626-668 vs 518-554 mhz, Lavs, Tascam dr 100 at DVinfo.net

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Old March 11th, 2010, 08:56 AM   #1
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626-668 vs 518-554 mhz, Lavs, Tascam dr 100

Hi All,

3 part question.

I'm looking to purchase a G3 wireless kit. They are offered in 626 or 518 mhz, which is better for weddings?

What are the benefits to having VT500 flat lavs over regular lavs for weddings?
Sennheiser | EW100 G3 ENG Wireless Deluxe Kit | B&H Photo Video

When do you need a recorder such as tascam dr 100, will it be needed with the G3 or just assurance of getting the audio?

Well 4 part question.


Thx in advance for your opinions.

Melvin
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Old March 11th, 2010, 09:45 AM   #2
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Check here for the available frequencies in your area: Sennheiser USA - Headphones and Headsets - Microphones

People frequently use a backup recorder in case the wireless system takes an interference hit, or if the batteries die, or some other uncontrollable event. You don't absolutely need one, but if something happens to the wireless, then you're stuck with no audio.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:01 AM   #3
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Thanks Ed,

So is this device hung on the camera connected to your wireless system or is it attached to the lav or boom mic?

Melvin
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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melvin Baggs View Post
H

What are the benefits to having VT500 flat lavs over regular lavs for weddings? Sennheiser | EW100 G3 ENG Wireless Deluxe Kit | B&H Photo Video




I'm not sure if there is any advantage to the flat shape, but the VT500 is a better sounding mic than the stock ME2 lav. The VT500 is wider and taller but the ME2 is thicker. The VT500 is more durable and in my opinion, has a better clip.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 11:07 AM   #5
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No, the backup recorder is placed on the altar or in the pocket of the groom or officiant. This way it is completely separate from the lav mic. If any problems happen with the lav, the recorder will be your backup audio source.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 01:32 PM   #6
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Check here for the available frequencies in your area: Sennheiser USA - Headphones and Headsets - Microphones
Edward,

Now I'm really confused, before your reply I was looking at one or the other frequency, but it looks like their will be interferance with both selections in my 48076 area. Unless I'm reading the chart wrong.

Melvin
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Old March 11th, 2010, 02:46 PM   #7
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In the chart, for your 48076 zip code, the A range (518-554) shows a unused gap from 530-536 MHz. Channels in this range SHOULD be usable-as long as no other local/low power users are present. Always monitor the frequency on your receiver with your transmitter OFF to see if it is clear to use. Other channels may be usable as well...you won't know until you check them out. It's always surprising to see what you can get away with.

Back to the chart...the G range (566-608) seems like 572-578 is vacant.

The B range (626-662) seems to be totally occupied by broadcasters in your area, I think I'd stay away from units in this range. Again, YMMV but I'd go with A or G first.

It's getting harder and harder to find open channels, and will only get worse as they continue to sell the broadcast band in favor of other services. Would be nice to have gear that worked in higher spectrum, or better yet-the FCC could open up some spectrum for wireless mic use. I've heard they don't think there are enough wireless mic users to have any serious impact on their decisions. Write your congressman!!!! Let them know we are here.

Last edited by Greg Bellotte; March 11th, 2010 at 10:29 PM.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 06:32 PM   #8
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Hi Greg,

I'm glad I waited for your response, because when talking to B&H they said that "it did not matter which range I chose "A" or "G" because the only reason they manufactured different ranges was that each could handle up to 10 lavs, any more than that and you would need a different range."

My choice would have been the "G" range which if I had of purchased it, it would have been of no use to me.

I don't understand why they would sell devices as these with such limited use, and if used you're subject to FCC violations. With all of the Videographers out their using wireless I'm quite sure that some are in violation of their area frequency ranges not knowing they've done so.

If your device is in a unusable range and you use it anyways do you get interference of audio on top of the event you are trying to record or do you get the Feds crashing your event and taking you off to jail?

Am I making more of this than what it seem to be?, or is this a very serious consideration before you purchase a wireless transmitter?

By the way (BTW) what does YMMV mean?

Melvin
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Old March 11th, 2010, 08:47 PM   #9
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Your mileage may vary.

IIRC (If I remember correctly) the G3 range is legal (unlike certain G2 systems), so no Feds will bust your video shoot. The worst that will happen is that you will get awful interference. I didn't even think about any of this when I bought my G2 system, and I have had no problem (or FCC busts.)
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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:24 PM   #10
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well the biggest reason for different ranges is to address the issue of open channels. each city will have its own combination of open channels. I own many more mics than i ever use, but have all three ranges in my inventory. when a job comes up, i search the chart like i did for you, to see what will work best in the job's area. i work all over the US and some cities are great for wireless, others a nightmare. the number of active mics is certainly a factor as well, but i don't get the feeling we have very many users here on dvinfo that use more that 10 wireless at a time.

back to your purchase, I think either A or G would each be a good bet, each band shows a solid 6 MHz of free spectrum in your area. As I pointed out, the B band is totally occupied in your area and would be wisely avoided. that being said, i use occupied channels a lot, and MANY things factor into a channel being usable or not-you just have to try them out. each of the three ranges gives you 1400+ channels to use, the odds of finding a few good clean channels are usually pretty good.

All three of the current bands A, B, and G are legal to use in the US. The now discontinued C band will be illegal to use after this June, and are not being sold by any legitimate dealers, as far as I know. There are a ton of C units on eBay, don't waste your money. As far as Feds coming round, highly unlikely, as these mics have a pretty short range. they would have to be monitoring within a mile of your location to even know you were there. I think the FCC's point is to make it very clear that the 700 band belongs to new owners that paid a LOT of money to be there, and we are effectively squatting to begin with.

Whatever you end up buying, use a little common sense with wireless. A cable will always sound better, and be interference free. Use wire when you can. Wireless is not a substitute for needing a longer cable-there is a definite distance limitation esp. with the camera mounted receivers. Check your frequencies BEFORE you record, and always check for more than one, so that if you need to change you will know where to go. Have someone walk the mic around the ENTIRE area you will be using-LISTEN to see if it sounds ok. This takes time but is CRUCIAL imo. Always be more critical of longer distances between mic and receiver, the further they are apart the easier it becomes to get interference. The squelch setting does NOT prevent interference, it just keeps you from hearing it when the mic is off. Leave squelch at low, if you get interference-SWITCH to another channel. Sometimes you will go through a lot of channels before you find something usable. Be patient, when you get it dialed in wireless is great!
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Old March 12th, 2010, 02:58 AM   #11
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Just started looking for new wireless.....not that it applies directly to this thread....but being in Wash DC....and looking at the freq chart....it would seem I'm screwed if I wanted to go with the g3. Everything is taken up. At that point does it become a crap shoot as to which range to pick??

Thanks
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Old March 12th, 2010, 08:17 AM   #12
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Wow, only 500-506 open in DC. Like I said before, its getting tougher to find space on the air for wireless mics. This is why I say wireless mics need their own dedicated space. Its getting tiresome and expensive to keep replacing equipment because the bandwidth we used to rely on keeps going away, making equipment that is otherwise functional-USELESS.

You would think that the number of wireless users would count for something. Think about how many churches, theatre, performing arts, bands, videographers, BROADCASTERS, and the like that all use wireless microphones. We are all in this same sinking boat, trying to find channels we can use. I read something at NAB last year saying that since wireless users are not licensed, or documented in any way-that there must not be enough of them to worry about. Could we maybe pick TWO tv channels and leave them open in every market for this type of use? Or even just ANY two in a given market? That would help immensely!

In my own case, I own 8 Sennheiser (hi robb!...) units of each range just to be sure I can operate in any city I go to. Not everyone can afford to do what I did, and I am STILL not guaranteed to find open spectrum for use. Even upgrading my gear to the 2000 series, where there are even more channels to use than 500 series-doesn't guarantee the additional frequencies will be open to use. Sorry if this comes off too negatively, but I don't think I will be buying any more wireless gear until I can feel like it's not going to be a wasted investment. I do manage to make things work...using channels that are occupied by distant tv stations CAN work, but its very hit or miss.

Remind me to not book any work for wireless in DC... ;-)
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Old March 12th, 2010, 01:18 PM   #13
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Edward, Kevin, Greg and Mark,

I really appreciate your comments and replies to my question and especially the frequency chart link that you forwarded Edward.

Going back to my original question about the Tascam Dr 100 recorder, I guess it would be a good ideal to go into an event with this recorder being your "main" recording source instead of your "back-up" recording source, to assure yourself that no matter what you might run into you will get the audio for the event.

Greg, regarding your comment, what would the approximate maximum range of wireless transmissions before interference and the best type of cable and its maximum length to the camera or recorder?



Melvin
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Old March 12th, 2010, 02:42 PM   #14
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where do i start? :-) there are SO many things that dictate how far wireless units can be separated before the audio is unusable. even the definition of UNusable varies widely, audio is SO subjective. but to give you an idea, freshness of batteries, how clear the channel you operate on, type of wireless units, phase of the moon, and sex of your cat all seem to come into play for these things. BTW, my personal definition of useable wireless audio is that the only thing that sounds better is a cabled mic, and that there isn't even a HINT of interference or dropout. other than the audio processing in the wireless-it sounds just like a wired mic. period. but that's just me...

i guess its safe to say though, that *IF* you select a clean frequency, the antennas don't ever get damaged, you maintain COMPLETE line of sight between units and proper antenna orientation, and don't try to go more than 50 feet or so...that the G3 eng units will probably work just fine for you. longer distances are possible, but reliability drops exponentially with an increase in distance. my own record (with GREAT personal satisfaction) is around 1500 feet. not too shabby for the lowly G2, but I have about $3000 worth of enhancements that make that kind of performance possible, and is not possible with the eng units.

for cabled mics, the best plan is to use mics that have true balanced outputs on XLR, use shielded/balanced XLR mic cable, and connect them to BALANCED inputs, which most consumer cams don't have. You can run quite far following all of those guidelines, several hundred feet or more! there are several solutions to add balanced inputs to your camera, adding a beachtek type adapter box, using a mixer, or buying a whole new camera. trying to use unbalanced mics/cables does work, but I would not expect to run more than 25 feet or so without getting into some kind of trouble.

the recorder idea is good, i've seen a lot of wedding types using the giant squid lav/iriver recorder with very good results. clip on the lav, start the recorder, lock out the controls and stuff it in a pocket-good to go. it records all day on a AA battery and sounds not to bad. best quality? maybe not, but being right on the subject trumps a lot- having the mics near the sound is always the best bet. the tough part is always a matter of how to record it for later use. most will say the rf into the cam is best, because you can just import one thing into your NLE and get to chopping, but being wireless you run the risk of having interference making your sound unusable. a separate recorder avoids the interference issue, but you cannot monitor it during the shoot-what if something comes unplugged, or the levels are not set properly? It also means separate audio/video imports (more time consuming) and then the need to sync-and STAY synced to pictures for the edit. both ideas work well, its just a matter of which method you prefer to work with. some even do both, which i think is a great idea if you can pull it off. i work in broadcast-we ALWAYS have a backup for everything....the old saying "it's better to have and not need, than to need and not have" comes to mind a lot.
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