“Houston, we have a problem…”, or Troubleshooting Your Radio Mics

by Graham Caplin – 13th November, 2019

When you hire from Radio Facilities you can be confident that your equipment has been thoroughly tested beforehand. But even with the best maintenance and preparation sometimes things do go wrong. In this article we’re concentrating on radio mic issues, taking you through a simple set of checks to determine where the problem lies.

The most important thing to remember in the face of a technical failure is that we are on the end of a phone if you need us. But before calling there are several quick and easy tests you can perform to troubleshoot and fix most issues. Follow this short checklist, and you could be up and running again in no time.

First, here are three basic checks. They may sound obvious, but the vast majority of issues arise in one of these three areas:

Disabled logo photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

1. Have you read the instructions?
We send a simple set of instructions with every set of radio mics, and taking two minutes to go through these could make all the difference.

2. Is your equipment plugged in?
You would be surprised how many times this simple question solves the problem! Also, if the power socket you’re using has an on/off switch, check that it’s switched on.

3. Have you adjusted any settings?
Unless you fully understand what the various radio mic settings do, adjusting these can quickly lead to problems. Also, our licence only permits use of the radio mics within a certain frequency range. Therefore if you have re-tuned the system you may well be transmiting on an illegal frequency.

If these haven’t solved your issue, here are some more in depth trouble-shooting tips:

4. Are you hearing ANY sound from your radio mics?
If you can hear a whistling / warbling sound mixed with static noise then you probably have interference from another source. Check to see that there are no other radio mics or musical instrument transmitters on the same frequency. Try gradually switching off each radio mic in turn until the noise stops. When that happens then you know which piece of kit is interfering. We always test all of our mics together before dispatching them, so it’s unlikely that our own systems will be causing the interference.

Disabled logo photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

5. Is the radio mic muted?
The receiver will show “MUTE” on the screen if this is the case. Beltpack transmitters have a switch on top to mute / unmute, and handheld transmitters have a button on the side. In addition, it’s sometimes possible to press an incorrect sequence of buttons when switching the mic off, which will make it go into “RF Mute” mode, which will also show “MUTE” on the receiver screen.

6. Does the receiver show any signal?
A transmitter and receiver need to be tuned to the same frequency. When the two are successfully paired (and not muted) then look for the following;
– mains receiver: the display should be lit in amber, and the RF indicator on the left of the screen should be showing a strong signal.
– battery receiver: the RF lamp should be lit in green.
If the above isn’t the case (and the transmitter isn’t muted) then no signal is being received.

Disabled logo photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

7. Does the radio mic power on?
When you switch on both a transmitter and a receiver you will quickly see various bits of information on the LCD screens. If you are unable to power on a battery transmitter or receiver, check that the batteries are seated correctly, and that they’re the right way round. For mains receivers, check that the power supply is plugged into the rear of the unit properly. (Also, see number 2 above – “Is it plugged in?”)

8. Is your mixing desk working?
It’s fairly common for dirt and dust to get into the faders on a mixing desk. The easy way to test this is to try plugging the microphone into a different channel on the desk. If you still can’t hear any sound from the microphone it’s worth checking that the mute button on the mixing desk channel hasn’t been pressed and that the channel is switched on.

9. Is ANY sound coming out of your PA system?
Can you hear sound from other microphones, or anything else which is connected to the mixer? If not, the issue may lie with your PA system.

If all else fails, call us for help over the phone. During office hours call 020 3355 8188, and out of hours you can reach us on 0845 838 2332. But I hope we don’t hear from you… if you know what I mean!

To see our range of radio mics and get advice on wireless systems, go to: radiofacilities.com/radio-mic-hire.