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Old January 31st, 2014, 07:43 PM   #1
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frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

Hey guys. I believe this has been touched on in other threads but I really want to hit it hard this time.

So they last several times I have tried to use my G2s, I run into serious problems with (I believe) interference. Can't remember last time if it was static or just total dropouts, but today I was getting total dropouts, I could watch the receiver LED readout and see the mute come on and the RF light go out in time with the dropouts. When I had the receiver and trans right near each other (like a few feet away), it was fine. 10 feet away, dropout city.

Yes, I am aware of the scanning function, and I am aware also of the sennheiser freq chart that shows what's good in what cities. According to both of those, I should have been in the clear (full RF bars on Receiver or trans, whichever shows that meter, scanning returned 4 channels available in each bank I tried). Still, dropout city.

It seems like every time I use this thing, I would have to manually go through all 32 channels to see which (if any) were REALLY clear, since the system can't seem to accurately tell me.

So, question is, should I get one of the $129 frequency scanners and use THAT to find what's really available in my location, or ditch the system.

I've heard the G3s are better with interference, but on the other hand, used Lectros, some of them, can be found on ebay for around $1000 or less. That's only a few hundred dollars difference and likely a substantial quality upgrade.

I know everyone says learn to find good frequencies, etc., but I've used a client/colleagues lectros a lot and you know what? We never tweak the frequency pots, and those things work all the time every time everywhere with no issues. They just work.

So, wondering your thoughts. Thanks.
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Old February 1st, 2014, 02:54 AM   #2
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

Was doing work with one actor on g2 and the other on g3. No interference but the g2 has a lower range and a few more dropouts. That is my experience: g2 isn't as reliable as g3.
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Old February 1st, 2014, 06:44 PM   #3
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

Right, but g3s new are only few hundred less than certain used lectros, and lectros are pretty much guaranteed to be better.
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Old February 3rd, 2014, 10:38 AM   #4
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

Josh,

As others have said, the G3 is probably more reliable than the G2s, but the G2s should not be that unreliable unless something else is wrong. Is the antenna on the belt pack transmitter all bent up or something? You didn't mention which frequency band your system is. Hopefully it's not the "C" band, in the 700MHz frequencies, which is now illegal in the US. That could also be the source of the problem.

All that said, though, I would never steer anyone away from moving up to Lectro. The Sennheisers are good, but the Lectrosonics are a big step up in sound quality and reliability.

Have fun!

Rob
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Old February 3rd, 2014, 12:09 PM   #5
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

They are 500 mhz range---518-529 or so. Bought the system locally in 2004 and didnt know jack about freq blocks or legal ranges so just took what they gave me. I ASSUME if they were in houston selling to houstonians they would sell a good block.

The antennas are a little less than straight but not bent out of shape horribly. Its from the way theyve been stored. I guess that could be it? Could attach pic.
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Old February 3rd, 2014, 12:38 PM   #6
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

The G3 portable receiver has diversity antenna system which helps reduce 'multi-path' interference. It will not help for other types of RF issues though.
To G2/3 built-in scanner only detects significant RF and is not adequate for congested areas IMO.
Try using the on-line Sennheiser frequency finder ( Sennheiser/FCC USA frequency finder ) and choose a frequency(s) within a vacant TV channel. If there are no vacant channels, choose one with low RF energy, 'Prx factor' of -80dBm or less. (lower= -80dBm is good, -85dBm is better) This method of channel selection made a very significant difference in my experience. If you have the $ for a RF scanner that would be recommended. Multiple systems' frequencies must be compatible as well for optimum performance.
Proper set-up is another important factor that should not be overlooked: , antenna line of sight, orientation, not touching skin, gain staging, ect, ect. A $3k Lectro or Zaxcom are not 'turn-it-on-and-go' either and same due diligence must be exercised using any wireless system.
PS- A $20 cable will sound better and be more reliable.
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Old February 3rd, 2014, 06:32 PM   #7
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

Using the sennheiser scanner tells me most of my G2's block is safe--yet I still get the results I get.

As for the RF scanner, asked a local sound guy about getting one. He thinks they're way too complex, and the built in scanner in, say the Lectro 211 system would do just as well.

Last two incidents I've had with my system, Recvr was line of sight with trans, in fact about 20 or 30 ft away max (this last incident, probably not even 10.

I know wired is always the preferred option, sometimes not possible/practical. However I plan to a hardwire setup/adapter whatever I do.

In both the instances where it failed me recently, I thankfully had lectros on hand and once they were in use, everything was fine. I know they're not "magic", but they sure seem to be a lot less prone to problems than my G2, with 0 tweaking. Except for the very very occasional hit ("zzzzzt!", not the dropouts I'm experiencing with the G2), they've worked perfectly in every environment I've used them in.
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Old February 4th, 2014, 11:20 AM   #8
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

The built in scan function is not a reliable frequency selection method in busy RF environments. Try the previously mentioned Sennheiser on-line frequency finder method. If that method does not work and every thing else is set-up properly, the unit may be faulty and should be sent to a Sennheiser repair facility for evaluation.
It's not easy, but can normally find usable frequencies on the street in midtown Manhattan.. aka, RF hell. Not as bullet-proof as my Lectro 211/411s, but usable.
PS, The 'New Endian' smart phone app. frequency finder app. may be of interest.
See this discussion over at the JW audio group.
FreqFinder v2.0 - Equipment - JWSOUNDGROUP

What Sennheiser frequency block do you have? In Houston, Sennheiser frequency Block A (518-554 MHz) does not seem to have many usable frequencies available .. another frequency block (and system) may be the logical option.
And what Lectro block(s) are you using?

Last edited by Rick Reineke; February 4th, 2014 at 11:38 AM. Reason: addendum
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Old February 4th, 2014, 06:30 PM   #9
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

Thanks for the app link.

Yes, talked to Senn today and they think based on my description (same stuff I told you guys) it might have 'broke bad" (POP CULTURE REFERENCE!!!!!), so I guess next step is to get an RMA/send it in.

Yes, I have block A, although my Senn goes from 518-529 or so. That's what I was sold years ago, didn't know to investigate/ask for anything different, it was from a local vendor so assumed Houstonians selling to Houstonians would = legal range for HOUSTON.

Lectros? Don't know. Those are a client's and though I've rented them a number of times and used them on shoots with that client, we never mess with the freq tuning unless somebody messed up and mixed the trans from one set with the receiver from another and it has to be tweaked so they match. Again, it's one of those things that's just "always worked" so never messed with it.
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Old February 4th, 2014, 11:44 PM   #10
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

As you're well aware of, wireless mics in general are NOT trouble-free, no matter how much one pays, if a frequency block is not compatible for a given area... it ain't. Additionally, the Sennheiser A-block does not appear to be the optimum block for Houston.
In any case, I suggest talking to your (knowledgeable?) rental house and ask about the 'trouble free' wireless mic frequency blocks in the Houston area . Lectro blocks and Sennheiser blocks are different, so keep that in mind. If I have time in the next few days I could check the FCC site and recommend a frequency block.. but you could do that yo'self.
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Old February 5th, 2014, 02:21 AM   #11
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

yes. i would probably ask a rep from lectro or senn. block a may not have been optimum, but it worked fine for years with few to no issues (remember i said bought in 2004). anyway, if that block has become even less feasible in the last few years or something, i would probably make the jump to lectro with an optimum block rather than getting another g2 or even a g3.
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Old February 9th, 2014, 12:31 AM   #12
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

A while back, a Senn rep gave me my best secret for wireless setup with my g3: Before turning on the transmitter, take a look at the RF signal meter on the receiver. If you see a signal then you have interference, so find a new channel.

I don't really see how buying a scanner would give you a more accurate result than looking at the RF meter on the receiver, although I could see the scanner giving you a better idea of the overall situation. The g2 meter doesn't have as many segments as the g3 meter, so I'm not sure how well this works with g2.

Since I've been doing this, my issues with the g3 have been almost exclusively range issues; I get hits when the actors move but don't get hits when things are still.
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Old February 9th, 2014, 02:10 AM   #13
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

According to everyone who's chimed in on threads like these (on this board and elsewhere), the G2's scanner (maybe G3's as well) are not responsive except to EXTREME interference, like dealbreaker interference. Lesser amounts that can still ruin your day without completely murdering the signal still get by, and it will tell that channel is "clear" or "open".

In that respect, a dedicated scanner would be able to do much more, walk around a room and see what in what freqs (if any) the RF spikes; tune around that if possible.

Anyway, I believe at this point there's something wrong with the unit. Of course when I test it at home, it works fine even at 100+ feet, and through walls (going strictly by the RF meter strength), but its hosed me on the last several locations I've been to (when telling me channels are open). I just can't believe it's coincidence, i.e. bad locations. I want to send it to Senn and have them take a look at both pieces, so working on getting that happening.
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Old February 9th, 2014, 05:04 AM   #14
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

The rf section in a radio mic receiver is wide band, and interference from narrow band sources doesn't get displayed on the meter. A scanner can detect these narrow band spikes, very common with digital tv, and do it quickly. The scan function in the senheissers detects radio mic free channels, not always totally empty channels. An analyser lets you see visually the spectrum either side of your selected channel.

If you now get dropouts, that's a different thing altogether. In most cases dropouts are simply a factor of distance, or multiparty reflections. You are very close for dropouts like this. If there is local interference from other radio systems, then instead of dropout you get weird audio as the other system attempts to replace your audio. What happens if you turn the squelch off? Does the audio in the dropout just get very hissy, or totally vanish? We' re really needing to do some tests in controlled circumstances to fault find this one. With non-diversity equipment dropouts have no safety net, but don't normally cause problems this bad with just a few feet of distance.
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Old February 9th, 2014, 10:26 AM   #15
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Re: frequency scanner or ditch G2s?

A while back, a Senn rep gave me my best secret for wireless setup with my g3: Before turning on the transmitter, take a look at the RF signal meter on the receiver
Yes, and this has been 'my' SOP for years, after ID'ing 'occupied' frequencies with a scanner and/or the Sennheiser frequency finder. Same goes for the Lectros. Due Dilligence
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