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Old September 3rd, 2007, 12:09 AM   #1
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Potential sound setup

Hi everyone,

I'm a shooter but I'm looking into getting my own audio gear to up my production value. I'd like a setup I can use on my own or pass off to an audio person when the budget allows for it. So far, I'm looking at getting the following:

1 x Sound Devices 302 mixer: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=292980&is=REG
1 x Porta Brace bag for mixer: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=298399&is=REG
2 x Sennheiser MD46 dynamic mics: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=223940&is=REG
2 x Sennheiser G2 100 series wireless: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=324245&is=REG
2 x Sennheiser G2 500 series plug-ons: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=324353&is=REG
4 x Remote Audio MicroCats: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=385181&is=REG

I'd leave the receivers and unused gear in the bag and tether two (coiled?) XLR cables to my Sony Z1. I shoot lots of two-person band interviews so I'd use the MD46's when it's a noisy environment or the stock lavs when it's quieter. I was considering Countryman B6's but I don't know how much abuse they will be able to handle, and for the price, the ME2 lavs are pretty decent.

As far as I can tell, the only differences between the 100 and 500 series G2 systems is the 500 can output line level, has a headphone jack and is balanced, so I'd go for the 100 (the 302 pre-amps are supposed to be very good and a short, unbalanced run to the mixer should be okay). I'd get the 500 series plug-on transmitter because it has 48v phantom power, which I need if I ever run our CAD C195 room mics into the camera.

I'm kind of rethinking the Sennheiser wireless systems because of the 1/8" mic inputs. I know Countryman B6's are available with almost any connector type, but what about other mics? Could my wireless system hold me back from getting the right mic? The G2 price is pretty attractive, though.

I plan on having the bag around my shoulder while shooting, unless there's a sound person for the shoot. I work with people who can build me cables.

Any suggestions on what will or won't work well for me or what could be better? I'm already spending more than I'd like to, but this is largely an alternative to school.

Thanks!
-Mark
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 05:59 AM   #2
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You can get an adapter cable for the Sennheiser wireless mic transmitters that has an XLR input on one end and the Sennheiser locking 1/8" plug on the other.

Then you can get microphones that have XLR plugs on them. This allows you to run them directly into your Sound Devices 302 (good choice) or into your wireless transmitters.

If you get better lavalieres, such as the Tram TR-50, get models that have XLR plugs and an option for battery power/phantom power (if the mic requires power, most of the good one do require power).

If you spend a lot more and get Lectrosonics, get the "Link" so that the output plug can be changed. This is a tip from Ty Ford.

It is very desirable to be able to run your lavaliers directly into your mixer. Use wireless only when necessary.

I also recommend that you consider getting a "Betacam Break-away" cable. It is strange but this is the general name for a nice cable that allows you to quickly unplug you mixer from the camera, even if the camera is not a Betacam.

Besides being able to unplug from the camera easily, this has a return audio path from the camera to the mixer that allows you to monitor audio out of the camera, a very good thing to do.

If you do have the money, get some better lavaliers, ones better than the ME2, they will sound better and produce less noise (less hiss). Some like the Sanken Cos11, I like the Tram TR-50, I have yet not tried the Countryman mics.
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 06:17 AM   #3
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B&H used to have a Sennheiser wireless combo package, a B&H Kit, that had model 100 transmitters and receivers and a model 500 plug on transmitter.

I could not find this "B&H Kit" this morning. I recommend that you call B&H and ask if they still have this kit.

I also recommend that you consider the Petrol mixer bags, they are very nice.

If you start recording sound for film, or sound other than two person interviews, you will want to get a good boom mike and boom pole. Regretfully, these add substantial cost to your kit.
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 10:55 AM   #4
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well I'll also vote for the petrol audio bag. PEGZ-1 should do you, its totally configurable and lets you run wires everwhere. most of the zippers have more than one zipper so you can snake wires out and keep the bag sealed. the Clear cover is also removable. having use the porta brace setup, that stupid cover does nothing but get in way all day long. maybe by now you can remove it or velcro it down. one thing you'll find about the pertrol is they really did think of everything. you can spend a good hour figuring out all the little things they did with it - like the front carry handle is velcro'd. you can lower it or tuck it into the back in a fully down position so it doesn't get in the way. they are really that configureable.

something all you guys missed, master battery system. No way you want to throw out $15-$20 a day using 9V batteries, never mind they are environmentally very nasty. You need to get a large *rechargable* battery pak to run everything. it will pay for it self very quickly compared to wasting money on 9V's or AA's. I had a 12 cell AA pak made for about $36. I know these aren't super higrade cells, but it runs my fp33 + 2 195's + mixer bad light pretty much all day. recharges in a 1/2hr so if I am looking low, even a quick 10 or 15 minutes will get things back to working. now with my setup, besides the pak, I have it run up and over to a master switch which also has a LED power meter in it so I can quick check the power level. I built the power meter using a bunch of green and red LEDs, and some zenier diodes in series with the leds + current limiting resistor for the LED. from the master switch one wire comes out thats splits out to 5 power connectors to feed everything plus a spare. the split is hidden under the floor of the mixer bag where its safe. I also have a 120V .5a fuse on the battery pak for saftey, and spares in the bag.

of course you can get a NP1 + distro system, but it will cost you upwards of about $200-300 once its fully configured if you can't make your own. I'll assume you have a charger that the NP1 will work on.

forget using coil cords to the camera. thats a disaster in the the making. those are for boompole to mixer. breakaway cable is what you need. I picked up a super clean used on on ebay for $160. some times you get lucky !

a light in the mixer bag is also very handy. I built one from a USB keyboard light ( flex neck type ) and a old cellphone charger for case. looks totally commercially made because I have people ask me where I bought it all the time :) BTW you do need to add an additional current limiting LED in because USB is 5V and bag power is about 16V on a hot battery.


as for wireless, all I can say is lectrosonics for best performance & price. a couple of used ones are better than a new lower performance setup for the same price.

if you want to run your lav's hardware, there are these little adaptors that will take phantom power from the XLR and convert is to the 1.5-4V Lavs want as a bias voltage. they also have a connector that matches your wireless connector. using lectros, I have a TA5-XLR. they are from Ambient and are called emuele's. 5 different versions to match all major wireless connectors. $120 but worth it to keep life simple

I know it hurts to have to get all this extra "stuff" but in a word, it will last you your next several cameras. when the Z1 is a distant memory, you'll still be using this gear so its a very good investment.

Gitzo makes a nice AND cheap CF boompole which I think is better than the Ktec and is less than 1/2 the price.

you also need some decent headphones. I just got some senn Pro288's I think is the model. same price as the 7506, but much better isolation from the room. I had been using a pair of AKG's, but since they didn't fold, it was only a matter of time before they where broken so I changed them out. AKG's sounded better, but the 288's had much better isolation, and much louder.

oh... and skip B&H got to trewaudio.com where you can talk to people who know something about what they sell as opposed to the NY box movers.
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 11:26 AM   #5
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For batteries, I use Eveready Energizer NiMH AA rechargeable batteries.

I charge them up the night before so they are fresh.

They work well, in my opinion, in the Sound Devices 302. They will power a 302 for hours and the 302 has a very nice battery gauge. I am usually done before the batteries are drained. In any case, it is certainly easy to have three more ready to go.

Since the Sennheiser G2's also uses AA's, you can use the rechargeables, or regular alkalines. Some prefer the alkaline.

The original Sennheiser wireless, (G1) use 9 volt batteries, but the new G2's use AA's, which is a big improvement.

In the past when NiCd batteries were the common rechargeables, it was best practice to use alkalines since they provided more power. However NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries work well in many devices.

I keep a small, dollar store, led flashlight, attached to the mixer bag.
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Last edited by Dan Keaton; September 3rd, 2007 at 05:15 PM.
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 08:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
You can get an adapter cable for the Sennheiser wireless mic transmitters that has an XLR input on one end and the Sennheiser locking 1/8" plug on the other.
Hmm, good to know. I suppose that could be used with any lav that doesn't need external phantom power, although it might get a bit bulky for the person wearing the transmitter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
If you spend a lot more and get Lectrosonics, get the "Link" so that the output plug can be changed. This is a tip from Ty Ford.
I'd love to, but it's way over budget. Hopefully someday, but I can live with the G2's for now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
I also recommend that you consider getting a "Betacam Break-away" cable.
I looked around and there's a 25' Canare betacam breakaway cable for about $200! Pretty expensive for my uses, especially since I'd usually just need 2 XLRs from the mixer to the camera (the mixer at my waist). Would a return be necessary, since I can just listen to the camera's headphone output? Also, if I do run a return (when someone else is running the mixer), what do I use as the output from camera? The only options are the headphone jack or mini-plug.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
Some like the Sanken Cos11, I like the Tram TR-50, I have yet not tried the Countryman mics.
So rather than getting a mic with an 1/8" end, get the regular hardwired type and convert it to 1/8"? Do most lavs need/have power supplies?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
B&H used to have a Sennheiser wireless combo package, a B&H Kit, that had model 100 transmitters and receivers and a model 500 plug on transmitter.
I called B&H about that today and they don't sell that combo. The guy said the 500 plug-on is incompatible with the 100 receiver, but I'm pretty sure he's wrong about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
I also recommend that you consider the Petrol mixer bags, they are very nice.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
well I'll also vote for the petrol audio bag. PEGZ-1 should do you
I read other positive reviews of the PEGZ-1, so I'll swap it with the Porta Brace.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
something all you guys missed, master battery system.
I think rechargeable AA batteries are the way to go. I don't have the electronics knowledge you have to build your own power supply, but a whole bunch of AA's should do the trick. It's handy that the mixer, receiver and transmitters all use the same type.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
a light in the mixer bag is also very handy.
Agreed, I'll look around for something to stay in the bag.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
if you want to run your lav's hardware, there are these little adaptors that will take phantom power from the XLR and convert is to the 1.5-4V Lavs want as a bias voltage.
Is there a link you could point me to that explains the wiring and power requirements for mics and cables?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
I know it hurts to have to get all this extra "stuff" but in a word, it will last you your next several cameras. when the Z1 is a distant memory, you'll still be using this gear so its a very good investment.
Thanks, that's great advice and I completely agree. I think I'll start with what I can afford and upgrade as needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
you also need some decent headphones. I just got some senn Pro288's I think is the model.
I've had Sennheiser HD280's for about 2 years now and like them. As far as I can tell, the tone is pretty accurate, and their isolation has been invaluable for concert settings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
oh... and skip B&H got to trewaudio.com where you can talk to people who know something about what they sell as opposed to the NY box movers.
That was kind of the impression I got from the guy on the phone. I'm looking into shipping costs but I think I could save a lot of money ordering from B&H. B&H won't ship the 302 to Canada though, so I'll get it from Trew.


Thanks so much for the advice, guys! You've helped me out a lot. I won't order for another couple weeks but I'll let you know what I get!

-Mark
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 09:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I've had Sennheiser HD280's for about 2 years now and like them. As far as I can tell, the tone is pretty accurate, and their isolation has been invaluable for concert settings.
What type of concerts are you doing? I found none of the headphones worked as well as I wanted for concerts, so I ended up going with the Etymotic 4S earphones. But I am also doing multichannel recordings, so it's important that I really hear the mix clearly. I find my Sennheiser HD-25 headphones do fine in classical settings, but for anything louder (rock, country, etc.) I have to use the 4S earphones.

Wayne
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 09:59 PM   #8
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...I called B&H about that today and they don't sell that combo. The guy said the 500 plug-on is incompatible with the 100 receiver, but I'm pretty sure he's wrong about that...
They will work if in the same frequency range (A, B or C).

If I remember correctly (?), the SKP500 plugon transmitter does not put out a full 48v of phantom. You might check the specs on that and your mics as well. This can be an issue with some mics that need the full 48, but many don't.
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 10:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Brissette View Post
What type of concerts are you doing? I found none of the headphones worked as well as I wanted for concerts, so I ended up going with the Etymotic 4S earphones. But I am also doing multichannel recordings, so it's important that I really hear the mix clearly. I find my Sennheiser HD-25 headphones do fine in classical settings, but for anything louder (rock, country, etc.) I have to use the 4S earphones.

Wayne
Lots of different concerts, many of them loud. Mind you, I'm not mixing anything in my headphones, just setting levels for room mics and making sure they're clean. However, two of my friends have been mixing in 280's for over 2 years and like them a lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
They will work if in the same frequency range (A, B or C).

If I remember correctly (?), the SKP500 plugon transmitter does not put out a full 48v of phantom. You might check the specs on that and your mics as well. This can be an issue with some mics that need the full 48, but many don't.
I'll make sure to pick the right frequency range.
The Sennheiser website says it outputs 48v: http://www.sennheiser.com/sennheiser...nsf/root/21640
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 11:32 PM   #10
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Hmm, good to know. I suppose that could be used with any lav that doesn't need external phantom power, although it might get a bit bulky for the person wearing the transmitter.

I looked around and there's a 25' Canare betacam breakaway cable for about $200! Pretty expensive for my uses, especially since I'd usually just need 2 XLRs from the mixer to the camera (the mixer at my waist). Would a return be necessary, since I can just listen to the camera's headphone output? Also, if I do run a return (when someone else is running the mixer), what do I use as the output from camera? The only options are the headphone jack or mini-plug.


So rather than getting a mic with an 1/8" end, get the regular hardwired type and convert it to 1/8"? Do most lavs need/have power supplies?

I think rechargeable AA batteries are the way to go. I don't have the electronics knowledge you have to build your own power supply, but a whole bunch of AA's should do the trick. It's handy that the mixer, receiver and transmitters all use the same type.

Is there a link you could point me to that explains the wiring and power requirements for mics and cables?

That was kind of the impression I got from the guy on the phone. I'm looking into shipping costs but I think I could save a lot of money ordering from B&H. B&H won't ship the 302 to Canada though, so I'll get it from Trew.

-Mark
well if you really don't want to get a breakway cable... and trust me you will after couple of shoots, you can get away with a pair of 10ft XLRs. as soon as you move that mixer to another person and need to move around, that 25ft cable and quick release will be the difference between fast and miserable.. not to mention the chance of having the camera dumped onto the floor which will cost a lot more to fix.

as for AA rechargeables... good luck. not my reccomendation at all simple for the big hassle factor, then reliabilty. if you buy them in radio shack..well your gonna get what you pay for, maybe less.

check out your local batteries plus franchise and they will hook you up with a pak + charger. its not hard to figure out + and - and solder the whole mess up. most pro gear BTW is positive on the BARREL ( outside), but usually it doesn't matter. either the gear will power up even if its reversed because the input is polarity protected, or it won't power up at all. consumer level gear like the G2 is another bet. once

you get the mixer and wireless into the bag, the last thing you want to do is be pulling each unit out to change batteries. these bags are not really very friendly for that. can you do it, yes, will you want to do it... not after the first time or two.

you'll also need to look into cabling the bag internally if the wireless doesn't come with the right cables. shorter is better, and right angle XLR's can be your friend. made most of my cables up.

as for 9V's, Trew has lithuim ion rechargables with a package price for 2 batts + charger.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 12:19 AM   #11
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well if you really don't want to get a breakway cable... and trust me you will after couple of shoots, you can get away with a pair of 10ft XLRs.
I think I'll stick with XLR for now and get a breakaway cable later, if needed.

Quote:
as for AA rechargeables... good luck. not my reccomendation at all simple for the big hassle factor, then reliabilty.
Yeah, I see what you mean - swapping batteries is a pain, especially when access to the compartment isn't handy. Do you know if it's possible to use an Ambient NP1 to power the Sennheiser DC power packs? Or would I be better off having something built?

Quote:
you'll also need to look into cabling the bag internally if the wireless doesn't come with the right cables. shorter is better, and right angle XLR's can be your friend. made most of my cables up.
The G2s come with short 1/8" to XLR cables that might be long enough, depending on where the receivers are placed. If not, I can have them made up.

And about the return, since the camera doesn't have XLR out, what would I be running it from: headphone jack or RCA?
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Old September 4th, 2007, 12:40 AM   #12
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I think I'll stick with XLR for now and get a breakaway cable later, if needed.
Yeah, I see what you mean - swapping batteries is a pain, especially when access to the compartment isn't handy. Do you know if it's possible to use an Ambient NP1 to power the Sennheiser DC power packs? Or would I be better off having something built?

The G2s come with short 1/8" to XLR cables that might be long enough, depending on where the receivers are placed. If not, I can have them made up.

And about the return, since the camera doesn't have XLR out, what would I be running it from: headphone jack or RCA?
on a breakway, the return is a 1/8" mini plus another jack hole so you can still plug in at the camera end, although at a 6db drop in volume.

as for power, a NP-1 is now a pretty generic form factor battery case and the cap will be fine. what you need to do is split it out to feed everything not just one thing. the simple way is to get the connectors and wire. the expensive way is to get a distro box to feed everything with its own cable. works ok. you could find a decent local electronics repair shop to also do this, if there is one... but most are long gone :(

in terms of what item will take what V. basically speaking the 12-16V coming from most battery paks will be happily accepted by most audio gear. my Fp33 will take 28 V in. almost all wireless will take the typical 16V in because thats what a 14.4V camera battery puts out fully charged. so I don't see a problem, but RTFM on the G2 recievers to be sure. shouldn't be a problem.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 06:18 PM   #13
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After looking into the cost of an NP1 and needed accessories, I'm going to get a bunch of rechargeable AA batteries. The small inconvenience of periodically changing batteries is worth the price difference for me, especially since I'll only be using the mixer for a couple hours at a time.

I work for a production company and we have shop guys who can build me a 4-foot tether with 2 XLR's and an 1/8" line. The mixer will get the most use from my waist while I'm running camera, so I can live without a breakaway cable.

I ordered the 302 and Petrol bag for the 302 (same as the PEGZ-1 but a bit smaller as it doesn't have the compartment for a hard drive recorder - fine by me!) from Trew Audio today and it's supposed to come in next week.

Now I'm leaning toward the G2 500 series wireless.

Oh, the choices... Thanks for your advice, everyone!
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Old September 5th, 2007, 08:10 AM   #14
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Dear Mark,

Be sure to get Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeables instead of the old NiCd batteries. I am very pleased with the Energizer brand.

I buy them as a set with the charger, 8 AA's and 4 AAA's, for under $28.00.
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