Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

 

  1. Wireless Microphones - Why can't I use my wireless microphones anymore? 

  2. Assistive Listening System (ALS)

  3. How To Design A Commercial/Professional Sound System!

 

Wireless Microphones - Why can't I use my wireless microphones anymore? 

No, that is not totally correct.  There is a lot of hype and misinformation going on.

Firstly, if the frequency of your wireless microphone, in-ear monitors and any other wireless audio transmitters is between 520-694MHz you need read no more as your system(s) will be unaffected by the changes.

From the 1st of January 2015 the authorised frequency range for wireless audio devices will be reduced from the current 520-820MHz to 520-694MHz.  Older devices that operate above 694MHz in what is colloquially known as “the 700MHz band” must be restricted to operate below 694MHz ONLY.  Devices that are not capable of operating below 694MHz may no longer be used after the 1st January 2015.

The use of these devices from January 1st 2015 onwards could result in significant fines or gaol terms. 

If you are not sure how to find/work out the frequency of your wireless audio transmitter(s) the Ashton Audio sales team will help you, we are only a phone call away on 08 9478 3800


When did this all happen?
On January 11th, 2010 the then Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy published the long awaited Digital Dividend Green Paper. This paper indicates how much spectrum within the broadcast services band the Australian government hoped to auction off and what part of the spectrum will be subject to this reallocation.
Since then the government has auctioned off the right to use 126MHz of the contiguous spectrum from 694-820MHz, what is colloquially known as the 700MHz band for telecommunications use.  This spectrum is known as the ‘digital dividend’.
Changes will be felt across a number of sectors including

  • Schools, Universities and TAFE’s
  • Houses of Worship and associated groups
  • Performing Arts Groups (Professional and Amateur)
  • Independent Musicians and Entertainers
  • The Fitness/Aerobics Industry
  • The Conventions/Meetings Industry
  • Community Interest Groups 

Australia is in transition from Analogue to Digital TV transmission.  Digital TV transmission is much more spectrally efficient than analogue, thus once transition is complete a significant portion of the spectrum currently allocated to TV broadcast (694-820MHz) will become “surplus to requirements”.  This ‘digital dividend’, will be reallocated to Telecommunications service providers to enable next generation 4G mobile data services. As a result, wireless audio devices must also vacate this part of the spectrum to free it up for the new services.
Additionally the TV services will be restacked into a block structure in the remaining 520-694MHz broadcast spectrum. The allocation of these blocks will vary from location to location, making it imperative that operators of wireless audio devices research the new block allocations in order to coordinate operations.
Major manufacturers including Mipro, Audio-Technica, Electro-Voice, Shure, Sennheiser, AKG, Bosch and Audio Telex, have products that operate legally below 694MHz. 

What do I need to do?
• Do an audit of your current systems.
      What frequency range do they operate on now?
      Are they capable of operating in the range 520-694MHz?
• Plan to transition out non-compliant products before the 1st of January 2015.
• Research the TV block allocation and confirm products operating below 694MHz are compatible with the block allocation in locations of interest.

 

How Can We Help You?
Our wireless audio transmitter products are 2015 ready and you can use them NOW!   Ashton Audio can supply wireless and personal monitoring products that will meet the frequency of your region and also come in a variety of options to suit your usage requirements.  We are only a phone call away on 08 9478 3800


The following industry organisations have been lobbying the Australian Government and The Australian Communications and Media Authority on your behalf since 2010 - Australian Commercial and Entertainment Technology Association (ACETA) and the Australian Wireless Audio Group (AWAG) and the Australian Music Association (AMA)

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Assistive Listening System (ALS)


Australian Standard 1428.5 Released
Deafness Forum, a member group of AFDO, provided the following information regarding the release of AS 1428.5.

What is in AS1428.5?
This Standard AS1428.5 deals with principles to consider when there is hearing loss. Factors affecting speech intelligibility and hearing augmentation are also considered, including electromagnetic interference to communication equipment.  Assistive listening systems (ALS’s) are discussed in depth, including systems suitable for lifts and at security entrances.  Auditory, visual and tactile alarm systems are discussed for use as early warning systems.  Visual communication using captions is described for information, public announcements and on large screens at sporting events and the like.  There are sections on communication systems suitable for transport conveyances, telecommunications, and personal response systems.  The appendices describe methods of test for assistive listening system equipment and information on audio loop systems together with good acoustic environments.

What is a Standard?
Standards are published documents setting out specifications and procedures designed to ensure products, services and systems are safe, reliable and consistently perform the way they were intended to.  They establish a common language which defines quality and safety criteria.  These documents are practical and don’t set impossible goals.  They are based on sound industrial, scientific and consumer experience and are constantly reviewed to ensure they keep pace with new technologies. they cover everything from consumer products and services, construction, engineering, business, information technology, human services to energy and water utilities, the environment and much more.

Why do we have Australian Standards?
Australian Standards set out the specifications and design procedures to ensure goods and services consistently perform in the way they are intended.

What does this mean for you?
From now on, you can refer people (eg builders, architects, electrical contractors etc) to this standard AS1428.5 if there are issues about loops, ALS’s etc, or questions about when/where/how they should be installed.  It provides the level or standard which must be met in Australia for installation/operation of these sorts of equipment.

 

Loop Standard Information:

These comments are for guidance only, and should not be construed as a formal statement of the obligations defined in the various documents mentioned.

It should also be noted that there is no simple answer to the question, “What hearing augmentation is required for this venue?”   The Building Code of Australia is generally relevant; however, certain states, local governments and even educational and other institutions have adopted higher expectations within their areas of authority.
No particular piece of equipment, such as a loop amplifier, can properly be said to “meet standard”.  It is only the overall system performance that is of concern.  There are many factors that can prevent a loop system from meeting these performance standards.  Only a carefully designed system can ensure that a loop system will work in a particular environment.
AS60118.4 identifies measurable criteria, and the clear implication of this is that systems must be carefully designed and installed, and subsequently tested to confirm compliance.

Building Code of Australia (BCA 2010)
The BCA is the base document recognised by Local Councils for building approvals.
Section D 3.7 pertains to Hearing Augmentation and it does, at present, call on AS1428, Designing for Access & Mobility Part 1.  It is normally applied in conjunction with new or renovated buildings, rather than existing buildings, and is certified by Building Surveyors and Local Councils.

Currently the BCA specifies:
Where an inbuilt amplification system (except EWIS) is installed, a hearing augmentation system complying with AS 1428.1 must be provided:
(i)   In any conference room, meeting room, etc with floor area of more than 100 m2.
(ii)  In any room used for judicatory purposes.
(iii) In any auditorium in a Class 9b building, equitably distributed and to not less than 15% of the floor area.
(iv) At any ticket office, tellers booth, reception area, etc where the public is screened from the service provider.

Definitions:
“Class 9b building” – an assembly building, including a trade workshop, laboratory or the like in a primary or secondary school, but excluding any other parts of the building that are of another class

“Assembly building” – a building where people may assemble for:
(a) civic, theatrical, social, political or religious purposes; or
(b) educational purposes in a school, early childhood centre, preschool, etc; or
(c) entertainment, recreational or sporting purposes; or
(d) transit purposes.

AS1428.1
States that signs must indicate that there is hearing augmentation available, and where the entire space is not covered the boundaries need to be designated with signs.

AS1428.2
States that a minimum of 10% needs to be covered, and that the field strength needs to meet AS1088.4 (now superseded).  Some of the statements in AS1428.2 regarding loop spill and how loops should be installed do not conform to current best practice.
There is a new standard called AS1428.5 which covers hearing assistance in its entirety but is not included in the building code at this stage.

AS1088.4
Superseded by AS60188.4-2007.  The newer standard is more rigorous, making Australia internationally compliant in regard to field strength and audio quality for the hearing impaired.

AS60118.4
Defines the performance criteria of an induction loop system.
The key elements may be summarised:

  • Field Strength in the specified listening area shall be -20dB re 1A/m average, using a 1kHz sinusoidal input, with a variation of +/-3dB.
  • Environmental Magnetic Background noise shall be no higher than -40dB A-weighted (measured with the loop system off).
  • Frequency Response of the system shall be from 100Hz to 5000Hz. The variation should be no more than +/-3dB from the value taken at 1kHz.
Building Code of Australia (2011)
The new Australian Standards (including AS1428.5) have now been incorporated into the Building Code of Australia.  Changes take place in section D3.6 (signage requirements) and D3.7 (Hearing Augmentation).
Changes include:
D3.6 Signage
Braille and tactile signage complying with Part D4 and incorporating the international symbol of access or deafness, as appropriate, in accordance with AS 1428.1.  Signs are to include the international symbol for deafness in accordance with AS 1428.1 must be provided within a room containing a hearing augmentation system identifying:
  1. the type of hearing augmentation; and
  2. the area covered within the room; and
  3. if receivers are being used and where the receivers can be obtained;

D3.7 Hearing augmentation
(1)A hearing augmentation system must be provided where an inbuilt amplification system, other than one used only for emergency warning, is installed:
   (a) in a room in a Class 9b building; or
   (b) in an auditorium, conference room, meeting room, room for judicatory purposes, or a room in a Class 9b building; or
   (c) at any ticket office, teller’s booth, reception area or the like, where the public is screened from the service provider.
(2) If a hearing augmentation system required by subclause (1) is:
   (a) an induction loop, it must be provided to not less than 80% of the floor area of the room or space served by the inbuilt amplification system; or
   (b) a system requiring the use of receivers or the like, it must be available to not less than 95% of the floor area of the room or space served by the inbuilt amplification system, and the number of receivers provided must be not less than:
      (i) if the room or space accommodates up to 500 persons, 1 receiver for every 25 persons (or part thereof), or 2 receivers, whichever is the greater; and
      (ii) if the room or space accommodates more than 500 persons but not more than 1000 persons, 20 receivers plus 1 receiver for every 33 persons (or part thereof) in excess of 500 persons; and
      (iii) if the room or space accommodates more than 1 000 persons but not more than 2 000 persons, 35 receivers plus 1 receiver for every 50 persons (or part thereof) in excess of 2 000 persons; and
      (iii) if the room or space accommodates more than 2 000 persons, 55 receivers plus 1 receiver for every 100 persons (or part thereof) in excess of 2000 persons.

Additional Factors
Although the various Standards cover many of the issues that are important in providing a functional augmentation system to serve the hearing impaired, two other factors should be considered:

  • Input audio quality – the output of a system is only as good as the input
  • Monitoring and maintenance – a system must continue to perform in accordance with the standards to which it was installed.


Ashton Audio can design, supply, install and test your Assistive Listening System to suit your venues requirements and the current Building Code of Australia.  We are only a phone call away on 08 9478 3800

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How To Design A Commercial/Professional Sound System!


The first questions you need to answer are …

  1.  ‘Why do I need a Sound System?’
  2.  ‘What facilities do I want to have with the Sound System?’
  3.  ‘Do I have a realistic budget available to achieve the result I desire?’
  4.  ‘Do I need to address the acoustic properties of my venue to achieve a better, more economical result?’

 

There are three main categories of sound systems …
1.  Consumer or Domestic – these are primarily used in a home or can be used in a very small restaurant or bar where just basic background music is required.
2.  Commercial – these are used primarily for outdoor venues, shopping centres, airports, transit stations and other similar venues where highly articulate announcements and possibly very reliable evacuation announcements/alarms are required but only general quality music reproduction is needed.  These systems are generally what are called ‘high voltage’100v line systems.
3.  Professional – these are used in live music venues, concert and performance halls, theatre and entertainment venues, houses of worship and generally are of a very high quality with excellent voice and music reproduction and can include facilities for emergency evacuation announcements/alarms.  These systems are generally what are called ‘low voltage’ voice coil systems.

 

System Design
There are a number of ways with many adjuncts in the design of a Commercial/Professional Sound System, however, to work from source inputs to system output(s) is a good basic progress line from which to start.

Microphones – how many?
Cabled or Wireless
For    Paging – desktop or rack
Vocal – announcements or singing
Instruments – what type

Pre-recorded Reproduction Devices
How many sources e.g. CD, Digital, Computer, Remote, etc.
What type of storage/reproduction device

Mixer – of input sources?
Analogue or Digital (Analogue is best when there will be many people using the system – Digital is best when there are dedicated operators)
How many channels do I need to accommodate the input sources (number of microphones and CD players etc., I will be using). Usually one channel per input source.
If the mixer is to be used in performance venues, houses of worship, conference venues, etc., consideration may need to be given to the facilities you need for each input channel of the mixer.  These facilities will include ‘Tone Controls’ - Bass and Treble through to being very comprehensive, ‘Monitor Sends’ to facilities that allow performers to hear themselves, ‘AUXiliary Outputs’ to send signals to recording devices, other areas, assistive hearing devices etc.

Outboard Devices – for signal enhancement and/or control (in many Digital Mixers these are included as software facilities).
Graphic Equaliser – used to compensate for the reflection/absorption of frequencies in the venue
Compressor Limiter – to control the level of the outputs
Reverb & Delay – to enhance an input
Gates – to auto control inputs and noise

Assistive Listening System (ALS) – an ALS is a means of improving speech intelligibility at the ear of a listener. This is normally achieved through the process of reducing background noise and reverberation and increasing volume.
An example would be a Hearing Loop system or an Infra red system. A Hearing Loop system assists people using hearing aids to hear more clearly by cutting out background noise. A loop system can be set up with a microphone and a transmitter to send signals via a loop system to be picked up by hearing aids that are switched to ‘T' setting. In larger event situations, infra-red systems that allow for stereo sound may be more practical.
For an expansion of this topic, please see Home – FAQ - Assistive Listening System (ALS)

Amplifiers – these are the engines of your new sound system!  An amplifier (or amp) is the device that increases the amplitude of a signal. That is, an amplifier takes a weak signal from your mixer as the input and produces a stronger signal as the output. They boost the power of an audio signal that feeds into the speaker systems.  They also use the most electricity in the system and this must be taken into consideration.
Amplifiers are measured in ‘watts output’ e.g. 100wattsRMS, 500wattsRMS.
The choice of size and type of amplifier(s) is governed by the size and type of venue.

Mixer/Amplifier – in smaller systems this combines many of the attributes of the Mixer and the Amplifier for a simpler operation.

Speaker Systems – these can vary from simple ceiling speakers in a hallway to horns around a sports ground to very large, high quality systems used in a theatre or concert venue.

Cables, Connectors, Stands and Brackets – these are all called Accessories and are used to join all the components together.  Although they may sound simple, a lot of these products are used to bring your system together so they should not be dismissed in your budget allocation.

System Installation – This is a very serious and very important part of your new sound system and should be carried out with great precision to ensure that your new sound system is efficient and effective to give you the results you expect.

 

This is an extremely simplified procedure for designing a Commercial/Professional sound system.  There are countless variations and levels of quality and articulation available.  Ashton Audio can design, supply, install and test your new Commercial/Professional Sound System to suit your expectations and venues requirements.  We are only a phone call away on 08 9478 3800

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