A Review of Lav Microphones

Sorry for the lack of posting I have been working like a dog the past few weeks and with barely enough time to sleep I haven’t had a chance to blog at all. Today I wanted to revisit something I have talked about before “Lav Microphone Choice”. I own the following Lav’s now:

Countryman B6, Countryman EMW, Sanken Cos-11, TRAM, Mk2, And the free Lectro M-150. Never did I think I would need such a selection of Lav’s in my kit but everyone has its own purpose and I will tell you what I prefer .

Countryman EMW I own six of these for reality tv I feel there is no better lav for most all around situations. They are cheap $180.00 or so each wired for Lectro they are water and sweat proof. They are also very rugged  some of mine have been dragged stepped on and keep on going. I find them very easy to hide most of the time if the talent is wearing non noisy fabric. With a piece of moleskin I can lav someone in under 30 seconds for the day. The only time the EMW doesn’t work well is noisy cloths and people wearing not enough cloths.

Countryman B6: I own 3 of these they are great for people wearing very little clothing and people wearing noisy cloths because they are easily hidden in close to plain sight. I don’t like how fragile they are and that they aren’t waterproof without the protective cap on then and at $310.00 each are more expensive but I love having them.

Sanken Cos-11. I own two of these I think they are the best sounding lav and work great hidden using a hush lav sleve and some transpore tape. They also are very wind resistant when using the metal windscreen. They are expensive though at $340.00 each and I don’t like them in Reality tv situations because I find the best way to hide them is to tape them to the talents body using the method above and I think that is distracting to the talent on a reality tv show and that it is ok for a film since they are actors. I will use one on a reality shoot though if I feel it is the only way to get good audio.

TRAM: I own 3 of these 1 which is hardwired (1) Black one and (1) White one. At $240.00 they are at a decent price point. I bought the Hardwired one used for very cheap and it is mostly for a few times a year I have a client insist on a hardwired lav. I think they are the best at dealing with very high wind in a news situation (Hurricane, Live shot etc) So I usually only use it in those situations. I have the white one for sitdown interviews which the talent is wearing white I don’t use it much but it is nice to have.

M-150 and Mk2- Both of these types came for free with my Lectro and G2 lav purchases. I keep them for spares and dangerous situations for equipment but that is about it.

So if you can only buy one lav to start with I’d go with Countryman EMW then I’d add a Countryman B6. After that it is all a personal choice

Something Cool I worked on

I did some short commercials for Adidas earlier in the year. If you want to see my favorite go to http://www.adidas.com/ it is called “Superstar Magic” featuring Dynamo doing street magic in Miami. It was a very simple equipment package for the gig. My package consisted of a Sound Devices 302 Mixer, 1 Lectrosonics 211 wireless with Countryman EMW lav microphone and my MKH 416 shotgun microphone. The hardest part was boom operating all day long everyone enjoy.

Wireless Camera Link/Hop Options

Someone email me today and asked me what I thought about the New Lectrosonics SR receiver. I have seen the unit in person but have not used it in actually field production.  It looks great, however  I do not like the fact that the antennas’ are fixed and not remove able and that you cannot put batteries in it. I have been a zaxcom wireless hop user for a few years and the unit always does an amazing job with no issues. I also like the fact that the transmitter is small and easily fits into my bag. I just don’t like having to carry two tx, 9v battery eliminators, and a bunch of cables. The only advantage to using the lectro camera hop is that if you need extra wireless for talent you can cable yourself to the camera but I have used my zaxcom as a talent tx once as well with no issue. I also have about $5000,00 invested in my Zaxcom Hop when you figure all the cables I have for it, The BEC box and mounting plates. Camera man also like how it is a worry free piece of gear that always works. Now if I didn’t own a camera hop I may consider the Lectrosonics SR but since I own a zaxcom I will stick with it. Neither one is a bad choice

Taking a hard look at my approach to things

I have been working alot recently on a new reality show that has yet to air and it has been a rough bit of shooting. 4 or 5 wireless going all the time, lots of quick location changes and alot of people to mic up quickly and since we don’t have a 2nd crew I need to move fast so that camera is not waiting on me. Everyday I have been trying to figure out ways to move fast and do a better job at the same time, which is easier said then done. My first challenge was lighten by 25lb sound bag up a bit by using thinner cables and cable the exact length I need this saved me about 1lb . I also am now using a wireless plug on tx on my boompole at all times now this saves me time when setting up for our sit down interviews and allows me to have more freedom of motion when booming and not having to worry about plugging the boompole in. I have also started leaving more spare items in the production van instead of on me this has saved me 3lbs so my bag is now about 21lbs which is much better than 25. So I invite all of you to really take a hard look at how you do things and maybe you can save some weight too.

The Boompole is always your best friend

It amazing me how much I have to fight to use the boompole sometimes. As an example on my current show we do alot of formal well lit sit down interviews in addition to on the fly interviews. This sitdown interviews are often very emotional and have caused the talent to starting moving alot while sitting and crying which has made the lav less than ideal in sound. By having the boompole set up for each of these sit downs I was able to deliver great sound without having to stop the interview because of an audio issue. Even though sometimes I am tired and don’t want to go get the C-stand and the mic mate but that is what I am hired to do get good audio and fight the good fight to get it. A shotgun microphone always sounds better than a lav and even though the lav may get ok sound it is my job as the sound mixer to get the BEST sound possible at all times and to never take the easy way out. I also get satisfaction from getting amazing clean high quality audio for at few hours everyday when I can and I know an editor somewhere will be greatful.

Been Busy shooting

Sorry for the lack of posting I have been working on a new Reality show as the Head Sound Mixer We are 2 episodes into a full season of episodes. It is also nice that the whole show takes place in Savannah Ga so I can sleep in my own bed every night, which is great. The package that I have been using has also been working great as well. It consists of the following:

Sound Devices 442 4 Channel Mixer

(3) Lectrosonics 211 Wireless with 250 1/4 watt tx

(3) Countryman EMW Lav’s

Zaxcom Eng Wireless camera hop

Senneheiser MKH 416 Shotgun Microphone

Comtek IFB tx and 3 Receivers

Petrol PEZ-1 Bag

Overall the size and weight of this package has kept me fast and compact allowing me to get great audio. I will post more about the show and my approach later.