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Expected lifetime for wireless mike packs

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by JChenault, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    I have been asked to review a grant proposal for wireless mikes. They currently have Shure packs which they say are failing after four years of use ( About 160 performances a year ).

    What if the reasonable lifetime of a wireless mike pack? ( Not talking about the mike itself, but the belt pack). Is four years average, long, short etc?

    Thanks for the feedback.
     
  2. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    Are they physically failing or are the internal components degrading due to sweat?
    In my experience, connector and battery pack repairs were the most common items to fail and ended up getting replaced at least once a year.
    But 4 years sounds short to me. For poor community theatre.
     
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  3. Aaron Becker

    Aaron Becker Active Member

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    4 years seems really short. What model are the mics? What specifically is failing? Anything that’s metal housing should be lasting until the frequencies are no longer usable due to FCC changes. Perhaps new clips and/or some cosmetic TLC would be needed, but well handled mics even used daily should last much longer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
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  4. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    I'd say 4 years is super short. I sub in on a show that's been running since 2009, 8 shows a week 52 weeks a year and I think in 9 years they've physically broken maybe 2 body pack transmitters and those were due to poor handling pre/post show and nothing that happened during the show.

    That's 3,000+ shows with barely an issue (that being said, I am not there day-to-day, but when I do drop by every few months it's the same gear and the show reports don't indicate anything funky). This is pro-level Sennheiser stuff though -- antennas bend and fail, but they are screw-on so they get replaced after a failure occurs.

    I'd budget 6-8 years easily for their consumer SLX stuff and a decade plus on their upper-tier hardware, provided it's taken care of correctly and they aren't being slammed around too much. Your typical failure points are antennas, connectors, and screens on the transmitters -- all generally easily fixable if you're at least mediocre with a soldering iron. I would count those failure as typical wear-and-tear, and not a pack failure because they are easily fixable on a work call or on pre-show notes once checkout has been completed.
     
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  5. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    I’m not audio but even I know 4 years is short.

    They must really be abusing the piss outta them.

    I could understand bent antennas and or broken mics but not packs. The sure ones are built pretty solid.

    We had a pair at TDH and they got pretty abused cause of environmental conditions. However never failed on us, unless I forgot to change the batteries.
     
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  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Mine at the high school are in their 7th year with no issues. Not as many shows, but still. Something is wrong if they are only lasting 4 years.

    Buy a set of good belt pack holders from Wireless Mic Belts. They aren't cheap but good quality never is. If you want to drop by and check them out sometime John, I have a full set of their gear.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
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  7. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I have packs at my church that are 25 years old and still working fine, though they have been used gently. I question whether yours are really failing. The internal components are not aging in four years.

    The RF landscape is undergoing major change right now, so packs deemed faulty could really be interference from new sources. A channel that was vacant last month might not be now. A check with up to date frequency coordination software is vital. Recently, I visited a church that had their mics tuned to a channel with a megawatt TV station on it, and they wondered why they weren't working well.

    Oxidized connectors, switches, and battery contacts cause problems that seem terrible, but can be cured with $30 in chemicals and some effort. Putting packs under clothing on sweaty actors accelerates oxidation, but plain old air does it too.

    On the other hand, some models aren't as mechanically robust as others. If they get dropped and the circuit board is cracked or solder joints are broken, it might be time for replacement.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  8. Daniel Sepke

    Daniel Sepke Member

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    I'm sure you'll get as many suggestions as reply's on this subject.

    My two cents worth is that it really depends on the make and models involved as to lifetime. Though manufacturing technology has improved when I was supporting West End productions in the early 00s we had a mix of Sony, Sennheiser and Samson products. I had a regular task of replacing body shells of the Samson systems and never had to the same on either of the other brands. Sweat was the real killer for all models and all levels of product. I now support a high school theatre in NYC and we have Shure everywhere, ranging from ULX to UR beltpacks. Prior to that I had all Sennheiser G3s at another school. My most recent acquisition was a QLX-D system which features metal body build that rivals the UR product in my opinion (I dream of the Axient system for my main theatre).

    While you don't specify the Shure range you have I suspect the systems you have now are probably plastic bodies. I can't say I'm surprised they are failing at 4ish years given the work load. Our plastic body Shure TXs look ugly after about the same age. I feel that Shure are targeting the MI environment with their lower end products and expecting usage of a show or two a week. My recommendation is to avoid plastic bodied transmitters and switch to something that has metal cases regardless of brand. When I was specing the system that we ultimately purchased the QLX-D for it was between the SLX and QLX-D ranges and I'm glad I able to get a budget increase when comparing the system costs for 10 channels.

    Dan
     
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  9. Aaron Becker

    Aaron Becker Active Member

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    +1 for the metal body vs plastic notes. This is pure truth.
     
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  10. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    I just realized I did not respond to an earlier post. The packs in question are Shure ULX packs
     
  11. Aaron Becker

    Aaron Becker Active Member

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    I have Shure ULX equipment that is used on a weekly basis that has worked without fault (except for replacing some capsules) for 10 years. Something is wrong if ULX isn't lasting that long. It's not top of the line, but it should last more than a couple gigs.
     
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