What if WiSA-compliant transmitters were built into DJ mixers and musical keyboards?
Originally written for the WiSA Association Blog by Paul Konikowski, CTS-D
The Wireless Speaker and Audio (WiSA™) Association and its Members are quickly becoming the new wireless standard for high-definition digital surround sound audio. The technology is designed to be incorporated into transmitting devices such as HDTVs, Blu-ray disc players, gaming consoles, set-top boxes, AVRs, and of course, speakers. Members of the WiSA Association include Sharp, Klipsch, Martin Logan, Polk Audio, Pioneer, Paradigm, Definitive Technology, Meiloon, Nyne, Gibson, Dali, Onkyo, Gibson, Summit Semiconductor, Silicon Image, Amber Technologies, Hansong, GGEC. Together, these manufacturers have agreed to use the same WiSA certification test specification and interoperability standard, which allows users to mix and match their favorite audio and video brands when they see the WiSA logo. For more information, please visit www.wisaassociation.org
Thus far, the WiSA-enabled products and prototypes have targeted consumers and residential applications. But just recently, Summit Semiconductor, a WiSA advisory board member company, started delivering RF modules for professional wireless audio applications. This got me thinking about live events and concerts…weddings… DJs…. which lead me to wonder… what if WiSA-compliant transmitters were built into DJ mixers and keyboards?
The standard WiSA-compliant transmitter sends 8 channels of uncompressed, 24-bit digital audio to 8 self-powered speakers. Usually, that equals a 7.1 surround sound mix, or some smaller portion thereof. But, there is nothing in the specification that says a compliant transmitter has to transmit surround sound audio. It could also transmit mono audio to 8 speakers, or stereo audio (left and right), sending the left or right channel to four pairs of speakers. As long as the receivers (normally in the powered speakers) fall within the minimum transmission range (30 feet) of the WiSA Compliance Test Specification (CTS), then the system is guaranteed to work. Longer distances are possible, if the signal was boosted, but the specification is certified to a minimum of 30 feet.
Let’s look at our typical DJ setup at a wedding or club. The DJ plugs all of his or her music sources (CD players, laptop, iPhone, or if you are really lucky: actual record turntables) into their DJ mixer, where they mix the various music sources and adjust the equalization settings, filtering out or boosting different frequency bands to give a live performance aspect (“performance” definitely a stretch of the word for some DJs who usually just push play on their laptop, but I digress). So anyway, this DJ mixer mixes all of the sources into a main mono or stereo mix for the dance floor. There are also auxiliary outputs on the DJ mixer for headphones and recording; oftentimes if the DJ is famous, their set is made into a CD or MP3 track and released on the internet.
Most DJ mixers also have at least one wired microphone input so various people can make announcements, tell the crowd to put their hands up, and generally makes their voices heard over the music. Oftentimes, wireless microphones are used, especially at weddings, where lots of speeches are made. Other times, a keyboardist may be hired to play for the cocktail hour, and a microphone may be needed for announcements. Although the music may be very different, the audio signal flow diagram for both scenarios (DJ or Keyboardist) is very similar, and can be simplified into something like this:
Now, if the sound system depicted in the above diagram was instead a WiSA enabled system, the audio signal path is essentially the same, except the amps and speaker wires are replaced with powered speakers and a digital wireless link:
This wireless link to the speakers gives great flexibility to the event planner. In the past, if the client wanted to have the speakers setup around the pool, the DJ also needed to be out by the pool. But now, the DJ can be on the balcony, or even the rooftop. You can have one or two speakers for the DJ and the rest you can place wherever you like.
For the keyboardist playing during a cocktail hour between a wedding and the dinner reception, you could setup two wireless speakers in the lobby, one speaker on the patio, one speaker in the foyer, and another wireless speaker in the bridal party suite, so they don’t miss anything.
Boat parties would be incredibly easier with wireless speakers, as would flash mobs, fundraisers, and fashion shows, where inevitably, someone always ask you to move your speakers at the very last minute. Well with WiSA, you can easily move your speakers and reconfigure the system instantly, adjusting volume levels and delays to each speaker on the fly.
In summary, the WiSA Association definitely sees a market for wireless speakers at weddings and other parties, transmitting uncompressed, interference free HD audio that is easy to set up and easy to use. Although speaker wires may seem simple on paper, its much more difficult at a formal event, where you often have to tape the wires to avoid trip hazards. Most event spaces have power outlets on every wall. Just make sure you bring a few nice extension cords, some gaff tape, and those “triple taps”, that turn one AC outlet into three.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me, Paul Konikowski at firstname.lastname@example.org
You should also download the whitepaper from the wisaassociation.org website:
DJs & Music Lovers Flock To South Beach
Article and Photos by Paul Konikowski, CTS-D
Every year in March, thousands of disc jockeys, record label producers, and electronic music fans travel to Miami Beach, Florida (a.k.a. South Beach) for what is collectively known as Miami Music Week. In addition to the official Winter Music Conference events, International Dance Music Awards, Miami Fashion Week, and Ultra Music Festival, there are literally hundreds of unofficial parties at the nearby South Beach hotels and clubs. Here are some photos showing the audio, video, and lighting equipment used at a few of these surrounding events: