This question is related to the topic, but my situation is a little different. My project isn't video work, it's a live art installation, but the type of problem I'm tackling probably has more to do with what filmmakers deal with than traditional live soundmen or audio recording engineers. I'll try to explain my specific needs as best as I can.
I'm basically in need of a wireless mic that can be suspended from a wire close to the ceiling and moved around a room full of people on an automated pulley system (or something similar) to pick up whatever's going on in the room below it. This question is not about the pulley system, we can figure that out. It's about the mic, transmitter, and receiver. It's not clandestine, so there's nothing ethically weird going on. The mic will be very conspicuous, but it's going to be traveling on a a predetermined path on a motorized wire system overhead... completely unmanned. The path of the mic being mechanical and unbiased is the concept; and the plan to have an unmanned, travelling overhead mic is set in stone. "Hire a boom operator," is not the solution to my problem. Finding the cheapest effective wireless mic system is the issue at hand.
Okay. Assume a wireless dynamic mic is suspended, pointing downward, with the capsule approximately seven feet off the ground. There's some sort of small crowd in the room. Could be anywhere from 15-50 people. We'll assume the people range from about 5' to 6.5' tall and are speaking at normal indoor volume, not projecting like stage actors. Will a normal dynamic mic have enough range to pick up people talking and then amplify it? Whether or not the conversations are distinct or there's just a general crowd murmur is beside the point. Would a compressor help boost and even out the level?
Cheap wireless handheld dynamics are easy to find, but I'm worried one of those wouldn't pick up the talking. I'm thinking I could need a cheap condenser mic with an XLR plug-in transmitter, but that raises a whole new set of questions. Does anyone know of a cheap transmitter/receiver system that has this kind of transmitter? Also do you think there'd be shock issues with a condenser mic on a pulley? What would I need to do to fix any wind/shock issues caused by such a setup.
Because the mic/transmitter will be visible and people will probably be staring at it, it needs to be sort of tidy and self-contained and mic-shaped. The presence of the mic, not the sloppiness of its appearance, should be noticed. A wireless handheld mic or a condenser mic with an XLR-jack transmitter are possible examples. We've found some lavaliers we think might do the trick technically, but there's a visual element going on and suspending a little box with a lapel mic hanging off of it is going to look sloppy.
Because this signal is simply intended to be amplified in a live setting (as opposed to being used for recording purposes), high quality sound is low on our list of demands. Cheap is high priority. We're hoping to spend around $200 on the mic/transmitter/receiver, which puts us at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to wireless mic systems. We're open to suggestions slightly above that mark, but we're really looking for the cheapest solution to our problem. We're fairly certain what we're trying to do can be achieved relatively close to our budget if we think creatively.
Thanks for taking the time to read and ponder my question.
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01-31-2012 11:03 AM
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- Jan 2012
01-31-2012 11:19 AM
You are not going to get a reasonably good working wireless kit for 20.00. More like 600.00 for the Sennheiser G3 wireless,
+ the cost of a mic. Anything cheaper will get you lots of static. Since you have everything rigged up, why not just use a wired mic? I would suggest a condenser mic though, to pick up stuff from further away. A dynamic mic will usually drop off it's ability to clearly pick up voices beyond 2 feet. Maybe an NTG-2 hanging straight down? With the foam windscreen on it, it will look like a mic. Or find a cheap large diaphragm condenser like they use for singing vocals - one you can set to omni pattern. That will pick up in all directions - and it looks like a mic. You'll need to supply phantom power. With the NTG-2 you can run it on battery and not supply phantom.
01-31-2012 12:03 PM
The rules of wireless mics don't change based on the installation. You're still looking at a minimum investment well above $200, but because of the nature of the project and the fact that it's fixed installation, you might get away with something under $600. We're not talking about the need for the compact receiver, so a system with a wall-powered receiver should do just fine (and actually afford you some flexibility). Plus, even the Sennheiser G3 is cheaper with the table-top/rack-mount receiver (compact ENG receivers do cost more).
While you say that quality is the least of your concerns, there are other factors at play here that dictate a decent wireless system. The biggest concern you'll have is signal coverage, and cheap systems (as noted in the original post) suffer from poor reception and frequent dropouts. Getting a system like the Sennheiser G3 (which, by the way, is available with a mic/transmitter combo) gives you diversity reception and the ability to locate the antennae away from the receiver. While I don't know how large a room you're working with, the ability to move one antenna from the receiver to a different location can increase your signal coverage and allow the mic to move with fewer signal problems.
A condenser element is going to give you better pickup than a dynamic, and that's also going to drive the cost up.
The Audio Technica 2120a handheld system has a dynamic mic, but has diversity reception and detachable antennae (BNC connection). It has only 10 selectable frequencies. About $350. These systems are okay, but I like the 3000 series better.
The Audio Technica 3141 system is a better buy, has more frequencies available, and also has detachable antennae. It's dynamic as well, and runs $499.
The Audio Technica 3171 system is the same as the 3141, but has a condenser element. $599.
Sennehiser has Evolution Wireless G3 systems with the features you need for as low as $499, but the condenser element will cost you more.
If this is a temporary installation, you might want to rent what you need instead of purchasing. That $200 you want to spend can get you a great system for several days. Try www.trewaudio.com. They're closer than you think...Formerly known as C2V
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02-02-2012 08:22 PM
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- Dec 2004
No problem: http://web.mac.com/tyreeford/Site/Ty...eld_Guide.html
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02-21-2012 08:42 AM
Just curious... where is the second antenna on the Sennheiser G3?Practice safe filmmaking; use a concept.
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- Dec 2004
02-21-2012 12:07 PM
- Join Date
- Oct 2009
it's the audiocable. But I don't know if that works as well as 2 "real" antennas's...
the length of the antenna is decided by the wavelenght, the smallest frequentie (longest wave) has to "fit" on the antenna
08-14-2012 03:13 AM
Yes, the G3 use the output cable as the second antenna on the EK 100/300/500 and 2000 series.
In fact this can be an advantage as the output cable will be orientated at a different angle from the fixed antenna and can therefore actually be better than two close-spaced parallel antennas.
But just make sure the cable is screwed down properly to avoid any crackles.John Willett
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09-11-2012 10:40 AM
I am going to disagree with much that has been posted here. As an arts project, I can see no real issue with a cheap handheld radio mic being used in this situation. As long as the mic is up in the air, then the line of sight path is going to be pretty short, and being in the clear, it's likely the signal strength will be high enough to avoid the hiss so common when signal strength at the receiver is weak. You can buy pretty cheap systems in the local music shops, and second hand on ebay. For this project, maybe even old VHF systems could still be viable.
The real issues are simply going to be acoustic feedback. If the mic to source distance is let's say 6 feet - then you are going to have to stop the microphone hearing the loudspeakers. Forget radio systems for a moment, and consider the ways of using mics in theatres to hear actors and singers on stage who do not have radio mics, or handhelds. The maximum volume is simply the maximum before feedback makes the system unstable. If the areas with the mic in it is remote from the area with the speakers, then the gain can be cranked up and it will sound interesting - but if the PA sound is the same area that contains the mic, it's not going to work - UNLESS you incorporate a delay. A long one, far beyond the reverberation time of the room will be stable - so think delays of seconds rather than milliseconds people speak and their voices appear a few seconds later. This could be interesting. Biggest issue will be the constant batterying up which will be a regular thing. If you can live with slightly thin sounding audio, it could be a fun project and a good talking point. A friend bought a working, but elderly Shure VHF system on ebay three weeks ago for £40 - and it's perfect for this kind of thing. The receiver is in a 19" rack mount unit that could have the aerial feed provided remotely - from the other side of the coverage area, and the only tricky bit will be designing the tracking system with enough rubber to prevent the weird travelling noises. Good luck!