Question: How do I navigate the Audio-Technica Wireless Manager software: Frequency Coordination tab?
Answer: In our previous blog post, we discussed the Device List tab in the Audio-Technica Wireless Manager software. This is the tab where you can put together a list of equipment for your project and control networkable Audio-Technica devices. The Frequency Coordination tab allows you to import the list of equipment you created on the Device List tab and compile a calculated frequency plan. Proper frequency coordination is an extremely important step for maximizing the performance of any wireless system. Wireless Manager builds frequency plans based on the wireless equipment used, local TV channels, and other sources of interference.
Navigating the Frequency Coordination Tab
The graph display area shows the RF spectrum and adds overlays based on data you will add in the calculation process. You can use your mouse wheel or a trackpad’s multi-touch functions to zoom in and out. To scroll, click anywhere in the graph and drag left or right while holding down the mouse button. To expand the display vertically, hold the shift key while using the mouse wheel. The overlay options are listed to the right of the graph and may be removed from the RF spectrum graph by unchecking the box next to the overlay selection. Some overlay options may be expanded for additional options. The frequency coordination workflow buttons are located under the graph and allow you to enter data to be considered in the calculations.
Add Equipment List
Click on the green Import button in the lower right corner to open the equipment list created in the Device List tab. Select the equipment you wish to coordinate or click on the box atop the equipment list to select all. Click “Add” to add the selected equipment to the Frequency Coordination tab. Tags created on the Device List tab may also be used to filter the listed equipment.
In the equipment channel list on the Frequency Coordination tab there are additional fields that pertain to the frequency calculation. Each device’s transmitter power may be adjusted based on the preconfigured power levels in the device profile. Changing the transmitter power, however, will not affect the calculation outcome. Additionally, you may change the stability of the frequency calculation. Selecting “More Robust” in the Stability column prioritizes the stability of the system and spaces the frequencies further apart. The “More Channels” selection, alternatively, prioritizes the number of simultaneous channels by spacing the frequencies closer together. The “Priority” selection allows you to designate the order in which channels will be calculated. With “Low,” “Middle,” and “High” priority options, you can ensure that your most important equipment, such as a microphone used for lead vocals, has priority over others.
Add RF Data
Select the “TV Ch Setting” workflow button to access the TV Channel database. Enter the geographical information for the project, including area, country, state, and city. Refer to the FCC digital TV database to see if any land mobile radio frequencies in the area have been set aside for use by local authorities. If your area has such channels, mark them as occupied by selecting the channels in the TV Channel Setting window. This will cause those channels to be avoided in the frequency calculation. (Because of the recent repacking of the TV spectrum, the FCC database may not always be up to date, which is why we recommend running a live scan of your environment, as explained below.) You may also import and export TV channel data by using the corresponding buttons. When you finish entering the TV Channel data, select “Apply” to send the information into the RF spectrum graph, where it will be visually represented by red bands. Click the Close button to close the TV Channel Setting window.
Exclusions may be entered for specific frequencies or frequency ranges to avoid in the calculation. This may be helpful for avoiding other equipment that you are not coordinating for, such as someone else’s nearby wireless microphone. To add an exclusion, click on the Exclusions workflow button, which will open the Exclusion window. You may import or export exclusion data lists by using the appropriate buttons, or manually add exclusions by clicking on the green “+” button. Give the exclusion a name and enter the frequency range information. If you know the specific frequency of the exclusion, change the Type from “Range” to “Single” and enter the frequency. To delete an exclusion from the list, select it and press the red “-” button in the lower right corner of the Exclusions window. Click “Apply” to add the exclusions to the RF spectrum graph (they will appear as orange bands) and close the window.
Inclusions may also be added to the frequency calculation in order to designate portions of the spectrum for specific devices, such as wireless microphones or IEM systems. It is good practice to separate these frequencies, and creating inclusion groups allows you to do so. To create an inclusion group, click on the Inclusions workflow button to open the Inclusions window. Again, you may import or export inclusion data, or add the data manually by clicking the green “+” button and entering the required information. Similarly, to remove an inclusion, select it and press the red “-“ button in the lower right corner of the Inclusions window. Click “Apply” to add the inclusions to the RF spectrum graph (they will appear as green bands) and close the window. Once the inclusions have been created, assign devices to the inclusion groups by clicking on the Inclusion Group drop-down and selecting the desired inclusion group for each device. Remember, you can use the tags you created to filter the equipment and find devices more easily. You can also shift-click to select a range of devices or control-click (command-click on Mac) to select multiple devices anywhere on the list and then use the drop-down to place all selected devices into an inclusion group.
When you are in the location where the systems will be set up, you may use Audio-Technica networked receivers to run a frequency scan of the spectrum. Click on the RF Scan workflow button to open the scanning window. Under the graph, press the Sel RX button and select one or more receivers for the scan. The receiver is only capable of scanning within its bandwidth. To reduce the scanning time, you may select multiple Audio-Technica networked receivers, which will divide the spectrum up evenly between them. Once the desired receivers are selected, press “Select” to close the window and then press “Start” in the RF Scan window. While scanning, the selected receivers display “Busy” and their audio output is muted. Once the scan is complete, the RF spectrum representation is displayed in the graph. You may adjust the yellow threshold bar if desired. Decreasing the threshold (dragging the threshold bar up) will allow for more frequencies to be used in the calculation. Doing so may increase the chance of interference. Alternatively, increasing the threshold (dragging the threshold bar down) may reduce the amount of frequencies, while increasing the system stability. RF scans may also be imported or exported in CSV format as needed. Click on “Apply” to add the RF scan results to the RF spectrum graph. Click “Close” to close the RF Scan window.
Calculate a Frequency Plan
Once all of your RF spectrum data is entered into the Wireless Manager software, click on the Freq Plan workflow button to open the Frequency Plan window. Click on “Calculate” to begin the calculation. Once complete, the frequency list will populate. Note the number of frequencies calculated and any concerned channels. If the number of frequencies found does not match the amount of channels needed or there are concerned channels, you may need to go back and decrease the robustness of the stability setting and decrease the RF scan threshold. Making these changes reduces the frequency stability in exchange for more channels. To accept the calculated frequencies, click “Apply,” which will add the frequencies to the equipment list and display them as green flags in the RF spectrum graph. A confirmation screen will ask if you want to save the calculation results as a “history.” Calculation histories can be recalled later, as you may want to run a calculation multiple times to see if you get slightly different results in the frequency coordination calculation. Click “Close” to close the Frequency Plan window.
In the equipment list, you may lock specific wireless channels by clicking on the padlock icon in the Frequency column. This will lock down that frequency and prevent it from changing if you choose to recalculate the frequency plan.
Deploy the Frequencies
Once the frequency plan has been calculated, you can deploy the frequencies to the Audio-Technica networked devices by clicking on the Deploy workflow button. Doing so will push the frequency data to the receivers, then you may either IR sync the transmitters to their corresponding receivers or manually set the transmitters to the calculated frequencies. Non-networked systems will need to be manually set according to the frequency coordination plan.
A channel list report can also be created by clicking on the Ch List Report workflow button. This report, which you can print or save as a PDF or CSV file, displays the project properties we discussed in our previous blog post about the Device List tab, as well as the equipment and frequency channel list. The report may be helpful to someone else who needs to create frequency plans without the aid of the Wireless Manager software.
Next week, we will look at the Monitor tab, which allows you to monitor the Audio-Technica networked devices in real time. If you have additional questions about using the Wireless Manger Frequency Coordination tab, feel free to contact the Audio Solutions Department.
You may find additional helpful information on the Frequency Coordination tab in the video below.