10 Best FM Transmitters for Churches (2021)

Posted by

The new wave of coronavirus outbreak forced us to change some of our habits and adopt new ways of doing things. Regardless of how annoying this ‘’new normal’’ situation is, we have to keep following the rules to protect the people we love. Churches (and their congregations) are, among other institutions, highly affected by the outbreak and, since we should all avoid mass gatherings, especially indoor gatherings, the churches have to contrive a way to hold a service while keeping the risk of infection at a minimum.

Using a simple FM transmitter is probably the most convenient and most cost-efficient solution to solve this problem. However, there’re some things you should know before you buy one and we are here to help you with that. Our article about 10 best FM transmitters for churches is here to introduce you to the world of FM transmitters and FM broadcasting, and present you with our selection of best FM transmitters.

Legal Regulations and Restrictions Related to FM Broadcasting

Portable FM transmitters are simple and easy-to-use devices that don’t require any special training, so learning how to use one takes just a few minutes. What takes much more is understanding the legal framework that defines and establishes rules related to FM broadcasting and the use of FM transmitters.

In the US, telecommunications and FM broadcasting are very strictly regulated. All the rules and laws can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 47 (Telecommunication), Part 15 (Radio Frequency Devices).

In order to broadcast legally at longer distances (like 1-3.5miles), you will have to apply for a license. The licenses are issued by the FCC. This even applies to low-power FM stations (up to 100W). The only transmitters that don’t require any kind of license are extremely low-power transmitters with a very short range (up to 200ft). Even though you don’t need a license for this kind of transmission, you need a transmitter that is FCC-approved.

So, to summarize, in order to broadcast legally on FM frequencies, you need an FCC-certified transmitter (applies to all types of broadcast) and an FCC broadcast license (in most cases with only one exception). 

Our Top Picks

This post contains affiliate links. See the affiliate disclaimer here.

ProductPriceOverall RatingReview
C. CRANE Digital FM Transmitter 2Check Price on C. Crane4.2Read Review
Retekess FT11Check Price on Amazon4.5Read Review
Retekess TR508Check Price on Amazon4.5Read Review
Mobile Black Box V6000Check Price on Amazon4.1Read Review
Fail-Safe FS CZH-05BCheck Price on Amazon4.5Read Review
BaseWish CZE-7CCheck Price on Amazon4.4Read Review
Signstek ST-7CCheck Price on Amazon4.3Read Review
Elikliv T5Check Price on Amazon4.4Read Review
Signstek ST-05BCheck Price on Amazon4.6Read Review
Fail-Safe FSX-05BCheck Price on Amazon3.9Read Review

Are all the Available Transmitters on The US Market Approved by the FCC?

No. There’s a significant number of FM transmitters available on Amazon and in stores that are not FCC-approved. It is kind of strange that using a transmitter that is not approved is illegal while selling that transmitter is not, but that’s the way it is.

The good news is that even if you don’t have a broadcasting license or if you are using an FM transmitter that is not approved, the chances of getting in trouble are minimal if you follow two simple rules – you must use a vacant/empty FM frequency and you must not cause any interference to the existing FM stations,. However, you must have in mind that following these rules DOESN’T MAKE THE BROADCAST LEGAL.

Note: The fines for unlicensed FM broadcast, defined in the P.I.R.A.T.E. Act, can reach $2 million.

So, now that you know the basics, let’s move onto our selection of 10 best FM transmitters for churches. Since the list includes both approved and non-approved devices, there’ll be information on FCC approval in every review. The selection is divided into two parts based on the price so you don’t have to read all the reviews – just select your price range and read those reviews.


BEST FM TRANSMITTERS FOR CHURCHES UNDER $100

Best Portable FCC-Compliant FM Transmitter for Churches Under $100 – C. CRANE Digital FM Transmitter 2

C. CRANE Digital FM Transmitter 2

Editor’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Crane Digital FM transmitter 2 is a small, pocketable device weighing only 5.8oz. It’s an FCC-certified transmitter with simple and intuitive controls.

On the front panel, you have the power button, a tiny LCD display, two tuning buttons, and a retractable antenna. On the right end, there’s the input level dial (allows you to adjust the audio level of the input signal). On the left end, you have an undetachable audio cable that you can connect to any audio source with an AUX/headphone output. The DC power input is located right under the audio cable (DC adapter is included in the package). 

On the back, there’s a battery compartment. The device requires two AA batteries but can also be powered with the included adapter. A pair of AA batteries will provide you with 110h of playtime.

The unit has an adjustable audio input, which gives you more freedom when it comes to audio sources you can use. You can select any FM frequency from the 88.3-107.7MHz and start broadcasting in a second. To find a vacant frequency, you can use the C. Crane’s official webpage – you just have to enter the zip code and it will give you a list of vacant frequencies.

The range of the FM signal depends on many factors but you should get 70ft under good conditions (100ft+ under ideal conditions). If there’s too much interference from the existing stations, you may get a shorter range (45ft or so). 

The range can be easily extended by performing the so-called ‘mod’. You just have to open the case and turn a small dial with a screwdriver. Or you can attach a long wire to the telescoping antenna. Have in mind that once you do the ‘mod’, the device practically loses FCC certification.

FM2 transmitter uses the phase lock loop (PLL) circuit – once you select the frequency you want to use for transmission, the device locks onto that frequency and prevents the signal from hopping to other frequencies.

Advantages

  • Small and pocketable
  • Battery operated (2 AA batteries required – you can use rechargeable batteries)
  • 110h playtime 
  • Intuitive controls
  • Adjustable input level
  • FCC-approved
  • Up to 70ft of range under good conditions

Disadvantages

  • The range is not long enough if you are trying to cover larger areas
  • Undetachable audio cable
  • Lacks mic input

Best Portable FM Transmitter for Churches Under $100 – Retekess FT11

Retekess FT11

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Retekess FT11 is another portable and pocketable FM transmitter. It looks like some kind of an mp3 player but with a rubberized antenna on the top.

The unit comes with a detachable antenna, USB cable for charging, wired mic, and manual.

As mentioned, FT11 looks like a tiny mp3 player. On the front, you have a circular control panel with playback controls and mode and frequency buttons. Above the control panel, there’s a simple display (shows you the source, frequency, volume level). On the bottom, there are two audio inputs (mic input and AUX input) and a micro USB port for charging. On the top, you have the antenna connector and 5 preset buttons for saving the most often used broadcast frequencies.

On the left end, there’s a micro SD card slot (max supported capacity – 32GB) and on the right, there’s the power button. 

The transmitter has a built-in 2,000mAh battery. The battery is rechargeable and will provide you with 6-8 hours of playtime per one charge. 

Aside from the included external mic, the unit also has a built-in mic, which is not as good as that external mic.

The transmitter has the max range of up to 200m (under ideal conditions) and supports the anti-howling effect. It can work with any FM receiver as long as both transmitter and receiver operate on the same frequency.

Advantages

  • Portable and pocketable design
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use controls
  • Built-in rechargeable battery with 6-8 hours of playtime per one charge
  • AUX input + mic input
  • SD card slot (up to 32GB)
  • Up to 200m/650ft of range

Disadvantages

  • The device is still not FCC-approved (It’s currently being evaluated by the FCC)

Best FCC-Compliant Transmitter for Churches Under $100 – Retekess TR508

Retekess TR508

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Most of the available FM transmitters on the market look exactly like or similar to this Retekess TR508 transmitter. It’s a simple low-power desktop transmitter with an intuitive control scheme and a very good range and broadcast quality.

TR508 comes with a DC adapter, AUX cable, and a detachable FM antenna.

The front panel houses all the controls and inputs. There’s a mic input with a dedicated mic volume dial on the right end, AUX input and an AUX volume dial on the left. In the middle, there a simple backlit display and three buttons (power and two tuning buttons).

On the back, there’s a DC input and an antenna socket.

The unit is compliant with the FCC Part 15 and is approved by the FCC. It’s a 0.8-Watt low-power transmitter with a BH1415 transmission chip made by ROHM in Japan. The chip features PLL circuits so it stays locked onto the frequency you choose for transmission.

The max range under ideal conditions is 400m. If there’s too much interference, you may get less than 200m. Compared to the previous two portable devices, Retekess TR508 has a much better range and covers greater areas, which makes it a better choice for drive-in churches.

Advantages

  • FCC-approved (compliant with FCC Part 15)
  • Compact and easy to use
  • AUX + mic input (with dedicated volume controls)
  • Up to 400m of range (under ideal conditions)

Disadvantages

  • Not portable (has to be plugged in all the time)

Mobile Black Box V6000

Mobile Black Box V6000

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Mobile Black Box V6000 looks like a wi-fi router. It comes with a stand and is supposed to be placed vertically. The packaging also includes 3 different power cables – AC cable, USB power cable, and car adapter. Finally, you’ll get a detachable FM antenna. 

This unit is a perfect combination of a desktop and portable FM transmitter. It can be powered with three different cables or you can insert two AAA batteries and use it as a portable transmitter.

On the front side, there’s just a simple LED indicator. On the back, there’s an antenna socket, two audio inputs (AUX and mic), DC input, and two power/range adjustment buttons (0mW-200mW).

All the controls are on the left panel. You have the power button, two tuning buttons, 4 frequency presets for the most common broadcast frequencies, and a blue backlit display (shows frequency, mem indicator, and selected power settings).

The transmitter allows you to select one of 200 available channels within the standard FM range (88-108MHz). Depending on the selected power settings, the range can be extended up to 150m (450ft+). V6000 features PLL circuits and will stay locked onto the frequency you select for transmission.

The only bad thing is that the unit is not FCC-approved. However, if you keep the range under 200ft (use those two power/range adjustment buttons on the back), you won’t be breaking any laws.

Advantages

  • Great for desktop and portable use
  • Four power options – DC cable, car adapter, USB cable, batteries
  • AUX and mic inputs
  • 200 available broadcast channels
  • PLL circuits
  • Up to 150m of range

Disadvantages

  • Short playtime when battery-operated (up to 2 hours)
  • The range is shorter when using batteries
  • The transmitter is not FCC-approved
  • The LED indicator on the front is too bright

BEST FM TRANSMITTERS FOR CHURCHES UNDER $200

Fail-Safe FS CZH-05B

Fail-Safe FS CZH-05B

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Like we’ve said a few minutes ago, most of the available FM transmitters are very similar to the previously reviewed Retekess TR508. Fail-Safe FS CZH-05B is the first example.

FS CZH-05B has a strong metal chassis with an easy-to-use control scheme. On the front panel, you have a large backlit display, two inputs (AUX and MIC IN) with dedicated volume dials, and three control buttons (power and two tuning buttons). 

On the rear panel, there’s a DC socket, FM antenna socket (antenna is included in the package), and one RCA audio input. So, in total, there’re two audio inputs for connecting phones, computers, etc., and one input for the external microphone (the microphone is not included in the package).

FS CZH-05B will provide you with a clean signal with low distortion and low noise (regardless of the input signal). You have two power output modes – low (0.1W) and high (0.5W). Even in conditions that are not ideal, you should get at least a 100m/330ft range (at low-power settings). At high-power settings and under ideal conditions, you will get up to 2km (more than a mile).

Advantages

  • Solid construction
  • Intuitive controls
  • Three inputs – AUX IN, RCA IN, MIC IN
  • Two power modes (100mW and 500mW)
  • Clean signal, low distortion, low noise
  • Impressive range, even at low power settings (at least 330ft at low power)

Disadvantages

  • The unit is not FCC-approved 
  • The high frequencies are slightly rolled off

Best Range 1 – BaseWish CZE-7C

BaseWish CZE-7C

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

CZE-7C looks like the previously reviewed Retekess TR508 and FS CZH-05B, but it’s significantly more powerful and has a much longer range. The unit is FCC-certified but, considering the power output, you will have to apply for an FCC LPFM license to broadcast legally. Without a license, you may get in trouble, especially when using a frequency that is not vacant. 

The front panel houses all the controls. You have a large LCD display in the middle, AUX input with a dedicated volume dial on the left, MIC input with a dedicated volume dial on the right, and three buttons (power and two tuning buttons) in the middle.

The rear panel houses a DC input and a TNC FM antenna socket (a telescoping antenna is included in the package and you just have to attach it).

The unit can operate in two power modes – 1W and 7W. The unit is FCC-certified but both modes are too powerful for broadcasting without an FCC license. At low-power settings, you will get more than 500ft of range, while the high-power mode gives you up to 3mile range. 

CZE-7C features a PLL modulation so it will lock the transmission onto the frequency you select. The heat dissipation is good and the device never gets too hot. 

Advantages

  • FCC-certified (but it probably requires a broadcasting license – contact the FCC for more info)
  • Solid construction
  • Intuitive controls 
  • AUX input and MIC input (with dedicated controls)
  • Two power modes – 1W and 7W
  • Long signal range – 500ft+ (low-power); 3miles (high-power)
  • Clear signal with good audio quality and low distortion

Disadvantages

  • Loud fan
  • The packaging doesn’t include a microphone

Best Range 2 – Signstek ST-7C

Signstek ST-7C

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Signstek is another generic brand. Its ST-7C FM transmitter looks exactly the same as CZE-7C and, in fact, it has exactly the same features. It’s basically the same product. ST-7C also comes with a DC power adapter, detachable telescoping antenna, AUX audio cable, and user manual. Like the CZE-7C, ST-7C is FCC-certified but, just like CZE-7C, it has 1W and 7W power modes, both of which require an FCC license. 

ST-7C has a solidly built chassis made of aluminum alloy. The largest part of the front panel is occupied by the backlit display. On the left end, you have an AUX input and a dedicated volume dial for that input. On the right end, you have a mic input with another volume dial. In the middle, there are three control buttons – power and two tuning buttons.

The rear panel houses a DC input and an FM antenna socket (antenna included). 

The transmitter delivers reliable performance with a good signal range, good audio quality, and low noise and distortion.

Depending on the power mode (1W or 7W), you will get different ranges. In high-power mode, the range extends well over 3 miles. In low-power mode, you will get up to 500ft.

Advantages

  • FCC-certified (but it probably requires a broadcasting license – contact the FCC for more info)
  • Solid build
  • Intuitive controls 
  • AUX input and MIC input (with dedicated volume controls)
  • Two power modes – 1W and 7W
  • Long signal range – up to 500ft (low-power), 3miles+ (high-power)
  • Clear signal with good audio quality and low distortion

Disadvantages

  • Loud fan
  • The power cord may introduce some low-frequency noise

Best Bluetooth-Enabled FM Transmitter for Churches Under $200 – Elikliv T5

Elikliv T5

Editor’s Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

At first glance, Elikliv T5 looks the same as the previous two, but there’re some subtle differences that make it more special. For example, this unit has a built-in Bluetooth receiver, it has a higher power output (15W), it houses a USB port (you can play audio files from a USB drive), and it has a micro USB port for PC control.

The transmitter has the same kind of aluminum alloy chassis as the previous two transmitters but with a silver finish.

The control scheme is pretty much the same. All the control buttons are on the front panel. There’s a large backlit display showing the frequency in the middle, three controls buttons right under the display (power and tuning buttons), and two inputs (AUX IN and MIC IN) with dedicated volume dials.

On the back, you have a standard 12V DC input, antenna socket, USB Type-A input, and a micro USB port (allows you to connect your PC). The transmitter comes with an extender cable that you can connect to the antenna socket, and then connect the antenna to it. 

Elikliv T5 delivers better performance than most units on the market. The sound quality is good. You can switch from mono to stereo and from low to high power output. The unit has PLL circuits so it will stay locked onto the frequency you select. The noise and distortion levels are fairly low.

Unlike cheaper FM transmitters, T5 has a built-in Bluetooth receiver so you can stream audio from your phone/PC/laptop wirelessly. However, the Bluetooth range is quite mediocre. 

The biggest problem with this transmitter is that it is not FCC-certified. Also, it’s quite sensitive to noise caused by audio cables.

Advantages

  • Solid construction
  • Intuitive control scheme
  • Versatile connectivity – AUX input, MIC input, USB Type-B, micro USB
  • Bluetooth connectivity 
  • PLL circuits 
  • Two power modes – high and low
  • Switchable mono and stereo modes
  • Good audio quality with low distortion
  • Very good range – more than 1mile in high-power mode

Disadvantages

  • The unit is not compliant with the FCC Part 15
  • Loud fan
  • Short Bluetooth range

Signstek ST-05B

Signstek ST-05B

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Like the first transmitter in this section, ST-05B has the same design but lower output than the previous three transmitters. ST-05B is an FCC-approved transmitter and is compliant with the Part 15 regulations.

The unit has a strong aluminum alloy housing with a black finish. It’s sturdy and durable. The front panel houses all the controls and inputs. You have an AUX input and a mic input, each with a dedicated volume dial. In the middle, there’s an LCD display and three control buttons (power button and two tuning buttons).

On the back, there’s a DC input and an FM antenna socket (the antenna is included in the package). 

ST-05B delivers reliable and stable performance. The power output is adjustable (low and high-power modes). The audio signal is clear and undistorted, and the noise level depends on the interference (under ideal conditions and when using vacant frequency, you won’t hear any noise). The range is quite impressive. In high-power mode, you will get more than 300m (up to 1000ft). In low-power mode, you should get at least 300ft.

Advantages

  • FCC-approved
  • Solid construction
  • Intuitive controls
  • Two inputs – AUX IN, MIC IN
  • Two power modes (100mW and 500mW)
  • Clean signal, low distortion, low noise
  • Impressive range, even at low power settings (at least 300ft in low-power mode)

Disadvantages

  • The high frequencies are slightly rolled off
  • The transmitter doesn’t come with a microphone

Fail-Safe FSX-05B

Fail-Safe FSX-05B

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

The last unit on our list of 10 best FM transmitters for churches comes from Fail-Safe. This unit is also FCC-certified 

FSX-05B comes with a detachable radio antenna and with a DC power adapter. The transmitter has a durable aluminum housing with a silver finish.

The front panel houses all the controls and most inputs. You have two audio inputs – AUX input and a mic input, both with dedicated volume dials. Between those two inputs, there’s a simple backlit display and three control buttons (power and tuning buttons).

The rear panel houses one RCA audio input, reverse-thread antenna socket, and a DC input.

FSX-05B will provide you with a pretty good performance. You won’t get 1 mile of range since the power output is lower (either 100mW or 500mW), but you can expect up to 300ft in low-power mode. So, it’s not bad at all. The transmitter uses PLL circuits so it will be locked onto the frequency you select. The audio quality is very good, with a minimal roll-off in the treble region. The distortion is barely noticeable.

Advantages

  • FCC-approved
  • Solid build
  • Easy to use
  • Three stereo inputs – AUX IN, MIC IN, RCA IN
  • Two power modes (100mW and 500mW)
  • Clean signal, low distortion, low noise
  • Impressive range, even at low power settings (at least 300ft in low-power mode)

Disadvantages

  • Slight treble roll-off
  • The transmitter doesn’t come with a microphone

This concludes our list of 10 best FM transmitters for churches. We sincerely hope it helped you find the right transmitter for your church. If you want to find out more about FM transmitters, read our Buyer’s Guide.


Buyer’s Guide – Things to Look for When Buying FM Transmitters for Churches

Buying the right FM transmitter for your needs is not that hard once you understand all the legal regulations and some basic characteristics of FM transmitters. There are four crucial things to consider when looking for the right transmitter.

Inputs

In most cases, you will have one mic input and one (rarely) two analog RCA (or AUX) inputs. If you are not going to use a microphone, then look for the transmitter that has only AUX/RCA inputs (they are usually cheaper). If you want a more advanced transmitter, look for one with a built-in Bluetooth receiver.

Power/Range

The range is just as important as the inputs. It has to be long enough to cover the whole area around the church or the whole parking lot. You don’t need something that covers 3.5miles in diameter (which is the max range of LPFM 100W transmitters). In most cases, a 1W-7W transmitter with 1000-2000ft range will do just fine. However, those 1-7W transmitters require an FCC license for broadcasting.

Reliability of wireless transmission

The range is important but the connection quality and reliability are crucial. A transmitter doesn’t only have to reach long distances. It also has to provide you with a perfectly stable transmission without any interruptions and cutouts.

Price

The good news is that low-power FM transmitters are not crazy-expensive. Even the most expensive ones are priced under $300. But you can also find a pretty good one for less than $100. 

Setup Guide – How to Set Up an FM Transmitter

Setting up an FM transmitter is actually a simple task and is done in a very short time. Once you unpack everything, you can connect the antenna to the transmitter (if it has an external antenna), connect the sources (mic, computer, soundboard, etc.), plug the transmitter into the power socket, turn it on, find the empty frequency, and start transmitting.

The hardest thing in this process is finding that empty frequency. The good news is that you don’t have to go through the FM spectrum and look for the frequency range or channel without any broadcast. There are a few websites that can give you a list of empty frequencies for the given area/zip code. You could try Radio-Locator if you need a vacant frequency.

So, What’s the Best FM Transmitter for Churches?

Generally speaking, reputable brands and brands with tradition should always be your first choice (C Crane, Progressive Concept, Decade, TAW Global). Generic brands like SignStek or Retekes are also viable options if you want to save some money. However, bear in mind that transmitters made by these brands are rarely FCC-approved. You can find a great selection of FM transmitters on our list of 10 best FM transmitters for churches. Just scroll up and check out our reviews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *