Did you know that very soon, the wireless mic device that you are using on stage may not work anymore or that it could even be illegal for you to use it? From January 1st 2015 changes to the Telecommunications Act mean that you will not be able to use a radio mic, instrument transmitter or in-ear monitoring system that operates between 694 and 820Mhz. The spectrum between 694 and 820MHz has been allocated for use by the telecommunications section. It becomes illegal to do so from January 1st and strict penalties can be applied by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) for breaches by wireless audio.
If your wireless gear is quite new and operates between the 520 and 694MHz or 1790 and 1800MHz frequencies, then you don’t have a problem. It’s the 694 and 820Mhz where the problem lies and applies to a lot of old wireless mic systems, particularly some of the more affordable ones from the past. This is an issue which not only effects musicians but also fitness clubs, community clubs, marriage celebrants, and a wide range of people who use wireless audio.
“Many wireless microphone users don’t understand the technical aspects of it so are just ignoring it. They think that the ACMA won’t come knocking on their door so they will just continue to use their non-compliant gear. They don’t understand that their gear will begin to fail as it’s over-powered by the stronger mobile phone signal. They have to act now,” says Frank Hinton, Chairman of ACETA (Australian Commercial & Entertainment Technologies Association).
Will Musig is a Melbourne-based musician and repairer who also installs PA systems. In Will’s musical world, he has come across many friends who weren’t aware of the impending changes.
“I reckon a lot still don’t know and there’s a lot who also don’t give a shit who might get a rude shock,” said Will. “I have played with guys and turned around and looked at their rigs and said mate, you’ve got to change that or you can get fined and half the time they don’t believe me. If you’re using an old system that falls within that 694 and 820 frequency after January 1st, you might be doing a wedding or something like that and you might pick up a conversation through the PA that you really don’t want to hear.”
The good news however, is that many of the wireless audio suppliers are offering deals leading up to the January 1 deadline whereby you can trade in your soon-to-be-non-compliant gear, providing it is still in working order. Audio Products Group, suppliers of the AKG brand are giving great trade-in deals of up to 30% off. National Audio Systems will look after you if you have Chiayo wireless products which need a change-up. So if you have gear which operates in the 694 and 820Mhz spectrum, it’s well worth asking your local retailer if they are doing upgrade deals.
Singer, songwriter Chris Doheny is fortunate with most of his corporate gigs to have his wireless gear supplied, however he does own a personal system which will soon become non-compliant.
“I’ve been aware for some time about the looming frequency changes although it’s still seemed to come up rather quick,” he said. “I’ve got a personal wireless in-ear fold back system, which I may as well chuck out now as that brand to my dismay, are not doing trade in deals. A few of my singer friends have other brands of wireless mics and they are hoping that those models will be on the special trade in deals list so they can update to compliant equipment.”
Anyone who uses wireless audio devices and is unsure if it will be compliant after January 1st, needs to check their frequencies now. Ensure your existing devices operate between 520 and 694MHz or 1790 and 1800MHz. If your product operates between 694 and 820MHz then you need to decommission these devices and replace them with compliant products to be able to continue to use wireless audio from January 1st ,2015 onwards. Also, be sure to replace your non–compliant devices with products sourced and sold through reputable suppliers who can guarantee that your new products is compliant post January 1st 2015.
Speak to your retailers, wireless audio distributors, visit the Australian Commercial and Entertainment Technologies Association or visit the ACMA wireless mic hub