Wireless lavalier(s) or use the field recorder?

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    • #41895

       Am building a video business of which part will be interviewing family members. I’m looking at buying UHF wireless lavaliers coupled wired to a dual-input field recorder, either a Zoom or Tascam. Rather than buying two wireless lavaliers would it be better (and cheaper) to just set up the field recorder in front of the subjects?

                                                                                Thanks in adv.


    • #177085

      Lavalier mics should be a last resort used when you can’t get a mic close to the subject without it getting in the shot. Decent lavs are expensive and are subject to radio interference.

      If you’re shooting an interview, set up a boom with a shotgun mic and position it in front of the subject above their head. Then connect the mic to something like a Zoom recorder or even to the camera directly if it has XLR connections.

    • #177086

      In my Video StoryTellers! program I’ve tried a number of ways to get the kind of good, clean, clear and crisp audio I wanted for my storytellers. After using shotguns (cheap & expensive) and a variety of other systems, including wired handheld (which, by the way works extremely well in busy outdoor interview sessions) and wired/wireless lavalieres, my Zoom H2 recorders and even a minidisc recorder with a wired lavaliere feeding to it.

      I now, almost exclusively use this setup: A Sony wireless system UWP-V6 direct to camcorder (currently continue to shoot with a GL2 and use manual audio adjustment) and a pair of Zoom H2 units in close proximity.

      My primary audio is the Sony wireless. And I have to say that most of my interviews and Video StoryTellers! sessions are single person sessions. When there ARE two and both have something to say without interacting with each other, I’ll mic one, get the story, with the second person nodding, smiling, reacting, etc., then mic the second person with the first one doing the same.

      I’ve tried boundary or piezo mics but too much weird noise pickup … clicking pens, rapping knuckles or nails, etc. and the sound simply isn’t the nice clear audio I desire.

      The H2 system is great but it still allows a bit of room ambience and air into the recording, and occasionally picks up unwanted audio. Still, when I take this into my Soundtrack Pro software (I’m Mac based) it cleans up rather well, but is a second step I don’t always want to take time with. They are GREAT backups for all interview work, however.

      I’ve run a RadioShack wired lavaliere mic to the H2 systems with some great results, so that will get you about the same quality as the wireless Sony system I mentioned (about $900, $750 if you find a sale somewhere) only just a bit more brighter than I care for.

      If you have multiple interviewees or speakers and have four H2 systems like me, you can hook up each using the $39 (or so) RS wired lavalieres with each feeding into its own H2. Depending on the complexity of your project(s) or the desired end results, this is a great way to isolate, then mix down in post to get what you want.

      Hope this helps, Earl

    • #177087

      I honestly do best with my EV interview mic, and it was one of the cheaper ones. I can sit in a dance hall at a wedding with the music blaring and the audio comes through from the subject crystal clear and the background noise is cut out considerably. That requires holding a mic of course, but if you want great audio that is my suggestion. Lav mics are not bad either, but if you conceal them they tend to get muffled a bit and are more prone to scratching from clothes etc. If you don’t conceal them – then why not just use the interview mic?

      My Rode shotgun mic is okay if you absolutely need to pick something up from a distance with no set-up, but even that mic picks up way more ambient noise than I like.

    • #177088

      @Earl – Any chance you would post an actual photo of your audio set-up in use? Right now, I use a Canon shotgun on top of my GL2, and I just got a Zoom to play around with….unfortunately, I have discovered just how sensitive this recorder really is.

    • #177089

      “O” here’s a link “Setting Up for a Video StoryTellers! Shoot” that will show you some shots of the wireless in action, but not with the H2 in obvious use. I will work on something soon as I can reflecting the H2 visibly, along with the Sony wireless. All of my funeral productions, where the viewer sees the POV of the podium, show one of my H2 units hiding in plain sight, taped to the side of the podium. In this case the proximity of the unit to the speaker is key to getting some really sweet clean audio of the speakers’ narrative. It has also proven effective in picking up a better level of audio from live music or soloists as far away as 10 feet. i occasionally use both directional/angle spreads on the H2, depending on the circumstances. I will also look and see if I have a decent podium shot I can freeze to show just how close I place my H2 there … probably 12″ from the elbow, or to the right side of the speaker, angled toward the speaker position, and maybe 24″ or so from the mouth, depending on the height of the person speaking.

      Bye the way, the narrative on the above video was done using an H2 with the mic stand adapter attached and carefully handheld, me, the typed script and H2 all covered in a light blanket, then the audio taken into Soundtrack Pro (I’m Mac based) to clean it up a bit. FYI

    • #177090

      Thanks Earl – I look forward to seeing the shot you mentioned.

    • #177091

      Thanks Earl that’s helpful to me too.

    • #177092

      Earl, NICE JOB!

    • #177093

      Earl – good write up. I use a very similar setup to what you mentioned except I use Zoom H4N’s. I can plug two mics in to each if I want or use the on-board mics. I do use both wireless and wired mics with the H4N – it just depends on what I am trying to accomplish. I also use two XLR inputs on each of the XF100’s I use. And, like you stated I have had great success using the RS lav’s (both wired and wireless). My crew and I just finished up a project where we used the H4N’s on mini tripods and mic stands and a boom to capture speech – the setup worked great. The more audio you record the better – we had a boom mic go out on the dialog in our last project and didn’t realize it until post. Fortunately, we had a H4N on a table right next to the scene that captured the audio also – which in post ended up being used for the scene’s audio track. You just can never have enough audio captured.

    • #177094

      I’ve had great success for many years using a Sennheiser ew100 wireless lav mic setup(about $600-$700)running directly into the camera. I usually just use one mic, but sometimes I’ll use 2 withiout a mixer – i just ride the levels individually using mycameras’ dual input level controls.Really well built unit, and never an issue with interference.

    • #177095

      Different tools for different situations. (1) Two people sitting at a kitchen table, talking about their lives together. Tool: lav mics wired to your camera, or running through a mixer into your camera. (2) Interview with a woman sitting on a sofa who at some point in the interview wants to show you different pieces of art work in her home. Tool: Wireless mic. (3) Several people sitting around the living room, reminiscing about recently departed Grandma. Tool: Boom with shotgun, wired lavs, wireless, etc. In other words, use whatever meets the requirements of the situation.

      Of all the situations above, I’ve found that you’ll get the consistently best audio from the hard-wired lavaliere mics.

      Wireless mics are somewhat expensive, but allow the greatest flexibility. I’ll second Wayne’s suggestion for using Sennheiser ew100s. We use two of them plus a couple of Audio Technicas when necessary. The Sennheisers have a wide range of frequencies so there’s no reason ever to have interference from radio or TV broadcasts.

      The down side of a field recorder is that you have to sync all the audio to video at some point. This takes time and time is money. Plural Eyes is a big help but why go through the hassle?


    • #177096

      I can vouch for the ew100. Also suggest to get Sunnheiser charging unit L2015 along (http://www.sennheiser.ca/live/senn/produit/en/327/4/). Both transmitter and receiver have side contacts that fit right into the charger slots. Assuming you have good rechargeable batteries, you don’t have to worry about fiddling with the batteries at all. Pulling the packs off the charger before going on the shoot, placing them back in the end of the day – makes me feel so good very time. I am surprised why at Sunnheiser they keep putting out other models not equipped with such a great feature.

    • #177097

      If you can do it with someone else handling the audio, and if that someoneis goodwith operatinga boomand staying out of shot, then a shotgun mic pointed at the subjects is likely to producevery natural sounding results. A good operator can move the mic to cover each speaker. However, if you are planning on doing wide and distant shots, maybe not so good an idea.

      A fewyears ago I worked on a weekly lifestyle TV show where for much of it a presenter sat in a chair and interviewed one or two guests seated on a couch. We had cardioiod Lav’s on each of the guests and the presenter. Before recording each segment of the show, someone would help the guest’s put on their wireless mic, and the presenter ( a very pretty blonde) got good at positioning her own own one. The show was pre-recorded rather than aired live. The idea of the cardioid mics was that we recorded each person to a separate track, and since the were fairly close together, it lessened the spill between mics because they were more directional.
      In practice when the mics were positioned right it worked well. But there were times when the mic would shift position if the people moved and if the mics weren’t securely positioned, instead of them pointing at the mouth like they should have been) they might slip and face out in a different direction and the sound of the voice would change, even becoming hollow if too far off postion. There were times when sound checking before recording when I would have to tell the presenter in her earpiece to reposition her mic because I wasn’t getting the best sound to tape, or send someone onto the set to adjust the guests Lavs.
      It wasn’t a problem most of the time, but if we had been going live to air and a mic had slipped roundit would have changed the sound a bit (toit’s detriment).

      Omni Lavs would be easier if only one person was being mic’d and interviewed, but if several people were interviewed together that could cause it’s own set of problems.

      Personally I wouldn’t use built in mics ona portable recorder. They are generally pretty average quality, and tend to pick up every sound nearby (and further away). I would record to them but with mics plugged into them.

      This tutorialmay help in Understanding The Different Types of microphonesif you want to know a bit more about the options available.

    • #177098

      I’ve been reading though many of the forums here and have found a ton of helpful information from many of the members and from EarlC (thanks!), but here’s my situation that I haven’t found an exact answer for or product to look at.

      I’m going to be shooting a buddy’s wedding and I’m planning on using a Tascam DR-40 handheld recorder on stage with the mics set in A/B configuration for some ambient recording of musicians and then plugging another mic into the XLR on the other channel for additional sound near the pastor and couple. I also want to put a handheld recorder in the groom’s coat pocket with a wired lavaliere.

      EarlC posted that he had used this method (wired mic with handheld recorder) and I’m just not sure what compact recorder I should look at (Tascam DR-05?) and more importantly what lavaliere will work with whatever recorder is recommended. Is this the lavaliere you keep mentioning @EarlC?


      Also, any suggestions for the additional mic on stage going into the Tascam DR-40 would be greatly appreciated. And on that note anyone have any experience with the Tascam DR-40…seems like a great little recorder with lots of functionality and it’s priced wonderfully on BH at the moment.

      And lastly, how does this setup sound? Do you think it’d work well for capturing good audio? I will be using thePlural Eyes softwareto sync that @jackwolcott mentioned above.

    • #177099

       tailwater, I’ve used the RS model 33-3013 plugged into the Zoom H2 (older model). This setup has worked well. If you are doing a sit down type of interview, you can add an extension to the lav to hard wire into the camcorder. Keep shooting.

    • #177100

      Any videos I have shot where you need to use multiple Microphones, I always used a Mixer, a small 6 channel unit, to plug the Microphones into before going to the Audio Recorder. That way, if one person is load and the other has a lower tone, you can fix it before you record the audio

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