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Old January 24th, 2015, 08:02 AM   #16
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

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Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
It's difficult to believe that there are any transistors, printed circuits, etc. in those $600 systems that are custom-manufactured specifically for Sennheiser.
Er ..... every single printed circuit in the Sennheiser G3 is made by Sennheiser themselves / to their specific specifications.

Of course components are made by component manufacturers and are available to anyone - however, quality manufacturers like Sennheiser will choose high quality components made to a tight tolerance and these are more expensive than the cheapo cheapo ones.

Quality audio costs money - a decent mic. pre-amplifier often costs well over £1,000 per channel, so getting good audio quality in a small radio transmitter/receiver is not easy and cheap.

Radio transmission adds noise - top manufacturers like Sennheiser use proprietary noise reduction systems to minimise transmission noise.

Also - compared to the top systems, the G3-100 is dirt cheap - a top Sennheiser radio system retails at about £8,000 per channel!

You get what you pay for - and don't confuse professional systems that sell in quantities of a few thousand to consumer equipment that sells in millions.
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Old January 24th, 2015, 10:02 AM   #17
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

Yes, pure and simple, when it comes to wireless systems and most everything else:
You get what you pay for
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Old January 24th, 2015, 01:40 PM   #18
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

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Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
In spite of the "you gotta pay big bucks for quality products" mindset, it appears that quality lesser-cost options (not LOW-cost, but we're heading in that direction) are in fact appearing. Bruce mentioned the new Rode wireless system which I also found while digging around. It's getting RAVE reviews and only $400.

Audio-Technicas's System 10 is also around $350 and gets rave reviews.

Both of these operate at 2.4ghz...so this appears to be a bit of a breakthrough for wireless audio.
And there you see the "crossover" between the mammoth computer/wireless phone market and the miniscule semi-pro wireless mic market.

By using the jelly-bean commodity 2.4 HGz chips, etc. manufactured by the millions for consumer and business products, they significantly reduce both the development and the manufacturing cost of sending a continuous non-trivial bitstream through the air in order to create a digitial wireless microphone.

Another huge benefit to using the 2.4GHz ISM band is that it is universally allocated to portable digital devices (primarily 802.11x WiFi and BlueTooth) So that means that 2.4 GHz gear can be used legally essentially anywhere on the planet. This is a big deal for news crews, documentary producers,etc. who roam all over the place in different countries with different laws, bands, etc, for traditional wireless mics.

Of course, there is an accompanying downside to using the 2.4 GHz band. That ISM band is arguably already overloaded with other massive users, most notably WiFi (and BlueTooth). And don't expect to get reliable performance from ANY 2.4 GHz equipment near (3m/6ft) a consumer microwave oven.

I just took delivery of a couple of A-T System-10 systems and I am going to do some video tests in my office building, full of 100s of WiFi users. The 2.4 GHz mics (both A-T and Rode) appear to use the same channels as 802.x WiFi, but since they are sending only a single audio channel bitstream, they can use the channels more efficiently than 802.11x WiFi, so they have somewhat more options to operate within the band.

Quote:
Here's another thought: it's been suggested that the demand for wireless systems is nowhere close to the demand for other products, but consider this: wireless audio systems aren't just used by video producers; they're used by musicians (a HUGE market)...and by churches (probably an even bigger market). The reality is that video production is probably the smallest market for wireless audio.

When you look at the music and religious markets, I'd say there is plenty of opportunity for someone to innovate and bring down the cost of these systems.
But compared to the general consumer wireless market, even the market for low-end consumer wireless mics is miniscule.

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It's no different than the days (which I remember well) where if you wanted to produce REAL quality video, your only choice was to fork out $30,000-40,000 on a Sony BVW-300 Betacam system. Now you can get better video from a $1,000 camera. This is going to happen with audio too. Lectrosonics better be looking over their shoulder! :-)
But the same advances in solid-state technology (including imaging chips) has made even $300 cameras capable of making video that would be the envy of $30000 cameras in a previous generation. (Under GOOD lighting conditions, of course).

The new generation of 2.4GHz of wireless mics may indeed eat into the low-budget potential customers that would have considered Lectro (or those who rented instead of buying). But pro gear like Lectro have other features critical for pro users that you will be unlikely to ever find in pro-sumer products like the A-T System 10 or the RodeLink.
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Old January 24th, 2015, 02:03 PM   #19
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

I've still got two of the Sony BVWs here, and I just can't get rid of them, mainly nostalgia, but also because they were amazingly well engineered bits of kit.

Now it's true that some sub 1 grand cameras do produce brilliant pictures - we all know that, but they are coupled with pretty average glass, and the lenses on my Sonys are still fetching good money on ebay, if I wanted to sell them. The cameras would fetch nothing, I guess!

So while electronics are getting cheaper as technology progresses, mechanics are getting more expensive. Look at how cheap, comparatively, 4K cameras are - but then how much the glass to do them justice costs?

Mass production = low cost, and that is the answer to the question here.
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Old January 24th, 2015, 07:55 PM   #20
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

Richard - please do share you r results with the AT10 system.

Reliability and after market support are primary with professional gear. When money is on the line it must work every time. A few failures and a whole market is lost. Professionals talk to each other,

Things can be sold cheap with a great warranty - or is it. I bought some night lights, cost about $5 for a pack of three - life time limited warranty too - or was it. To replace one it I had to mail it back with $5 for shipping and handling.
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Old January 25th, 2015, 06:20 AM   #21
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

Thanks for the informative 2.4ghz post Richard. I too am interested in hearing about the results of your testing with the AT System 10 system. I'm considering getting one myself, only because I need something relatively soon and don't want to wait around for the Rode system (though the Rode system looks better and costs a bit more).

And to others: I completely agree that---generally speaking---you get what you pay for. But as frequently as this old axe is stated, there are still plenty of times when you *don't* get what you pay for (e.g. you're paying for name only).

Also, there are many times when the added benefits of paying (for example) for a Lectrosonics system simply aren't worth the enormous extra cost.

It's a fact that the entire professional audio/video production industry lives and dies by gear. This is because they MUST. Imagine a world in which there was no differentiation in gear whatsoever (I know it'll never happen, but just indulge me for a minute!). If every producer alive had to use the identical gear, then (heaven forbid) differences in production quality would come down entirely to the producer's talent and creativity. And that scenario would terrify many in the industry who rely on investments in top-dollar equipment as their biggest differentiator. In such an imaginary scenario, half of the producers in the world would just give up and quit—because they wouldn't be able to gain an edge by spending more money on gear.

I'd love to see something like this happen eventually. (But I know I'm dreaming.) Back in the BVW-300 days, it used to make me irate that there were so many mediocre producers around who got work just because they had the balls (and/or income) to invest $30,000 in a camera, and for no other reason.

Anyway, forgive my little rant. :-) I'm just a big believer in equality and egalitarianism when it comes to production equipment: let everyone (rich or poor) have equipment that produces great results and then lets see who ends up on top. :-)

Scott
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Old January 25th, 2015, 06:48 AM   #22
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

One equipment failure on a large shoot can eat 100 (or more) times the cost differential. in lost time and opportunity. The carefully selected high end gear can provide a measure of insurance. It goes to knowing what is quality, what is just marketing hype, and what is habit.

Insurance is lost money as is warranty - if you do not have to make use of them.

All a business decisions.
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Old January 25th, 2015, 08:32 AM   #23
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

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Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
But compared to the general consumer wireless market, even the market for low-end consumer wireless mics is miniscule.
Yup - an average town will, say, have a small theatre, four churches and a few bands - so let's say thats 20 or 30 radiomics.

That same town is likely to have about 10,000 Wi-Fi links and maybe 25,000 mobile phones.

Do the maths.
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Old January 25th, 2015, 08:39 AM   #24
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

I used the Wi Digital Audio Link last night during a party at the house to send stereo audio from the main computer near the kitchen to a powered set of stereo speakers in the living room. About 40 feet line of sight, not a tremendous distance.
However, there were about 40 people in the house with cellphones and the house and our neighbors all have Wi-Fi, plus the computer itself and I'm sure lots of the cellphones had Bluetooth active.
I didn't hear any problems during 4 hours of playback, but I wasn't right there listening intently the whole time.
It is amazing though that such inexpensive digital 2.4gHz tech can work this well and have great sound quality.
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Old January 26th, 2015, 03:23 PM   #25
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

You want cheap? Here's CHEAP! Probably not GOOD but...
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Old January 26th, 2015, 04:31 PM   #26
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

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Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
Hi All—this is a somewhat rhetorical question, but also a real one...

In this day of dirt-cheap, ubiquitous electronic devices that are absolutely bombproof and last for years, why is it that producers on a budget STILL have to fork out $600+ for a reliable wireless mic system?

I ask because I've been assembling a list of equipment for the school I'm working for to purchase for general video production. In almost every category (cameras, lenses, tripods, etc.) there is an abundance of inexpensive, decent-quality alternatives to known higher-end products...*except* in wireless lav systems.

Oh sure there are the Azdens and the Samsons and the like, but after pouring through dozens (hundreds?) of reviews, all I read is "Crap, crap, crap—spend the money and buy a Sennheiser G3 system."

What is going on here? Why is so something as (seemingly) simple as reliably sending sound through the air from one point to another so ridiculously expensive?

Is it really impossible—from a technological standpoint—to do this for a less than a $600 price point? Or is there some sort of industry-wide price fixing going on?

I should add that the barrier doesn't seem to be the mics themselves, as their are lots of (ATR-3350) cheap lav mics out there that—while not as good as a Sennheiser mic—still provide perfectly usable, reliable results.

Yes, you can probably tell I'm a bit frustrated. Only a bit, because I don't mind just telling the school to buy a G3 system. But this question has been nagging at me for a while.

Anyone have an answer or care to speculate? :-)

Scott
I don't know either , but all the years I'be worked with audio , Sennheisser have pretty much been the industry standard , probably because they 'just work' , and I go back to the VHF units of the 1970's .

While I still use Sennheisser today , I've heard some favourable comments about the new Audio Technica budget range - haven't tried them myself , but AT have a knack of sometimes making quality equipment at lower price points than the competition .
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Old January 27th, 2015, 01:14 PM   #27
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

With radios, it's always going to come down to trusting what you have to work with. I trust what I have and am familiar with - so we'll all have some differences, but would I trust a cheapo no brand??? Probably not!
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Old January 27th, 2015, 05:27 PM   #28
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

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Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
You want cheap? Here's CHEAP! Probably not GOOD but...
Should that one not be called "Pile-o'-poo" rather than "Pyle Pro"? :-)
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Old January 28th, 2015, 09:59 AM   #29
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

"Pyle-o'-poo"
I like that Colin.
Speaking of VHS, I still a have a fixed frequency Lectro 185 system I bought way back when... wasn't cheap, but still works 20+ years later.. even better now-a-days since DTV came about, freeing up some of the VHF channels.
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Old January 29th, 2015, 03:45 PM   #30
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Re: What is the barrier to cheap, GOOD wireless mic systems?

There is always the manufacturer angle on this sort of thing. If you R&D and make a top quality product ... why would you sell it cheaper than what it is worth?

Well, then there are those crazy-good guys at Rode. :-D They are so awesome with what they come out with. Pure applied genius.

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