6 Tips to Improve Your Wireless Microphone Performance
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
Wireless microphones are essential to today’s productions because they free performers from the bother of cables. While these mics have transformed the entertainment industry, they have also presented an entirely different set of challenges to users. From poorly coordinated frequencies and poor battery management to incorrect antenna types, there several challenges that can affect the performance of a wireless microphone. However, most of these problems are the result of avoidable mistakes that can easily be resolved. Below are 7 tips on how to get the best performance from your microphone rentals.
Get your mic closer to the receiver to reduce noise
It is important to understand that all environments are invaded by radio waves. Most of these are caused by other electronic devices that emit stray frequencies. Good examples include computers, power supplies, and hair dryers among others. In this respect, a wireless microphone needs a sufficient signal-to-noise ratio in order to stay above the ever-present ambient noise. As such, you need to isolate the signal of your wireless microphone and direct it to only where it is needed. The closer your wireless mic is to your wireless receivers, the better. This gives the transmitter and receiver a shorter distance and stronger signal, resulting in high performance.
Countering the channel change issue
Normally you might experience your microphone mysteriously changing to different channels. This happens when you have synced the mic to the receiver via infrared (indicated as IR on wireless mics). This change alters the microphone’s performance and can ruin your address or performance. Interestingly the solution to this is very simple; first, locate the infrared receiver then place a piece of gaff tape over the receiver. When you need to sync it again remove the tape then replace it after syncing.
Avoid blocking the signal
A rule of thumb when using a wireless mic is to always maintain a line of sight between the receiver antenna and the transmitter. It is advisable to avoid large objects such as walls and metals if you want the microphone to perform at peak levels. Most importantly, avoid large numbers of people if you can. This is because the human body is largely composed of water which absorbs the RF energy. For best results, consider placing the receiver antenna and the transmitters in the same room then elevate them above other obstructions and the audience. Also, avoid folding or coiling a flexible antenna as this obstructs the line of sight between your receiver and transmitter.
Use correct antenna type and placement
You can go a long in improving the performance of your wireless microphone by understanding which antenna type to use and how well to place it. Mistakes in antenna selection, placement, and even cabling can cause dead spots, short-range, or low signal strength all of which lead to dropouts. To maximize reliability and performance, make sure that you use the right type of antenna and that it is properly placed. For example, make sure that you place the antennas apart by at least a quarter of a wavelength.
Ensure proper battery management
Cheap batteries can have far-reaching impacts on the performance of your wireless microphone than you can imagine. High-quality lithium or alkaline single-use batteries often have the most stable output voltage. When you supply your mic with low voltage, the transmitters will become prone to signal dropouts or audible distortion. The best thing to do therefore is to use rechargeable batteries designed for wireless microphones.
Set your gain properly
Adjustment of input gain is also vital to the performance of your wireless microphone. If you set your gain too high, this can lead to distortion while if you set it too low, it can also lead to poor signal-to-noise ratio. Strike a balance by setting the input sensitivity low enough to avoid clipping and high enough to preserve a good ratio. The best way to achieve a balanced gain is to set the gain in such a manner that the loudest input peak barely lights the overload indicator.
BEST PRO TIP:
Always position your speakers in front of open stage microphones and not the other way around. This will drastically reduce the risk of feedback. Remember a room will sound very different when the audience arrives.