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No idea what to buy for wireless solution

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Max Palmer
No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Nov 30, 2012 at 2:17:14 pm

First off, I am NOT an audio professional. But what I am doing is trying to produce a video at work, where I will need to have a setup with wireless mic's. My camera is a Canon XF100, with dual XLR inputs.

My company said that we might be able to buy some wireless lav's for use in the conference rooms, so I would like to make sure that these will also work well with my camera setup. They're going to tell me to go with the cheapest possible solution, but I don't have much to back up my argument for going with a higher quality, pricier option. I basically have to go to them and say "This is the one that we need, period." without having to explain geeky audio stuff that they don't understand.

Obviously I can look at B&H and tell them there is a cheap one for under $200. But, I'm not sure what I should be looking for (other than cardioid) when shopping for more expensive options. What could be the simplest setup for my camera that isn't a piece of junk?


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Eric Toline
Re: No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Nov 30, 2012 at 3:39:11 pm

Minimum starting point would be the Sennheiser G3 wireless system. About $600 a set for transmitter, camera mountable reciever & a Sennheiser omni lav mic included. Be sure to read the user manual carefully before using it on a job and practice with it so you won't get any surprises when the director says "roll camera."

P.S. the price is about the same wherever you buy the system. That said, I would look to purchase from a professional sound retailer as tech support is a very important part of your purchase investment. After purchase tech support is not something you'll get from a box house.

Eric

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Max Palmer
Re: No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Nov 30, 2012 at 4:06:34 pm

Obviously, you get what you pay for always applies. However. I think $600 per kit might be hard to justify, especially since we need two or three, and we're not exactly a production studio with high-end broadcast needs. That being said, I fully expected someone to recommend me a kit around that price, as this IS the audio pro forum. ;-)

That being said, I have a couple questions to help my argument: 1. What about that $600 kit makes it better than a $300 kit, other than actual quality of sound? and 2. is there anything about any of these kits that would make them difficult for someone else to use, such as an administrative assistant? (I'm not always going to be around to patch people in with lav mics and xlr cables.)

On the plus side, they're going to cross shop lav mics with whatever equipment our technology procurement department can get. So if they come back with something horrifically expensive, then I can much more easily justify a $600 kit. Fingers crossed!


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Daniel Stone
Re: No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Nov 30, 2012 at 4:33:23 pm

As someone who usually learns "the hard way," I can tell you that the biggest difference between a $300 system and a $600+ system is reliability.

I bought three $250-ish Samson units that are compact and look great - but were a royal PITA. We don't use them anymore because we'd spend about 45 minutes on set trying to figure out why one of them isn't working, another one is dropping out and why they all have static. On top of that, the audio quality just wasn't clean. There's a subtle hissing over everything someone was saying. Subtle but annoying. We ended up running the lapel directly into the camera.

We later bought a $1500 Lectrosonics kit and the difference was astounding in almost every way. We would plug it in, turn it on and go...clean, reliable audio. No static, no drop outs, no hissing, and very rare interference.

Obviously I'm using extremes to illustrate the difference as I'm certainly not suggesting you spend $1500 on a system. I've heard great things about the G3. We didn't buy it mainly because of the flimsy mic input (3.5mm unbalanced) and the complaints we saw online about it.

To this day, when we film a seated "talking head" interview, we still tend to use hard-wired mics. Weird, I know, but it's the most reliable and cleanest sound. It also lets you spend your money on a nicer mic.

Good luck!



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Eric Toline
Re: No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Nov 30, 2012 at 5:27:16 pm

Daniel,

While the Sennheiser mic input is a 3.5mm trs connector does not make it flimsy. As for it being unbalanced, you be surprised how many lavs are have unbalanced outputs. Just because the the tx input connector is a 5 pin TA5 as on the Lectro does not mean it's wired balanced. The third wire in a 3 wire lav is for bias current that supplys voltage to power the lav.

Eric

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Richard Crowley
Re: No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Nov 30, 2012 at 5:24:03 pm

If you can't justify purchasing a minimally-decent wireless system, then RENT them when you need them. Many of us had the same concept as you suggest, and have a cardboard box in the basement full of cheap, fiddly, unreliable toy plastic wireless gear that was a complete waste of money.


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Max Palmer
Re: No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Nov 30, 2012 at 11:25:27 pm

Richard- point taken. I'm crossing my fingers!


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Craig Alan
Re: No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Dec 1, 2012 at 5:55:49 pm

Three wireless mikes will, as others point out, be over $600 bucks a piece. This is not pros just being pros. Sound is the hardest part of low end video production. If that is not affordable, then do not go cheap. You will regret it. Instead you might consider wired lavs. In a conference room you can hide most of the wires under the table and up the clothing of the talent. Sure it's a bit of work but the sound quality will beat not only anything under the $600 price but also beat the wireless system at and above the $600 price. I would suggest countryman with xlr connections which will run $200-$300 each. Then you will need xlr extensions to your cam. Another thing you might consider is a sound devices mixer which will significantly improve control, monitoring, and sound quality. Most camcorders are not designed with good sound in mind. the 302 is a steal at about $1200. Not sure how you would get three lavs into your camera without it.

If you get the wireless kits do a search for Sennheiser G3 how to video and you'll find videos that take you through the set up. It's hard to figure it out with just the manual. The videos do a good job. Do this well in advance of production date. Practice the set up. I don't know what they hope to achieve with a conference video but poor sound quality will kill any intent.

A presentation really only needs one lav and maybe a handheld for audience Q and A. A round table conference requires more than 3 lavs and is really tricky to set up.

The pros on this forum are great. The more specific you get with needs the more they can help. I'm a teacher and generalist. So I have been there and tried that.

MacPro4,1 2.66GHz 8 core 12gigs of ram. GPU: Nvidia Geoforce GT120 with Vram 512. OS X 10.6.x; Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170, Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Chris Tompkins
Re: No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Dec 1, 2012 at 6:31:21 pm

Cheap wireless is a bad choice, full of regret and wasted money.
Many of us have been there in the earlier years.

Quality and reliability do not come cheap.

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC


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Noah Kadner
Re: No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Dec 4, 2012 at 2:09:22 am

Sennheiser Wireless G3. Isn't cheap as you want but rocks. If I couldn't swing that I'd stay wired. The amount of aggravation and crappy sounding audio a $300 or less wireless system buys you just ain't worth the trouble.

Noah

Call Box Training.
Featuring the Panasonic GH2 and Panasonic AC160/130.


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Jim MacD0nald
Re: No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Dec 4, 2012 at 7:54:41 pm

I am not sure if it has been mentioned before but.Have you thought about renting? That way you can compare. Some of the less expensive gear will come back to bite you and always at the wrong time. There is a lot of used gear out there too.


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Craig Alan
Re: No idea what to buy for wireless solution
on Dec 4, 2012 at 3:42:50 am

[Max Palmer] " is there anything about any of these kits that would make them difficult for someone else to use, such as an administrative assistant?"

Once the frequencies are set up for that location, and the kits are calibrated for the camera, and you've learned where to put them on talent, it's pretty easy to show someone else how to use them.

The only tricky part might be if one of talents has a very soft or very loud voice. You might need to adjust the sensitivity.

I have set up and loaned lots of students these kits and once you physically show them, it's pretty easy. You still need to ride the levels during the shoot but you just show them where the good range is, its just a knob you turn whether on the camera or mixer. Like all things in video, its hard to do it really well, but just getting in the ballpark will make for a usable product.

Then again, if i were to pay for one professional on an important shoot, it would an audio engineer.

MacPro4,1 2.66GHz 8 core 12gigs of ram. GPU: Nvidia Geoforce GT120 with Vram 512. OS X 10.6.x; Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170, Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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