Wireless Countryman e6 Earset Connection Tips?

cekren

Active Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
Location
Midwest
Hi all,

We're having issues with our Countryman e6 earsets w/ 1mm Sennheiser cables in that the connection between the earset and cable seems to be breaking excessively. We typically use Transpore tape on the cheek, behind the ear (near the connection) and at the base of the neck (with actor looking fully down and away to ensure adequate slack.) However, we still seem to be losing an excessive number of cables each show to failures at that connection point (5+ w/ 32 mics over 10 performances). Granted these are amateur, student, and children performers, but I've run several shows with MKE2's and similar actor demographics and had zero or very minimal (1-2) failures.

I had thought of using a small Hellerman sleeve stretched over the connection to keep it tightly together and isolated from tape, movement, etc. and just having an entire spare earset + cable backstage to swap in case of a break, then having the A2 cut the sleeve and replace the cable as normal if needed once the entire broken rig is off the actor, but wanted to consult the hive mind for solutions, too.

Thanks!
 

themuzicman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2007
Location
On Tour
Your MKE-2's didn't fail because they are built rather ruggedly. The E6 earsets like it with the connections behind the ear (DPA D:Fine 4188/4288, Point Source CO-8WD, etc.) all have the same issues and fail in the same place more than they ever should.

Your general thoughts are the right direction to head in. Lock off the connection with something and have spares handy, It's not if but when they fail so your A2 will have something to do. I'd also make sure the actors aren't dropping the mic down their shirt and shocking the connection when they are putting them on.
 

cekren

Active Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
Location
Midwest
Your MKE-2's didn't fail because they are built rather ruggedly. The E6 earsets like it with the connections behind the ear (DPA D:Fine 4188/4288, Point Source CO-8WD, etc.) all have the same issues and fail in the same place more than they ever should.

Your general thoughts are the right direction to head in. Lock off the connection with something and have spares handy, It's not if but when they fail so your A2 will have something to do. I'd also make sure the actors aren't dropping the mic down their shirt and shocking the connection when they are putting them on.
That's what I was thinking re: the MKE2... unfortunately a lot of companies I work with love the e6 because (when) it works, it's easy to position consistently and sounds pretty good, while being visually unobtrusive. Of course the high failure rate is a major downside... I wonder if building ear rigs from a b6 lav could get the "best of both worlds"...

I had not thought about the shock loading on the connector, and will definitely be making a note about that. Thanks!

Countryman sells stronger, 2 mm cables for a reason.
The majority of our failures are occurring at the earset connector side, which is presumably similar between the 1mm and 2mm models. Failures within either type of cable are comparatively incredibly rare in our use, which is where the 2mm would have the advantage. In fact, we have actually tried swapping several of our earsets to the 2mm's to see if they would fair any better, but after a couple of shows, failures were still occurring in the connector, similar to the 1mm's. Additionally, the extra weight and stiffness from the 2mm cable tends to pull on the earset (and connector) and our Transpore tape does not hold them as securely as the 1mm's, leading to lots of re-taping during shows.
 

MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Mar 30, 2008
Location
Sarasota, FL
I've gone away from E6's because the B6's are half the cost, you don't have to worry about all the metal ear clips breaking from fatigue after a few years (and your whole inventory will break at the same time), and you don't have IMO unattractive mic's in front of everyone's cheeks. I also kind of suspect that Carl Countryman has unusually shaped ears and that's why the E6's never seem to be an ideal fit for anyone without doing the multiple layers of tricks to keep the mic's from misbehaving.

If you're not in a controlled environment with trained performers I might buy a few of something else and see what you think after a few shows.
 

NickVon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Location
07003
I love Microphone Madness's Earsets

and Bodymics.com Drurey Lane for cheek or wig worn laves. (< buy extra as they are cheaper, and have a 1 in 6 DOA failure rate some times) but they sound great, look great, and are easy to work with)
 

dflower

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2010
Location
Houston
Your main problem is not really the strength of the wire, the strength of the connection, or how you are taping the mics, as it sounds like you are taping them correctly. While some brands of these mics are a little more robust than others, all of them are fragile. And it is not so much the actual wire itself, the weak point is where the wire is connected to the connector or earpiece. You can to a large extent overcome this fragility by changing the way your mic wranglers handle the mics. Most failures occur when removing the mic - tendency is to un-tape the earpiece, and pull the earpiece through the costume, either by pulling the earpiece down (where it typically catches somewhere on the costume), or pulling the body pack up (where you add the weight of the body pack to the catching on the costume...). When the ear piece or the body pack catches, the mic wrangler tugs a little harder, causing the wire to fail. Here is a short version of the rules we have been using for several years:
1. Actor is not allowed to touch their own mic or anyone else's mic.
2. Actor is not allowed in the makeup room (or anywhere near hair spray) when wearing a mic.
3. When removing the mic, the mic wrangler must carefully un-tape the earpiece while holding the earpiece and/or the wire so as to avoid pulling on either end of the wire when pulling off the tape (typically 3M surgical tape) . With the earpiece in their hand, they stick their hand carefully down through the costume toward the body pack. All the time being very aware of trying to avoid putting any strain what so ever on the wire.
4. Same basic procedure for installing the mic - earpiece is taped, body pack is lowered, not by the wire, but by holding the body pack in one hand down through the costume to the mic belt.
5. No more than 4 mic wranglers allowed - too many and we loose control of them!
6. The best mic wrangler, in my opinion, is a seasoned elementary school teacher. They know how to follow rules, and they know how to enforce rules!

While we are still learning about how to protect the wires, over the past several years of productions where we use 32-36 wireless mics, with 4 dress rehearsals and 7 or 9 shows over two weekends, we typically only break 1 or 2 wires, occasionally we do a whole production where we break none. And of course we occasionally end up with a handful of broken wires when training a new mic wrangler who refuses to follow the rules.
 

Glenn Parke

Member
Joined
May 9, 2018
Location
Lancaster, PA
At my theater, we use Countryman E6 mics exclusively. This year, we've had 188 cables go bad near the ear and 36 bad at the trans end. But, we're at 413 shows which are 2 1/2 hrs long and with 72 mics. That also includes 6 weeks of rehearsals and transfer from last year.
Some of those problems are just occasional pops which don't affect anything or just ensemble mics.

At one time we did use 2mm cables, but like mentioned above, the extra weight and stiffness can cause the connectors to go bad quicker.

Here's one thing we're doing. At the trans end, we added a loop of wire with the cable taped to the connector. Alos, when soldering new connectors on, we add 5 or 6" of heat shrink around the wire by the trans connector. So if the cable gets pulled, the heat shrink adds some stiffness.

We also tried clear heat shrink up by the ear connector. A 8 or 9" real small piece on the wire itself, followed by a larger piece about 2" long covering the whole connection point.
This does seems to work. They can still go bad though. We ran out of heat shrink so we stopped doing that. Need to buy some more.
The negative is that if there is a problem, then you have to replace the both the mic and the cable. Plus the the heat shrink does get stiffer over time. We want to find a different brand.
We have 2 mics that have the heat shrink on it that have lasted all year.

We also let the actors put the mics on themselves, way too many acors to have one A2 do it. Although there are times that burns us.

We have thought about switching to DPA and even had a demo at our theater. Even with our budget, the cost of their mics makes us reconsider it.
If you didn't hear, RCF is buying out DPA. Don't know if they'll keep the same prices on the mics though.

Oh, BTW, we've lost 184 caps this year for the mics too.

I just wanted to add some perspective to how often cables can go bad in musical theater.

Glenn