Despite advances in voice and data communications in other domains, sound production for live events (concerts, theatre, conferences, sports, worship, etc) still largely depends on spectrum-inefficient forms of analogue wireless microphone technology. In these live scenarios, low-latency transmission of high-quality audio is mission critical. However, while demand increases for wireless audio channels (for microphones, in-ear monitoring and talkback systems), some of the radio bands available for “Programme Making and Special Events” are to be re-assigned for new wireless mobile telephony and Internet connectivity services: the FCC recently decided to permit so-called White Space Devices to operate in sections of UHF spectrum previously reserved for shared use by analogue TV and wireless microphones. This paper examines the key performance aspects of low bit-rate audio codecs for the next generation of bandwidth-efficient digital wireless microphone systems that meet the future needs of live events.
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