Top 7 Reasons for Wireless System Failure and How to Avoid Them

Marc Henshall | April 24, 2015 Top 7 Reasons for Wireless System Failure and How to Avoid Them

A fear of signal drop outs or system failure are common reasons for not making the switch to wireless. In truth, almost all wireless failures are completely avoidable with the right equipment and training. In this post, we will document the most common reasons for wireless failure so that you can avoid embarrassing drop outs and improve your production values with reliable wireless.

Reason #1: Dead or Weak Batteries

How to check: 1) Substitute new, fresh, brand-name alkaline batteries. 2) Examine the wireless mic battery terminals to make certain they are making a secure contact to the battery terminals. 3) Finally, and perhaps most significantly - make your life a whole lot easier by switching to purpose built wireless re-chargeable Li-ion batteries.

Reason #2: Mismatched Frequencies

It might seem obvious, but it happens. Here's how to check if the operating frequency range of the wireless receiver correctly matches the operating frequency range of the wireless mic/transmitter:

Find the operating frequency range marked on the receiver, e.g., H6 524-542 MHz. Check the wireless mic/transmitter for the same frequency range. The frequency ranges must match exactly; if they do not, your wireless system just plain wont work!

Operating frequencies are clearly listed on the reverse of your transmitter and receiver.

Reason #3: Failure of an Audio Interconnect Cable

How to check: 1) Substitute another cable of the same type. 2) Use an ohmmeter to check the cable for a shorted wire or an open wire. 3) If using a body-pack transmitter, substitute another lapel mic, guitar cable, or head-worn mic of the same model.

Reason #4: Operating Frequency Is Not Appropriate for the Location

How to check: 1) Using the post code of the location and the model number of the wireless system, consult Shure Wireless Workbench to determine recommended frequencies. 2) Use the SCAN feature of the wireless receiver to find an open frequency. 3) Always make sure you're operating within your licensed frequencies.


Reason #5: Local Interference from Other Electronic Devices or Wireless Systems

How to check: 1) Turn off any electronic device that is within 5 feet of the wireless receiver, such as a DVD player, a CD player, a computer, an iPod, a wireless router. 2) Remove the wireless system and take it to a different location at least 1⁄2 mile away. If it works OK there, the problem is local interference in the original location. Finding the source of local interference often requires the use of a frequency spectrum analyser to accurately test.

Reason #6: Improper Installation of the Wireless Receiver or Its Antennas

How to check: 1) Determine if there is clear line-of-sight, at all times, from the location of the wireless mic transmitter to the receiver antennas. If there is not, the installation could be suspect, though hidden antennas can work satisfactorily if installed correctly. 2) Have the installation evaluated by a wireless microphone expert.

Reason #7: Failure of the Receiver's External Power Supply

How to check: Substitute another power supply of the same type or with equivalent electrical specifications.

What's Your Wireless Pet Peeve?

If you've managed to avoid all the reasons above, give yourself a pat on the back and consider yourself a wireless guru. Also, if you'd like to add to our list, simply drop us a comment with your top pet peeve!

Finally, if you haven't already checked out our wireless resource Losing Your Voice, do head over and grab your copy of our free guide to wireless audio in the UK.

Marc Henshall

Marc Henshall

Marc forms part of our Pro Audio team at Shure UK and specialises in Digital Marketing. He also holds a BSc First Class Hons Degree in Music Technology. When not at work he enjoys playing the guitar, producing music, and dabbling in DIY (preferably with a good craft beer or two).