Wireless for the People
One of the first ways to tell that a videographer is becoming more concerned with the craft is when he begins to fret about audio quality. Videomakerhas always maintained that the best way to get good audio is to put a microphone close to your subject. Often, this is just too difficult to do, especially in an unobtrusive manner. To get a microphone next to the subject without making it obvious, most videographers choose a wireless microphone system with a lavalier microphone.
Nady Systems, Inc. is famous for their wireless systems. A couple of years ago, they released a series of low-cost VHF wireless microphone systems for use by hobbyists and budget-minded professionals. One of these VHF systems is the Nady 351 VR LT, an ultra-compact system designed for use with consumer camcorders.
Setting up the System
The Nady 351 is comprised of two main parts. There’s the transmitter with an attached lavalier microphone, and the receiver, which clips onto a camcorder’s shoe mount. Both pieces are extremely small, each piece falling somewhere in size between a pager and a portable tape deck.
To use the system, all you have to do is attach the antenna to the receiver (the cable from the lavalier to the transmitter acts as its antenna), put a 9-volt battery into each unit, run the cable from the receiver to the camcorder’s mike jack and plug in a set of minijack headphones. It couldn’t be simpler, except for the fact that when we assembled the unit and went to test it, we were greeted with the uncomfortable sound of silence.
Going over the steps needed for assembly, the problem was located within a couple of minutes. The battery on the receiver didn’t seat correctly when it was inserted. By pushing it in and jiggling it around, it made good contact and the 351 was ready to rock.
Use the Wireless, Luke
We tested the Nady 351 with a Panasonic PV-DV910 Mini DV camcorder. The receiver easily snapped onto the PV-DV910’s shoe mount and the minijack cable was quickly attached between the receiver and the camcorder. You can either monitor your audio from the receiver or camcorder using headphones, which is a nice option for Nady to put onto a consumer unit. This leads to easier troubleshooting if there is a problem receiving audio, because you can tell if your receiver is getting the signal from the transmitter, isolating the problem to the output of the receiver or input of the camcorder.
In operation, the 351 worked well at close range. The unit did a decent job of carrying voice. When the test subject began to wander around Videomaker‘s headquarters, we began to really put the unit through its paces. It did well at first, not losing signal even though the transmitter and receiver were separated by four walls and 50 feet. When we moved the transmitter and receiver about 100 feet apart through six or more walls, we were able to break up the signal. When using the wireless in a traditional line-of-sight manner, the microphone could easily go over 100 feet without breaking up.
In our tests, we noticed no interference from outside sources. We didn’t have TV stations or CB radios breaking into our transmissions. Inside, we noticed very few phase interference dead spots, which is good for a wireless system that doesn’t even try to fake diversity.
Who’s it For?
The Nady 351 is a decent system for the price. No, you won’t get the performance of a rack-mounted true diversity UHF wireless system. However, you won’t pay nearly as much for the 351 as one of those professional-level systems. If you are just getting started, and want a wireless microphone system, the Nady 351 could be the perfect system for you. If you want the best performance possible, you’ll need to spend more money and get yourself a true diversity UHF system.
System Ultra Compact VHF transmitter and receiver
Transmitting Frequency: between 170MHz-218MHz
Output: mini mike jack, mini headphone jack
Frequency Response: 25-20,000Hz
Max SPL: 120dB (to A-weighted noise level)
Power: receiver 1×9-volt battery, transmitter 1×9-volt battery
Nady LT-20 lavalier
Physical Type: >lavalier
Pickup Pattern: n/a
Output impedance: 600 [OMEGA Symbol for Ohms]
Dimensions: Transmitter 3 7/8 (height) x 2 3/8 (width) x 7/8 (depth) inches, Receiver 3 /38 (height) x 2 7/16 (width) x 7/8 (depth) inches (minus shoe mount)
Weight: transmitter 3.7 ounces, receiver 3.1 ounces (minus battery)
- relatively inexpensive
- no adapters required for camcorder use
- because of loose battery connection, it didn’t work out of the box
- sound quality could have been better
This inexpensive wireless unit is good for amateur productions, but advanced videographers might want more from a wireless.
Nady Systems, Inc.
6701 Bay Street
Emeryville, CA 94608