Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

A Year from Sunday

Now that Valentine’s Day is over, it’s time to take a look at something else we all love (or love to hate): Wireless audio devices. I would wager that most readers of this here blog have at least one, and probably more than 6 channels of wireless audio (mics and/or IEMs) in their churches. Some of you may already know what I’m about to share. Others may be in the dark. Either way, you have 367 days to get clued in and come up with a plan. Thanks to Jason Cole for inspiring this post.

It happens February 17, 2009

What’s that? The day that analog TV shall cease, digital (not necessarily HD–but that’s another post) TV will take over and all wireless audio devices above 698Mhz will henceforth be illegal to use. Now you might not care about the first two items, but you should care about the third. Take an inventory of your wireless audio and see how many of your systems operate above 698Mhz. I counted ours up today: We currently have 8 channels of Shure UHF (the original UHF), and 6 channels of PSM700, all in the 700+Mhz range. A quick check on Northernsound.net tells me we need to shell out almost $20,000 to replace these soon to be rogue devices. What’s that old line, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help?”

I did some quick checking and at press time (I’ve always wanted to write that), the bidding for the 700Mhz spectrum is up to $4.6 Billion. Most are speculating that it will fetch at least $10 Billion, with some suggesting it could easily go as high $30 Billion. That seems like a lot of money to me. Then again, $20,000 seems like a lot of money, too. Maybe this is part of the “economic stimulus package?”

Today I contacted Shure to see if they would offer any kind of re-frequency-ing of their products. To my surprise they said no. According to them, it costs more to replace the PCB boards than it does to buy new gear. Now, given that a new UHF-R set will be over $2,500, those are some darned expensive PCB boards. I haven’t checked with AT yet. I don’t really blame them–if I were a manufacturer, I would rather have my production lines running cranking out new gear to sell than changing chips on old stuff.

So I was thinking today about writing to my esteemed representative and asking for a small piece of that $30B windfall to replace our old wireless stuff. Only seems fair; some of that money is already earmarked for “easing the transition to digital TV.”

The other thing that is troubling is how much electronic refuse will end up landfills next spring. You might not realize it, but electronics are pretty hazardous stuff–containing mercury, lead, and all kinds of other nasty chemicals. It’s bad enough we throw away tons of cell phones every and computers every year, but this is a government mandated disposal of tens of thousands of electronic components. What’s the true cost of that?

For some churches, this will be a good excuse to replace some aging wireless gear with new, getting better sound and performance as part of the bargain. For churches like ours, instead of putting money toward new speakers (which we desperately need), we’ll be replacing equipment that still works fine.

Now I’m sure there will be all kinds of great new technology and revenue streams that will come from the privatization of the 700Mhz spectrum. However, it seems a lot like building a football stadium with tax dollars. The big corporations (who contribute generously to re-election campaigns) collect the checks while the little guy takes it in the shorts. So join with me and write your reps and senators and ask for a piece of the pie. If the bidding goes up to $30 Billion, there should be plenty to go around. I’ll settle for $10,000…no, make that $15,000.

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8 Comments

  1. email@everydaymarketingideas.com

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. email@everydaymarketingideas.com

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  3. bcoffy@parksidechurch.com

    I just talked with our audio engineer at our church about this on Sunday. His opinion was to transition to the ShureR system. Has the sell-off been written in stone or might we still have hope to spend our $20,000 for new speakers? My understanding is that it actually hasn’t been passed but does seem to be inevitable when you’re dealing with a potential $30 Billion and politicians.

  4. bcoffy@parksidechurch.com

    I just talked with our audio engineer at our church about this on Sunday. His opinion was to transition to the ShureR system. Has the sell-off been written in stone or might we still have hope to spend our $20,000 for new speakers? My understanding is that it actually hasn’t been passed but does seem to be inevitable when you’re dealing with a potential $30 Billion and politicians.

  5. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Well, part of the sell off is a done deal. Everything from 700 Mhz (698 actually) is already sold (to Nextel, I believe). So as of 2/17/09, we can’t use it anymore. The 500-698Mhz band is still up for grabs. There are those that want to sell off the space between TV channels to the highest bidder. If this happens, we’re in deep dogie doo, as I’m not sure where we would take wireless.

    A few companies are working on this; Sabine is doing a digital 2.4Ghz system, and AT has recently been working on a digital spread spectrum system, but right now it’s only available as a conference table mic.

    Your engineer is right, we can transition to the Shure UHF-R series. There are some significant advantages over our current UHF series (like easy networking via Ethernet instead of the networking adapter), and Shure is keeping all the new frequencies below 698. It just kills me to spend money to replace stuff that isn’t broken.

  6. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Well, part of the sell off is a done deal. Everything from 700 Mhz (698 actually) is already sold (to Nextel, I believe). So as of 2/17/09, we can’t use it anymore. The 500-698Mhz band is still up for grabs. There are those that want to sell off the space between TV channels to the highest bidder. If this happens, we’re in deep dogie doo, as I’m not sure where we would take wireless.

    A few companies are working on this; Sabine is doing a digital 2.4Ghz system, and AT has recently been working on a digital spread spectrum system, but right now it’s only available as a conference table mic.

    Your engineer is right, we can transition to the Shure UHF-R series. There are some significant advantages over our current UHF series (like easy networking via Ethernet instead of the networking adapter), and Shure is keeping all the new frequencies below 698. It just kills me to spend money to replace stuff that isn’t broken.

  7. bcoffy@parksidechurch.com

    So what does that mean for budgeting? How are we to know when to actually pull the trigger and on what?

    At least one thing out there is for sure now… Blue-ray is king! http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/006508.html

  8. bcoffy@parksidechurch.com

    So what does that mean for budgeting? How are we to know when to actually pull the trigger and on what?

    At least one thing out there is for sure now… Blue-ray is king! http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/006508.html

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