Disappointing Samson UM1/77 wireless audio at DVinfo.net

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Old July 10th, 2006, 06:20 AM   #1
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Disappointing Samson UM1/77 wireless audio

I finished a shoot using for the first time my new Samson UM1/77 with the CT7 transmitter and MT350 lavaliere mic. The frequency response was nice, better than my old wireless, and the range was better, certainly. But during the sit-down interview the sound was disappointing when listening back. There seems to be a hiss only when the subject is talking. It's a little hard to describe, like the sound surges when he talks, bringing a hiss along with it. When he stop talking, there's no hiss. I didn't hear this with my old Sony WCS-999.

Was the mic too close? I had it on the subjects t-shirt collar, since I didn't want it too visible. The recording does sound a little too bassy--perhaps this is causing the hiss, overdriving something? My levels were okay, I checked those and I was never in the red, heard no distortion.

Was it the patch cable I used? I ended up going with a mini-stereo to mini-stereo with a mono adapter at the end. I plugged the mono jack into the Samson receiver and the stereo into the DVC30 (I guess now that I probably didn't need the mono adapter for the Samson). Would an XLR adapter provide cleaner audio?

The receiver was set at -30db, for mic level, as per the manual. Would "Line Level" been better? Is it a squelch issue? I don't really want to play around with that, unless I have to.

Lastly, is this fixable in post? I have Final Cut Express.

Any advice would be appreciated. I'll post a sample if anybody can point me to a good place to do so. YouTube? Is there a way in FCE to save only the audio of a clip?

Last edited by Nelson Cole; July 10th, 2006 at 07:01 AM.
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Old July 10th, 2006, 07:53 AM   #2
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I believe you can cut out the hiss a little with the audio gain feature in any editing program.

However, you can use products like Soap Sound and Sound Forge to really improve any audio.

Soap Sound does not have a demo you can try on your audio but Sound Forge from Sony has a trial demo you can use. I tried it and works great.
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Old July 10th, 2006, 07:55 AM   #3
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I am sorry to have to say that Samson, IMO, makes horrible audio gear.
I would 'broom' the samson and go for Sennheiser, Lectro, Sony or
just about any other brand. Remember, you get what you pay for and
when you go on the way cheap, again just my opinion, you wasted
every cent you paid. That is no kind of bargain.
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Old July 10th, 2006, 09:49 AM   #4
 
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Jacques is right, Samson isn't the best out there, but that shouldn't be the cause of your problem. I'm going to hazard a guess that you've got auto-gain enabled, and may have had levels too low, so every time the audio comes in, the compander 'pumps' the gain and you get resultant noise. Additionally, you may have the gain stages in improper settings.
Samson sent me one of their Airline series, and while it's no AT, Lectro, Comtec, etc, it's also not a Nady or Azden, and it works reasonably well, reasonably clean.
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Old July 10th, 2006, 05:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacques Mersereau
I am sorry to have to say that Samson, IMO, makes horrible audio gear.
I would 'broom' the samson and go for Sennheiser, Lectro, Sony or
just about any other brand. Remember, you get what you pay for and
when you go on the way cheap, again just my opinion, you wasted
every cent you paid. That is no kind of bargain.
Well, I did pay $269. I didn't think that was chump change. I wanted something for the beginning professional on a small budget, so I went with a UHF Samson.
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Old July 10th, 2006, 07:08 PM   #6
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I've used the Airline and have noticed
what Nelson described (but only
rarely) where a hiss comes up
at the beginning and end of words..
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Old July 10th, 2006, 08:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson Cole
Well, I did pay $269. I didn't think that was chump change. I wanted something for the beginning professional on a small budget, so I went with a UHF Samson.
While you're right, $269 is not a trivial expense, you can expect an entry-level professional grade wireless kit from Sennheiser, A/T, or Sony to run about $500-$600. Moving up from there can get you into the several thousands for a transmitter/receiver pair from, say, Lectro or Zaxcom.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 05:53 AM   #8
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The problem sounds more like squelch or noise gate operating. Hopefully there's some way to adjust this so it's not so noticeable.

One way to fix this, well no, not fix, make less objectionable, might be to mix in a little noise. I can only speak for myself on this one but constant noise is nowhere near as bad as gated noise.

Samson gear isn't well respected but then again for what it costs is seems (mostly) reasonable value. I don't think I'd ever use cheap wireless mics, just way too much to go wrong. However I bought a Samson boundary mic and it works pretty well. Guess I bought it just to see how well a boundary mic would work in certain situations and I maybe now I'll lay down the big bucks for the real deal. Thing is if it wasn't for Samson I'd never have bought any such mic.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 08:04 AM   #9
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Actually, $269 is really cheap imo for a wireless system.
We have a Sony wireless 'kit' that
cost over $2K ten years ago and sounds great.
The good Shure systems are well over
a grand per channel. Good lav mics go for over $269 each.
I am impressed with the Sennheiser 100 system that goes for
about $500(?), but its range is pretty limited.

To me the Samson issue appears to be a system with an inherently high
noise floor, and as Bob said, there is a built in noise gate circuit that
opens when signal (beyond the noise floor) is sensed so that it seems
quiet until the gate opens and allows both the signal (voice) and noise
to be transmitted.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 12:17 PM   #10
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Better results

I turned the gain all the way up on the transmitter, adjusted the camcorder audio levels so they didn't redline, and the surging/receeding hiss is pretty much completely gone. I think I could live with this. The question now is whether the gain being maxed out will make the lav mic too sensitive.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 12:21 PM   #11
 
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Changing the gain doesn't make the mic more or less sensitive, just louder or softer. It might be that the gain is sufficient to overdrive the receiver, so you want to be sure it's not doing just that.
Unfortunately, there is no "easy" road to proper gain staging, it just has to be done, tested, and worked with until you find the magic combination for that particular piece of gear. The higher end gear is much easier.
I think you'll likely find that adjusting the gain too hot will be a problem for you, so be sure to test it in a variety of conditions before using it on a shoot.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 12:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
Changing the gain doesn't make the mic more or less sensitive, just louder or softer. It might be that the gain is sufficient to overdrive the receiver, so you want to be sure it's not doing just that.
Unfortunately, there is no "easy" road to proper gain staging, it just has to be done, tested, and worked with until you find the magic combination for that particular piece of gear. The higher end gear is much easier.
I think you'll likely find that adjusting the gain too hot will be a problem for you, so be sure to test it in a variety of conditions before using it on a shoot.
Thank you Douglas. I took your advice and tested to see if I was overdriving the receiver. The Peak light didn't go on, so I don't think it was. It doesn't sound distorted, either, when I play it back, so I think it's alright. We'll see. I'll be testing it more, as you suggested.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 01:16 PM   #13
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I always run my Samson Airline transmitters at
maximum gain.
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