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Old August 4th, 2010, 06:28 PM   #1
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Wired lavalier solution for DR100

Hey everybody,

I know so very little about sound. I just bought a couple of lavs not realizing they will not just plug into my Tascam DR100's balanced inputs. I need the absolute cheapest solution for a two person interview. I have regular mics, but they've been deemed obtrusive...

I've seen the AT 803 mentioned. I kinda needed it soon and it doesn't appear Amazon offers it via Prime (bummer). Is this the way to go? Seems like there are a few versions. Which one do I need?

Thanks
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Old August 5th, 2010, 01:42 AM   #2
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As far as I know, the AT803b only has one version, and it has the XLR outputs that you need. My wife uses one for public speaking. It's not the most sensitive mic in the world, but it sounds good for the price.

If you were to move "up" to the AT899, then you would need to choose between many versions (with connectors for the various wireless transmitters - or with a power unit for an XLR output).

Personally, I prefer the fuller sound of the AT803b. The thing about lavs is that it's hard to make them sound good in small packages. The AT803b is fairly large, so it can be cheap and sound good. The AT899 is quite a bit smaller, so you're paying for the small size as much as for sound quality.

For interviews, it's usually not a problem if the lav is a bit large. If you were trying to hide it for a narrative shoot, size would be more important.

FWIW, we have a pair of Sanken COS-11D lavs at work. They sound fantastic and are fairly small. But the XLR version costs about $500. The AT803b sounds okay, but it just doesn't have the magic and the "edge" of the COS-11D. The AT803b is a great value for the price though...
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Old August 5th, 2010, 07:12 AM   #3
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Jon,

Thank you for the info. I am fighting my partner all the way about what to spend money on. I can get a pair of 803Bs here tomorrow for just under $300. While not the end of the world, I'm spending more than the $80 I had pushed for the other day - for lavs that won't work.

Tell me how bad $20 lavs with 1/4 to xlr adapters will sound. Seriously. I need to know.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 12:23 PM   #4
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Adding a simple XLR adapter to a lav generally does not work. Lavs are unbalanced and use low voltage. XLRs are balanced and use +12 to +52V or so. You need the right power module and wiring for your lavs.

I bought the Sanken COS-11Ds with connectors for a Lectrosonics transmitter as well as Lectro to XLR adapters that were said to work. It didn't. It was a waste of money. I ended up buying TA-3 plugs and jacks and Sanken power modules. With the lavs wired with TA-3s, I can make adapters to any transmitter, or use the TA3-PowerModule-XLR adapter.

Anyway, don't waste your money on a cheap adapter. Get a lav designed for an XLR connection, or buy the appropriate XLR power module from the manufacturer and connect or solder it.

Best of luck!
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Old August 5th, 2010, 12:34 PM   #5
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There's a wide variance in quality among very cheap battery-powered lav mics with 1/4-inch connectors. The only way to know if your $20 mics are useable is to test them.

Markertek has this non-transformer adapter:
Neutrik USA Inc Neutrik NA3MJ XLR Male to 1/4 Inch Phone Female Audio Adapter XLR to 1/4in Phone Adapters at Markertek.com

Radio Shack has this one with a transformer that you could pick up locally and return if it didn't work well for you:
1/4" Jack-to-A3M XLR Plug Adapter/Transformer - RadioShack.com

You will also need some XLR audio cables for additional length.

The AT803b also needs XLR cables, the XLR output is in the shape of a box that won't plug directly into a device like the barrel-shaped output of the AT899 does.

Make sure the phantom power of your recorder is OFF if using cheap, unbalanced, battery-powered lavs (even if you do add a transformer-balanced adapter)!
Make sure all batteries are good and if the cheap lavs use button cells, make sure they are clean and the door or battery cover is secured to prevent electrical noise from the battery shifting slightly on the contacts.

If at all possible, spend the money for at least the AT803b's or better.

Also make certain all cellphones are powered completely OFF. I'm sure the cheap lav capsules and wiring will be vulnerable to cell signal interference. Even the capsule on the older AT803b is vulnerable if the person wearing the lav is also wearing a Blackberry, etc.

Since you're in a major metro area, you could always rent good mics in an emergency.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 04:14 PM   #6
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Thanks Jay!

You'd think renting would be easier here in Tampa. I could not find a single wireless ENG rental anywhere. Mics are probably a different story.

I bit the bullet. I have two 803bs arriving in the morning.

Thanks guys for your help.
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