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Old July 8th, 2015, 03:39 PM   #1
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Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Although I have filmed weddings for over 30 years, I have never used a radio mic at one. I have a radio mic kit with a mains powered receiver for my live music work and have often used that for schools recordings, where I am working with fixed cameras and mains power.

I have used small portable recorders for a while, but have avoided wireless because of the worries of clashing with Church and venue systems. A few days ago I say a cheap BOYA system advertised on eBay from a UK supplier and the couple of reviews that I saw on YouTube seemed to belie the cheap price. There were a number of different eBay listings from apparently the same supplier at varying prices on buy it now, auction and place bid type listings. The cheapest one was £45.95 new, so I put in a bid of £50 thinking that if it is rubbish ( which is really what I expected) I could find another use for it.

I was pleased to find 15 hours later that I was the only bidder, so it cost me the £45.95 only. It arrived this morning, 24 hours later, and I tentatively added batteries and plugged it in. Well you could knock me down with a feather, not only was it a very useable quality from the included lav mic, the system itself is extremely quiet, way better than my mains powered system. The receiver has a plastic hot/cold shoe fitting and a connecting lead to the camera mic input, which fits a 3.5mm stereo input, which works with all my cameras. The transmitter, is the same size as the receiver, about 4x3x 0.5 inches and has a belt clip instead of shoe fitting and the supplied mic has a 3.5mm tip and 2 ring plug.

Both receiver and transmitter have a 3.5mm headphone socket for a standard tip and ring stereo plug and they both have a headphone volume control. There is also a low cut switch for the mic signal. Surprisingly and very usefully, not only can you monitor the incoming mic signal, on the receiver, there is also a simple plastic single earpiece with a tiny mic built into the cable, so if you are filming someone that you need to give instruction to, you have an instant 2 way talkback built in. You could also use it as a wireless talkback system if you weren't using it to film. The mic/headphone socket on the receiver is a tip and two ring type, so it is quite likely that a cheap combined throat mic and headset would also work. All of my earpiece and enclosed headphones, even my senheisers work well with it, but I haven't got a mic headset system to try that.

How it stands up to the rigours of working in an environment with other radio systems I don't know yet, but even if there is cross interference, there are still many occasions when I am filming away from other systems that it will be useful. At the moment I have only used it indoors from one end of the house to the other through 3 brick walls with no signal loss, so I am reasonably hopeful.

Roger
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Old July 8th, 2015, 07:16 PM   #2
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

At least BOYA make something that works! I'm happy for you Roger! I looked at their 2.4GHz wireless setup (mainly because I'm a real cheapskate) but after reading a few reviews that said the system seldom worked I dropped it and stuck with the Audio Technica and Rode 2.4GHz systems.

Are those units UHF??? and are they using frequencies that would be legal in most countries? I often see wireless systems offered that use the 700-800 Mhz bands down here and we were stopped using that frequency range on 1st January 2015 yet dealers still seem to openly sell the kits ??

I would be interested in how it stands up in a practical on site test as I need to replace my Azdens

Chris
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Old July 8th, 2015, 09:00 PM   #3
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Chris I found this link for the product.

BY-WM5 - BOYA AUDIO EQUIPMENT CO.,LTD
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Old July 8th, 2015, 09:22 PM   #4
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Hi Mervyn

Yep that's the one I looked at .. I also found some guys having issues with the same unit that's why I questioned Roger regarding whether it was UHF or 2.4Ghz ... There were a few reports of the unit dropping out when other 2.4GHz units are working and as I'm sure you are aware, it's the same band that most smartphones use as well as wifi

The AT and Rode systems also use the same band but then again they are a LOT more expensive!! Around $450.00 here

It will be interesting to see how Roger's unit works in the field!

Chris
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Old July 9th, 2015, 04:13 AM   #5
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Hi Chris,

Just got back from walking the dog! Mine are the Boya BY-WM5 and they work on the 2.4Ghz band, 2405-2478 MHz. I've no idea yet how they will work in the field, but if I get a chance today to get out with Claire and the new camera on the next dog walk, we'll try a test recording and also try the talkback facility.

The spec shows RF output at 5mw, distortion at 0 1% or less and signal to noise at 76dB or more, which seem pretty good at the price. All leads, and cables are included and the TX and RX take two AAA batteries each which they suggest should last 3.5-4 hrs.

Roger
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Old July 9th, 2015, 06:40 PM   #6
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Took the Boya to the park on the FZ1000 with the mic and TX on Claire and with the talkback mic and earpiece on the receiver. Had no dropout or loss of signal at all up to about 100ft, with some dropout starting above that. Claire's TX was in her bag, so probably would have given a bit more range if on her waste band. Even so, I consider a clean 100ft range to be more than adequate for all my needs.

The signal to noise also remained constant and the mic sound was always crisp and clear. I thought I was hearing some background hiss, but it turned out to be the breeze in the trees and a close main road.

The included plastic earpieces are not very comfortable and fall out easily, but would be very cheap and easy to replace with something more comfortable. The talkback facility is very clear and we were having a perfectly normal conversation even when we were well away from normal hearing distance. It was very easy to just ask Claire to turn, stop wave etc and a viewer would be unaware that she was receiving instructions. At one point a couple of walkers passed Claire and looked at her very strangely as she appeared to be talking to herself!

If I get a chance, I will try to upload some clips to give an idea of the sound and the next test will be on a live shoot. At the moment though, I feel that I would have been very happy with the sound at two or three times the price. I have already ordered a second set to have the option of two transmitters to one receiver so that I can use two mics and take the signal to two cameras.

Roger

Last edited by Roger Gunkel; July 9th, 2015 at 06:41 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old July 9th, 2015, 07:49 PM   #7
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Hey Roger

Thanks for that! It's always tough (like the FZ1000 post) to look at something that costs a fraction of the price and does the same job as a brand name unit. I have been burnt previously with cheap UHF sets that had more hiss than audio signal and had to be tossed in the bin but this seems to be pretty stable. However because it runs in the 2.4GHz band along with a trillion other smart devices I think it would be worth a test in an environment that is electronically "dirty" ...ie: electrical cables, computers running, routers and other wifi devices and see if they cause any issues before using the unit at an event,

Sheesh, if it works well then over here it's only $125 a set compared to a Rode Link unit at $449

Chris
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Old July 10th, 2015, 03:16 PM   #8
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

It's definitely tough reviewing budget gear, when the general feeling is that you have to spend loads of dosh to get a great result. I do tend to think that if I spend 5 times as much on something, it will probably be sturdier and longer lasting, but Iif the results are to the required standard, I would rather replace a cheaper unit two or three times if neccesary, by which time technology would probably have moved on enough to buy something much more advanced rather than being stuck with some high cost obsolete bit of gear.

I will be testing the Boya next week in 5 different environments, from schools to a theatre to a wedding venue. I'll only be using it as a backup, but will be a good opportunity to see how it stands up to it.

Roger
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Old July 10th, 2015, 08:31 PM   #9
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Hi Roger

The 2.4GHz systems sadly do not have dual receiver facilities so if you want two transmitters you have to have two receivers ..well, on the Rode Link and AT System 10 they state that you can "pair" up to 8 units but not to one receiver though. At that price there is no real issue with having two sets anyway. With UHF sets you also have to have a transmitter and receiver set UNLESS you have a dual channel receiver and the only one I had gave me issues. I'm currently running two receivers on the FZ1000 (one either side of the camera ) and they work fine. The review I read they complained out not being able to know when the batteries have run down but I checked the website and the specs say that when the batteries are low the unit LED starts flashing red so that would work fine!

At weddings I'm seldom more than 15m from the couple anyway (more likely only 5m) so I cannot see a range issue either plus it's line of sight too!!! If you have a 2nd shooter I can see great usefulness for comms that you don't record ...like you my wife does the photos and attracting her attention with frantic hand gestures is not very professional!!

I think I'll definitely try one of these sets as well since we have lost our frequency allocations over here this year. A report back from you will be most useful!
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Old July 11th, 2015, 08:46 AM   #10
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

I just assumed Chris that having two transmitters would only require one receiver, but I will have two receivers anyway. I can see the talkback being really useful when we are doing photography as well and multiple use of equipment always appeals to me.

Just thought that even if I canít use two TX with one RX, I will still be able to receive the sound from one TX on two different cameras, which will be very useful at times, such as speeches etc.

The RX and TX both take two batteries and should last up to 4 hours of continuous use and the LEDs do indeed flash red when the batteries are getting low. That's often the problem with some YouTube review, they often miss or don't understand some of the things that are being reviewed, giving a misleading impression.

I will certainly report back after my experiences with the Boya in the coming week.

Roger
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Old July 13th, 2015, 06:09 AM   #11
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Just received my second Boya after going for the free postage option. Ordered it Thursday arrived Monday for a total cost of £45.99.

I expected it to be the same frequency as the first one, however, not sure whether it is just luck but they are both on different frequencies, so I can now use both at the same time with no crossover, brilliant!! Just remains to be seen how they work in a high electrical activity area. I did set up my twin mic UHF radio system which has a mains receiver, and there was no interference or noise with the Boyas, so I am reasonably hopeful.

I am now looking for a suitably connected split lead, so that I can use two mics with either transmitter for head table speeches and school stage productions. With the two transmitters, that would give me 4 mic possibilities.

Roger
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Old July 13th, 2015, 06:30 AM   #12
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Hi Roger

AFAIK the 2.4G systems just find a spare channel in the 2.4GHz band and then pair with the transmitter/receiver ... the AT system 10 units actually specify that 8 units will work together and they have an LCD display telling you which is on which channel ... Does the manual say anything about using two or more units??

If you want to feed to mics into the input then you need a 47K resistor in each lav hot lead so it acts as a passive mixer ...I would get a wee plastic box with one mono plug out and with two 3.5mm jack sockets for each mic and then solder each 47K resistor from the input socket to the output lead.
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Old July 13th, 2015, 07:41 AM   #13
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
It's definitely tough reviewing budget gear, when the general feeling is that you have to spend loads of dosh to get a great result.
I don't think its just about results, it can also be about ease of use and compatibility. Last Saturdays Wedding was a case in point. A last minute decision to have a roving handheld mic being passed around for the Speeches; no problem as they use a sennheiser wireless system (the standard it seems for most venues), same as my own. So I simply tapped into their frequency and voila - I got my audio. It was a stressful, hectic Wedding, so my wireless system, though more expensive, really helped that day.
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Old July 13th, 2015, 07:56 AM   #14
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Chris, I think that would be pretty much the same as the passive mixer box we discussed on the other thread. I just haven't got around to ordering the bits yet.

Steve, I'm sure you are right about greater compatibility with house systems, but half the time people don't use the mics properly and there are often flat battery and distortion problems. The other thing with the More expensive systems, apart from the price, is that they are more likely to conflict with your own system particularly in a situation with lots of wireless mics, like my schools filming.

For me, a radio mic is always a back up as there are always a number of potential problems and I would rather rely on a portable recorder for my main sound, or a direct wired mic that I can monitor.

Roger
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Old July 13th, 2015, 08:09 AM   #15
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Re: Just bought a cheap radio lav.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
Steve, I'm sure you are right about greater compatibility with house systems, but half the time people don't use the mics properly and there are often flat battery and distortion problems. The other thing with the More expensive systems, apart from the price, is that they are more likely to conflict with your own system particularly in a situation with lots of wireless mics, like my schools filming.
Well I never rely on just the mic; I have zooms dotted around, but the potential is there for better audio. I think with wireless, just owning a different system doesn't mean you're free from interference. It's true that in a larger venue with multiple events on, my sennheiser will be competing for available frequencies, but I haven't had an issue in the places I've filmed in so far. Personally I use the olympus pocket recorder and lapel mic for most filming.
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