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The “Other Things” With Wireless Systems

Success in working with wireless in the live world is about far more than coordinating frequencies...

When deploying wireless, whether it’s a single system or several, and whether it’s for a tour, a one-off, a broadcast, at a church or wherever, it’s important to keep track of a whole range of parameters besides the most obvious one of frequency selection.

Why? The two main reasons are consistency and preparation.

In other words, making sure that anything that needs to be replaced, from a single piece to the entire system, is checked and vetted as well as outfitted with the same settings. The goal is to avoid disrupting or delaying the show.

Here’s a checklist of key parameters, followed by some specifics:

Mic Receivers
—Output level
—Squelch settings
—Sync settings
—Rear panel switch settings such as mic/line and ground lift
—Battery type, for monitoring purposes
—IP address, also for monitoring purposes
—Sample rate and other information when using digital output
—Firmware revision number

Mic Transmitters (handheld and belt pack)
—Input sensitivity/gain
—RF Tx power
—EQ and/or high-pass filter (HPF) settings
—Capsule type/model (with handheld)

IEM Transmitters
—Input sensitivity
—Tx power
—Mono/stereo
—Sync settings
—IP address

IEM Receivers
—Squelch settings
—Limiter settings
—EQ settings
—Pilot tone
—Stereo/mono

Antennas
—Type
—Placement
—Cable

Spelling It Out
Now for the specifics. Wireless mic receiver outputs and IEM transmitter inputs are usually (and should be) worked out in consultation with the mix engineers, with the choice usually being between some version of mic or line level.

Whatever the choice, make sure that all units are set the same way. It’s important to get on this one early because once line check starts, it’s far too easy for the engineers to push a pad switch or grab a gain knob to compensate for the one channel that’s different from all the rest. This same idea applies to any ground-lift switches on the rear of the receivers; set them all to the “ground” position as a starting point.

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