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Need to learn more about Lavalier systems

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Sebastian Alvarez
Need to learn more about Lavalier systems
on Jul 5, 2009 at 9:34:40 pm

I posted this in the Event Videographers forum, but it would be useful to post it here too.

I'm trying to get into the event videography business, and I need to buy a lavalier system. I'm confused by the choices I have just from going through the B&H section on them. There seems to be VHF and UHF systems, with the latter being more expensive, so I assume that UHF must be better, but is VHF really bad? For an event where you keep the receiver at less than 100 feet, would you get any interference?

Me and my partner are on a budget, since we're just starting. If anybody who owns an Audio Technica W88 system can give me their opinion on them it would be great, but also to clear my confusion about them because I see several of them listed at the same price with only a difference in the frequency, and checking the A.T. website it shows me this:

# PRO 88W-829, PRO 88W-830
T13 (169.445 MHz & 170.245 MHz)
T24 (169.505 MHz & 170.305 MHz)
T57 (171.045 MHz & 171.845 MHz)
T68 (171.105 MHz & 171.905 MHz)
TVHF (179.400 MHz & 180.600 MHz)

# PRO 88W-R35
T24 (169.505 MHz & 170.305 MHz)

Since I have no experience with this type of microphone I have no clue what difference would it make for me to choose a model with a specific frequency instead of another one.

There's also the Azden WLX-PRO, which looks like a toy, and the Azden 111LT, which is like $75 more expensive, also with several different models with their own frequency to choose from. If anybody owns these and can give me their opinion I would appreciate it.

Sebastian R. Alvarez


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Ty Ford
Re: Need to learn more about Lavalier systems
on Jul 5, 2009 at 11:50:57 pm

Hello Sebastian and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

This question gets asked a lot. Please put "wireless mic" into the search field and see what's been said. When you run into Sennheiser G2, remember the new model is the G3.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Sam Mallery
Re: Need to learn more about Lavalier systems
on Jul 7, 2009 at 2:00:45 pm

VHF = Very High Frequency
UHF = Ultra High Frequency

Does that clear things up? ;)

UHF is better because it's a higher frequency. However, the DTV transition just wiped out a portion of the UHF spectrum that some mics operate on, so you have to be mindful of this when buying a system, especially a used one (the 700 MHz band has been disrupted by DTV).

Ty is right. There is a lot of info on here about this. So much so that you don't even need to search, just look at the threads and you'll find plenty.

The Azden kits are a really bad idea. The Audio Technica Pro 88 is a better choice, but, it's still not a good choice.

The basic rule of thumb with wireless mics is that you have to spend $500 to get something of decent quality. If you want to buy a wireless system once, and not something you will eventually replace, you have to spend around $1500 per wireless mic, minimum.

This is an area where "being on a budget" will hurt you. If you have a paying client and you're shooting a wedding and you can't hear the wedding vows at the ceremony, then you bought the wrong thing and your client will be upset.




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Sam Mallery
Re: Need to learn more about Lavalier systems
on Jul 7, 2009 at 2:08:51 pm

Also, here's an educational introductory article I wrote on the subject. It's a couple years old, but all the info is still pretty much on point:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/newsLetter/Camera-Mount-Wireless-Microphon...



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Ty Ford
Re: Need to learn more about Lavalier systems
on Jul 7, 2009 at 4:56:00 pm

[Sam Mallery] "UHF is better because it's a higher frequency. However, the DTV transition just wiped out a portion of the UHF spectrum that some mics operate on, so you have to be mindful of this when buying a system, especially a used one (the 700 MHz band has been disrupted by DTV). "

Um, higher frequency doesn't always yield better results. When a lot of people moved to UHF, VHF was less crowded and actually improved. For the same mW of power, VHF will actually propagate farther than UHF. In most location shoots, the difference would be negligible.

The audio bandwidth for the specific transmitter/receiver combo comes into play also as regards the full frequency response of the system in question.

Regards,

Ty Ford


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Steve Kownacki
Re: Need to learn more about Lavalier systems
on Jul 8, 2009 at 11:54:31 am

Be sure to get something with a gazillion channels and know how to change them quickly. Churches and venues have lots of wireless stuff and they won't change freqs for you. Not to mention the rehearsal will go fine but the day of the event, you'll get interference or no sound. And don't be afraid to ask if you can just plug into their sound board and use their audio hard-wired to your gear. It's been said before and I agree, if I can stay away from wireless I do.

Steve



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Bill Davis
Re: Need to learn more about Lavalier systems
on Jul 8, 2009 at 8:08:02 pm


Since you technically asked for general knowledge...

Did you know that the term "lav" descends from French King Louis IV's quite infamous mistress, Mme LaVallier? - the term was originally the designation for a big old JEWEL that Louis gave her on a neck chain. The name followed the form of stuff geometrically hung just like the original big lavillier mics uses on TV by cats like Dave Garroway on the original TODAY show.

At some point, LaVallier (la Val' yay) became todays lav-o-lier.

Just something to kill time with the next time you're wiring someone - or not...



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Sebastian Alvarez
Re: Need to learn more about Lavalier systems
on Jul 8, 2009 at 9:49:06 pm

[Steve Kownacki] "Be sure to get something with a gazillion channels and know how to change them quickly. Churches and venues have lots of wireless stuff and they won't change freqs for you. Not to mention the rehearsal will go fine but the day of the event, you'll get interference or no sound. And don't be afraid to ask if you can just plug into their sound board and use their audio hard-wired to your gear. It's been said before and I agree, if I can stay away from wireless I do.

Steve"


Great advice. I bought a Zoom H2 recorder a while ago and if I can get a line from the mixer to that it would be great. I'm also contemplating whether to buy a system with a battery operated receiver vs. an electrical one. I don't think that in weddings or ceremonies of any type I wouldn't have an AC outlet available, except if the wedding is at the beach, but I live 200 miles from the nearest beach. If I get an AC receiver I would plug it in a place as open as possible and attach the Zoom H2 to it to record the audio. If somebody thinks this is a terrible idea, please let me know, I take advice since I'm new on this. I know that this is more for the Event Videography forum, but I posted this over there too and got no replies.


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Sam Mallery
Re: Need to learn more about Lavalier systems
on Jul 10, 2009 at 6:03:20 pm

The trouble with that is the set up time it takes to plug the AC system into the wall, find a place to put the receiver, run cables from the output to your camera, etc.

With a portable receiver, you can mount it to your camera, keep it plugged into the mic input, and be able to run and gun it. This way if the ceremony is at a church, and the reception is at a banquet hall a few miles away, you could potentially follow the bride n' grrom out of the church, hop in the limo with them, and film them entering the reception... you get the idea.



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Sebastian Alvarez
Re: Need to learn more about Lavalier systems
on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:12:42 pm

Good point. I realized after my last post that the portable solution makes a lot more sense. It looks like the cheapest decent choice is the Sennheiser G2, although since the G3 is about to come out, I'd rather wait a bit longer for it, and rent the G2 in the meantime if I need it.


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