What do you do when you need to provide continuous wireless mic coverage in a multi-purpose room, indoor-outdoor configuration, or cover a main stage and green room? Well this may be a job for multi-zone antenna system to interface with your wireless mic receivers. Maybe you have shied away in the past due to the complexity and/or the high cost so today I wanted to call your attention to a new, more simple and cost effective solution to these challenges.
In the past you really only had a couple of choices. Either you could use an expensive multi-zone combiner, most of which have to be custom built, or you could string together a bunch of 2x1 splitters with a number of line amps with added bias Ts and a rat’s nest of coax. Take a look back at our 3 Hacks blog for a simple double antenna setup. This is still a great way to set up if you only need a second set of antennas. Others have suggested similar but larger setups but it’s pretty easy to hit $1,000 in parts alone. We've seen that drive people away from designing and building distributed antenna systems (sometimes referred to as a DAS) for their wireless mics.
Last summer we introduced our new 4 Zone antenna combiner. This product allows you to combine antennas that then go to your receivers, as opposed to our Combine 4 which combines IEM transmitters to a single antenna. It makes for a simple, non cluttered installation and provides some advanced features such as independent attenuation, bias voltage and the ability to switch off any antennas not needed for the current situation.
Simply mount 4 diversity pairs of antennas or even better, use 4 Diversity Fins and route the coax back to the box. Then run the master A&B antenna outs into your antenna distro system. Once connected, walk test each zone independently to make sure you have adequate signal and coverage. Keep in mind that in multi-zone projects there can sometimes be 1-2 zones that are much further away than the others, requiring more coax. Checking your signal level at the multi-zone combiner with a spectrum analyzer is a good way to gauge where in-line amplification is needed.
Here’s a couple real life examples to get you started.
The first is a typical ballroom with curtains or dividable walls. Note the alternating A & B positions of the diversity pairs.
This one could represent a multi-breakout rooms, corporate offices or classrooms.
Other situations where a multi-zone system could be the best solution could include stages with a long thrust, a theater where actors enter from the rear of the theater, or a church where coverage is needed in the sanctuary, the vestibule and occasionally from outdoors. Really many situations could benefit from a zone system that include limited range antennas.