The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Wireless mics for a college theater

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by gafftaper, Jun 29, 2007.

  1. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,561
    Likes Received:
    2,560
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    Hi,
    I'm getting a new college black box theater this fall. The build specs calls for us to receive one Sennheiser Evolution 100 receiver with both a handheld and lav as part of the built in system. So that's a done deal. It's fine for things like lectures and guest speakers, but we want to purchase some mics for when we rent the 700 seat proscenium space down the street to do musicals. Appearance wise, I want to have something better than the old Lav over the ear with medical tape... either a tiny over the ear boom or hairline mic. Another priority is something with a good variety of frequencies to choose from and easy to change (lots of wireless issues here in Seattle)

    Budget? I've got about $3000. I would prefer to get 6 mics with that but realize I may have to limit myself to as few as 3 or 4. So I would prefer something around $500 but can go as far as $1000 if it's REALLY worth the difference.

    Recommendations?
     
  2. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,317
    Likes Received:
    351
    Location:
    Kilmarnock, VA
    Audio Technica's ATW 3110 will do nicely for you. 200 selectable frequencies, transmitter battery life gauge on the receiver and one touch channel scan.

    Audio Technica offers a wide range of mics for the Unipak system, from the under ear Microset to headworn booms to theatre miniatures.

    The receiver/transmitter package is under $ 400.00 and mics range from $ 80.00 to $ 300.00.
     
  3. stantonsound

    stantonsound Active Member

    Messages:
    360
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Charlotte
    Have you considered sticking with the sennheiser units? The benefits will be that you can pull from one system to make the other larger if needed for a particular show, the training is easier since they are all the same, and the sennheiser units are really great units and an industry standard. They will be accepted on more riders than the AT version and are more than likely more durable.

    As far as the actual mic element, consider the Countryman and AT earsets. I have never had a piece of equipment from Countryman that I was not happy with and I really like the new AT earset.

    You should be able to get at least 4-5 of the receivers/transmitters and a few earsets.
     
  4. BenFranske

    BenFranske Member

    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Edina, MN
    I would also suggest the AT wireless products but would encourage you to move up into the "Artist Elite" products which begin with the 4000 series. I've personally had great luck with these. I wouldn't worry about matching the Sennheiser as it's such an entry level model and for musical use you're going to want something better. Moving up to a more professional level Sennheiser is probably going to cost you significantly more than the AT system will. Also don't forget that you are a school and as such should think about your needs and not what may or may not be on riders. In most cases, at least in my area, people are willing to substitute and negotiate equipment on their rider especially if you can provide something of equal or better quality.
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,561
    Likes Received:
    2,560
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    I have considered staying with all Sennheiser. The system designer advised me to just go all Evolution 100... And of course Sennheiser is one of the best... but I see no reason that I have to since what I'm getting is really only going to be used for MC/Lecture situations and is unlikely to be used at the same time that all these other mics are used.

    I am a big Countryman fan, a few years ago when I was teaching in a high school I managed to get 4 of their little choir mics. They were AMAZING! So I like the idea going with countryman mics.

    At the same time I also picked up a half dozen lower end AT mics. For $150 I was amazed at the quality I got from them. So the idea of going with a more mid-level AT mic like Bill mentioned is also appealing.

    I noticed an add in stage directions for a new AT Micro boom. Anybody used them yet? How do they compare to something from Countryman?

    What about Sure wireless? I had a wireless SM58 about 6 years ago that I loved. Do they still make good stuff? Anyone out there a fan of their smaller wireless gear over AT or Senn?
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2007
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,561
    Likes Received:
    2,560
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    Just read the specs on the ATW 3100 series... sounds very impressive. I spent too many years in the world of 9 volt transmitters... What a relief it would be to have AA's.


    So a side question... and yes I realize if I spent more time in the audio forum and a little less time in the lighting forum I would probably know the answer... I've heard that some frequencies are going to be sold off from the spectrum and it could effect some wireless gear. What frequencies are they and is that something I need to be concerned about when making this purchase?
     
  7. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator

    Messages:
    1,432
    Likes Received:
    150
    Occupation:
    Radio Engineer
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I just did some work in a theatre which had Sennheiser G2 100 transmitters (handheld and bodypack) paired with a Lectrosonics receiver system. The system works wonderfully, and doesn't cost much more than an all Sennheiser system when one factors in the antenna splitters that would be needed and the like.

    The Lectro VENUE system has six receiver modules in one rack space, and internal antenna distribution with a loop thru port. The only limitation is that the frame is limited to a 50 MHz bandwidth, including units connected to the thru port. Modules tune across 25 MHz of bandwidth or so. However, this is very much a benefit because the receivers will not be bombarded with strong out-of-band signals which might desensitize the receiver. Additionally, Lectro is known as one of the best wireless vendors out there for their quality.

    One real benefit of going with the Sennheiser transmitters is that they're quite small and made of metal, not plastic like the Shure and AT units. Thus they're able to take a lot more abuse than their competitors. Plus, they don't cost too much by themselves.
     
  8. stantonsound

    stantonsound Active Member

    Messages:
    360
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Charlotte
    The upper level AT mics are GREAT. I don't own one, as they are rather expensive, but have used them and was a big fan.

    Now, the Shure question.....

    I picked up some of the Shure PGX wireless units for a rental and have been very happy with them. For their cost, I was impressed with the features and the quality of the construction.....and more importantly, the sound. I got 3 of the handheld 58 capsules and 6 of the beltpack transmitters, and put them in service within 30 minutes of leaving the store.

    They are VERY simple to use (it automatically finds the best open frequency and uses IR to set the frequency on the transmitter, just hold it in front of the base unit and push a button). The battery life was also very good. They were on a rental, and I always recommend that they replace the battery every night or two (I know that theyy last longer, but I would rather be safe), but they ran the complete 2 week run on one battery. Not too bad.

    For a rental stand point, if you are going to have "non-tech" people coming in, the Shure name is known and is widely accepted, where many people do not know AT or Sennheiser as much (churches, speakers, etc...).



    And the frequency question....

    Yes, we should all be a little concerned. From what I have read on here, it is still up in the air and there is little that we can do about it. Check out the old forums, as they were pretty good. The frequency agile units (which include all of the units that you have mentioned) are your best bet, as some of the frequencies will hopefully be untouched.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2007
  9. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,206
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    My first choice would be filling out the Senni system. You might want to look at some of AKG's wireless offerings too. Or, if all else fails, check out soundbroker.com and see what deals you can get on used.
     
  10. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator

    Messages:
    1,432
    Likes Received:
    150
    Occupation:
    Radio Engineer
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    First, some background. The FCC is in the middle of what is called Rebanding," which means they are reorganizing who can use what parts of the radio spectrum. This is occurring in numerous parts of the radio spectrum, but primarily in the 2 GHz, 800 MHz, and 700 MHz bands. As you may know, the UHF TV part of the spectrum used to span from 470 MHz to 806 MHz (channel 69). Because of the demand for clear frequencies for public safety radio traffic, the FCC is reallocating the upper part of the 700 MHz band from TV to land-mobile communication. Essentially, this means we can no longer continue to operate illegally in that part of the spectrum, because the interference generated by our wireless mics will be much more serious.

    This is not the only problem we face. With the advent of digital television, we are losing valuable spectrum in which we can operate. This is because a digital signal takes up the entire six megacycles allocated to it, while an analog signal had three major peaks within it (between which we could operate if we had to). Additionally, there is a bill in congress promoting the opening of the frequencies allocated for TV stations but not actually in use to consumer devices such as wireless network devices. This is problematic for us because there will be no way to predict the interference that these units may cause. There is another bill in congress which would protect us from this, but it's currently sitting in committee (write your congressperson now!)

    The solution to these problems is complicated. First, we must invest in equipment which is able to cut through the noise. This does NOT mean we need more powerful transmitters! We need better antennas and better receivers. As far as antennas go, it is a good idea to invest in directional antennas with high gain. These antennas should be positioned so that they are pointed AT the stage and AWAY from powerful TV transmitters. They should also be as band-limited as possible. Those antennas that are "wideband" will not help you; they'll just pick up more garbage. If the distance between the receiver and antenna is more than a few feet, invest in quality RG-8X coaxial cable and use quality terminations (N connectors where possible; otherwise BNC. Absolutely no F, RCA, PL-259/UHF, or otherwise!).

    Along with quality antennas, the second part of the solution is quality receivers. Sorry to say it, but the $299 wireless systems that manufacturers make will NOT cut it! You need to purchase receivers with quality front-end filtering if you want your mics to work. This means you need to be looking at receivers OVER $500 per channel. This doesn't include the transmitter. You should be also able to tune the receiver at 100 kHz steps or better (smaller). Units which have "preset" channels or which do not have a display are not worth even looking at, especially if you live near a city.

    It is important to consider how your antennas will connect to your system as well. When buying systems, you must be sure to include in the price the cost of antenna filtering and distribution. In many cases, you will need multiple distributors, each of which can cost as much as a receiver. They also take up space in the rack. Lectrosonics is the exception to this rule - they include onboard filtering, splitting, and amplification in their VENUE receiver systems. However, as I said above, this is limited to a 50 MHz band of frequencies, so if you have a particularly large system (>24 units) or a lot of RF in your area, you may need to set up multiple antenna sets to cover all of your units, or split them out beforehand with a passive splitter.

    Finally, be sure to stay clear of units which operate in the 700 MHz band. When you order a system, work with your vendor to select frequency bands which have the least amount of interference in your area. Also, determine if your vendor can do frequency coordination for you. If so, they should make a site visit, run some tests, and come up with a list of frequencies you can use. If not, you'll need to figure out what TV stations are in your area and draw up a list of frequencies. I've posted on how to do this before; please search the archives for more.

    Does this clear things up a bit? Please let me know if you have any questions (PM is fine too!)
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,561
    Likes Received:
    2,560
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    Thanks Mike, that helped a lot. My plan was to have an idea what I'm looking for before calling my audio guy in... and you're post certainly makes that clear. It sounds like I need to think seriously about the Lectrosonics Venue system and Sennheiser transmitter combo as you suggested. I've got a friend who's a hard core sound guy who works in the area, it sounds like I've got to sit down with him and talk about what frequencies are useless in the area. The good news is the venue where we will primarily be using this gear is down in a valley and it's sometimes quite difficult to get a decent radio or phone signal down there so maybe nature is working in my favor.
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,561
    Likes Received:
    2,560
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    Well... I may have to rethink this a bit. I did some on-line price searching and it looks like the Lectrosonic Venue system with 6 receiver modules, 6 Sennheiser Evolution 100 transmitter packs and 6 either Countryman or AT micro ear sets, wire it up in a nice portable rack and it's going to be up over $7500. While I have to say that's not a bad deal when you consider the quality we would be getting, it's a lot more than I was planning to spend.

    Bill's original AT idea of the ATW 3110 and a top of the line AT micro ear set is much more in line with my original budget... I can buy a few now, and add splitters down the road. If I'm only purchasing 4 or 5, the splitter is nice but not a necessity at this point.
     
  13. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    93
    Location:
    Eastcoast USA
    I would second on the Audio Technica 3000 model for your application and price range....they are a good choice IMO. If you could manage to tweak out some extra monies--the AT 4000's are even nicer and would suit your needs and thensome....

    If you can afford the Lectro's--go for it....I've never met a Lectrosonics product that I did not like...but then if you have a much bigger budget for wireless--your options open up even moreso...
    -w
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,561
    Likes Received:
    2,560
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    It's one of those products where if your budget is $500 there is a perfect product you can't quite afford AND if you have $5000 there is an even more perfect product you just can't afford.

    Thanks everyone. I still don't know what my total equipment budget will be then I can start making final priority decisions. This discussion has set me off in the right direction.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice