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Why some WE 500/554 sets work better than others....NEED HELP!

Started by MrKenmore, December 21, 2012, 04:26:53 PM

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Hi everyone.  I am a huge fan of vintage phones.  Primarily WE 500/554 and later.  I am having some trouble with inconsistencies between the phones in my collection.  Some have great call quality and others not so great.  I can always hear the person on the other end fine but often I get complaints from the person on the other end saying they are having trouble hearing me.  I replaced all my transmitters with new units but still have this problem.  One of my most favorite phones, a 1956 rotary WE500 with the metal dial performs fantastic!  I have some from the seventies that don't do such a great job.  Is there any way to properly test the network or other components to see if there is a problem or failure?  This would be very helpful.  Even if I could swap some parts to make one phone work great.  I have ample inventory for parts.  Thanks for any help!!!!!!


There should be absolutely no perceptible differences between 500/554 phones, provided they are wired correctly and provided the transmitters are good.  Transmitters are the one biggest issue with any legacy phone, but the T1 transmitter issue in a 500 can usually be resolved by taking the transmitter out and giving it a couple good raps on it edge on a counter top or something else hard that you don't want to mar by doing the rapping.

Try taking the transmitters out of one which has a known good quality of sound and swap it out for one in a phone that you are getting poor reports on.

One other thing to consider is that todays modern phones have electret microphones in them as opposed to the carbon granual T1 mic.  If people are used to hearing the sound of a modern phone, any carbon microphone is going to sound a bit "fuzzy" compared to the modern mic.

On the other hand, people these days put up with some of the worst voice quality from cell phones, it's a wonder anyone complains.  Perhaps you should have someone else be talking through the 500 and you somewhere else listening, so you can be your own judge.

If you haven't already guessed, my money is on the transmitter element.  Notice, also, I said providing the phone is wired correctly.  Improper wiring of the inside of the phone can cause sound quality issues too.  Did you check all the connections in the phones giving you trouble?
-Bill G