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Old September 28th, 2010, 12:09 AM   #1
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Audio Setup Recommendations

I'm after some help with a rather unique audio setup requirement.

I spend a lot of my spare time coaching rugby union (football) referees. In the old days wed sit and watch the game, take notes and provide feedback after the game. Some years back we moved using mini hand-held CB radios sitting in a custom made vest worn by the referee with a permanently open mic so we could listen in which was a great improvement for us.

Lately Ive bought myself a Sony HDR-CX550VE on a Sony VCT-60AV tripod with hand zoom control and have begun videoing the referee and providing a DVD back to them. This has provided a much better way of showing the referee what they are doing right and wrong and is generally viewed as a major step forward for their training.

I tinkered with the wiring on the old CB radio and got it to feed directly into the camera RTS audio plug but the hum and hiss is dreadful when played back on a TV. Obviously I need a wireless mic system. I know the more serious events are using modified Lectrosonic beltpack transmitter and IFB systems to provide communications between referee, touch judges and input to TV broadcasters. Fantastic system however it is beyond my price range.

Can anyone recommend a less expensive wireless system that would provide coverage of the 100+m x 70m football field to a camera near the half way line?

I would also like to mix that input with a shotgun mic on the camera itself so I get not only the sound of the referee and those directly nearby but also a wider sound of players / spectators. Ive been looking at the Rode VideoMic but not sure of its range. Im not wanting to pick up words spoken but more the general noise / atmosphere of the game. Ive also been looking at the JuicedLink CX231 pre-amp mixer but note there are cheaper passive mixers available.

Any thoughts or comments on which direction I should take would be greatly appreciated.

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Old September 28th, 2010, 02:09 PM   #2
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Generally the lowest level of wireless camera-mount system that people will recommend in this forum are the Audio-Technica 1800 single channel diversity receiver or the Sennheiser Evolution 100 G3 on-camera system.
Since you have a small camera that is not as easy to add on hardware, and you want to add several devices, I'd recommend also looking for a bracket and/or a stand to hold some of these items.
I'd personally recommend the following AT system in the proper frequency band for YOUR locations.
Here's an example:
Audio-Technica ATW-1813D Wireless Microphone System ATW-1813D -
It contains two different transmitters which you can use ONE AT A TIME, it has a diversity receiver with a locking XLR output cable, it has more than enough range for your needs, has a low-end lav element included and runs a long time on AA batteries even when set to Hi transmitting power. It's currently $627 in the US at that link I posted.
For your additional mic I probably wouldn't use a shotgun but instead a medium sensitivity cardioid condenser mic that has it's own internal battery. This would give much more even coverage of the field and would be easier and less costly to wind-protect. It could also be paired with the AT plug-on transmitter for handheld interviews, etc.
For example:
Audio-Technica AT8031 - Hand-Held Microphone AT8031 - B&H Photo
I've seen this mic as low as $99 on sale, generally it's about $170 in the US.
Add a furry wind muff for hand-held size mics.
I'd mount both the wireless receiver and the cardioid mic on a bracket atop a small lightstand that could get them off your camera and up about 8 feet for best reception and clearance from camera operator noises. Both have XLR output, so running a few feet of balanced XLR cables would be easy and durable.
Using the wireless receiver's adjustable output, as well as a self-powered mic to cover the field, I think you'd have no problem using a lower cost passive XLR mixer attached beneath the camera, but certainly the Juiced Link devices do have a good reputation.
You can also mount the camera/mixer to the bracket holding the mic and receiver for those times you want to go handheld or if you can't carry the lightstand with you.
I do this all the time with my small camera, and have built a couple of different padded handles to mount below the bracket to make it easier to carry the whole rig.
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Old September 28th, 2010, 04:16 PM   #3
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The AT system with two lavs is a lot more expensive:

Audio-Technica ATW-1821 - Dual Wireless Microphone ATW-1821D -

$1,189.95. At $595 per channel it's still a good deal.

You will also want to set up a better antenna system, one that's elevated and has antennas that have a bit more gain. It's one of the advantages of the AT wireless units over the Sennhiesers. The antennas use a standard BNC plug and that provides a lot more flexibility of antenna design and placement.

Directional antenna, $165 each.
Audio-Technica ATW-A49S UHF LPDA Antenna (Single) ATW-A49S - B&H

There are also "half wave" antennas which go for about $60 a pair. These provide more gain than the stock antennas that come with the AT wireless units.

Audio-Technica - Microphones, headphones, wireless microphone systems, noise-cancelling headphones & more : ATW-A3D : UHF Half-wave Antennas
Dean Sensui
Exec Producer, Hawaii Goes Fishing
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Old September 30th, 2010, 03:26 AM   #4
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Dean / Jay
Thanks for feedback. I'm searching for local AT provider to get local pricing here in Australia. From US pricing it looks like it might be close to the Lectrosonic kit which from all accounts I read is the better quality. I might be better spending a little more and getting what i need.

With the AT dual lav system, can you have both working concurrently to the 1 receiver?

I'll grab a cardiod mic and give it a try but i don't see it giving me the player coverage i'm looking for.

Kind regards
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Old September 30th, 2010, 04:01 AM   #5
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Ian... There's a massive price difference if you're comparing diversity systems.

A Lectrosonics Series 400 UHF diversity system is $2,500 per channel.

The AT dual diversity system is $595 per channel ($1190 for the system). The receiver gives you two discrete channels.

So for what you'd pay to get a single channel Lectrosonic unit, you could get 4 channels with a pair of ATW-1800 systems.

I worked all day today with my ATW systems on a boat. The system has 4 lavs, one for each person aboard the boat. Almost 10 hours of clean audio. No dropouts. No interference problems.

The two dual-channel receivers feed a 4-channel Edirol R44 digital recorder. It's all encased in a weatherproof Pelican case with half-wave antennas mounted externally on a small carbon fiber mast.

The remote recorder can be monitored with an E-MU Pipeline 2.4 GHz audio transmitter. This means there are no cables between the camera and the recorder system, which is placed in a cabin at the forward part of the boat. The E-MU Pipeline allows me to make certain everything is running.

At the start of the day I program the wireless systems to find clean frequencies for each channel. Takes about 5 minutes but it is worth the additional effort. This is also a feature of the Lectrosonics diversity systems. Of course Lectro's systems are much more sophisticated, but AT's cost a lot less.
Dean Sensui
Exec Producer, Hawaii Goes Fishing
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Old September 30th, 2010, 07:42 AM   #6
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The lectrosonics stuff i've seen here is a UM400a transmitter ( I think its an Australian variation) and an R1a IFB belt pack receiver. Small and ruggered construction is ideal for wearing while running etc. From what i've seen on the web this stuff sells for around US$1700. I had this as my benchmark and was hoping for something < $1000 otherwise i'd stick with Lectro given i know it works.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 08:59 AM   #7
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I think perhaps there is a communication breakdown here.

The lectrosonics is $1700 for one transmitter and one receiver.

The AT unit referred to is $1190 for TWO transmitters and a receiver that can receive both channels.
This gives you the option of recording two different refs onto the stereo track on your camera... or one referee, and the other wireless mic can be placed *anywhere* to give you the best ambience.

You may decide you don't need the second system, but the price difference of $500 by itself doesn't account for the fact that the AT system is basically TWO systems. So its more like $1190 vs $3400.

I use sennheiser g2 stuff, so double check me, but another big advantage of a dual system is that it will give you a way to use both channels on the camera without having to buy a juicelink preamp. If the AT works like the G2 does, you can take the output of the receiver and go straight into the camera via miniplug, which means the ref would be on one channel and the ambience on the other... This would also change the relative cost of the package, since the lectrosonics would require a juicedlink to give you access to the other channel.

The last thing to worry about is whether you can manually adjust audio on the camera or not. If it has automatic gain control that cannot be defeated, then the hiss and noise might not be too impoved. AGC would increase the audio during quiet bits until the "noise" is at full dialog levels.

Just throwing in my sleepy thoughts on the subject. The AT seems like a good idea and is praised by many. My only beef with it is how large the receiver is. There are advantages to that vs. 2 body pack receivers, so I'm not sure if my beef is really well founded or not.

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Old September 30th, 2010, 02:09 PM   #8
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Andrew pointed out correctly that I'm comparing cost per discrete channel of audio. To get two channels of discrete audio -- that means two independent transmitters and receivers -- you'll have to spend about $4600 to get Lectrosonics equipment.

Lectrosonic units are very well built and have an impeccable reputation for quality. However those of us with tighter budgets have to look for more affordable options. If the pricing were close to AT's, I'd have preferred Lectrosonics since it manufactures waterproof transmitters. But the difference here in the US, is huge. I opted for plastic bags and duct tape. :-)

My AT units have been used mostly in a tropical marine environment with high humidity and salt spray. The bodypacks are always hidden under clothing and are worn for several hours a day, sometimes slept on overnight. They're as tough as anything else out there. The sound quality is as good as any other wireless system. And, after using them for three years I haven't experienced any problems with dropouts or chronic signal loss. At normal working ranges I always get solid audio.

Here is a demo reel of the show I produce. All of the audio has been captured with the ATW-1800. This will give you an idea of how it sounds. In several of the shots you'll see the mic clip on the collar of their t-shirts. The mic is inside the shirt, nestled in a tiny sleeve made of felt.

YouTube - Hawaii Goes Fishing, Demo Reel 2010

The footage showing the marlin getting tagged was done with four mics and a remote recorder in a double-system setup. In the kayak story I had some problems with mic rub on one of the days with the paddler's motions. But you'll see that we're a substantial distance away when one of the kayakers hooks into something large. But even with the transmitter hidden underneath the PFD, the signal still comes through nicely. And our host, Cindy, is filmed in a studio. Same mic that's used in the great outdoors (yes, she's shot against green screen).
Dean Sensui
Exec Producer, Hawaii Goes Fishing
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