First and foremost, going wireless and cordless allows for greater mobility and flexibility on stage. With a wireless system, there is no need to worry about tripping over cords or being restricted to a specific location. This can be especially useful for DJs, musicians, and performers who are constantly on the move during their shows. It also drastically reduces the effort for set up and tear down with all those cables. With no cords to deal with, there is also less risk of damage for those who frequently perform at different venues. Yet another benefit of a wireless system is that it can be more reliable than a wired system. With no cords to worry about, there is less risk of connectivity issues or equipment failures due to damaged cables.
What do you mean “wireless and cordless”?
Cables in the music performance industry is the bain of everyone’s existence. They make a complete mess, constantly getting tangled, are unreliable, and always too long or too short. It’s also important to differentiate that there are what we refer to as “signal” cables vs “power” cables. Power meaning the obvious, it plugs into a wall. “Signal” refers to anything else like how instruments communicate with mixers. How mixers communicate to amplifiers. How amplifiers connect to speakers. All this adds up to a lot cables to fail, get disconnected, or the most common, something to trip over.
In this article we will refer to “wireless” as the signal carriers, and “cordless” as the power cord.
Going Cordless (battery power)
In any musical performance you typically have two types of things that need power. Sound and Lighting. Meaning instruments, mixers, amplifiers, speakers, etc. all need power. That means device cables, extension cords, and outlet strips with circuit breakers. Is it possible to have all of those things be battery powered? Like most similar questions, the answer is, “it depends”.
The reality is there is really only one serious DJ controller that is battery powered which is the Denon Prime Go. Most musical instruments don’t require external power, but some do. We couldn’t find any serious battery powered mixers or amplifiers at this time. There are battery powered speakers, but they tend to be prosumer level quality and for much smaller crowds.
So you can find “battery powered” equipment, but it is typically prosumer level and not professional. And you can use laptop batteries or power stations to support a lot of the remaining equipment that doesn’t have batteries.
Wireless (audio / video / DMX signal)
There are 3 main considerations when considering going wireless:
Audio – Getting the audio signal from the source (instrument, DJ controller, etc.) to an amplifier, and then from the amplifier to the speaker requires a lot of cables and the more the instruments and speakers, it becomes exponential. There are several options, one is wireless microphone transmitter / receiver systems. These are typically already setup for XLR and will just plug right into your source and wherever you want that signal to go whether it’s a mixer or a powered speaker. I wouldn’t suggest having too many wireless systems to support the path of a single signal, but for powered speakers this can be amazing.
One thing to consider is “latency”. This is not an issue for most people but for DJs it’s a huge issue because what you’re mixing in the headphones is actually slightly delayed coming out of the speakers. One way to overcome this is to setup your mix in the headphones, but do the live transition listening to the live sound coming from the speakers. There is also a technology called Skaa which was designed to have the least amount of latency and was specifically designed for this use.
Video – If you are running some kind of video to a projector or a mounted screen, if you aren’t setup near the screen then you potentially have to bring a giant HDMI cable. With wireless HDMI, you can actually stream from the source (e.g. laptop) directly to screen using a wireless signal. At this time it’s limited to HD and can’t transmit 4k, but it’s a great option.
DMX – There are a lot of options for wireless DMX lighting. In fact, many fixtures are not only being setup with wireless DMX, but also battery powered which changes the game when you’re trying to light up a complex and spread out environment. This allows you to do uplighting all over the space without having to run a single cable. Combined with systems like SoundSwitch Control One, you can control an entire array of lights from a single midi controller and the only cable is from your laptop to the controller.
If you are looking to convert to a wireless and battery powered system, there are a few steps you should follow:
- Research your options: Look into the various wireless and battery powered sound and lighting systems that are available. Consider factors such as price, compatibility with your existing equipment, and reviews from other users.
- Make a budget: Determine how much you are willing to spend on your new wireless system. Keep in mind that high-quality wireless equipment can be expensive, so be prepared to invest in order to get the best possible results.
- Purchase your equipment: Once you have decided on the specific products you want to purchase, place your order and have them delivered to you.
- Set up and test your system: Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to set up your new wireless system. Make sure to test it thoroughly to ensure that everything is working properly.
- Practice using your new system: Take the time to get used to using your new wireless and battery powered system. This will help you become more comfortable with it and allow you to iron out any kinks before you perform in front of an audience.
It’s important to remember that everyone has unique needs, and a wireless and battery powered system may not be the best fit for everyone. However, it can be a great foundation for those looking to make the switch and can offer a number of benefits for musicians and performers.