Wireless Microphones: The Basics

Conventional wired microphones convert sound into an electrical audio signal that is sent to the sound system through a cable. Live music stages that are crowded with cables from microphones for vocals, guitars, drums and other instruments can become a snake pit of overlapping wires and limit the performers‘ freedom of movement on the stage.

Wireless microphone systems convert audio signals created by microphones into radio signals, which are sent by a transmitter through the air to the receiver and then through the sound system. They eliminate the need for cables, so you are no longer tethered to a sound system or tripping through messy performing environments.

With continuous advances and improvements in sound quality and reliability, wireless microphone systems are more affordable and popular than ever. Their potential goes far beyond the stage. You can find wireless microphone systems in exercise studios, schools, houses of worship, presentation halls – anywhere a performer or presenter wants true freedom of movement.

Which components do you need to use a wireless microphone?

A wireless microphone system basically features two components:

  1. Transmitter
  2. Receiver

The sound is mainly influenced by the microphone capsule. The wireless system should not affect this sound.


Two types of transmitters – handheld or bodypack – send sound, without a cable, to a wireless receiver at the mixing console:

  • Handheld Transmitter: The handheld microphone transmitter integrates the transmitter into the microphone handle, so both functions are contained in one unit. Unique with all Shure wireless systems is that the microphone head is interchangeable, and you can choose the best microphone option depending on the application.
  • Bodypack Transmitter: Lavalier, headworn and instrument microphones, as well as guitar cables, must plug into a bodypack transmitter to send their audio signals. Sleek, lightweight bodypacks can be easily clipped to clothing or a guitar strap.

  • Headsets: Headworn vocal microphones): Rugged, comfortable, easy-to-position headsets provide superior voice pickup in any active user setting.
  • Lavalier vocal microphones (Clip-On vocal microphones): A range of sizes combine low visibility with high-quality professional audio. They provide full, clear sound for speech and vocal applications.

  • Clip-on instrument microphones: A versatile solution for high volume wind, brass and percussion players. Gooseneck and clamp ensure secure fit and positioning.
  • Wireless Guitar System (Guitar/ bass cable): Connects any guitar to a bodypack for wireless performance.


Wireless receivers process signals sent from a handheld microphone or a bodypack transmitter and convert them into an electrical signal. This signal is then sent through a cable to the guitar amp or the mixer.

INFO: Diversity-Receiver:
So-called “diversity” receivers feature two separate antennas to ensure consistent signal reception. If the wireless signal becomes worse or even noisy on one antenna, the second antenna takes over the reception, and so drop outs and noisy signals are avoided. All Shure wireless products feature diversity reception to maximize reliability compared to non-diversity systems.

What is radio transmission?

Every wireless microphone system transmits and receives sound on a specific radio frequency, known as the operating frequency. The crucial part in using wireless systems is the right choice of this operating frequency. You cannot combine arbitrary RF frequencies as the microphones will compete with each other, and each system will experience noisy interference and/ or drop outs.

It is also not possible to use two wireless systems on one frequency in the same venue or to use two wireless microphones with just one receiver at the same time. More advanced systems offer greater frequency selection, flexibility and the ability to combine more receivers and transmitters to serve more users.

To make it easier for the user, Shure systems offer pre-configured frequencies to accommodate multiple users. Furthermore, several Shure wireless systems automatically scan the environment for open frequencies.

Download your guide to Wireless Microphones in the UK

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