Feature Design Digital Wireless Microphone
Feature Design Digital Wireless Microphone

Finding missed opportunities for refinement

Oka: It's surprising how much the sound produced varies depending on a microphone's materials and finish. After testing an array of materials, we chose duralumin for the grip section. Exhaustive audio analysis also went into determining the optimal composition and thickness of the surface coating-even how the coating is applied.

Yoneda: Rarely are microphones tested by engineers as thoroughly as this. Everyone's pursuit of perfection intensified, and we suggested refining the included mic holder as well.

You may have noticed that when singers put a microphone back in the holder, it inevitably makes a loud noise that spoils the mood at exciting live performances. This bump when the bottom of the mic hits the holder is certainly distracting, when you think about it. To make it quieter, we thought of holding the mic in place with lateral pressure, instead of encircling it in the holder. Following this line of thought with our engineers ultimately led to a two-layer arm structure. The inner layer pinches the mic while the outer layer, connected to the stand, provides support. The key point here is that when the mic is inserted, it remains suspended as it's held, without the bottom surface touching the holder. No mic holders to date had this structure, and it took just as much work to perfect the holder as it did the microphone itself.

Putting the pieces together

Suzuki: As the trend toward digital wireless mics continues, more new transmitters and receivers have been developed.

Our directional UHF antenna (AN-01) is one such device. Sound technicians can use it to single out an artist to receive transmissions from with pinpoint accuracy. Stages are often surrounded by antennas, but when artists get excited and go out into the audience, or when there's unexpected interference, this antenna can be a technician's lifeline.

Antennas should be unobtrusive enough to be essentially invisible in TV coverage and ignored by audiences, like an unseen stagehand. Still, professional styling is critical. As design themes, we chose an antenna's "directionality" and the appearance of a musical instrument, which seems fitting in broadcast, entertainment, and recording applications. Thus, the antenna resembles a guitar pick. To make it lighter and reduce wind resistance, we made some openings, and to help users keep it level, we added a red line. In fact, Sony mics have traditionally been distinguished by a red line. In this antenna, you can sense our commitment to building on past achievements and a reputation for reliability while taking a step forward in pro audio.

For two-way communication with the microphone, we also developed a new remote control unit (RMU-01). This interactivity is an advantage of digital wireless mics. Among other things, sound technicians can turn mics on or off remotely. Although it's set up onstage, it's a piece of equipment that normally shouldn't be seen there. That's why we chose a simple shape and black finish, again befitting an unseen stage assistant.

Introducing Sony pro audio, once again

Suzuki: Sony has already embraced digital technology in worn microphones, wireless transmitters and receivers, and portable mixers. With this new handheld microphone and supporting equipment, production is fully digital, from the point of contact with artists to fine-tuning by technicians. I consider this our reintroduction of Sony professional audio for a digital age.

Oka: Professional audio is being rocked by the move to digital technology. Albums of quite a few recording artists are now produced on computers, using audio software. But one thing will never change. The music artists make is invariably converted to electrical signals, and in the end, these signals become sound again. Microphones and monitor speakers and headphones will always be indispensable.

In this field, Sony wants to introduce reference equipment for the next generation. We want to continue releasing products that become legends. After all, the name Sony is derived from the Latin word for "sound," sonus. Our commitment to superior sound is certainly true to who we are as a company.

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