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Wireless Lavalier

Published : 9th July 2004


Thinking of picking up a couple of wireless Lavs. For occasional use; not for full time intensive soundman work. Cost is a factor.

What wireless Lavs are dependable but affordable?

Thanks

Blain Brown
DP
LA



>Thinking of picking up a couple of wireless Lavs. For occasional use; >not for full time intensive soundman work.

Do you mean 'Lavs' as in Lavalier microphones or as in 'wireless microphone systems', like transmitter, receiver and Lavalier microphone...?

Karl Lohninger
Sound mixer, Los Angeles



>Do you mean 'Lavs' as in Lavalier microphones or as in wireless >microphone systems', like transmitter, receiver and Lavalier >microphone...?

Yes, correct.

Thanks
Blain Brown
DP
LA



>Yes, correct.

Well...THAT certainly clears things up!

Brian Young
Flaca Productions
Miami Beach, FL



Blain Brown wrote :

>Thinking of picking up a couple of wireless Lavs. For occasional use; >not for full time intensive soundman work.

Occasional use with whom? Network news stand-ups? Commercials? Films?

>Cost is a factor.

Do you have $600, $1,500, or $3,000 for the dual setup?

>What wireless Lavs are dependable but affordable?

For pure ruggedness & performance I'd recommend Lectrosonics. You could buy used from rental stock from someone reputable like Location Sound, etc.

I don't have much experience with other systems _below_ Lectrosonics in price & quality.

John McDaniel
Audio Post Facility Owner
Sonic Arts Digital Audio Services, Inc.
Cincinnati, OH USA



>Thinking of picking up a couple of wireless Lavs. For occasional use; >not for full time intensive soundman work.

Just to be clear, are you looking for microphones (Lavs), or transmitters and receivers (wireless), or both?

> Cost is a factor.

As always. What's your budget? $500? $1000? $2000?

>What wireless Lavs are dependable but affordable?

Depends on what you're going to do with them, what sound quality you need, and (this is a biggie) how much radio interference and other wireless users will be in the areas you need your mics to use. For example, if you're alone in the middle of a desert, your wireless needs will be less defined than if you're in the middle of a press scrum with lots of other users.

I've used lots of different wireless systems. And I currently own four systems. Depending on your needs, you can get transmitters and receivers from Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Lectrosonics, Audio LTD, and others. For mics, I like Countryman EMW and B6. But others like Sonotrim, Sanken, Tram, AT, Sony, and others.

But the key questions are :

How do you plan to use these systems?

How much can you spend?

Have you considered renting?

Let us know and I'm sure you'll get some good answers.

Jim Feeley
POV Media
http://www.povmedia.com



>> Do you mean this or that? >>
> Yes, correct.


Well, Blain, really, you gotta be a bit more specific....

a) with your answers and

b) with what your plans RE recording sound are..

Interviews, fiction (features, short), documentaries, something? Recording via mixer into what medium, or into camera, or....

You wouldn't tell your rental house to give you a 'light', they might ask you what kind, what for, how big/small, etc....

Karl Lohninger
Sound mixer, etc
Los Angeles



>Do you mean 'Lavs' as in Lavalier microphones or as in wireless >microphone systems', like transmitter, receiver and Lavalier >microphone...?

>Yes, correct.


Blain, as others said, we need a bit more to go on. Seriously. If you're mainly playing around, you might be satisfied with a $400ish system. If you really care about sound, you might not be satisfied with a $2000ish system.

So a bit more info will help here.

Jim Feeley
POV Media
http://www.povmedia.com



>Yes, correct.

Yes, what?

Yes, Sir.

Brian "Old Joke, Sorry" Heller
IA 600 DP



Corporate interviews, behind the scenes for Disney, Universal, etc. Interviews with actors: Eddie Murphy, Jackie Chan, that sort of thing. BetaSP, DigiBeta or HD. Most of the time there is a separate soundman who handles all that, in some cases there is not. For features and TV projects there is always a soundman and boom operator with the very rare day when we just go out for a few pickups and there is one or two lines of dialog. I have a Shure FP-32, boom and mic (which I will also be upgrading to a Sennheiser 416).

I have some Sony wired Lavs now which work fine but occasionally a wireless would be useful. Also the Sony's require odd batteries

Blain Brown
DP
LA



Lectrosonics is the gold standard in wireless Lavs. If you can afford them.

I just rent 'em when I need 'em. My producer just rented a pair from a "nationally known rental house" for about $65 for the weekend. Such a deal!

Joe Shapiro
Editor / Sound Man
Seattle, WA



>Corporate interviews,...I have a Shure FP-32, boom and mic (which I will >also be upgrading to a Sennheiser 416).

Lectrosonics would be an obvious choice. But for 'back up' situations I would suggest the new Sennheiser evolution series 100 G2. Very affordable and working nicely in controlled situations like interviews. It comes with a Lavalier mic included that kind of sucks and I would strongly suggest to invest in a better quality mic. The Sennheiser’ s as well as other cheaper systems implemented commander tends to pump and being noisy when there is some constant low frequency noise around, like engines running, generator, inside cars, at the beach, etc.

A nice lav mic does make a difference - the countryman B6 is my first choice but for those dreaded reality shows Trams actually work better.....

I hope that helps a bit,

Karl Lohninger
Sound etc
Los Angeles



>Lectrosonic's would be an obvious choice. But for 'back up' situations I >would suggest the new Sennheiser evolution series 100 G2. Very >affordable and working nicely

As someone who owns lots of Lectros and a few Sennheiser s, I'd second this. I have 4 of the original version of the Sennheiser Evolution Series 500s, and I keep those with my video cameras for those inevitable situations where a producer out of nowhere decides he needs an RF mic. (I tend to save the Lectros for gigs with actual sound people.)

I haven't seen the new version of the Sennheiser s yet, but it looks like they've made some good improvements.

George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada



>Corporate interviews, behind the scenes for Disney, Universal, etc. >Interviews with actors...I have some Sony wired Lavs now which work >fine but occasionally a wireless would be useful.

I'm probably just telling you stuff you know, but what the heck !!!

For $2000 you can get a wireless system that sounds almost as good as a $30 cable. Maybe a new lav mic and a new cable is the way to go.

Seriously, think how often you'll need a wireless, and then think about in how many of those situations you won't have a sound person who owns wireless systems. Then figure if it's cheaper to rent.

There are some fine audio shops in LA. Two that I've bought from and that rent wireless are :

http://www.coffeysound.com

http://www.locationsound.com

Karl's recommendation of the Sennheiser 100 G2 is, I think, a good one for a budget wireless.

You might also consider an Audio Technica U100 system. Opinion is divided on this, with some folks thinking it's the best thing available for anywhere near the money (say, $700), and others thinking they can hear antenna switching, among other problems. Perhaps there's a QA problem. Perhaps there's just a difference of opinion about what's acceptable performance.

I've used a U100 a couple times, and it was fine (along side a couple Lectrosonics 210 systems). But I didn't use them for long, and conditions were simple and quiet. One nice thing: They use the same mic plugs as lectrosonics. So you could own one of these and then rent Lectros as needed.

But give the systems a listen and see if they'll work for you. And if you're doing behind the scenes stuff, make sure you're not interfering with whatever frequencies the production mixer is using. Boy, would that be a bummer.

As for mics, you could use any of the brands I mentioned. But one thing to consider would be something like a Countryman EMW with a peaked response (EMWs are available with flat, shelved, and peaked responses). The peaked response mics can be hidden behind clothes and still sound good. The shelved response is a more typical lav sound, and the flat response sounds kind of like a Sonotrim. Anyway, if you'll have time to dress mics well, it can be nice to hide them. But again, give the mics a listen and see what you think.

On a budget, the newish AT899 Lav from Audio Technica sounds decent and includes a whole lot of mounts for a pretty low price ($200ish with power module).

>I have a Shure FP-32, boom and mic (which I will also be upgrading to >a Sennheiser 416).

The 416 is a great desert-island mic, but it can emphasize the reflections in a small room, and sounds verby, imo. If you don't want to spend the money for a Schoeps or something, you could listen to a Sanken CS-1 or even CS-3e, or a Neumann KMR81, or something. Maybe even an AT4073; that's a fairly inexpensive mic, but I've used it on stuff for various nets (PBS NewsHour, ABC, and so on). I like my 416, but it's not my first choice (or even my second choice) for tight interiors.

Well that's more than you wanted to know. Take this advice for what it's worth, combine it with the advice from others, then head down to a good dealer with your camera, try the different mics and wireless systems, record the sound to your camera and onto tape, then go listen to the tape in a good room. Trust your ears, and perhaps get the opinion of a good post audio person.

Good luck and let us know what you decide.

Jim Feeley
Edits words, records sounds, produces docs
San Francisco, CA USA



>Lectrosonics.

>Sennheiser evolution series 100 G2


Both are excellent choices.

>The Sennheiser's as well as other cheaper systems implemented >commander tends to pump and being noisy when there is some >constant low frequency noise around, like engines running, generator, >inside cars, at the beach, etc.

And if you use a microphone with flat response (i.e., with no bass roll off) you'll come to grief with ambient noise *whatever* wireless system you're using. Flat-response mics should be used only by experienced sound mixers, who can apply bass roll off as needed and make the right tradeoffs between full-range sound and the need to suppress ambient noise.

With no bass roll off (aka bass cut, low-cut, high-pass filtration, etc.), a full-range mic (or its wireless receiver) should not be plugged directly into a video camera's audio input. It will be inordinately sensitive to wind noise, clothing rub, plosives, breathing (when the subject is looking downward) traffic and air-conditioning rumble, low-frequency room echo and so forth. It'll sound horrible.

So for casual and documentary use, regardless of the wireless system you get, use a lav that has a response curve that starts dipping down at around 100 to 150 Hz. Some of the better Sony's aren't too bad in this regard -- but others here may have more specific advice.

All wireless transmitters should have bass-roll off switches. I don't know of a single one that does.

Oh...also be aware of what's called "gain structure." That means that when you have a series of level controls, each one must be set to deliver a signal that's in the proper range for the device, or amplification stage, that follows it. i.e., the input gain control on the wireless transmitter, the output level control on the receiver, and the input gain control on the camera or recorder.

The Lectrosonic's transmitter has a couple of LEDs that help make it pretty easy to set its input gain control.

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP/Audio Futzer
Marin County, CA



If you can afford about $500, you should be able to find the wireless mic below. It comes in a kit with a receiver.

http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Professional/webapp/ModelInfo?

m=0&sm=0&p=10&sp=82&id=71408

(To achieve the correct link...paste this entire link)

Easily the best range and clarity of any cheap mic I've ever used. If you can add a good mic (better than the enclosed ecm-44) you'll have a real winner!

Illya Friedman
Van Nuys, CA



I get a soundman on about 75% of my gigs, for the one-man-band and the camera-and-a-grip jobs I bought the Lectrosonics 201. It was a little expensive ($1850) but worth it. The built in spectrum analyser has pulled my butt out of the fire in RF dense situation several times. It will quickly show me the open frequencies without having to try one channel at a time while the client waits. It is easy to adjust the output level which has helped me minimize the crappy pre-amps on some cameras.

The ability to check the battery level on the transmitter from the receiver...it is a great system for those of us who hate doing our own sound but still want to do a good job.

Just a happy customer, etc.

Terry LeCroix
Photon and Reluctant Pressure Wave Wrangler
Nashville, TN
www.terrylecroix.com



Dan Drasin wrote :

>All wireless transmitters should have bass-roll off switches. I don't >know of a single one that does.

All Lextrosonics transmitters (series 100, 190, 195, 200 and 400) have a low frequency roll off adjustable between 35 and 150 Hz (-18db/octave).

Karl Lohninger
Sound mixer etc.
Los Angeles



Karl Lohninger writes :

>All Lextrosonics transmitters (series 100, 190, 195, 200 and 400) have >a low frequency roll off adjustable between 35 and 150 Hz (->18db/octave).

That's excellent. And an 18dB per octave slope is ideal -- cuts out more low-frequency grunge while maintaining as much vocal warmth as possible. That alone would be an excellent reason to choose the Lectrosonics units.

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA