The Hidden Secrets Behind the RF Bandit and Low-Cost Products

On a recent visit to China, featuring several factory tours, I learned the product shipped to Europe from three of those factories was built to the EMC standard. Not so for what was being shipped to the U.S.

The Hidden Secrets Behind the RF Bandit and Low-Cost Products
Both LED wall panels say they are FCC compliant – but as the tests show, the THOR: panel is completely quiet of any RF noise (main image) and the other panel as tested that “says” it is FCC compliant, but clearly has a whole lot of RF noise emissions with just six panels being set up on that test (inset, upper left) shows otherwise, amounting to around a 30 dB increase in the RF noise floor on the LED panels that "say" they are FCC compliant, but really are not.

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Imagine a show or worship service is soon to begin, and everything has already been tested. The wireless frequency coordination is all done, the video cameras and LED wall have been set up and dialed in for good IMAG and color reproduction. The sound system also has been tuned, along with the subwoofers having been aligned for maximum impact.

Why risk buying something that is not compliant right out of the box?


The show or service then starts, and as soon as the LED wall lights up, all audio drops from the wireless IEM system, and your artists all of a sudden cannot hear themselves.

What just happened? 

Unfortunately, the wireless was all set up before the rest of the stage was finished, and the frequency coordination was completed prior to all the other gear having been powered on.

What might seem to be a hypothetical situation that rarely happens, though. is actually playing out repeatedly all over the place – just to varying degrees…

There is a great collide of issues here, and after several Google searches, there is very little said about the radio frequency, or RF, emissions of LED walls and the pertinent problems that can result. 

Now I know there are lots of LED walls out there, and many of you are probably saying, “…but I have yet to have an issue.”

Well, if you look back about six years, there were already articles written in Germany about the testing of LED walls. Fast forward to today, and Europe has strong EMC standards – while the U.S. has their FCC regulations – with Part 15 dealing with intended and unintended radio frequency transmissions.

Now what does EMC mean? With the help of Wikipedia, it provided the following definition:

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is the branch of electrical engineering concerned with the unintentional generation, propagation and reception of electromagnetic energy which may cause unwanted effects such as electromagnetic interference (EMI) or even physical damage in operational equipment. The goal of EMC is the correct operation of different equipment in a common electromagnetic environment.

Basically, the FCC standards in this country say that things like LED walls are not to emit RF noise that would interfere with other equipment, such as wireless mics, Wi-Fi networks, and cellphones.

The reason that matters is during my recent visit to China, which included several factory tours, I had the opportunity to inspect the products they were manufacturing. In addition, I also asked about what gets shipped to the U.S., versus other parts of the world. What I learned was that all the product that was shipped to Europe was built to the EMC standard. Unfortunately, for the product that I saw in three factories probably more than 90 percent of what would soon be bound for the U.S., was not built to EMC, or even FCC, standards.


More About Stefan Svard
Stefan Svard has been involved with the A/V world for virtually all of his life. His first experience dates back to when he was 13 years old, and fast forward to the present. He now has the opportunity to serve a much larger base of people through his company, Audio Video Electronics, a Minneapolis-based AVL systems integrator, which specializes in sound systems, acoustic design, sound transmission isolation, video systems and lighting systems.
Get in Touch: ssvard@audiovideoelectronics.com    More by Stefan Svard

Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, March-April 2018
The March-April 2018 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers articles about how to prepare, prevent and respond to church violence, a look into what church management software can do for your church community, and a piece on how a once popular nightclub venue was transitioned to become Shoreline Church's new home.


Article Topics

Products · Technology · Video · Video Displays · Team Management · Budgeting · China · Compliant · EMC · EMI · Factory Direct · Factory Tours · All Topics

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