Question: How do I improve my wireless microphone signal?
Answer: A wireless signal is unfortunately never a “sure thing,” but it is still often preferred over a wired connection due to the convenience. As an audio engineer using wireless signals, it is critical to plan ahead. The planning can range from deciding which wireless system to use to deciding how to configure your wireless system for maximum signal performance. In this post, we’ll highlight a few key precautions that can be taken to help ensure that your wireless signal is escalated to its full potential.
Using proper frequencies (frequency coordination) is vital to the success of the wireless transmission. A transmitter and receiver may be right next to each other, but if the frequencies are not properly configured, the system may not perform well. Selecting an available frequency may vary with each different location. Additionally, when using multiple wireless transmissions simultaneously, the compatibility between the frequencies also needs to be coordinated. Many Audio-Technica wireless systems have an automatic scan function built into the receiver units that does the “hard work” of identifying which frequencies will operate well in a specific area. To raise the bar even more, Audio-Technica engineers created the System 10 wireless systems that do all of this frequency coordination “inside the box.” The receiver constantly scans the spectrum and communicates with its transmitter, automatically and inaudibly changing frequencies to avoid any interference.
Depending on the wireless frequency being used, a clear line-of-sight orientation between the transmitter and the receiver is important. This is why many people remote their antenna (or, in the case of System 10 PRO, remote the removable receiver unit) to achieve a better wireless connection. Popular Audio-Technica UHF wireless systems like the 2000, 3000, and 4000 Series allow for the antenna to be removed from the receiver and, via the proper RF cable, be relocated closer to the area in which the transmitters are operating. This is often good practice when the receivers are located in a rack and don’t allow for direct line-of-sight connection to the transmitters. Remote antennas are also successful when mounted high above a crowd; again, helping with line-of–sight issues.
Separating transmitters and receivers is also often recommend to improve wireless performance. Transmitters produce energy, so if any transmitter is near any receiver, there is the potential for a problem, namely that the RF noise floor will be elevated. A neighboring, unoccupied RF spectrum can take on the concentrated energy from the transmitter and potentially interrupt the intended signal the receiver is looking for. This is true when a traditional wireless system receiver is very close to a wireless transmitter, but is even more pronounced when a receiver is near a high-wattage transmitter from a radio station or when a 2.4 GHz system receiver is close to a Wi-Fi transmitter.
Additional qualifying measures include using the proper batteries, positioning the transmitter high (for best line of sight), and keeping your equipment well maintained. Two additional wireless system tools that may help the wireless signal are the squelch controls and the transmitter power controls. These tools, if used properly (and sparingly), may be helpful, but if used improperly, may cause other unwanted issues. Finding answers to these types of setup problems is one of the reasons the Audio-Technica Audio Solutions Department exists! Feel free to inquire about frequency coordination, remote antenna setup, or anything else related to wireless operation.