I have been doing still photography and motion video/graphics for years now. Although I feel pretty comfortable making hardware selections when it comes to DSLRs and HD Cameras, I know very little about Audio equipment. I know the importance of good audio. As a matter of fact (rule) you can't have good video without good audio. People are forgiving when it comes to marginal video quality, but if the audio quality is bad people will stop watching. Since it was time for me to invest in a decent wireless mic system for doing video work, I turned to my buddy Bruce Mandel of Mandel Video for some recommendations. After I got the links that he sent me I quickly learned that you can spend a little or a lot for audio equipment just like you can for camera gear. I already had a low end $100 system that I wasn't really happy with. I also knew that I didn't want to spend a ton of money either. So I guess I was looking for something in the middle of the range. After looking at my options, I decided to go with Sennheiser Evolution G2 100 Wireless System. I knew that basically I was buying the older model since the Evolution G3 was out. However, since the G2 was going for about $300 less, I went for it.
Getting Started with the Sennheiser Evolution G2 100 Series
When the box arrived, I was able to get it setup without ever touching the instruction manual. Again, I'm not an audio expert, but it was pretty easy to figure out the setup for the transmitter and receiver. I put the supplied camera mount on the receiver, put the batteries in both units and attached the supplied lavalier mic. After turning on both units I could see the level indicator moving on the receiver indicating that it was picking up sound from the mic. Cool! Next I plugged the mic into my Sony VX2000 DV camera and recorded a short clip. I walked around and spoke at different levels to see what the sound quality would be like. I was pleasantly surprised by the pickup that it had from the mic being located relatively center of my chest.
What you get
You of course get the UHF based Wireless Receiver and Transmitter including a Lavalier mic. In this kit you also get a wireless transmitter for a standard XLR based handheld mic. This will be great for me when I'm on the road doing video interviews. As an added bonus you get the cable that allows you to plug the transmitter into a XLR based house audio system found in most meeting/conference rooms. This way the presenter would only need to speak into the standard PA system mic and you would be able to wirelessly record any of the audio going through that system. I was also happy that this system uses the 3mm type plugs for the cameras instead of XLR since I don't have any cameras with XLR inputs on them and adding an adapter just complicates things further.
Field Tested and Terry Approved
I just used this system for the first time during my MacGroup Users Group Meeting. While I haven't edited that video yet, I have listened to the audio from one of the clips and I'm quite pleased. However, there was one problem that wasn't the fault of the mic. The audio input levels on my camera were up way too loud. We knew that they were too loud while testing and listening with a set of headphones. However, every attempt to lower the input level on the camera failed. It wasn't until after I got home and did some digging, that I found the menu option to switch from Auto to Manual input levels AND then you can control the volume using the dial (that we were trying) on the back of the camera. Lesson learned and next month's recording should be much better. Luckily I was able to tweak the sound in Adobe Soundbooth CS4 by Equalizing and Normalizing the audio levels.
Distance from the stage to the camera was about 35 feet.
B&H sells the Sennheiser Eveolution G2 Wireless Series for $499 ($150 off the list price of $649) here. If you want to step up to the current model, they sell the Sennheiser Evolution G3 100 Wireless Series for $799 here.