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Old March 27th, 2008, 11:35 PM   #1
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Wireless Lav help needed

I'm looking to get my first wireless lav and I'm really confused on all the technical things I need to know

I'm looking at the Samson Airline Series due to the very small size (I shoot with a very compact setup of 2 SONY HC7's). I want something small, but my budget just wont' allow anything costing more money. I'm confused about Frequency - B&H offers the same setup with each one having one of five different frequencies. I'm staying here in the states, and I have no idea if one frequency is preferred over another. The mic setup is UHF which I assume is a better route to go over VHF - but please correct me if I'm wrong.

Please - I need to purchase one soon for some upcoming work and I have no idea what to get.

TIA,
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Old March 27th, 2008, 11:41 PM   #2
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Off the wall suggestion, take a look at the Sony Bluetooth HW1 mic - you can run two side by side, and they go right into the dedicated shoe (plus will do 5.1 surround on later Sony AVCHD models!).

UHF is preferred, but VHF is an option if on a budget, but I've switched over to the HW1's having used both, with a couple irivers with lavs for backup.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 12:10 AM   #3
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Dave - I'm needing to utilize a lav mic for interviews and I don't see an option to plug one in on the Sony setup.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 04:27 AM   #4
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the mic/transmitter is fairly small on the Sony unit, not as small as a lav mic, but still pretty easy to camouflage. I've contemplated hacking an external lav input into mine, but the xmiter is so small, no place for a jack!
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Old March 28th, 2008, 05:32 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Cliff Etzel View Post
I'm looking to get my first wireless lav and I'm really confused on all the technical things I need to know

I'm looking at the Samson Airline Series due to the very small size (I shoot with a very compact setup of 2 SONY HC7's). I want something small, but my budget just wont' allow anything costing more money. I'm confused about Frequency - B&H offers the same setup with each one having one of five different frequencies. I'm staying here in the states, and I have no idea if one frequency is preferred over another. The mic setup is UHF which I assume is a better route to go over VHF - but please correct me if I'm wrong.

Please - I need to purchase one soon for some upcoming work and I have no idea what to get.

TIA,
The various frequency offerings are to give you a chance at finding a channel free from interference from TV broadcasters, etc, in your area. The problem with these units is it appears they're factory-set to a single fixed frequency and if you're on a shoot and something else is already sitting on that channel, your mic is unusable and there's nothing you can do about it.

Do you really need wireless? People tend to equate lav mics with wireless rigs but they actually are separate considerations. If you're doing sit down interviews, etc, where the subject isn't actually moving around in the location rather than dramatic action and aren't using wide framing showing the floor between you and the subject, a hard-wired lav on the subject with a discretely placed cable going to the camera or recorder is far preferred over almost any wireless setup. Wireless is actually the option of last resort for when the circumstances of the shoot leaves just no other way to go about it. About the only thing lower in the list is a shotgun mounted on the camera or the stock in-camera mic.

You get what you pay for, especially in wireless. About the minimum that has the quality and flexibility needed for other than casual consumer-level hobby shooting would be something like the popular Sennheiser G2 series. But you have to move up into the top-shelf class where a transmitter/receiver pair costs several kilobucks before you get sound quality equal to what you get with a $50 piece of Star-Quad mic cable and even they're not foolproof in all locations.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 07:42 AM   #6
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Hi Cliff,
Steve made a good point. For what you're paying for a Samson Airline series, you could invest that in a good hard wired lav. No batteries, no interference, no drop out. If you gotta have wireless, the Sennheiser G2 series is the minimum.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 08:31 AM   #7
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Steve - I would prefer not to deal with a wireless lav. A production company is offering me some freelance work and that work requires mobility while interviewing business owners and I do not have the option (or budget) to bring a second person to run a boom mic. Hence my question. For me personally, I would prefer to stick with my wired lav as I know there are no issues using it, but the company hiring me states in the equipment list requirements:
Quote:
"A quality audio package including a shotgun mic and wireless lav mic..."
I have the shotgun mic, now I need to determine the wireless lav setup. This is my first serious gig for potential steady work as a freelance solo videographer. A couple of shoots and I could pay for the Sennheiser G2.

Dave - what is the sound quality you're getting with the bluetooth setup? Do you find it to be in the same league as traditional wireless lavs like the Sennheiser? I'm trying to find a short term solution until the income from these shoots pays for a better wireless lav setup.

I'll have to see what I can come up with. Maybe someone out there has some creative solutions as a workaround for the interim.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 09:19 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Cliff Etzel View Post
Steve - I would prefer not to deal with a wireless lav. A production company is offering me some freelance work and that work requires mobility while interviewing business owners and I do not have the option (or budget) to bring a second person to run a boom mic. Hence my question. For me personally, I would prefer to stick with my wired lav as I know there are no issues using it, but the company hiring me states in the equipment list requirements: I have the shotgun mic, now I need to determine the wireless lav setup. This is my first serious gig for potential steady work as a freelance solo videographer. A couple of shoots and I could pay for the Sennheiser G2.

Dave - what is the sound quality you're getting with the bluetooth setup? Do you find it to be in the same league as traditional wireless lavs like the Sennheiser? I'm trying to find a short term solution until the income from these shoots pays for a better wireless lav setup.

I'll have to see what I can come up with. Maybe someone out there has some creative solutions as a workaround for the interim.
How about renting a good wireless? For a paying gig, remember your career rests with your last job. Show up on a shoot for this client and have your mic fail or have it work but produce less-than-professional results and it could be your last shoot for that client. Rather than risk it, rent a Sennheiser or Lectro setup. For a hobbyist on a budget or a starving student, compromise and DIY solutions are a fact of life. But for a working pro (and those who aspire to become one), compromise solutions mean you're playing Russian roulette with your career. The client might require you to HAVE a wireless available on their shoots but that doesn't mean you have to personally OWN it. For professional level work, the Sennheiser Evolution G2 would be a typical of 'prosumer' system for wedding and event work and considered an entry level wireless for more demanding work. Film and broadcast production mainstream systems would usually be from either Lectrosonics or Zaxcom or a couple of other brands - but NOT Sansom or Azden. All can be rented at reasonable rates from professional film and video audio suppliers (systems like the G2 rent in the ballpark of $50 per day or $200 per week, Lectros half again above that). If you can't afford to purchase quite yet, it would be far better to rent a truly professional system for the next few gigs than to show up with a consumer level toy. And don't forget the professional image you project to your clients helps keep you working snd your gear package is part of that image. I'm reminded of an engraved card I saw years ago as the ad copy in the display window of a high-end men's wear store in San Francisco. It read: "To get where you want to be, it helps to look like you're already there."

I shudder when I look at the specs for the HW1 mic from Sony. Twelve specifications listed dealing with the size, weight, what the case is made of, the temperature you can store it at, the battery it takes, etc, and not one single word about its audio or electrical performance! It might work great but you'd never know that from looking at the info sheet.
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Last edited by Steve House; March 28th, 2008 at 10:00 AM.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 09:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
The various frequency offerings are to give you a chance at finding a channel free from interference from TV broadcasters, etc, in your area. The problem with these units is it appears they're factory-set to a single fixed frequency and if you're on a shoot and something else is already sitting on that channel, your mic is unusable and there's nothing you can do about it.
Steve makes a good point. I've been through the frequency trial and fire, putting a 500.00 system against a 1000.00, and both had issues with frequency. Nothing replaces real time testing. And further in Steve's post he makes the statement that you get what you pay for. So my advice to you is if you can't afford a G2 system, then you would want to get a nice system as soon as possible.

Just be careful when you get a system to check your frequency charts the best you can, and then immediately go around your area and test it within your 'return' window.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 09:37 AM   #10
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I see why hard wired mics are the preferred way to go (and why I prefer them). I'm going to check with my contact and see if a wireless lav is a must or an option - I would much prefer to work with a wired setup - They are simple and you know what you are getting with one as long as you work within it's limitations. I may see if I can rent one locally, although the size of city I live in doesn't have a true rental house so to speak.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 10:09 AM   #11
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Cliff, I have that Samson Airline wireless setup. Transmitter has a built-in mic (and a plug for a lav) and runs from a single AAA cell. Receiver looks the same but without the mic.

Performance on my FX1 is very good indeed. I have a Senheisser G1 radio mic set-up on my Z1 and this cost hundreds more - yet is hardly any better. Go ahead, I think you'll be impressed.

tom.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 10:09 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Cliff Etzel View Post
I see why hard wired mics are the preferred way to go (and why I prefer them). I'm going to check with my contact and see if a wireless lav is a must or an option - I would much prefer to work with a wired setup - They are simple and you know what you are getting with one as long as you work within it's limitations. I may see if I can rent one locally, although the size of city I live in doesn't have a true rental house so to speak.
If you're going to be working alone so you don't have a sound person with you to boom the shot and the circumstances or client mandates are such that you can't use a wired lav, the wireless would certainly be preferrable to trying to use your shotgun from the camera. Even the best shotgun on the market is useless for much of anything beyond general ambience if mounted at the camera position.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 10:14 AM   #13
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Cliff, I have that Samson Airline wireless setup. Transmitter has a built-in mic (and a plug for a lav) and runs from a single AAA cell. Receiver looks the same but without the mic.

Performance on my FX1 is very good indeed. I have a Senheisser G1 radio mic set-up on my Z1 and this cost hundreds more - yet is hardly any better. Go ahead, I think you'll be impressed.

tom.
And if a nearby TV station happens to be broadcasting on the same frequency or its link to a field news crew is using on the same frequency as the one channel his non-adjustable unit is tuned to, he's supposed to do what? Skip the shot? And remember that a clear frequency today might very well not be clear tomorrow or a channel that fine on the east side of town will be hopelessly congested on the west side.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 10:19 AM   #14
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Spot on Steve, but Cliff's hit financial and time constraints as you'll see from his posts. I've had the Airline kit for a few years and never had a problem. At the price the system sells for it's a steal. Just thought I'd pass on the news.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 10:25 AM   #15
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Spot on Steve, but Cliff's hit financial and time constraints as you'll see from his posts. I've had the Airline kit for a few years and never had a problem. At the price the system sells for it's a steal. Just thought I'd pass on the news.

If it was for hobby or student use I'd agree with you but this is for a paying gig. He can't afford cheap. While it might work just fine for him, IMHO he ought not take the risk.
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