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Old May 15th, 2007, 01:17 PM   #1
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Wireless Lavalier Mics?

I'm shooting a couple of weddings in the next months and would like to know what the best wireless mic systems are. I have a couple of cheap E-bay buys that work (not spectacularly, by the way), and would really like something better within my price range.

I would really like to buy a set of transmitters and receivers for under $200, but I can't seem to find anything. Does anyone have suggestions on how to get something that works well?
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Old May 15th, 2007, 01:23 PM   #2
 
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Nothing in your price range is going to "work well" but I can recommend the AT Pro88W if you're working at very close ranges.
A good wireless that will "work well" in most situations should:
~Be true diversity
~Be UHF

Nothing that offers these two basics will be found new for sub 500.00. The Pro88W is a good VHF system that has no companding, which is why it sounds really good for the dollar spent.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 01:29 PM   #3
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Yeah, that looks pretty good. But can the receiver accept two or more mics, or do I need to buy two sets?
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Old May 15th, 2007, 01:56 PM   #4
 
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One mic-one transmitter.
One transmitter can feed several receivers, but one receiver cannot receive more than one transmitter channel.
Think like the radio in your car. You can only listen to one station at a time.
So yes, you need one transmitter per mic.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 02:08 PM   #5
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Right. I'll purchase two of them and keep them on their separate frequencies. I hope nobody turns on their cell phone or anything during shooting. But these really do seem a lot better than the Azden lavaliers. Thanks for the recommendation.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 02:41 PM   #6
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Second DSE's AT Pro88W. J&R has them now for under $100 a channel.

Careful, there are three types of mics available, the 829, 830 and 835. You want the 830. (PRO 88W-830)

Also they come in five different frequency ranges, T13, T24, T57, T68, and TVHF - get two separate ones (one T13 and one T68, for instance) so you have a total of four VHF frequencies to choose from.

Get two, they're well worth it for under 20ft use.

I've had one set for awhile, just recently bought a second channel, and am quite impressed with the sound.
I'm in the Los Angeles area and haven't had incredible interference problems with VHF, maybe because most people are using UHF (everybody knows VHF is bad, right?).

Mine has worked well to date, very minimal interference -- if people turn their pagers and cell phones off. And of not, well, that's what tape is about, right? Retake for audio. In a city you'll most probably have to retake for ambulances, aircraft, etc., anyway.

Further away than 20ft, I'd use portable recorders (DAT, card recorders) in pockets, and not wireless at all.

The thing to be aware of in this instance is that there is no real-time monitoring of the individual recorders, so take care to check the audio after you've shot to make sure it's clean and clear.

Obviously if a car, aircraft or emergency services vehicle passes near by, retake as a matter of course. If your actors are 20ft or more away from the camera (and you), this may be harder to spot, though, so stay alert for it. A strategically placed PA with a walkie-talkie might be a good idea -- you'd probably be better off having one near your talent in any case.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 03:02 PM   #7
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Oh, most definately, Chris. Audio Technica is selling the set around $200 on their Web site, but J&R really have them beat. Someone else noted on another thread that this particular system works best with a separate lavalier mic, one that doesn't come included with the set. But I'll just wait and see about the performance.

It's really a pain to try to find alternatives that are both cheap and usable. My last lavalier systems were E-bay purchases, and though they work, I wouldn't want to show anyone I use them.

So, you haven't had trouble using two receivers on different frequencies? I'm just worried one of the frequencies will be crowded, and then I'd only be able to use one. Then again, if that becomes the case, do you think there would be any problems with both receivers on one frequency? Would they just go crazy?
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Old May 15th, 2007, 03:17 PM   #8
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Vishad

The AT830 mic is one of their best, and it comes with the unit. (If you get the AT PRO 88W-830 kit). List price on the mic is more than list on the entire kit...

The only thing is that it comes with a tie clip hard-attached to it, and it's hard to get the clip off without damaging the attachment prongs.

So if you wanted to use, for example, a vampire clip, then you'd have to lever the factory one off and then use a vampire clip off a Tram or similar.

Then you'd probably need another tie-clip mount to replace the factory clip, which IMO is a little too short anyway. (I like to loop the cable around and through the base of the clip, and it's a tad too short for that, for my taste).

Each unit (channel) has two frequencies (set by an A/B switch) to choose from. So between two units, you'd have four total. At that price you could get two more as spares, have eight channels covered, and still come in less than one Azden 200ULT set...

I wouldn't use two channels set to the same frequency, unless you wanted both voices to go into the same channel, with possible interference problems between them. I'd choose one set at the lowest (T13) pair of frequencies, and the other at the highest, just to avoid crosstalk and local interference.

Plus, unless you're shooting in one exterior location all day long that's right up against a radio cab dispatch station or the like, it's not too likely that you'll get continual interference on one channel for more than a few minutes.

However, I may well be mistaken on that one. It may be just that so far I've been pretty lucky in that I've not had a lot of interference on the shoots I've personally staged with this mic kit.

General wisdom has it that the most modern UHF mic kits, such as the Senn G2, can switch automatically between tons of frequencies, so you really don't have to worry about interference when using them.

Since I don't shoot real time events (i.e. where retakes or delays are impossible), I can always take a break or wait for the interference (or plane, or traffic, whatever) to pass. My talent is used to this, my crew is used to this, it doesn't bother anybody, being part of shooting in LA.

However, if you are doing weddings, or forensic, or any event coverage that demands here-and-now one on one coverage, or if you have talent who would get bugged by shooting delays, I wouldn't fool around. Go straight for a G2 and stop worrying about all of this.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 03:23 PM   #9
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I know you want to pay $200.... but it will be tough for what you want

I have Azden 200UPR receiver and two 10BT transmitters. (UHF system, but no diversity circuit)

One receiver is mounted on camera and it works with 2 transmitters....

So you can have 2 wireless mics.

It comes with both XLR and mini cables.... I got mine for under $600.

http://www.azdencorp.com/shop/customer/home.php?cat=16
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Old May 15th, 2007, 04:22 PM   #10
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What does "true diversity" mean? And what is the difference between UHF and VHF (is that the other one)?

I am looking at the Sennheiser G2 100 wireless system, but there seem to be several different kinds, all listed under the same name of Sennheiser G2 100 wireless. For example, there is 518-554 mhz, 626-662 mhz, and 740-776 mhz. What's the difference?

Also, how does a cell phone going off when using a wireless mic system ruin things?
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Old May 15th, 2007, 04:38 PM   #11
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True Diversity
A wireless microphone term. A more advanced form of a diversity receiver, a true diversity system contains a radio receiver that actually has two independent receiver sections, each with its own antenna (rather than a single receiver with one or two antennas), to pick up the transmission from a wireless microphone. The antennas are spaced apart on the unit, and by means of a comparison circuit the unit constantly polls the two receivers to select the one with the strongest signal. The result is an exceptionally stable signal, since the appearance of a dropout in both antennas at the same time is not likely under normal circumstances.

Different frequencies mean different "radio stations", very loosely. Like tuning into different radio stations in your car radio, each mic is broadcasting on its own frequency and if you had a regular UHF receiver you could pick up whatever the mic pack transmits. Useful to know for a) replacing a damaged mic or receiver b) avoiding same-frequence interferences with your own or nearby other mics c) adding additional monitoring frequencies (producer's playback, etc).

Cell phone interference:

If turned on, the cell phone would ring. If you don't want the sound of the cell phone ringing, this could be a problem.

If on but muted (or vibrate), the cell phone's ring or message or page signal (a remote radio command that causes the cell phone to ring/take a message or page) remains active and causes a relatively quiet but clear and irritating electronic bleeping sound to be picked up on some wireless receivers.

If turned completely off, usually nothing in the nearby vicinity will interfere. But of course the room or home next door...
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Old May 15th, 2007, 06:20 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the info, Chris. I'd go for the G2 if it didn't stretch my budget so far. I'll give the AT a try. As far as I can understand it--from all the reviews and commentary on this unit--it doesn't seem as though there should be any trouble.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 06:38 PM   #13
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Good move, Vishad.
My partner started on G2s and now he's running 2 G2s and 2 Lectrosonics. He's an audio pro.
Me, I started with one 88W and now I have two.
I'll probably move to G2s if I see the need to at some future time, but for now, that money stays in my pocket.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 07:39 PM   #14
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There's a demo AKG PR40 going for $244.95 at full compass.
It's a little bit more than your budget, but I like the AKG because it uses AAA batteries rather than 9V's in AudioTechnica.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 07:46 PM   #15
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My short shotguns are AKGs, and I have several of their studio mics. Nothing to complain about at all, except for perhaps that people on this board don't mention AKG much :)
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