November 11, 2014 at 7:20PM

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Wireless Audio For Productions

I've finally got good setup for shooting video for productions (Blackmagic 4k and the Ursa on back order, lenses, etc.) but now I need to start work on my audio. I eyeing the Rode NTG-3 kit and also wanted to ask you all about pro wireless audio kits. I need a couple of lavs and would also like to run the boom wirelessly. I'm planning to run the audio into my camera. Any suggestions on a good wireless pro audio setup?

16 Comments

The Sennheiser G3 system is the only affordable wireless system that can produce professional results. I started out with the Sennheiser G2 system 6 years ago, and then upgraded to the G3 when it came out.

The next step up from Sennheiser are the Lectrosonic systems, but you are talking more than double the cost of the Sennheiser kits.

November 12, 2014 at 9:05AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30291

Yeah, I've been checking those out. They have some really nice kits on B&H. Would you suggest running it through a mixer? I was looking at the Sound Devices 302 mixer to keep close to camera.

Also would I need a preamp for the boom like the SoundDevices MM1.

What is your setup like?

Thanks for your reply Guy, you always give good advice.

November 12, 2014 at 11:15AM

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Kevin Jones
Editor
808

Like McLoughlin said, the Sennheiser G3 is the only professional grade wireless audio system that still sell at an affordable price. I've been using mine for months now (don't have a single issue with it) and even tested its transmission in a vehicle moving at high speed vs an operator in a stationary position - result being that you can go as fast as you can as long as you stay within around 50m range. Also I've heard people complaining about radio interference with wireless systems in general - personally I've worked within one of the busiest cities in my country and I haven't noticed a single instance of that in my recordings.

As for the mixer I'd rather go straight for the 7 series recorders like the 702 - apart from the obvious they feature their highest quality preamps which really means something with their brand. As for the MM-1 it still rocks the original preamps from the mixers (which are still good) and personally I have yet to hear a single bad word about them. I have 2 of those ordered right now, waiting to get them.

And if you have the money to spare consider Sennheiser's MKH-416P48 instead of the NTG-3's. I have nothing against Rode - I started with their products but the 416 has been the industry standard for over 3 decades for a reason. Look up some audio comparisons, whichever sounds better in your mind should be the choice. Sennheiser also launched new products - 8060 and 8070 - 8060 is little over half the length of 416, 40% more expensive but much more forgiving on the angles and treats off-axis sounds with more "dignity" if you can call it that. 8070 is basically the cannon sized version of it.

December 8, 2014 at 5:01AM

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Michael Bialik
Sound Designer
131

>>>Would you suggest running it through a mixer?

It depends on what you are filming...

Here's an example of a quick interview I shot a few years ago, where I had the on-camera interviewer use a Sennheiser SKM 100-835 G3 hand-held mic and I had the Sennheiser receiver going straight into my Panasonic GH2 camera. It was a risky set-up because you can't monitor audio with the GH2 camera, but I had shot with this combo enough times that knew how to properly set the levels for both the Sennheiser system and my GH2 camera.

Ronnie Burkett Interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqVCP7MlCBY

...If I was going to use a Sennheiser G3 set-up with a boom mic, then I would definitely use a good mixer to power the mic and amplify the signal from the mic BEFORE connecting to the Sennheiser UHF transmitter. A Sound Devices MM-1 would be a good fit for this sort of set-up.

>>>What is your setup like?

I shoot mainly corporate work, which is usually one or two people on camera most of the time, so I use two Sennheiser G3 systems with Oscar SoundTech lavs. ( I have a couple Sanken COS-11d lavs, but they pick-up too much room noise most of the time, which the OST lavs don't. OST lavs are less than $100 each. )

When my budget allows for a sound person, I have them use my Audio-Technica 4053b hypercardioid or Sanken CS-1 shotgun into a Sound Devices MixPre-D, with a Sony PCM-M10 recorder tucked into the front of the mixer bag. Then I sync in post with the boom-op recording and the reference audio track from my camera. I could use a wireless for this, but the portable recorder in the mixer bag can record 48 kHz 24-bit audio which my GH4 camera can't. ( the GH4 is still very good, but the portable recorder is better )

I am also thinking of picking up a few of these new Tascam DR-10CS Micro Linear recorders to be able to mic more people on camera using the same Oscar SoundTech lavs, but these recorders are about 1/3 of the price of a Sennheiser wireless set-up and I don't have to worry about multiple channels conflicting with each other.

I also have a Fostex DC-R302 mixer/recorder that I use sometimes. It produces very good sound, and I will add on my Sound Devices MixPre-D when premium audio quality is important.

And lastly I might pick-up a Tascam DR-70 DSLR recorder, because it's cheap and I expect it will work perfectly with a used Sound Devices 442 mixer. ( 442 mixers are very cheap on eBay )

November 12, 2014 at 12:12PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30291

Thanks for your input Guy!

November 12, 2014 at 6:13PM

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Kevin Jones
Editor
808

I'm looking at the MixPre-D so I'm wondering how you connect it to the Sony PCM-M10?

Do you have any experience or thoughts on the Oktava mk-012 cardioid/hyper cardioid? Seems like a decent low cost mic.

November 12, 2014 at 6:40PM

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Studio LAX
Editor/Producer/Director
338

Guy - Very nice audio quality.

November 13, 2014 at 6:07PM, Edited November 13, 6:07PM

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Dave Patterson
Preditor (producer/editor)
175

Thanks. That Sennheiser handheld mic is great for on camera interviews, and I always do a little audio tweaking in post to get the sound quality I'm after. ( i.e. parametric EQ, audio level compression, and noise-reduction )

November 13, 2014 at 10:01PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30291

What are your thoughts on pairing the Tascam Dr-70 with the SD 442 mixer and an MKE 600 mic? Thinking about pairing a couple of wireless G3's on as well with a TRAM mic.

August 5, 2015 at 11:46PM

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>>>I'm looking at the MixPre-D so I'm wondering how you connect it to the Sony PCM-M10?

I use a short $4 cable that connects the TAPE OUT ( -10 dB ) to the LINE INPUT on my Sony PCM-M10. Here is the exact cable I use, works perfectly...

Hosa Stereo Mini Angled Male to Stereo Angled Mini Male Cable - 8 Inches
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/431362-REG/Hosa_Technology_CMM_100...

>>>Do you have any experience or thoughts on the Oktava mk-012 cardioid/hyper cardioid?

Excellent mic but very sensitive to handling noise, so you need a very good shockmount like the Rycote Lyre mount when using this mic.

November 12, 2014 at 7:22PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30291

Hey Guy, thanks for the info.

Considering all different ways to connect the mix-pre to various devices via digital and analogue so it's good to know it'll connect to a line level.

Going to get one of the Oktava's been thinking about it for a while and already got a spare Lyre.

November 14, 2014 at 12:13PM

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Studio LAX
Editor/Producer/Director
338

Will you work on your own (one-man-band) or do you plan expanding to a small production company? I am asking because if you plan to bring in a sound recordist, they prefer to have a separate sound mixer/recorder in order to be more versatile and not get in the way of the camera. That said, being able to record good sound in camera is a plus, for syncing in post (replace your scratch sound from camera with your superior tracks from the recorder) and as a dual system back-up solution.

November 13, 2014 at 5:00AM

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Stel Kouk
Filmmaker
2916

Right now it's just me and my assistant (basically a one man band), but over time I would like to eventually add a sound recordist. Yeah, I think I will be looking to add a dual system as well, like you said, as a back us solution.

November 13, 2014 at 2:52PM

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Kevin Jones
Editor
808

I personally would never use a G3 for the boom. If it is a sit down just use a cable with the boom on a stand and if you are using a boom op I use a duplex cable. I would only consider wireless boom with higher end wireless like the sennheiser 2000 range, lectrosonics, zaxcom, wisycom or audio limited. The boom is your back up if the lavs go to crap so you do not want the boom to start getting RF drops if the lav gets unplugged or the talent's shirt starts to act up.

If you want a great starter mixer look at a used 442. Great flexibility and has pre fader send for each channel so you can record Iso's to recorder like the DR-680 or DR-70.

Also, when you do hire a mixer rent their kit don't have them use yours. Any mixer worth his salt will most likely have gear that is far better than what you have and they know it so they are ready to go right away.

November 14, 2014 at 11:44PM

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Will Youngman
Sound Mixer
203

OSTs are an excellent value, but in my opinion it's worth spending a little more on the Røde Lavalier for its modular design. A bad cable or an incompatible plug will never cause you to throw away another perfectly good lav mic. If you're already using an NTG-3, the Røde Lavalier should be your obvious choice. Just be aware that it can sound a little more muffled than other mics if you're hiding it under clothing.

For a wireless system, the Sennheiser G2 and G3 are a good option on the budget end. Don't go any cheaper than that though. You may find good deals on used kits and be able to save that way, but avoid the cheaper units from companies like Azden. If you're buying used, also be careful not to buy units in banned frequency blocks, or you may run into trouble with the FCC. Lectrosonics are definitely a step up from Sennheiser, but only really in their 400 series, and those run in the thousands of dollars. The 100s / 190s are certainly more rugged than Sennheiser G2 / G3, but inferior audio quality.

Lastly, the Tascam DR-70D is an excellent option for mixing and recording up to 4 channels. You may get higher quality by combining a Sound Devices MixPre with a PCM recorder, but for a compact all-in-one unit at an unbeatable price, look no further than Tascam.

December 8, 2014 at 2:42AM

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Sangye Ince-Johannsen
Documentary FIlmmaker
81

I own the OST, Rode Lav, Sennheiser ME2 & Rode pinMic.

Just be weary of the Oscar SoundTech lavs as the cords are very noisy. Great capsule but those cords pick up lots of unwanted ruffles and handling noise.

The Sennheiser ME2 mic is actually quite underrated. It perfect for hiding under clothing as it has a nice high frequency response and doesn't sound muffled like the Rode Lav when hidden.

Regarding Rode's PinMic it has the best natural sound and is even great at picking up another person when talent is talking to them.

December 8, 2014 at 4:52AM

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Tommy Jenkins
Filmmaker
74

If you're looking to be as wireless as possible I'd also add the SKP300 G3 plug-on transmitter to your kit. Definitely an amazing thing to have for your phantom powered mics. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/858052-REG/Sennheiser_SKP_300_G3_A...

December 8, 2014 at 5:06PM

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Ty Harper
Producer/Documentarian/Broadcaster
156

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