Wireless microphones are a favorite standby for event and meeting planners.
As an event planner, you’re likely aware of the many benefits that wireless microphones offer.
Wireless microphones offer superior mobility for your presenters, help reduce stage clutter and tripping hazards, are incredibly easy to use, and come in a variety of configurations, including options for handheld or hands-free microphones, as well as microphone packages and conferencing systems.
Although they have many perks, wireless microphones also come with a range of potential problems that can have a negative impact on the success of your event.
Here are 7 common wireless microphone problems that event planners run into, with our solutions to make sure they won’t derail your next event:
Problem 1: Getting Caught Without Enough Microphones
Unlike other wireless devices such as assistive listening devices, which can accommodate an unlimited number of listeners as long as you have enough receivers, each wireless microphone transmitter requires a dedicated receiver.
Therefore, if your system only has two receivers, you’ll only be able to use two microphones.
If you need additional microphones, it’s not a simple matter of adding more mics: you’ll need to have additional receivers on hand, as well.
So, if your event director decides to add a panel discussion or breakout session a day or two before your event, you’ll likely find yourself in an expensive, time-consuming search for additional microphones and receivers in the eleventh hour.
How can you prevent this from happening?
Firstly, always have extra microphones on hand to be safe. When selecting a wireless microphone system to purchase or rent, choose one with more receivers and microphones than you’ll need.
Secondly, make sure to keep the phone number of a local rental audio company on hand if you run into an emergency.
Then, communicate with your presenters and allow them to clarify their needs early on in the planning process.
Figure out what your presenters will require. Are your presenters planning on having Q&A sessions after their presentations? What about surprise guests? Will your event include breakout sessions after your presenters speak?
Make sure you know exactly how many microphones you’ll need to have on hand, and what type of microphone fits the needs of each of your presenters.
As a last defense, keep two or three inexpensive wired microphones (with long cables) in your equipment cabinet.
Problem 2: Interference with Nearby Wireless Systems
In crowed urban areas such as New York City and Las Vegas, radio interference is the norm. There will likely be other mobile devices competing for the same frequencies that you’re planning on using.
How will you ensure that your event audio will go uninterrupted?
Before you acquire a wireless microphone system, make sure your receivers are frequency-agile so you can switch frequencies to avoid bandwidths that are overcrowded.
Then, familiarize yourself with your venue and arrange a visit to test your wireless microphone system if possible. Visit your venue on the same day of the week your event is scheduled for, and around the same time of day.
Lastly, consider switching to a UHF microphone system. In general, UHF receivers offer less interference than VHF receivers for a more secure audio connection.
Learn more about the differences between UHF and VHF wireless microphone systems.
Problem 3: Weak Signal in Parts of the Venue
Wireless microphones are prone to signal blockages resulting from obstructions within your venue space, or from the physical distance between the transmitter and the receiver.
Obstructions and distance create “dead zones,” which are areas in an event space where microphone reception fades drastically, or cuts out altogether.
How can you steer clear of dead zones at your event?
Firstly, as in the solution to the tip above, test your wireless microphone system in the room in which it will be used at your venue.
Then, consult with your planning team, your venue’s staff and your A/V technician. Find out if anyone has ever had major issues running into dead zones at your venue.
If you discover dead zones, take note of them, and let your presenters know where they are so they can avoid them.
If you have reason to believe that your venue’s space will create major dead zone issues, invest in what is referred to as a “diversity system.” A diversity microphone system uses a pair of antennae to automatically switch between fading frequencies to ensure that transmission will proceed without severe interruptions.
By researching, testing and implementing a diversity system into your venue, you can prevent your event from being negatively affected by dead zones.
Problem 4: Running Out of Battery Life
Besides interference and dead zones, another common wireless microphone issue that event planners run into is limited battery life.
Wireless microphones require batteries, so the risk of running out of battery life is a common concern among planners, not to mention the nightmare of having a microphone cut out in the middle of a presentation.
What can you do to make sure your microphone batteries don’t run out of juice?
First off, keep all of your transmitters plugged into their chargers when they’re not in use. Furthermore, make sure all of your equipment is charged or charging each night before you leave your venue.
Lastly, make sure to keep charged batteries on hand for quick replacement in case of an emergency.
Problem 5: Trouble with Hands-Free Microphones
Although hands-free microphones are popular, unobtrusive and easy to use, many presenters have a tendency to turn their head away from the mic when they talk, causing the volume of their voice to drop significantly, even if they’re speaking into an omni-directional microphone.
Worse still, transmitters for hands-free mics are prone to being switched off in your presenters’ pockets by ordinary jostling, which can cut off the audio signal completely.
If left unfixed, this problem can irritate your presenters and disengage your attendees.
What can you do as a planner to make sure your presenters’ voices are heard loudly and clearly?
Choose head-worn, hands-free microphones to keep the microphone element in front of your presenters’ mouths at all times.
If their transmitter has an on/off switch, use masking tape to cover it so your presenters can’t accidentally turn it off.
Problem 6: Hands-Free Mic Cords Make Unwanted Noise
The transmitter for a hands-free microphone is often separate from the mic itself, and is connected by a cord.
This means that the transmitter must be attached to your presenters’ belts, or placed in their pockets. The connecting cord is often bumped or jostled by their skin or clothing, making the transmitter produce a loud rustling or rumbling sound.
How can you prevent unwanted microphone noise?
To help reduce unwanted noise, tie a loose knot in the cord close to the microphone element to absorb some of the shocks that may be caused by body movement, and then discreetly tape the cord to your presenters’ clothing using tape that won’t stain or damage their clothes.
Problem 7: Feedback in Certain Parts of the Room
The mobility that wireless microphones offer is a huge perk for both you and your presenters.
However, additional mobility increases the likelihood that your presenters will wander too closely to a loudspeaker, causing feedback and potentially damaging the hearing of attendees.
This is a very common problem that often happens early on in an event, when A/V technicians turn on equipment to test audio levels before presenters get ready to take the stage.
Although this problem may seem like an inevitable part of any event, there are ways to prevent it from happening.
What can you as a planner do to reduce feedback?
Before your event, make sure you work with your A/V technician and do a quick run-through of each presentation.
Doing so can help you spot potential trouble areas around your venue that may trigger feedback.
What are some wireless microphone problems that you’ve encountered at past events? Tell us about them in the comments section below!