Best long range wireless mic for under $600 at DVinfo.net

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Old March 24th, 2007, 06:55 PM   #1
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Best long range wireless mic for under $600

Hi, I've been searching all over the enet for a couple of weeks now and I'm still having trouble finding the info I'm looking for and I'm running out of time so I thought I'd ask all the nice people here at dvinfo for some help.

First let me start out by telling everyone what I'm looking for. My price range is under $600. Next, and the most important thing is I looking for the best long range capabilites possible in a wireless system. I'll only be using the system out in the hills of Arizona away from the city. No buildings just trees, canyons, mountains, and wildlife.

As far as uhf or vhf I don't care I just want the one with the best long range.
I've read somewhere that vhf is beter for long range and its also better at going through objects like trees but I don't if this is true or not.

I don't know if its possible in this price range but I'm looking for a system that has a range of atleast 500 yards. Keep in mind that I'll be using it out in the hills and never in town. The terrain consists of desert hills and canyons. Not very many big trees just cactus and small bushes and smaller trees here and there. The canyons can be deep and steep and I'm hoping to find a system that will work when the transmitter is at the top of a canyon an the receiver is in the bottom of the canyon. I don't mind buying used older equipment either as long as its the best system for long range. I'm only going to need one transmitter and one receiver and my camera is an xl1s.

Well thats about it. By the way even if you don't which wireless system is the best for long range performance at this price I would still like to hear about personal experiences with wireless system no mater what the price.

Thanks,
Joe
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Old March 25th, 2007, 08:48 AM   #2
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Joe,
You are asking for a level of performance which is difficult to achieve with a $2500 dollar system so you will have to be very lucky to find a great solution. You might find a used system which could handle that range. Diversity would help. I work in NY City so I hardly ever get 50 yards away from my subjects and only the best frequency agile systems like Lectrosonics, Zaxcom and Sennheiser work consistently.
Maybe you should try renting or borrowing some systems to test them to see if they have the range you need.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 10:02 AM   #3
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Thanks for the info Daniel. Yeh I thought I was probably asking for too much. I'll look in to renting a system if the price is right. The closest big city is tucson so I'll check there for a place to rent. From what I can tell I'm going to have to settle with either a used Lectrosonics, the ATU100 or the Sennheiser G2 100. The lectrosonic seem to be the best choice if I can find one used. I've read mix reviews about the ATU100 and the Sennheiser G2. The ATU100 is a true devirsity system but I've read its only runs at 10 or 15 mW while the G2 runs at 30mW.

The furthest I ever read someone using the G2 and have it still work has been 1/4 mile being in the line of sight of each other. The ATU100 on the other hand I've read that someone had success with it at 7000 feet! Wow! now if thats true thats what I'm looking for. I would like to find more info like this. But for the most part the reviews I've read people just test the system to about 150 ft by walking around the house and going in the backyard and thats it because they're satisfied with the results because thats all they need the mic to do. Well I'd like to hear more about the line of site tests. Where someone has walks as far as they can in the line of sight of each other before having any dropouts. For the most part I'll always be in the line of site between the reciever and the transmitter with the closest town or city being atlest 10 miles away so I don't think rf interference should that big of a problem.

thanks agian and anymore info would be greatly appreciated.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 10:33 AM   #4
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Joe,

I can attest that my G2's with ENG RX go further than my U100, even though the U100 is diversity. I can also say that the G2 SK500, and SKM500 can work pretty far, but not for $600.

For instance, I have a G2 system working at the CA Golf Championship this weekend in Miami. Using the EM500 RX, directional antennas, booster rx amps, and clear line of sight, we are getting good reception the entire length of a par 4-472 yard golf hole. But this package is around $2000 per mic. This kind of distance would usually call for a Sennheiser SK250 (TX alone is over $2000) or a custom rental with even more output power (Broadcast Sports Inc.), and really strong antenna package. Not the kind of setup a typical one cam shoot can deal with.

You might try extending some cable, and putting the RX near where the TX will be (100-200 feet). If you boost the audio output of the RX with a small preamp, you can run a long line back to your camera's line input. For your budget, prob your best bet. I don't think you'll find anything for $600 that will go that distance. Good luck though!
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Old March 25th, 2007, 01:36 PM   #5
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Joe, what are you doing with this? It appears you will be too far away to be filming anything that synchronizes directly with the audio. My thought is that if you only need audio, why not set up a recorder 50 yards from your mic and let it record for 4 or 6 hours? The quality of hard-wired audio will probably beat the wireless anyway. Just a thought.


Best wishes,
Peter
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Old March 25th, 2007, 04:05 PM   #6
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Thanks Greg thats exactly the kind of info I'm looking for. I'm new to all this wireless stuff and I've never heard of the ENG RX for the G2. From the info you gave it sounds like a booster or something similar. If so do they make boosters for the ATU100 as well?

Peter, that sound like a great idea to use a recorder but the only problem is can I find one small enough to fit my needs. What I'm trying to do is Mic up an archery hunter. Its hard enough to sneek up on a wild animal with just one person let alone 2 so what I do is I stay back at a good high vantage point usually on top of a hill or something similar and video everything from there. Far enough away not to spook the animal which is usually between 300 to 500 yards. So far the video part has worked out great but without being able to hear the hunters every movement it just dosen't turn out right. The recorder would have to be small enough so it wouldn't effect the hunters mobility in anyway shape or form. It would also have to record up to 8 hours of non stop audio which I don't know is possible. I've thought about recording sounds that you would expect to hear durning the stalk like footsteps and a bow shotting and adding them in during editting but I think thats too fake and would sound right and it would also bother me too much knowing its not the real audio. I want everything to be authentic.

Well thanks agian everyone for the info I really appreciate it.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 05:17 PM   #7
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The newer Sony's HD Minidisc players are supposed to be able to record up to 13 hours of high quality sound on a single disk. If that's not enough (!) they claim up to 45 hours of recording on a disc when using compression - which may be acceptable for sound effects.

A Sony MZ-NH600D weighs just 3.5 oz and costs around $200. Sony describes it as, "...With enough battery life to support hours and hours of music, and the rugged endurance to survive a marathon, this Hi-MD recorder is ready to go anywhere."

You could just stick one of these in the hunter's pocket, or clip it to his belt with a dynamic or battery-powered lav wired on, press record and let it go all day. You should be able to synch the sound with the twang of the bow in post. That's the concept, anyway.

Best wishes,
Peter
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Old March 25th, 2007, 05:34 PM   #8
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Hi Joe,

By ENG RX, I only meant the small battery powered RX that usually attaches to the camera. Specifically, the EK100/300/500. The bigger diversity RX is the EM100/300/500. Antenna boosters can be used on almost any RX, they are just pre-amps for the rf antenna signal. However the G2 EK receivers have permanently attached antennas making this impossible.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 05:40 PM   #9
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Peter's suggestion is great.

Also, if you can find an iriver ifp-899, or an iriver ifp-799 on ebay (about $100 plus $30 for a mic), they will record more than 8 hours continuously to mp3 160kbs. They accept line and mic input and work great with the Giant Squid mics made especially for them. Small and light.

If the compression is unnacceptable, check out the Zoom H4 mobile recorder. About $300. With a 2Gig SD card, they will record 360 minutes of PCM. But will only run around four hours before you need a battery change.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 08:05 PM   #10
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M-Audio Microtrack is a little larger than a pack of cigarettes and records to Compact Flash. I have a 4 GB CF in it now and the display says it will record just under 14 hours of MP3 on the 4GB. It has 14" TRS jacks instead of XLR, so you'd need an adapter, unless you use a mic with a mini plug. It can provide phantom power via the 1/4" TRS jacks. It also has a plug in mini stero mic about the size of a couple of stereo ear buds.

I like it because it has almost no extra functionality - just record and playback. It also has two sliders to adjust recording levels and can be set to adjust the levels independently or together. That's about it. Really simple and good enough for a lot of what I need.

I had a Zoom of some kind before but never liked it much. Also used mini-disc but didn't like the time it took to capture to the PC in analog.
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Old March 26th, 2007, 10:11 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone! I love this site! Hopefully some day I'll have enough know how about all this stuff and I can help out on this site too.

I think my best bet is to go with the recorder sounds perfect for what I'm doing. This way I don't have to worry about any dropouts and I can still record in 16 bit mode with my camera. Thanks agian I can't wait to start looking for a recorder and a mic.

Joe
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Old March 26th, 2007, 11:19 AM   #12
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Just make sure your cables are firmly connected because you will be too far off to check them for looseness. If you are using a recorder with a minijack connector you might use some duct tape or other adhesive to keep them in place. Have fun!

Best wishes,
Peter
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Old March 26th, 2007, 07:15 PM   #13
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I second the iRiver + Giant Squid combination. Probably the best battery time of all the solutions.

Also check out this thread for an iPod-based setup:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=83493

Good luck.
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Old March 27th, 2007, 10:38 AM   #14
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After some research I narrowed it down to 2 choices. The Iriver/GS combo and a sony HiMD. The only problem is that from what I've read it sounds like the lavs including the Giant Squid are great but just for the person its hooked to. Thats great but I'd need I mic that can pic up all the nature sounds around it the best. I've seen some mics that I think might work better for this like this one.

<a href="url">http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...MEWA:IT&ih=007

or will a lav work for recording all the nature sounds aound it like birds or an elk bugling?
If anyone has any info on this please let me know.

Thanks,
Joe
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Old March 27th, 2007, 10:47 AM   #15
 
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The lav will "work" if you get it away from everything else; proximity is everything. It's not optimal, but if it's what you have or can afford...then that's what you have and you can afford.
lavs by nature are designed to be very close to source, and to function efficiently in that position. But a mic is a mic at the end of the day, the question isn't what it does, but how well it does it.
I wouldn't use a lav for recording nature, simply because it's not easy to have distanced from the recording device, and due to the very small diaphragm. That said, I've used lavs in a number of locations where they're not best suited, or designed to be. A mic in a condom in a fishtank comes to mind...
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