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Question about wireless transmitter/receiver systems
Old 2nd October 2020
  #1
Question about wireless transmitter/receiver systems

I'm looking to buy two channels of wireless to use with lav mics. This will be for a small indie film shoot, but after that I will also use them to mic up clients at weddings.

I have used Sennheiser G3s in the past and was now looking at the G4 and AVX systems. I also have used a lot of cheaper wireless systems for handheld mics in the past with no issues. Mainly I have a 4 channel GTD Audio UHF wireless system that I've used in large theaters with the receiver being 200 feet from the stage, and it had zero problems over several years. 4 channels for $300 was a steal in that regard.

I tried their bodypacks and lavs though and, of course, unusable garbage.

So my question is - if the cheaper systems can handle transmitting the wireless signal just fine, and it's the crap lav they come with that is the weak link - can I save a grand by using cheaper bodypacks and receivers with good lavs like the MKE-2 or COS-11?

Or are the features that the G4 or AVX transmitters and receivers have worth the price tag? Scratch that - of course they're "worth it" - but would I be fine in these scenarios without them?
Old 2nd October 2020
  #2
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JayTee4303's Avatar
I own Sennheiser ew-100 G3s, Shure BLX4's, and Shure PGXD4s personally, and was The Wireless Guy at a top local rental house from 2018 thru 2020, where they ran 40 channels of Shure ULXD, plus PGM 600 and PGM 900 systems, and crew for acts using most of the above.

In my experience, $500 per channel is the cut off point. Below that live reception issues, and audio degradation, above that level I get solid performance and decent sound.

Shure's Wireless Workbench, together with a handheld spec-a w USB output and a third party capture app give you a LOT of options for improving receotion.
Old 3rd October 2020
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackchandelier View Post
I also have used a lot of cheaper wireless systems for handheld mics in the past with no issues. Mainly I have a 4 channel GTD Audio UHF wireless system that I've used in large theaters with the receiver being 200 feet from the stage, and it had zero problems over several years. 4 channels for $300 was a steal in that regard.

I tried their bodypacks and lavs though and, of course, unusable garbage.
In what way? Poor reception between Tx and Rx or just poor sound? Maybe both?

A couple points that may not be obvious.

It's very likely the lav system uses the exact same transmitter as the handheld so it should have the same performance right? But where are bodypacks usually positioned? Behind the user of course so Tx range is going to be compromized. The solution is to put the transmitter out front or... put the receivers on stage. If you have a digital mixer or stagebox this is much easier to accomplish.

The default lav mic capsule is often omnidirectional which are much more feedback prone, if you know this going in there are things that can be done to help but overall you won't get as much GBF as with a cardioid capsule. And yes in general cheap capsules sound cheap but apparently there are some from Pyle that produce acceptable results.
Old 3rd October 2020 | Show parent
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by paul o View Post
In what way? Poor reception between Tx and Rx or just poor sound? Maybe both?
Definitely the lavs were the weak link. I also assumed that the transmitters were the same as in the handheld, but good point about the line of sight, since yes, they were on the performer's backs.

I recently bought a two channel cheapo lav system off amazon for use at a wedding. The signal was fine but I couldn't turn the volume up loud enough to be able to hear the speaker's voice without it feeding back. Like I couldn't even get close. Again I'm assuming that was a problem with the mic, not the wireless system?

I think I'll just bite the bullet and get the AVX's. Buy once, cry once, right?
Old 4th October 2020
  #5
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MIKEHARRIS's Avatar
will your indie film shoot require battery power ?
JayTees' real world experience is spot on. $500 is the bottom cost range of professional wireless...which does not include AVX.
Old 4th October 2020 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackchandelier View Post
I recently bought a two channel cheapo lav system off amazon for use at a wedding. The signal was fine but I couldn't turn the volume up loud enough to be able to hear the speaker's voice without it feeding back. Like I couldn't even get close. Again I'm assuming that was a problem with the mic, not the wireless system?
Yes and no. Omni mics don't have as wide a working gain window so placement on the user is more important but so are the relative locations of all loudspeakers and monitors. Also there may be adjustments on the beltpack to switch between line and mic levels and/or dial in how much gain is applied with a trim control, if this setting is too high the mic will be uncontrollable.
Old 4th October 2020 | Show parent
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by paul o View Post
Yes and no. Omni mics don't have as wide a working gain window so placement on the user is more important but so are the relative locations of all loudspeakers and monitors. Also there may be adjustments on the beltpack to switch between line and mic levels and/or dial in how much gain is applied with a trim control, if this setting is too high the mic will be uncontrollable.
All good things to know, thank you!
Old 4th October 2020 | Show parent
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by MIKEHARRIS View Post
will your indie film shoot require battery power ?
JayTees' real world experience is spot on. $500 is the bottom cost range of professional wireless...which does not include AVX.

Yes to battery power. We have a Rodecaster Pro - which can be powered via a usb powerbank - that we were planning on running everything into.


Does not include AVX? Why would you say that? And what would you recommend?
Old 4th October 2020
  #9
Lives for gear
Some wireless systems are more expensive because they offer larger switching bandwidth - more channels. If you need just two channels, you can definitely save some money on the transmitters/receivers without affecting the audio quality (e.g. get EW100 instead of EW500).
Sennheiser Evolution, Shure QLXD and Trantec S5.5 are the cheapest wireless systems that I'd trust for any paid work. All of them can sound pretty good when used with good capsules.
Old 4th October 2020 | Show parent
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by MIKEHARRIS View Post
will your indie film shoot require battery power ?
JayTees' real world experience is spot on. $500 is the bottom cost range of professional wireless...which does not include AVX.
Oh wow I didn't even realize Evolution series came in camera kits with body pack receivers. I thought you had to get the AVX for that. It's been a while and I've only used the Evolution with the rack mount receivers. Okay I will steer toward ew100 now, thanks !
Old 4th October 2020
  #11
S21
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S21's Avatar
 

The 'I can get 200 feet' expectation burns people one day. Try to aim for 30' if you can.
Old 4th October 2020 | Show parent
  #12
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well, with 50mW one can indeed transmit signals over vastly longer distances...
Old 4th October 2020 | Show parent
  #13
S21
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S21's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
well, with 50mW one can indeed transmit signals over vastly longer distances...
Yes, I can probably get 10km+ in an RF quiet environment hilltop to hilltop.

But the gotcha is interference. Even if a spectrum scan finds an idle channel, it isn't guaranteed to stay idle forever. There are many other users of this spectrum, and there are many other sources of unintentional RF emissions.

Mid-show, we can't see interference and we can't tune around it. The solution is to plan links for absolute maximum reliability. Absolute maximum RF signal-to-noise, because the amount of RF noise is hard to reliably know.

Having receivers at the side of the stage is good. Having receivers 200' back so we don't have to run a cable is lazy.

When the link gets longer, the reliability gets lower.
Old 5th October 2020 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by S21 View Post
Yes, I can probably get 10km+ in an RF quiet environment hilltop to hilltop (...)
lol - i haven't checked from hilltop to hilltop...

...but i have successfully transmitted a signal over a distance of 500m at an airshow over a crowd of ca. 50'000 people, using an akg dms800 with 50mW - the shure ulx-d under the very same conditions didn't get that far.

anyway, my point was to consider 'power' as one of many factors which can come into play, assuming all other things got set up correctly - worth noting that more simple devices often don't give the user much of a choice (if any) in this regard so depending on application, this can be a killer argument.
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