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Learning Wireless/lavaliere rig
Old 25th October 2019
  #1
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boojum's Avatar
Learning Wireless/lavaliere rig

Guys, just how hard is it to set up a wireless lavaliere rig? The local choral has the misfortune to be betting on an Amahl with a sweet but silent voice. I know of no one on the Oregon coast in the NW corner doing this kind of work. I do not want to do it but may have to.

So tell me what is involved.

Thanks, again.
Old 25th October 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
Is it a true lava-leer mic (ie clips onto the tie/shirt-front/lapel area), or a mini-stalk cheek mic a la Madonna, that hooks over the outer ear ?

It very much needs to be the latter, as that guarantees a constant mouth to mic distance, with no clothes rustling or other unwanted intrusion ....especially if they're moving around the stage.

There are plenty of YouTube guide videos by Rode, Sennheiser and other mfrs on how to fix in place, set frequencies and output levels etc. I guess you'll be hiring or borrowing the mic and sender/receiver....be sure to test it at home as soon as you can get your hands on it. Batteries for the send pack....v.important !

I've used respected Sennheiser systems twice and had troubles both times....intermittent crackles and popping (faulty cables) the first time and over-modulation/distortion the second.

There will be many users here far more experienced than I, who can hopefully disavow my experience as unusual and unfortunate (and likely operator error on my part too)....but I inherently distrust the things....
Old 25th October 2019
  #3
Gear Nut
Hi Boojum,

If you can, the over- ear boom headsets are the way to go. Given enough tape, you can hide a lav in the hairline or next to the ear. I've never had to hide under clothes, but I've read it can be done.
(Tape- nexcare clear flexible first aid tape)

The ubiquitous Sennheiser ew100 series that I'm familiar with is a mid grade solution- hence the problems we've all had with dropouts and busted cables. I suspect the nice stuff is... well, nicer
So when it works, wireless is not that hard. Fresh batteries for every show, check your frequency map to pick a decent frequency and off you go!

Good luck with Amahl, I used to play it (bassoon) every Christmas, and can probably still sing all the parts!
Old 25th October 2019
  #4
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Exclamation

The mics that come with the ew100 series are cheapo ones (to keep the price down) and people tend to not use them properly.,

Ignoring the fact that it is quite a skill to put a mic on properly - many inexperienced users just leave the mic plugged into the transmitter and then just wind the cable round the transmitter after use. This stretches and breaks the cable as it leaves the plug (unless you use a couple of fingers and leave a loose loop on the first turn) - hence crackling and intermittant noise for the next user.

The better ew systems come with an MKE 2 which, not only being vastly better quality, has Kevlar mixed with the copper to make an extremely strong and reliable cable (I think that DPA and Shure also use this method on their better mics). Personally I would swap out the supplied ew100 series ME2 mic and use an MKE 2 or MKE 1 instead (or a DPA).

To avoid or minimise clothing noise you throw a loop and trap the cable behind the clip (some clips have a grip for this) - this decouples the cable from the mic. so clothing noise does not transmit to the mic capsule.

The ew series (yes even the ew 100) are excellent and affordable radiomics if you use them properly.

I hope this helps.

Oh - and I agree that a headmic is the best option as this keeps a constant mic to mouth distance. If you don't have a headmic, consider sticking the tie mic to the cheek or forehead as this has the same effect. But use some Vaseline to prevent sweat getting into the mic. You will notice that all the good headmics have a small grommet on the mic arm near the mic, this is to prevent sweat rolling down into the mic - so a drop of Vaseline will have the same effect - if you put the mic on the forehead and run the cable through the hair, remember to leave a loose enough loop at the back for the performer to move the head and put a chevron of Vaseline on the forehead with the peak on the cable just above the mic and make it long enough so that it goes almost to ear level - this directs sweat away from the mic, but it needs to be long enough so that the sweat doesn't drip into the eyes.
Old 25th October 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
Also, give the system a chance to work at its best by not introducing a huge distance between sender and receiver. Best would be to locate the receiver at side of stage and send the line level output of the receiver unit to your 788 via balanced xlr cable.

If you have to locate the receiver next to your recorder (maybe high up in a lighting booth ?), at least ensure the receiver has line of sight to Amahl's sender belt pack, and run tests at rehearsal to ensure there's never any signal dropout.

John's right, those cables have multiple joints and connections, and are insanely thin and fragile...hopefully the one you'll hire will have been well-cared for, but do exhaustive tests regardless
Old 25th October 2019
  #6
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Tommy-boy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
Guys, just how hard is it to set up a wireless lavaliere rig? The local choral has the misfortune to be betting on an Amahl with a sweet but silent voice. I know of no one on the Oregon coast in the NW corner doing this kind of work. I do not want to do it but may have to.

So tell me what is involved.

Thanks, again.
I wouldn't walk away from this kind of work. It is different than what you've been doing, but it's not that hard.

Like you, I rarely do gigs that require lavs. However, on occasion they do. I just rent and always ask for Sennheiser units. To date, these have not been the cheap EW100 series people have already mentioned.

IF your singer's lav is also feeding a pa, make sure you have thought of who is going to mute the lav when they are not singing. Some lavs have controls that lock this out at the lav unit so the singer can't do it by accident. Take a few minutes to figure this part out.

Also - have fresh batteries on hand and have spares. The Sennheisers I've used can go quite a long time without needing a change in batteries. Also - assuming you get enough time for a sound check, have the person walk/move around to make sure there are no dropouts with the distance you're at from the receiver.

Bunch of good suggestions already listed in this thread.

-Tom
Old 25th October 2019
  #7
LvE
Here for the gear
 

I'm not familiar with the setting, but you could consider running a XLR cable to the lav mic if the singer is more or less stationary.
This eliminates risk of dropouts.

Another good safety net are the small Tascam recorders that you can connect to the Sennheiser G-series.
Some higher end models have recording to micro SD on transmitters. (Audio ltd, Zaxcom)

Regarding placement, It depends on the costumes/hair etc. My experience is that placement on the head gives more consistency, but chest maybe a bit nicer sounding. There are a lot of accessories for mounting, but in any case my advice would be to practice in advance with the accessories.
(know the long term stickiness of you tape for example

I was involved in laving the singers in this concert, since they move around a lot the lav's are on the outside of clothing behind the ears for the males and on the chest with the female.

https://youtu.be/B6Loyexw3uk
Old 26th October 2019
  #8
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boojum's Avatar
Wow! Man, you guys are wonderful. That's heaps of info all of which I can use. It is doubtful I will wind up doing this as I will be away for the first performance and be back only a day or two before the second and third performances. The tech person will have to get his up and running in rehearsals for sure. By the time I am back it should be running OK.

The quiet singer will be wandering around the stage so an XLR tether will not work. There are other folks walking around and I can predict that someone will trip. This is an amateur company.

I have sent a price list to the director. The Sennheiser EW-112G3 Wireless Lavalier System seems the best way to go but has no head mounted mic. The clip-on will have to do. I am just hoping that this job does not wind up in my lap. I won't be here for rehearsals or first performance so I do not think it can.

Folks, thanks so much for the advice and pointers. GS is the gold mine of info.
Old 27th October 2019
  #9
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
I have sent a price list to the director. The Sennheiser EW-112G3 Wireless Lavalier System seems the best way to go but has no head mounted mic. The clip-on will have to do. I am just hoping that this job does not wind up in my lap. I won't be here for rehearsals or first performance so I do not think it can.
Then mount the tie mic. on the cheek or forehead as I suggested - and don't forget the Vaseline.

Especially if it's the standard ME2 and not the MKE 2 - make sure you leve that loop of cable at the back of the neck so the performer can easily move his/her had without pulling the cable.

UPDATE - I talked to DPA st SoundPRO in London yesterday and they confirmed that their microphones *do* have Kevlar in the cables like the Sennheiser MKE tie mics and the Shure pro mics.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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boojum's Avatar
All your input and one "silent partner" have brought this home. The chorale is a financial basket case. They have some funky old rig that may work. There are three performances: the 13th of December and then the 20th and 22nd when I am back in town. I informed the director a few months back that I would be away from the 5th through the 17th. They moved the performances to the end of the month so while I did not think the recordings were that important to them, they do.

A kind soul has offered the loan of a setup for the 20th and 22nd. I was a radio man in the Army so getting a transmitter and receiver to work should be pretty easy. Rigging it on the kid will be harder. The feed to the recorder is no problem but the feed to the PA will have to be monitored, as has been pointed out. I'm hoping that some person who knows the opera and reads music will be detailed for that. I just connect the wires and turn the dials. And then stir in the pixie dust to make it sound good when it is in Samplitude.

You guys are my heroes. Thanks so much for all the advice and support. And the chorale director thanks you, too. A lot. I really do not think she understands what a talented group you guys are even though I do tell her. I know how talented you are and thank you for sharing so much as you have over the years.
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