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Wireless Microphone Troubleshooting

Rick Waller, Applications Engineering, Shure, Inc.

This list of questions should help you get started troubleshooting your wireless microphone system. This list of questions is what Rick Waller usually goes through when a customer with a Shure Product calls for help. If you need to call any manufacturer of wireless systems for help, be sure you can answer these questions before you call--it'll help you and the person helping you!
  1. Is there a fresh battery in the transmitter?
  2. How old are the systems (crystal controlled wireless tends to drift in frequency after 3-5 years)?
  3. Did the system use to work normally?
  4. Are there any other systems in operation in the facility?
  5. Are all the wireless systems in the setup having the problem, or only one or two of the systems?
  6. What are the frequencies?
  7. How would you describe the symptoms; short range, drop out, noises, distortion?
  8. If using a VHF bodypack, is the transmitting antenna lying stretched out along the person's leg?
  9. Does the wireless system have this problem if all the other wireless systems are turned off?
  10. Does the wireless system have this problem if all other equipment within 10 feet is turned off?
  11. Does the wireless system have this problem if the receiver is moved to a different part of the room (or a different room)?
  12. How far is the transmitter from the receiver antennas when the problem occurs?
  13. If it's a dropout, does the dropout continuously happen when the transmitter is in one location? Is there any digital equipment within 10 feet? Computers, Feedback eliminators, effects units, lighting equipment, harmonizers, vocal eliminators?
  14. What does the RF meter on the receiver show when the problem occurs? If it is an intermittent problem, you may want to put a video camera on the receiver.
  15. What do the "A" and "B" lights on the receiver do when the problem occurs?
  16. What does the RF meter on the receiver show when the transmitter is turned off?
  17. Is antenna distribution being used? What kind? How is it implemented?
  18. Are the receiver antennas being remoted? If so, what cable? How long are the cable runs? What antennas (how long are the antennas)?
  19. Are any antenna amplifiers being used?
  20. What city is the system in?
  21. If it's a frequency agile system, try a different transmitter and/or different receiver on the same frequency. What happens?