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Old January 19th, 2008, 01:27 PM   #1
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What Do You Want To Know About Wireless?

Hi all:

I am at work on a lavalier microphone article that will provide a tremendous amount of hard data and opinion about which lavalier microphone to buy and why.

I am gathering data for a wireless microphone systems article at the moment. The wireless article will follow the lavalier article.
The candidates I am considering are:

1. Audio-Technica 1800 Series
2. Sennheiser G2 100 Series
3. Sennhesier G2 500 Series
4. Lectrosonics 100 Series
5. Lectrosonics 400 Series
6. Zaxcom TRX900 Series

My criterion are, the system must be UHF bandwidth, retail for a minimum of U.S. $500.00, the system must be primarily for lavalier application for sound for picture. Not interested in testing hand held transmitters or cheap, junky $200.00 to $300.00 live sound application systems. In my experience, there are no reliable, clear and professional level systems under $500.00 and even most of the under $1,000.00 systems are just barely okay.

Couple of questions. Do you care about Azden? Azden has some new cheap wireless systems. I have never used them but have used Azden sound products before and have found them to be sometimes lacking.

Are there any wireless systems that fall into my criterion that I am missing from the list that you care about?

I obviously want to set up tests for clarity, susceptibility to RF interference, reliability, construction quality, ease of use, battery life, etc. What is important to you for me to test with wireless? What have you discovered in using or owning wireless systems that you wish you would have known before you purchased the system?

I think it will also be cool to highlight wireless system tips and tricks and some of the powering options, options for Yagis and sharkfins, etc.

I welcome your input, requests and suggestions or this article. I would like to make the definitive sound for picture resource for wireless microphone systems and with your input, I think we can.

All my best,

Dan
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Old January 19th, 2008, 01:54 PM   #2
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That's great. I'd love to see an article comparing those systems. Do you have access to the Sony UWP-C series? That would be great to have on there as well.
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Old January 19th, 2008, 02:06 PM   #3
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Azden seems always to be talked about as inferior, but never that I've seen with specifics.

For this reason, I think an Azden outfit should be included to answer these questions:
1. Is Azden really inferior?
2. If so, how is Azden inferior?
3. What are the positive characteristics of an Azden system.
4. Looking at the tests, are there situations where the Azden would be a viable option.

And the Azden unit may be a positive surprise, as we remember the inexpensive AT mic in the shotgun review.

The system I suggest for review is this one, Azden dual on-camera with two body pack transmitters:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...icrophone.html

This is an attractive unit to a lot of people with the small cameras, and I think it deserves a test to get some concrete data available to those who might consider it. It is also one of a very few dual systems available.

Some other ideas for your consideration:
1. Use a known mic, such a Tram, on all the systems for some of the tests to get a straight forward comparison of the transmitters and receivers.
2. Rate the "Stock Mic" included with systems on some sort of scale with optional mics.
3. Test the optional mics on the systems they are most suited to (testing all mics on all systems is probably not possible in one life time) and compare to options.
4. Create a chart/guide that pairs real-life situations with wireless system/mic combinations. Include a price hierarchy correlation with the chart.
5. Do a sidebar on wireless lav wind screen options, how effective each is and situations appropriate for their use.

Well, that's something to start on!
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Old January 19th, 2008, 02:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Irving View Post
That's great. I'd love to see an article comparing those systems. Do you have access to the Sony UWP-C series? That would be great to have on there as well.
Hi Craig:

Yes, I will try to include this but based upon my current experience in trying to just obtain the EMC-44, 55 and 77 mics from them, this may be difficult.

Unlike many other companies, Sony seems to be very challenging to obtain review copies from. I had to go to a dealer, to a regional distributor who is working their way up the ladder at Sony to just obtain these mics for two weeks. The fact that I write for a very popular but grassroots website makes it even more difficult.

Will let you know how this progresses.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Dan
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Old January 19th, 2008, 02:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post
Azden seems always to be talked about as inferior, but never that I've seen with specifics

For this reason, I think an Azden outfit should be included to answer these questions:
1. Is Azden really inferior?
2. If so, how is Azden inferior?
3. What are the positive characteristics of an Azden system.
4. Looking at the tests, are there situations where the Azden would be a viable option.

And the Azden unit may be a positive surprise, as we remember the inexpensive AT mic in the shotgun review.

The system I suggest for review is this one, Azden dual on-camera with two body pack transmitters:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...icrophone.html

This is an attractive unit to a lot of people with the small cameras, and I think it deserves a test to get some concrete data available to those who might consider it. It is also one of a very few dual systems available.

Some other ideas for your consideration:
1. Use a known mic, such a Tram, on all the systems for some of the tests to get a straight forward comparison of the transmitters and receivers.
2. Rate the "Stock Mic" included with systems on some sort of scale with optional mics.
3. Test the optional mics on the systems they are most suited to (testing all mics on all systems is probably not possible in one life time) and compare to options.
4. Create a chart/guide that pairs real-life situations with wireless system/mic combinations. Include a price hierarchy correlation with the chart.
5. Do a sidebar on wireless lav wind screen options, how effective each is and situations appropriate for their use.

Well, that's something to start on!
My experiences with Azden mics have proven to be less than successful but I am open minded as that was 5-10 years ago. Perhaps they have improved quality since then?

It would be interesting to compare that system to the AT-1800 series, you are correct.

Yes, was definitely planning on using just one mic, might be the TRAM or might be the Sanken COS-11x. I think Trew has a poll on their site and someting 60 or 70% of pro sound mixers are now using the COS-11, I think that they dominate the market for lavs now.

Rate the stock mic. That might be viable for the systems that include one. Most of the higher end systems don't come with a stock mic but for the lower end ones, might be interesting. The stock Audio-Technica mic that came with my AT-100s, I think it's the AT 830 is not a bad little mic.

I will have to see what I can get my hands on as far as mixing and matching mics with wireless systems. It's challenging because most of the wireless systems have some sort of proprietary connection now TA-4, TA-5F, red dot, etc. so you are correct, it would be impossible to test every mic on every system.

I like idea number 4.

I like idea number 5 too. There aren't that many but doing some A/B tests in wind would be good.

All good suggestions.

Dan
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Old January 19th, 2008, 03:46 PM   #6
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Dan,

if you are going to use a mic like the Sanken COS-11 to test the wireless units, it would be useful if you could do one test with the COS-11 going through a mixer to the camcorder without using a wireless unit. That would be a baseline reference for comparison of wired vs wireless.
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Old January 19th, 2008, 04:12 PM   #7
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I think the Cos11 would be the best mic to use for the test.

Regarding Azden, it's just that their advertising is so ubiquitous and they are a well known name so many consider this option. Therefore, it seems reasonable to include an up-to-date Azden in the review.

The AT830 mic is quite good, I believe, and it can be used successfully for many purposes.

I suggested some kind of test on the included mics primarily because of the Sennheiser ME2 that is included with the G2. A definitive report on just how good (or bad) this mic is and how necessary it is to upgrade would be worthwhile, I beleive. It is generally considered as inferior, but how inferior, and should it be used ever?

The Lectrosonics mic is also worth a report, I believe. I believe you're not including it in your lav review, because it doesn't come in a hardwired version. However, it is a pro rental item at most rental houses and it comes with some Lectrosonics kits.

Other systems you may or may not like to consider:
Azden 300, Azden's smallest system
Samson UM32
(both are above your $500 price)

I don't know if it is worth comparing the Lectrosonics SM transmitter with the regular model. I would guess the quality should be the same when going to the same 400 receiver, but I don't know. (I only mention the SM because that is the next system I am going to buy.)
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Old January 19th, 2008, 04:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Sholle View Post
Dan,

if you are going to use a mic like the Sanken COS-11 to test the wireless units, it would be useful if you could do one test with the COS-11 going through a mixer to the camcorder without using a wireless unit. That would be a baseline reference for comparison of wired vs wireless.
Hi David:

In the lav article I am working on now, you will hear plenty of tests samples of the COS-11x hardwired through a mixer to a camcorder, that's how I am testing all of the lavs for the lav article, hardwired only, through a mixer and into a camcorder. The article will feature tests with 15-18 models of lavaliere, depending on if Sony and Countryman come through with review samples for me.

I think you mean doing an A/B comparison, right? Here is hardwired, here is wireless microphone system X with the same mic? Right? That's a very good idea. The digital Zaxcom TRX-900 advertises "wired microphone sound quality" so it would be fun to actually test that, perhaps even in a blind comparison where you have to guess, "wired or wireless"?

Dan
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Old January 19th, 2008, 06:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Brockett View Post
I think you mean doing an A/B comparison, right? Here is hardwired, here is wireless microphone system X with the same mic? Right? Dan
Hi Dan,

that is exactly what I meant, but didn't express so well.
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Old January 19th, 2008, 07:28 PM   #10
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Hi Dan,

that is exactly what I meant, but didn't express so well.
No problem.

Dan
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Old January 20th, 2008, 01:07 AM   #11
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Dan I think your idea is a great one. As for the Azden unitsI used 2 of the 500Us for about 5 or 6 years and frankly never had a problem with them. Yhe only reason I switched was I really wanted a dual channel receiver so I went the AT18XX route.
Having said that I still have and use the 500s when needed and really the only problem I have ever noticed with them is the yare a bit tinny sounding so I personally think that including that unit in your comparasion would be a fair thing to do.
I'll be looking forward to your report.
Don
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Old January 20th, 2008, 03:00 AM   #12
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I'd like to know what separates the systems in terms of gain control. For example, I'm pretty happy with the G2 but it annoys me that I can't alter the transmitter's gain remotely. Does a system twice or triple the price have that feature (or a built in limiter on the transmitter would be good too).

Other than that, a 10 cable does me pretty well ;-)
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Old January 20th, 2008, 05:44 AM   #13
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When you test the Zaxcom TRX900, you might also test the built-in recorder (24/48). The TRX900 allows you to record directly onto a miniSD card, which could be very helpful to a lot of people. However, at the cost of the TRX900 (~$4K USD), it's not something everybody goes out to buy. It should also be noted that the Sanken COS11 mic is not recommended by Zaxcom at this time (although Jeff Wexler, myself and several others are using it with this mic). There seems to be some RF interference issues some people have reported with this mic and both Sanken and Zaxcom are trying to figure out what is going on.

Wayne
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Old January 20th, 2008, 11:21 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Wayne Brissette View Post
When you test the Zaxcom TRX900, you might also test the built-in recorder (24/48). The TRX900 allows you to record directly onto a miniSD card, which could be very helpful to a lot of people. However, at the cost of the TRX900 (~$4K USD), it's not something everybody goes out to buy. It should also be noted that the Sanken COS11 mic is not recommended by Zaxcom at this time (although Jeff Wexler, myself and several others are using it with this mic). There seems to be some RF interference issues some people have reported with this mic and both Sanken and Zaxcom are trying to figure out what is going on.

Wayne
Hi Wayne:

Yes, I saw that option, that seems to be the future, huh? So the Zaxcom unit is really a mini recorder as well as a killer wireless mic system? Pretty awesome. But yes, at $4,000.00 per setup, reserved pretty much for working pros. But I think that it is always a good idea to include the best as well as the "not the best" in articles like this.

Good tip about the Sanken, I will keep that in mind.

Dan
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Old January 20th, 2008, 01:10 PM   #15
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Samson Wireless

I'd like to suggest you consider this brand.
My knowledge is dated, but we acutally found this brand did better for broadcast at a top 15 market ABC affiliate than some ofh te other "names" in overall performance, main issue we always hd was fading and RFI.

Another thought, I might suggest someone consider lookng into Ultra wideband UWB technology; be interested to see if it will make it to this application. Promises much better oerall quality, or so I've heard. I don't do this professionally anymore, so note really dug into it.
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