What kind of lavalier to use?

Here’s an e-mail exchange I had with Colin McCullough, who is about to start an environmental road trip of his own– you can check it out at http://www.ourrenewablenation.org
From: Colin McCullough
To: mark@yert.com
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 12:00:50 AM
Subject: wireless mics

HI Mark,

I have decided the best way to go is to use a set of wireless lav mics for our interviews, so we don’t have to worry about cords. I scoped around Ebay and found a set for $700 – that’s a lot! Do you have any suggestions for me?

Colin McCullough


Hi there, Colin!

Wireles lav mics were a tremendous help for us along the way, though it is useful to bring a wired backup of some sort– occasionally you’ll get static in a space and need to proceed with the interview without changing to a new, static-free location. At which point we would switch to a strategically positioned boom as close as possible to the speaker.

We used three pairs of Sennheiser EW 100 G2 receiver/transmitters. They worked out fairly well for us. There are more expensive, better ones, but these worked fine most of the year. I also upgraded the mic to a Tram TR-50 BSET+ lavalier microphone. The default ones that came with the Sennheiser transmitter/receivers were decent, but the Tram mics definitely cut down on the ambient noise while improving the quality of the speaker’s audio. That said, the Trams broke twice on the trip, and they’re expensive to replace– $250 each. 🙁 I doubt the Sennheiser default mics would break as much as the Trams. Here’s the kit that we bought for YERT.

Here’s a good version of a single wireless lav set. You might also want to be sure it has a camera mount if that’s how you plan to go. Otherwise the receiver will be flopping all over the place. Here’s a version with the camera mount.

Overall, when you get into the wireless lavalier zone, you’re gonna pay something in the ballpark of what you quoted below- . Check on BHPhotoVideo.com for the best rates on NEW equipment. I got burned by other web sites a few times because of poor service or delayed delivery for no reason from OTHER sites. BHPhotoVideo was rock solid every time.

Also, make sure that the lav set has the appropriate connector cables to hook up to your camera.

And, finally, make sure that you fully test and get to know your lavaliers when they arrive– the worst time to figure out the features of your devices is after you already arrived at an interview and something has gone wrong. Fiddle with the gain and frequency settings so you know how to fix them up under pressure on game day.

Feel free to call if you have more questions…


cell: 415-672-5537
fax: 415-520-5824

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