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Old September 13th, 2010, 05:50 AM   #1
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Frequency Blocks?? Which wireless?

I could use some help (education). If this is covered in another thread, please pardon the post, and just point me toward it.

We have been using Sennheiser EW100 wireless transmitters and receivers for several years (the first generation -- metal boxes), with Tram microphones. They work fine, but have limited range (past 20 yards they don't work that well).

I don't even know the frequency on these units, but I read that if they are 700 somethinghertz, we can't use them now. (Can you tell I'm not a sound guy?)

So, I need to get two wireless transmitter/receiver setups which are legal and which have greater range. We shoot all over the country. Cameras are Sony V1Us and Z1Us.

Looking at the Lectrosonics 400 series. I like the build quality and the better range, but I don't understand the frequency block, or how you choose which block (I'm assuming a block is a range in the frequency spectrum).

I'm open to other brands of equipment, but it has to be rugged, reliable, and have reliable range of 50 yards (100 would be much better).

Thanks.
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Old September 13th, 2010, 06:16 AM   #2
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OK let's see what we can do here. First the FCC has deemed that frequencies from 700Mhz and higher (for all practical purposes) shall be used by OTHERS like TV stations for broadcasting the digital signal.

So yeah your wireless will work and the frequency police will probably not come looking for you BUT it could be problematic at some point in time.

So you're looking at Lectros huh? Great units. Strong, great signal made to take a beating and keep on ticking. Look at the Lectro website they have a frquency use chart since many of the biggest TV stations in the country use their product they have a chart that shows what station is using what frequency so if you're in that area there would be less chance of interfering with them. For all practical purposes either block 23, 24,25 and 26 would be good to use. IIRC Lectros block 27,28,29 went 700mhz and up.

As for a wireless getting 300 feet of clear transmission range well, if you are standing on a football field with nothing between the transmitteer and receiver and no other kind of RF yeah you can get that range but under NORMAL usage I think you're pushing it at 50 to 150 feet. Remember in bigger cities there is a lot of additional RF flying thru the air and since the units we use are basically a line of sight system we do have limitations.

Lectros are great units, combined with a Tram50 or a Countryman B3 or B6 or a Sanken COS11 mic you've got a great combination.
Good luck and have fun.
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Old September 13th, 2010, 08:03 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Gresham View Post
We have been using Sennheiser EW100 wireless transmitters and receivers for several years (the first generation -- metal boxes), with Tram microphones. They work fine, but have limited range (past 20 yards they don't work that well).
An original ew 100 should be able to transmit well beyond that distance and 100 yards should not really be a problem.

But - with *any* transmitter, if the antenna touches the body you can cut the transmission power by up to about 70dB - and it can be worst if the person is sweating - you really should keep the antenna at least 1cm away from the body if you can.

The new evolution G3 systems now have diversity pocket / camera receivers, so should make things a bit better on reception.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Gresham View Post
Looking at the Lectrosonics 400 series. I like the build quality and the better range, but I don't understand the frequency block, or how you choose which block (I'm assuming a block is a range in the frequency spectrum).

I'm open to other brands of equipment, but it has to be rugged, reliable, and have reliable range of 50 yards (100 would be much better).
Lectro are good units - but you should be easily able to get this distance with Sennheiser G3 systems.
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Old September 13th, 2010, 08:39 AM   #4
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Lectrosonics is the gold standard in wireless microphone systems. While other manufacturers get the job done, few of them hold up as well under as many circumstances/abuse or carry the same kind of reputation. Maybe Zaxcom - but you'll pay even more for the privilege.

I recently invested in a 400 series system, and I'm very satisfied. The one surprising thing I've noticed is that their digital hybrid technology really does render better results in terms of audio quality. They digitally encode the signal, fire it over an analog transmitter and decode it at the receiver. This means they've essentially eliminated compander issues which lead to quality loss. While no wireless system is as reliable as a professional wired connection, I have to say it's pretty much impossible to hear the difference until the signal breaks up. In my experience, that typically means you'll get at least 50 yards, provided you're not dealing with competing frequencies or lots of objects between transmitter and receiver.
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Old September 13th, 2010, 10:16 AM   #5
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I'll throw my hat in for the Lectrosonics as well. They're all I choose to use when I have the choice. Although I never had reliable luck with their VHF mics, but all of their UHF mics have been great.

They're much much more expensive than the entry level Sennheiser which are the most popular in the budget group, but I've had so many random problems with the G2 series, that I use that as even more reason to use Lectro.

Sennheiser has web page to search for TV stations in your area which should be helpful in figuring out what the best range is for you.

Though I live in Chicago, so there is a lot of stuff going on out here & while I use online charts / graphs, I trust the graphical display my Lecto UCR 201 displays when it scans through the entire range. I can see where there is no, low, medium & high signals.

Sennheiser's G2 scan only tells you "Good" / "Not Good" and yet I still have problems. But ymmv
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Old September 13th, 2010, 11:47 AM   #6
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This is helping. Thanks.

I work on the premise that video is 60% or more audio. If the audio is bad, it's unusable.

Isn't it interesting that we will willingly spend thousands or tens of thousands for a camera, but we fudge on the audio.

So, what block or blocks should I get with the Lectro if I'm shooting all over the country? I like the ruggedness of the Lectos. I've used them for years when I was the "talent" on other shows, and now that I'm producing my own shows, I want to have reliable gear.

I've never regretted buying quality.

Oh, and on the antenna touching issue . . . we have the transmitter on the belt, we are outside, and the folks who are talking often are sweating. This certainly can be an issue. We find that if the transmitter is behind the person, and he/she is facing the camera (body is blocking the signal) we often will get dropouts at distances past 15 to 20 feet. The people on camera are active -- walking, running, moving, getting on the ground and back up, etc. It's a bit of a challenge.

But fun.

We had an audio guy with us on the shoot last Saturday, and he was using a 411A receiver. Seemed kinda big, but I guess that's okay if you have a sound guy. To hang a receiver on a V1U or Z1U, doesn't Lectro have smaller receivers?
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Old September 13th, 2010, 12:37 PM   #7
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"Doesn't Lectro have smaller receivers?"

> Lectro UCR100. About the size of the Sennheiser G2/3. In other aspects, similar to the G2. Non-diversity, analog.
http://www.lectrosonics.com/wireless/100/ucr100.htm
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Old September 13th, 2010, 08:38 PM   #8
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When you say non-diversity and analog, it makes me think that it's not as good. Is that correct?

I don't want to try to save a penny and later wish I had gotten the best.
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Old September 14th, 2010, 07:52 AM   #9
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The important distinctions are in the specs. Things like better build quality (more rugged), wider frequency response, better low frequency rolloff... You can better pick your source out of a noisy environment on a higher end wireless system. Think big crowds, manufacturing plants, auto races... And the voices that you do capture have more definition due to the better specs.

If audio is as critical to you as you say, you should simply go with the 411 receiver/400a transmitter package. Then, couple it with a Sanken cos-11d.
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Old September 14th, 2010, 09:26 AM   #10
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Just a note - you can increase the working range by improving the receiving antenna, if it's practical, when working from a cart, for example. A "yagi" antenna (resembles an old-fashioned TV aerial) on the receiver instead of the normal whip can give a dramatic improvement in some cases
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Old September 14th, 2010, 10:26 AM   #11
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Thanks, Steve. We usually are hanging the receivers off the small (V1U/Z1U) cameras. That's why I was considering the smaller receivers. I just don't know how important is to have digital or diversity.

I sure appreciate the info I'm getting here. Very helpful.
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