A “short range” walk test checks to see how well the receiver handles deep multi-path nulls that occur at a close operating range with a generally strong RF signal. This tests how well the squelch and the diversity system works. This test corresponds well with real world use where the Classic Walk Test is a test of range at distances that are rarely encountered. Do not remove the antennas on the transmitter or receiver to worsen the conditions, as this will negate the validity of the test.
Before conducting these tests, the wireless mic system should be set up exactly the way it will be used. The microphone and transmitter must be in the exact postition on the talker’s body where they will be used, and the receiver must be connected to whatever equipment it will feed, with power and antennas connected and positioned as in actual use. Unless the wireless system is set up this way, the results of the walk tests will not be realistic. Do not remove antennas on the transmitter or receiver to try to simulate extreme operating range, as this will alter the way some receivers work, such as Lectrosonics models that use SmartSquelchTM and SmartDiversityTM circuitry.
If you have a frequency selectable system, try the walk test using at least 3 different frequencies since even tiny amounts of interference can radically change the results. If you are comparing two systems, try to select identical frequencies of operation thereby comparing apples to apples. If the receivers have scanning functions, check test frequencies that are free of interference As little as 1 uV of interference can reduce a good systems range by one half.
Find a location where multi-path reflections will be abundant, such as an area with lots of metal file cabinets or lockers, a medium to small metal building, a metal trailer, etc. Place the receiver antenna/s within a couple of feet or so of a metal surface to exaggerate multi-path cancellations at the antenna. The antennas on a diversity receiver need to be at least a 1/2 wavelength apart to achieve the maximum benefit of the diversity technique. If the receiver cannot be configured this way in actual use, then position the antennas as they will be used.
Walk around the area with the transmitter while speaking and try to find a location where a dropout or squelch (audio mute) occurs. Moving the transmitter around within a couple feet of a metal surface may help to generate a multi-path condition. The idea in this test is to see how prone the system is to producing dropouts, and to look for loud noise bursts that occur during a dropout if and when one does occur. An effective diversity system will make it difficult to find a dropout, which will tell you something about the effectiveness of the diversity circuitry.
If and when a dropout does occur with a strong average RF level at the receiver, the receiver should simply mute the audio during the dropout and not allow any noise or noise burst to occur. An aggressive squelch system in the receiver is best in a close range situation, as it will eliminate noise bursts created by dropouts, however, it will also limit the maximum operating range as in the previous test. A less aggressive squelch allows maximum operating range, but will generally allow noise bursts to occur during dropouts at close range.
The two walk tests "Classic" and "Short Range" illustrate the dilemma of a conventional squelch system in having to choose between either close range or distant operating range, and also illustrates the benefit of an adaptive squelch system like the Lectrosonics SmartSquelchTM which automatically configures itself for close range or long distance operation as the system is being used. The tests are also a good proving ground for Lectrosonics SmartDiversityTM.
After conducting both types of walk tests, you will have a good idea of what to expect in actual use. Some systems may provide excellent maximum range characteristics, but prove to be noisy in short range, multi-path conditions. Other systems may be great at the short range test, but be poor performers in the maximum range test. Of course, the ideal wireless system would do well in both tests.