Rent or Buy Wireless
Published : 27th June 2006
Hi, I'm doing a small self financed Documentary, and I am looking at needing a wireless lavelier mike (I have a hard wired tram.)
The wireless might be needed at a moments notice, so I'm leaning toward buying, but as I am a camera guy I'm at a loss as to what is a decent affordable wireless.
So I am looking for recommendations for said decent affordable wireless, I don't expect to ever be more than 50 feet away from the subject, and most likely around 5 feet away.
Renting might be an option, but again it might be a matter of the subject surfacing and I have an hour to get the shoot together.
Presently there isn't a budget for this or I would hire a sound person, which I would rather have.
Shooting in New York, so if someone has any suggestions, I'd appreciate them.
Thanks for your time.
New York Based Cinematographer
CML East Coast List Administrator
Steven Gladstone wrote :
class="style11">>The wireless might be needed at a moments notice, so I'm leaning >toward buying, but as I am a camera guy I'm at a loss as to what is a >decent affordable wireless...Shooting in New York...
What do you mean by affordable? The cheapest decent radio system I've heard is the Sennheiser Evolution 100 G2 series. About $500 for body pack and receiver. But it's not a champ in all heavy RF locations...
Perhaps a used Lectro system? Check with Dale Pro, Gotham Sound, or another good audio dealer in NYC...you want to get the right frequency block for your area, and a good dealer will be helpful in many ways...
Producer, mixer, writer
Near San Francisco USA
Does your Tram have the mini-XLR 5-pin connector? Most good lavs have this and then plug into a barrel preamp with a battery inside for connecting as a hard wire. If so, then I would look into a wireless mike rig that can utilize this excellent mike. Either a used Lectro or perhaps an Audio-Technica U100 setup. I have a couple of these and think they work great for this type of work. They compress a bit, but feeding into a video camera for voice work they sound excellent. They are also true diversity, which helps a great deal in NYC.
I've been carrying 2 sets of Sennheiser E100 systems (precursor to their G2) in NYC for many years and have had, in light of Jim and other's valid RF concerns, what seems like remarkable luck. In fact, there have been at least two times when the sound mixer's lectros started freq-ing out and my cheapo E100's saved the shot. My systems are on the "B" Frequency block 630-660mhz, which has also proved versatile all over the states, Europe and Asia. I've always been very impressed! I'll send you offlist a chart of NY RF frequencies to help you with your block selection.
Alan Jacobsen - Director of Photography
Grommet Production Group
131 Varick St, Suite 923 | M: 917.749.8376
New York, NY 10013 | F: 775-490-2157
Among the lower-priced systems, for documentary work I've had excellent results and reliability with the Samson Micro 32 systems. Their RF performance is excellent up to about 100 ft - sometimes more. They've got a wee tad too much compansion noise for high-end narrative work, but for doc work, ENG and such they're fine. They've also got a wide range of frequency settings.
One very important operational consideration with any wireless system is the microphone attenuation setting. You want to have this set high enough to avoid excessive preamp noise, but not high enough to give you overload distortion with the loudest voices you're likely to encounter. If you're not terribly audio-savvy, I'd have someone knowledgable set this for you.
When working close-in, you can keep the receiver's antennas folded down, so they don't get in the way.
But as Jim suggests, if you can get a used Lectrosonics, go for it. The Sennheisers are also first-rate -- You might go for those if you can afford them.
For relatively little money, I had a local sound shop insert male and female Letrosonics plugs into my Tram cable, so I could use it with a used Lectrosonics and still use it with the XLR barrel connector. In my limited audio experience, I have found the Tram to be a very good all-around lav: sounds good, resists clothing rustle, and comes with a plethora of mounting clips.
I've had great luck with the Sennheiser G2's, but they have "unbalanced" plugs, so I was unable to make my existing Tram work with them, and had to buy a new Tram with the right connector already installed. The G2's come with lav mics, but the Trams sound much better, even to my camera guy ears.
Mitch Gross mentions '..Does your Tram have the mini-XLR 5-pin connector'
This is a connector that I am not familiar with and wonder if perhaps Mitch means the 5 pin din connector that was manufactured by Preh for the Micron wireless systems many years ago. The Tram's were consistently the mic of choice used with Micron wireless systems.
Go to : to see if this is style of connector)
Of interest, PSC in NY also have a flat-head mic similar in shape and size to the Tram (the Millimic) which, has a great range of clip accessories including a semi-circular cocoon clip (don't have the actual name) that allows the mic to be put under the clothing and at the same time, prevent the clothing from rubbing against the mic.
Also, I haven't seem them, but I believe that there is a barrel power adapter available with a jack for the Sennheisers.
Audio Operator, Dublin
class="style11">>I've had great luck with the Sennheiser G2's, but they have >"unbalanced" plugs
The "100" series have unbalanced connectors... The "500" series are balanced, and in my opinion, are more reliable (although a bit more expensive).
Used Lectros may still be the best value, though!
g-2 100 and 500 are same wireless - one is bad and cheap and the other is bad and not so cheap , no any different in sound quality or better reception .
The 500 is balance output with another unbalance headphone out + you have more bank memories for stored channels look for used lectrosonics 195 or 200 or audio limited 2000, these 10-15 old design wireless sounds much much better then sennheiser garbage.
Oleg Kaizerman (gebe) Hollyland
class="style11">>look for used lectrosonics 195 or 200 or audio limited 2000, these 10->15 old design wireless sounds much much better then sennheiser >garbage
Obviously people have strong preferences, and I have about 10 channels of Lectrosonics wireless, so I'm very fond of them.
However, I've also got a few Sennheiser G2 500s, for exactly the kind of situation Steven is talking about - I keep one or two with every camera to use in situations where you need a wireless quickly and are working without a sound person. Usually the transmitter is close to the camera, etc.
While there's no question my Lectrosonics are much better, I've found the Sennheiser G2s to be a very useful product that fills a particular niche for me. (And frankly, if I was in NYC, I think I'd rather have a G2 than a used 195... Higher quality doesn't help much if there's interference on your frequency and you can't change frequencies...)
I've owned the Lectrosonics 201 for a couple years and it hasn't let me down even in heavy RF environments (which is everywhere these days). It has a cool feature that scans for open frequencies, another must these days. Solid metal construction, built like a tank.
I also got the Sennheiser Evolution to ride on my DVX100a, it does a fine job but I dislike the rather large lave mic that come with it. So it rides in my kit as a 2nd/emergency unit.
The 201 is 3 times the price but worth it, cause like my tripod and monitor it won't be obsolete any time soon.
NashvilleTN, Freelance DP