authorized service centers. Oftentimes, their lead times are shorter than sending them to HQ:

In New York City – Jaycee Communications – 718-428-7818 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Please note that they are the only center that can repair 185, 190 and 195 series units, other than us)

In Canada – Lectrosonics Canada – 416-596-2202 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We also have Lectrosonics-trained personnel around the world that we can refer you to for simple component level repairs, such as a knob that broke off. You can see a full list here. If the problem is complex – like a board assembly or a tuning and alignment – the unit needs to come to us or an Authorized Repair Center.

We proudly build our products to withstand nearly anything that you can subject them to. But if they’re not working as designed, we or one of our Authorized Repair Centers can help. Also make sure you check out our Service Bulletins and Tech Notes. There is a wealth of information posted that might shed some light on your issue.

Wire-Lists#14: My Transmitter Took A Bath! Now What? 5 Steps To Help (plus a bonus tip).

Social Media WireLists14 300pxWe all know that stuff happens, in spite of your best intentions. You can try to protect your transmitters, even using covers like we always tell you to, but they still might get dunked. Talent may drop them, instead of their cell phone, into the toilet. Or a boat might capsize while you’re filming a river scene*. The end is the same: your transmitter sank and is now soaked. Now what?

Before we start, a disclaimer: If you have the option at all to send your unit to HQ or an Authorized Repair Center, do that. Do not follow any of these steps if you choose to do that. These should be considered emergency steps that you can take on location, when no better options are available and your alternative is wrapping for the day or scrapping the project.

  1. First, remove the battery as quickly as possible. Turning it off is not enough. In fresh water with the battery in the unit, you have a few minutes before serious damage results. In salt water, it is a matter of seconds, as salt is destructive – it both hardens and eats into the boards. Regardless, get the battery out of the unit fast. What you do next depends on what kind of water the transmitter fell into.
    a) If your unit fell into fresh water, chlorinated pool or tap-sourced water, you should rinse it with clean or distilled water.
    b) If it fell into sea water, rinse it with any liquid that has less salt in it than the sea water and contains no sugar. This is where you might have to get creative. If there isn’t bottled water available, you can use diet soda (as it has no sugar) or any alcohol that doesn’t have a lot of additives, like plain, clear vodka. A clear alcohol rinse is the best option if you have it available to you, because it evaporates water and it cleans off dirt or oils that may have been in the water.
  2. How to rinse: Quickly submerge the entire unit with the battery door open into water or alcohol. Or pour a light amount of water or alcohol into the unit and quickly slosh it around. Do this once or twice more with a fresh batch of water or alcohol.
  3. Tilt the unit so that the liquid runs off and away from the boards inside. After the final rinse, shake the unit to remove the liquid. You can also use canned air to facilitate the process. Do not touch the boards or anything inside with your fingers. The back cover can also be removed to help get liquid out of the inside.
    Whatever you do, DON’T use any petroleum distillates (ie, contact cleaner) inside the unit at this or any other time. We’ve seen this suggested in online forums as a moisture fix, and it’s a bad idea. Contact cleaners are fine for battery contacts or connectors when applied sparingly with a Q-tip – you just don’t want them sprayed inside the unit where they can pool. This can sound confusing, because the labeling on most contact cleaners will say something like, “for use with most plastics.” The problem is that the labeling doesn’t tell you which plastic, and to some plastics, contact cleaner can be aggressive. And worse, human tendency is to assume that “a little is good, so a lot should be better.” It’s best to just not do this at all.
  4. transmitter in waterWarm the boards to dry the moisture left from the final rinse. You can use whatever you have available that throws off tolerable heat – sunlight, scene lights, engine block, etc. There isn’t any recommended temperature; as long as you can hold the components lightly and not burn yourself, the temperature should be OK.
  5. After several hours (or more) and when the unit is completely dry, put in a battery and power it up. Be patient – even a little leftover moisture can defeat the purpose, so give this step time.

If you work around water on a regular basis and size is not an issue, you might consider investing in or renting a watertight WM transmitter. Although we build our transmitters to withstand heavy use and abuse, and our Repair Department has been known to work miracles, there are no guarantees when moisture is concerned. However, if you’re on location and (pun intended) are dead in the water, following these suggestions can make the difference between a delay in your schedule and a need to replace what cannot be fixed.

* Bonus Tip: Transmitters don’t float. But if you’re working in or around moving water, you can attach a fishing float or bobber to any body-worn transmitter to increase the chances that you’ll get it back if it escapes. If filming in darkness or low light, use a glow-in-the-dark one!

Wire-Lists#13: Three HM Transmitter Hacks (aka “MacGyvers”) for Desperate Situations

Social Media WireLists13 300pxLet’s be upfront: While we don’t advocate hacking any of our products, sometimes things happen on the job that prevent you from stopping what you’re doing and sending your unit back to us. Necessity is the mother of invention and the work has to be done (preferably without alarming your client or your employer as to your ability to do it), so here are three temporary fixes, à la MacGyver, for your HM or HMa (or older UH) transmitter:

  • Challenge #1: Are you on-site, notice that mics you’re attaching are wobbly and realize that you’ve lost the thrust washer (circled in red, our Part # 25675) on your XLR connector? They can come off unexpectedly, especially if you’ve had the transmitter for a while and the parts have had opportunity to move around and wear. This part is not just a washer that you can find in a hardware store – it is specially machined for the purpose, and you need to order one from the factory. But you’re in the studio, at a show or in the wilderness filming. Now what?

    Fix 1a

  • Crisis Aversion #1: For a temporary fix, wrap a rubber band or two around the XLR and check the mic tightness. Adjust the amount of rubber “wraps” until the mic-to-XLR connection is just snug enough. The rubber should be almost loose around the XLR to get the maximum springiness. This should get you through the job until we send you a new part. It’s a good idea to check your transmitters before putting them away, and ordering new washers to have on hand before they’re needed.

    Fix 1b

  • Challenge #2: When plugging your HM transmitter into a boom or mic, you notice a little too much “play.” Or worse, you’re picking up a bad connection sound when it’s rotated or not quite positioned correctly. This happens because the edges of the connector flange (circled in red) get worn and rounded off with use. There isn’t much you can do to prevent that, since it is metal-on-metal friction that causes it, and a good metal contact is integral to the product working correctly. Sometimes the mic socket or locking notch becomes worn as well – it’s a good idea to check that, too.

    Fix 2a

  • Crisis Aversion #2: As a temporary fix, you can add a small O-ring to the XLR tip - such as the one found on a regular female XLR plug. Our 35877 is used in this example, and it can be found in our ORINGKIT/WM. This will provide a tight fit. A permanent and more preferable fix will be to replace the XLR section (or have the microphone housing replaced), which is not that expensive, but this will get you through that one project.

    Fix 2

  • Challenge #3: Do you ever worry about getting moisture into the ends of your XLR? Or maybe you’re working in an environment that is unexpectedly wet. How do you protect the open end of the HM?
  • Crisis Aversion #3: This fix requires a bit of advance planning, or at least a trip to the hardware or auto parts store. Depending on what’s available to you at the time, you can try a large rubber vacuum line cap (such as for automotive parts) or caps for furniture legs. The best solution – especially if you have time to get one in advance and have it in your bag - is to use our HM Cover (part #HMCVR) that was designed for this purpose.

    Fix 3

We want to stress again that we hope you’re not taking shortcuts on a regular basis. If your HM or any of your Lectrosonics equipment isn’t working up to par, or if you work in situations that stress your equipment, call your representative or our repair department for help and advice.

What kinds of “MacGyvers” have gotten you through jobs? We’d love to hear about them!

Wire-Lists#12: Popular Receiver Antenna Combos

Social Media WireLists12 300px copyLast week, we shared a grid with transmitter/antenna combinations. We couldn’t leave out receivers! This grid is slightly different than the one for transmitters because of how receivers are used. While transmitters are usually placed on or near the subject, receivers often sit stationary or are portable, within bags or mounted on cameras. Receivers also have different connectors – an elbow antenna is going to be a logical choice (although a straight style can work equally well depending on the application. Or, you can use an adapter).

Keeping all this in mind:

  1. Available blocks are: 470, the range from 19 to 33 and 941/944 (not all blocks are available in all countries – check before you order or visit).
  2. The prefix “AMM” refers to a straight whip antenna with SMA connector, “AMJ” refers to a jointed/elbow antenna with SMA connector, “ACOAXTX” refers to a dipole coax cable antenna with SMA connector and “ACOAXBNC” refers to a dipole coax cable antenna with BNC connector.
  3. In general, receiver antenna lengths are not as critical as those for transmitter antennas. Plus, due to the overlap of some blocks and bands, any antenna that you choose for one block will usually work nearly as well for an adjacent block.
  4. As long as it is the correct antenna for the block you’re using, an antenna for an LR can also be used on a Venue 2 or any receiver in that block, connector-dependent (again – adapters are available). You can also use your transmitter antennas for receivers – an antenna is an antenna. We’ve tried to make things interchangeable when we can.
  5. Remember that when receivers are close to transmitters, you want frequency separation. Ideally, you should also have physical separation as well, but this isn’t always possible. Putting a 941 receiver right next to 941 transmitters in a bag can desensitize the receiver, and your range will suffer. A better choice will be to look at one of our remote antennas, such as the PCA900 (adapter required) or ACOAXTX-944, or keeping the receiver (or transmitter) outside the bag.

Is there a particular type of antenna that you’d find useful for us to offer? Email us and tell us about it!

WireLists Lectrosonics Popular Antenna Combos Receivers 2