Here are some basic check points from our equipment experts to help you achieve the best wireless performance. Some of the items on this list are no-brainers. Nevertheless, a reminder once in a while doesn't hurt. We thought this was such an important topic that we included a 7th way to improve your wireless as an added bonus!
1- Pick the right wireless mic for each application
One type of wireless mic does not fit all. Make sure you match voice types with microphones that complement them. You also want to make sure that you choose wireless mics with the proper pick-up pattern. That is, unless you don't mind picking up everything else on your stage including the singer who is holding the mic but doesn't sing quite loud enough in the first place. Having a mic with the correct pick-up pattern will help eliminate excess noise (for more on this topic check out The Basic Basics of Microphone Basics). It is also important to decide who can benefit from using headset-style wireless mics. You might also consider using wireless in-ear monitor systems for singers and musicians who need the most mobility.
2- Check all your frequencies for compatibility
Large events and programs frequently require more wireless systems than you normally use. You will need to make sure any systems you add to your existing ones are set on different, yet compatible frequencies. Wireless systems that are on the same or incompatible frequencies can cause all kinds of awful noise or not work at all. Most modern wireless systems are in the UHF frequency band and can pick up local TV or other commercial stations. We can help you find frequencies that work with your existing system and that don't overlap with stations in your area.
3- Make sure volumes are set perfectly
Be sure to set the transmitter input levels and/or receiver output levels for the person using the mic and to match the input of your mixer. Loud singers can overload the level into your mixer. Levels that are too low can cause you to use too much input gain and can increase noise. Don't assume that the settings from the factory are correct for your application. Call our experts at 1-800-426-8664.
4- Load up on fresh batteries 5- EQ your mics carefully
There is nothing worse than dead or weak batteries to interrupt the flow of a worship service or program. Make sure you have plenty of fresh alkaline batteries on hand - the right types for your various wireless systems. If you use rechargeable batteries, be sure primaries and back-ups are fully charged.
Equalization (EQ) is a useful tool if used judiciously. By choosing good mics with the right characteristics for the application you will be able to faithfully reproduce the voice with little need for tonal adjustment. Properly adjusting the EQ can help reduce some problems and enhance some voices. For instance you can turn down the lows a bit to reduce rumbly handling noise, breath pops & wind noise. Add some highs to brighten mics that are hidden in the hair or under clothes. Sometimes a mid-range adjustment can make speech a little more intelligible. Making small EQ adjustments can make a big difference in the way things sound.
6- Teach the proper use of wireless microphones Handheld mic transmitters and bodypacks usually have two swithches - a power switch and a standby switch. Sometimes turning off the power switch when the receiver is on can cause a noise burst in the sound system. The standby switch allows the mic to be muted without actually turning the wireless link off. Many newer wireless systems have electronics that prevent these kinds of problems. Just be sure your team members know which switches to use and where they are on the mic or bodypack. Everyone needs to be taught how to properly hold and speak or sing into the mic, as well as how to handle mics around live monitors or main speakers.
Many problems with wireless mics can come from "user error". One of the most common problems people have is not knowing how to properly turn on and off the mics they are using. Those who aren't used to using wireless may not know that they need to turn the wireless on and off, or where the switch is. Even regular wireless users can forget to turn on the mic before they start singing or speaking.
7- (Bonus) Inspect all your wireless components early Make sure you have all the antennae you need for your systems (consider using an antenna combiner with multiple systems). Make sure you have stand clips or holders to set handheld mics in when not in use. You'll need working tie-clips for lapels and possibly wind screens for outdoor applications. If you find you need to replace some components, CCI Solutions can help you get accessories for many top brands of wireless.
Don't wait 'til just a few days before the your production or service to get all your wireless stuff out to see if it works. Check all your lapel and headset mic cables two or three weeks before the event so you're not surprised by a bad mic on the big day.