Enhance your next meeting with the Catchbox Lite throwable system. Engage the audience and never fear a dropped microphone again.
Just before school starts every year, our local church puts on an amazing activity titled Jumpstart. Schools send information about families in need, and our church graciously pampers them for a day. We start the atmosphere in the main sanctuary, with countless volunteers acting as host families. Roughly 100 children and their families meet their church host family and enter into a room with loud popping music, a volunteer DJ, an MC and copious amounts of energy/excitement. Each child is announced and cheered for; each family is brought to a seat and welcomed and giant beach balls are sent out into the audience. Gifts are thrown out to include little footballs, frisbees, and shirts. The MC brings kids up to the microphone, kids are allowed to dance on stage and the day continues to improve. They get their hair cut, they get a lunch, then the kids get a small presentation on healthy food, while the parents get a financial planning lesson. At the end of the day, each child is taken and allowed to shop for outfits for school, with the host family. Ultimately, they are shown love, respect and that they matter. My wife, children and I have participated in this exceptional service event for the last four years, and we continue to be humbled by the opportunity to give back. Unfortunately, one of the biggest concerns regarding an event of this magnitude is about the safety of the tech. If you have any AV equipment, you know the fear of dropping a microphone, a camera, or any other piece of hardware. What if you do not have to worry? What if you need not fear flubs, butterfingers or the floor? What if you could throw a microphone into the audience, like the rolls at Lamberts Restaurant in Sikeston, Missouri?
Catchbox produces three tiers of throwable microphones, the lite, the pro and the plus. Each one of the devices was designed to playfully engage audiences of different sizes. The Catchbox Pro will allow you to use your own belt pack transmitter or lavalier microphone, inside of a throwable shell. It was designed for larger venues and for locations that already had microphone setups. The Catchbox Plus, like the Pro, was designed for 1000+ people in large areas and had wireless capabilities. For most of the needs I could imagine, the Catchbox Lite was the Goldilocks of the three options. With a built-in transmitter, audience support up to 100 people, a built-in microphone, active automute, dirt repellant, and customizable, interchangeable covers, I was most interested in the Catchbox Lite. The Catchbox Lite Microphone arrived in an 8 1/4 inches long by 7 3/4 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches white retail box. The front panel displayed the CATCHBOX Lite Logo and “The Throwable Microphone For Audience Engagement.” The top panel displayed a visibly appealing black X logo, with a central white plus icon within the negative space. Both side panels and the bottom panel were devoid of writing and came together like an origami box, combining two triangular halves into the square side. When I opened the box, I was greeted by an amazing view of the white, padded, throwable microphone. Even better, the MacSources logo shone brilliantly against the white canvas. Like a proud artist, I could not help but stare at the quality of the final product.
One of the coolest aspects of this device and the company was the ability to customize the outer shell. When ordering, you can choose to have a blue, green, orange, white or dark gray device and then upload your own logo. If these colors do not meet your needs, you can customize the color for an extra fee ($50). For the small fee, you can adjust the R/G/B coloration, to your heart’s content and then upload your logo graphics. I was very happy with the basic white color and with the lime green/black coloration of the MacSources logo. I lifted the 7 inch (18cm), 12.52-ounce cube out of the box and set it down on my counter. The black microphone with white “+” across the top provided a stark contrast against the white outer shell. Gripping the black padded microphone cover, I was able to remove the 5.67-ounce transmitter from the outer shell. The transmitter measured 6 5/16 inches tall by 4 1/2 inches diameter. Atop the transmitter, I found a removable foam cap affixed via velcro to the foam transmitter body. Along the back of the transmitter, you will find an access panel with a very small pairing button, a power switch, and a #2AA port covered with a velcro retention strap. Just to the side of the pairing button, I found an LED status light. When powered off, the LED was extinguished. When powered on and unpaired, the light illuminated green and intermittently flashed. When paired, the light would continuously emit a green coloration. When running low on batteries, this would change to red. Insert two AA batteries, turn the device on and then replace the transmitter into the outer shell. If you do not hear a satisfying click, rotate the microphone until the magnets engage. If this method is not ideal for you, there is a small triangle on the transmitter and one on the inside of the CATCHBOX shell that will help you to align the parts.
Setting the microphone/transmitter aside, I returned to the box to evaluate the contents. I found a CATCHBOX Limited Warranty card, which discussed what was and was not covered by the warranty. The 1-year warranty did not cover normal wear/tear, any non-authorized purchase, the outer foam cover, batteries, foam caps, loosening of adhesives, accidental damage, nor injuries sustained by not following guidelines. I also found a green Catchbox unboxing paper that offered a 15% discount offer. On the back of the paper, I found a list of three possible games to play with the microphone. Throw it like a bride would throw a bouquet, a hot potato game, and the name game. I also found the main receiver box, which measured 5 inches long by 5 inches wide by 1 1/2 inches thick and weighed 9.5 ounces. The bottom had 4 rubberized, anti-slip feet, which did a great job at keeping the device on my desk. The front of the receiver had two knobs, one for power on/off and another for volume. There was an LED embedded into the top of the power knob, which served to provide useful information about the status of the device. Flipping the device around, you can install the two included antenna into the dual antenna ports and then angle them obliquely outward. Looking from your left to right, you will find the pairing button, the audio-out, and 5VDC power input port. If you continue to remove contents from the box, you will find a 58 1/2 inches long power cable and a variety of wall outlet options: Type A (USA), Type C (Europe/Asia), Type G (Germany/Ireland). Lastly, you will find a bag containing a 1.5meter 6.3mm to 3.5mm cable, a 6.3 to 3.5 mm adaptor, a 6.3 to RCA adaptor, Catchbox Light USB Adaptor,
The main draw for the Catchbox Lite was the ease of setup. For our first test, I took it to the balcony of our sanctuary, where the Allen and Heath SQ6 Soundboard was located. We immediately realized that the included adaptors would not work for this particular soundboard. My friend Toby and I used a Direct Box to attach the receiver to our sound system, turned on the power, and then turned up the volume. If you did not have a direct box, we realized that a 1/4″ female to XLR male adaptor would work. We made sure that the devices were paired and then I walked down from the balcony and stood on the main stage of the church, approximately 125 feet from the balcony. If you have not guessed, our church is rather large. Without any other people and with quasi-line-of-site, I was able to test the microphone and the PA system worked very well. Holding the microphone about eight inches (20cm) from my mouth (as discussed in the manual), I was able to project my voice as clearly as if I was using one of our belt packs. A few church friends and I played a game of hot potato and enjoyed that the there was no whooshing noise, no travel sound and no banging/stopping sounds as it was caught or accidentally dropped. Yes, this was dropped a few times during the testing, mostly by my children. Aware of the limitations of the Catchbox lite, we decided to try the device for our Jumpstart. The 2.4GHz radio was no much for the >100 people and the signal distance was too great. During the event, we had great use of the device as we stood under the balcony, but as we moved towards the front of the church, the signal became intermittent and dropped out. Our other microphones overpowered the Catchbox Lite and proved the capabilities and limitations of the device. I do not use this example as a means of adding demerits to this device, as it actually exceeded my expectations. I was well aware of the specifications before testing the device. The fact that it worked in the sanctuary at all was surprising.
This system uses a 2.4GHz radio spectrum, which is free to use without any form of license. For the event mentioned above, the Pro device likely would have served us better because we already had beltpacks. However, we still enjoyed the use of this device, just in a different venue/location. Within our children’s wing, we have a separate, smaller staging area for kids. Here, we have about a 25-foot range from the stage to the soundboard and typically have ~30 children. The leader asked questions, tossed the Catchbox into the audience and the kids were able to catch it, respond to it, and pass it back. The smaller venue worked incredibly well, and this microphone kit worked perfectly. Between the 300+ people in the sanctuary and the 100+ foot distance, the 2.4Ghz signal was absorbed by bodies/walls, floors and distorted by numerous cell phones. Essentially, we proved the overcrowding of the 2.4GHz spectrum with our macroscopic test. By limiting line-of-sight obstructions, placing the receiver markedly closer to the transmitter, following the instruction manual, keeping the antenna oblique (“V” shaped) from the receiver and avoiding areas with high signal interference, our youth pastor was able to enjoy a call/response session with our children. We did learn to throw the microphone holding the side and passing it like a water balloon. My six year old tried to toss the device using the lower carry handle and shot the transmitter out
The microphone kit would work perfectly for a classroom, boardroom, children’s church, small to medium adult church and even some small sporting events. The Catchbox Lite kit came with most of the adaptors that I would need to use the microphone. To use the kit with our soundboard, we did have to use a more specialized 1/4 female to XLR male cable, which was not included. If you have worked with any AV tech, you know that cables and adaptors are a way of life. The instruction manual was useful, easy to navigate and very beneficial. We learned how not to throw this system and that it was meant for small to medium size groups. If desired, you can buy more covers, or you can buy a travel case for the device.