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Shure MX153 and Wired Bodypack?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Jumpmonkey, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. Jumpmonkey

    Jumpmonkey Active Member

    Hey all,

    I need a pair of microphones to use for interviewing. The more I understand about mics and proper usage etc. the more I think a headworn mic would provide the best results when interviewing people with no mic handling skills (and dial back gain to reduce room noise.)

    My two big problems are:
    1) Money
    2) Potential interference with a wireless.

    I could reduce the cost of setup if I didn't have to purchase wireless receivers/transmitters. BUT I can't find a TQG to XLR connecter to allow me to plug it into my mixer or a preamp. Are there any good solutions to this?


    Thanks and God bless,
    Adam
     
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    As you may be finding, you cannot simply wire a mini XLR (3 or 4-pin) to a normal XLR for this job because there is circuitry inside the correct adapters (linked below) to provide the correct phantom power voltage to the capsule, and act as a pre-amp. The micro lapel mics and headset mics rely on the body pack transmitter to do some amplification and provide a couple volts DC to the capsule.

    I am pretty sure what you need in Shure land would be the Shure RK100PK Phantom Power Supply and Preamp to do what you want to do with the MX153. (Shure's website does not do justice to their accessories - so the link goes elsewhere.) The RK100PK should do the trick.

    Another mic worthy of consideration is the AKG HC577 L. It costs a little more and is also a very nice sounding, very discrete omni headset mic. When used in conjunction with the MPA VL phantom power adapter you can use it hardwired into your mixer via a normal XLR cable. I'm more than 'pretty sure' the MPA VL is exactly what you need for AKG lavs and headsets hardwired. I use them once in a while for that kind of thing. The AKG headset costs a little more, but their adapter is significantly less - so it almost evens it out.

    The reason I mention the AKG, is it's easier to get in the right and consistent position because of the dual earpiece design. The Countryman and other single earsets, like the MX153 are difficult for some people to get them into position and stay there. It can be done, but it may take some persistence to get the shape right. Some people love them, some people hate them. They all sound really good, but if possible I make my customers try both designs before they buy one. You can also configure the AKG to go on the left or right side of the wrap-around headset. That's handy when the person speaking has a table or other reflective surface I'd like to avoid. If doing a two person interview, I'd have one right and one left to put the mic capsules as far apart as possible when the two people are talking to avoid phasing.

    Best of luck.
     
  3. Jumpmonkey

    Jumpmonkey Active Member

    dvdhawk,

    Thanks a lot for your reply. I was having a terrible time there trying to find anything at all. I may well wind up getting one of each over time to more comfortably accommodate different people I interview.


    Thanks again,
    Adam
     
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    The microphones you see on your newscasters on TV are frequently wired and not wireless. If they're going to be sitting still, there is no reason on this little earth that one needs wireless. And you do not need a head mounted microphone when a tie-tack style microphone will work quite nicely and save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. This is the de facto norm of most network and local television on-air programming. There are those hosts that need to move around quite a bit such as Jay Leno, David Letterman and others who are wearing a wireless body pack transmitter. And of course on network television, even the guests have them. But most of your local newscasters on TV, don't. It's a needless expenditure. Now most lavalier microphones do not require a +48 V polarization charge on their "electret" capsules. That's why so many can utilize a simple AA battery in which to make the FET impedance converter work. So one should understand that all lavalier microphones can work on 1.5-48 V. Only actual non-polarized condenser capsules require a minimum of +48 V.

    So to sum this up, I've done thousands of TV shows utilizing wired lavalier microphones and you can too. One rule of thumb to follow when utilizing lavalier microphones as to stick it on the tie of the host so they can turn their heads from left to right. If your guest is to the right of the host, you generally want their lavalier microphone on their left lapel. And vice versa for those on the other side of the host. You wouldn't believe how many times I've seen fools put the lavalier microphone in the wrong position. And it should not be placed too low. It should be above the breast line and not down near their stomachs like I so often see. So about one fist down from the knot of their tie.

    It should also be interesting to note that most head worn microphones are quite a bit more costly than the average lavalier. Even the $20 US Radio Shaft lavalier can still do a fine job when placed properly and when a unbalanced to balance transformer is utilized. Total cost less than $50 US. Just don't forget to put a fresh battery in before each and every show you do. Otherwise you end up making a fool of yourself, guaranteed.

    Former 20 year NBC network TV veteran
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  5. Jumpmonkey

    Jumpmonkey Active Member

    Remmy,

    Your wealth of experience continues to be a huge boon (and one of the reasons I so enjoy posting on this board.) I do have a couple questions. These interviews will be (at least for now) audio only. I have no way of knowing what kind of clothing the interviewed people will be wearing (could be a t-shirt and jeans.) I know first hand this is not the greatest "platform" for mounting a lavalier. Also, when I use them (teaching classes) I find that I do get some variation in pick up depending on where I look. Are these issues solvable by learning/experience, or am I better off headworn? Also, I will (as per my previous thread) probably be doing this in hotel rooms or other untreated venues, would the headworn allow me to dial back the gain more?


    Thanks so much,
    Adam
     
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Thank you. I'm happy you have gleaned some decent information here.

    I have found that in many situations a lavalier microphone can actually be more on axis to a talking head. None of the head worn microphones are exactly on axis. But many of these different types of microphones have tailored responses specific to their intended placement. And all of these microphones regardless of types are all condenser microphones and generally develop similarities in output level. The variability here is the person themselves. Most hosts along with most newscasters have learned to enunciate and project in a professional manner. Others have a tendency to mumble and will project little if at all. Quite frankly, I've had less of a problem with T-shirts than I've had with people whose lavalier microphone has been placed too low on their torso. In that respecter, the head worn microphones present a more constant distance to the sound source. And that's where the biggest factor lies or for that matter, tells the truth. With the head worn microphone you know you will always be approximately 1.5 inches away from their mouths. The lavalier can be from 3 to 10 inches which can and does cause huge problem. So when I worked in network television, I was always very precise where I wanted my lavalier microphones to be mounted. I used to love watching BBC productions because they frequently mounted their lavalier microphones upside down. There is actually advantages of doing it that way. And in the same way, the head worn microphones are a little like that. It's still quite possible to pop and blast into lavalier microphones on peoples ties, lapels and blouses. Mounting a lavalier upside down prevents that from happening. Sticking it on the side of someone's cheek also prevents that from happening. But again, budget can play a huge factor in your decision. Most head worn microphones are not cheap. They typically cost many hundreds of dollars, each. Whereas many lavalier microphones can be had for a fraction of that cost and still produce very adequate results. And all of these types of microphones are generally available for both wired and wireless purposes. Generally though, you can not utilize a wireless microphone version in a wired application. But you can generally utilize a wired intended microphone in a wireless application.

    So when you are dealing with a lavalier microphone and a T-shirt, you'll generally get a mellower sound since they will generally not be on axis or the capsule. Whereas with someone that has a lavalier on their tie, lapel or blouse, they will generally have greater presence since they will be more on axis to the capsule. So it's a hard call as to what might be the most appropriate. You should probably have both types on hand. But then again, budget plays the factor.

    If you are dealing with both wired and wireless types simultaneously, there will be other variabilities. For instance, many wireless devices have limiters built into the transmitter pack. This can cause its own can of worms. The level adjustment on the transmitter packs is generally a very small screwdriver adjustment. This can mean your going to either get too much noise or too much limiting. Then when combined with other microphones that might be wired, other phase differences will be introduced by the transmitter and receiver of the wireless devices. It certainly never a perfect world. And then having all wireless devices may mean that one transmitter is limiting more than another transmitter causing even further acoustical problems. And no one will ever give you a proper level check. They'll all go " testing, testing, 1-2-3 ". Then the show begins and they are speaking level is three times what the test was. And then you're screwed. So setting up those wireless devices will be a fine line between noise and acoustic nightmares. LOL it's all good. So wired microphones present less of those aberrational abominations. And why a single limiter on the output bus will save your butt in the end or so to speak. It all comes down to that KISS principle. Less to go wrong means more control. Don't over complicate yourself into an untenable position. This is not to say that an engineer used to doing these types of productions couldn't contend with a half a dozen limiters and downward expanders. But that's something generally only available on finer large-scale analog consoles and quite a few new small-scale digital consoles. That doesn't mean you should be doing that.

    One of the mistakes I always hear is when the audio operator (notice I didn't say engineer) turns up all the microphones and leaves them all up. That always sounds like crap. A real engineer will be riding those microphones with one or both hands throughout the production. The toughest productions are when you have a loud and boisterous host. They will always be louder than the guests. You will always have their microphone lower because of that, in comparison to the guests. This presents a miserable sounding sonic signature. And that's because the host will always be picked up much more on the guests microphones when the host is speaking or yelling. So you'll have to duck the guests to prevent that acoustical abomination from happening. It ain't easy. And it's quite challenging. Lucky is the person that gets to multi-track the entire production and then goes into heavy postproduction to create professional sounding product. But if it's going to be live, you'll be riding for quite some time on a very short pier.

    You'd think I could play piano with the way I ride audio
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  7. Jumpmonkey

    Jumpmonkey Active Member

    Remmy,

    Thanks for all the input there. I was completely unaware of some of the "joys" of wireless headsets you'd mentioned there. I think I'll be more able to deal with (and afford) the lavalier. I'm considering the Shure SM11, from the reviews I've seen it should do a good job for my purposes... and withstand abuse.

    Thanks,
    Adam
     
  8. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Jumpmonkey, I guess we should ask you a question. Are these interviews on video or audio only?
     
  9. Jumpmonkey

    Jumpmonkey Active Member

    I'll add, "at least for now" means that its going to be over a year before I ever start doing video, if I decide I want to do video.


    Thanks for your help,
    Adam
     
  10. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Of course, Remy is an expert and absolutely correct about lavs on TV. But I do see the more of the very tiny, very discrete headset mics on numerous TV shows now too, mostly ESPN and the sort where it's a less than ideal environment.

    Since you're working with audio only at this point, the headsets are still worth considering. The headset capsules are exactly the same as their omni lav counterparts. And the fact that they're always 2 inches, or so, from the corner of the person's mouth yields much more consistency than a lav that stays stationary while the person speaking may turn their head - or worse yet look down to read and breath right on the mic. You will spend much less time riding faders when the mic moves with their head. Very weird phasey things happen when two mics pick up the same thing from different distances and with headsets you need less gain per mic, which reduces or eliminates that weirdness you get when either person can be heard through both mics.
     
  11. Jumpmonkey

    Jumpmonkey Active Member

    dvdhawk,

    I've been giving the headset option a lot of thought and I think I'm going to wind up giving it a pass right now. The one's I see look like they'd be uncomfortable after a short period of time, I don't want to leave the interviewees wishing they could get it over and get the mic off.

    Thanks again for all your help,
    Adam
     
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Actually they are not uncomfortable. They are extremely lightweight. Many of the sportscasters wear these things for hours on end. They are slightly delicate and they are easily broken. So you don't want to sit on them. Lavalier microphones are quite a bit harder to break. But like DVDhawk indicated, you would suffer no pops, blasts or, wildly varying audio levels. So there are certainly advantages to those in that respect. I've used lavalier's for so many years, it's second nature for me to deal with any of those issues. For those just starting out those headmounted ones would certainly give you a much greater amount of consistency and less problems. But the cost differences can get quite extreme. Then again, giving one of those headmounted microphones to your host and lavalier is for the guests may make more practical sense. You merely clip the lavalier onto the guest. The host must wear the microphone. And sometimes guests get a little uncomfortable when you try to get them to wear something completely unfamiliar to them. So that's where the lavalier has its advantage. It's kind of like giving somebody a corsage as opposed to trying to put their underwear on them. Although that could be a lot of fun also. And you might find it a lot of fun where in video and film, where they really don't want to see the microphone, you are stringing a lavalier microphone of a woman's dress and around her bosom connected to her brassiere. And that's where a lavalier has its advantage for you. Then you'll always want to use them. LMAO you have no idea how many times I've had to do that in my career. And with the guys, you're always unbuttoning their shirts and sticking the wire in their pants and down their pants leg. And if you're gay that can be a lot more fun than dealing with the women.

    I'm full of helpful knowledge and other stuff.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Hi Adam,

    As Remy says, the headsets weigh almost nothing and if fitted properly they are quite comfortable. I do a lot of church system installs and many of the pastors wear their headset mics for an hour or two with no complaints. I also work with a lot of schools where they students are wearing them 2-3 hours at a time on the show and rehearsal nights - never heard a complaint there either. If there aren't enough headsets for all the main characters, we have to use lavaliers. They usually squabble over who gets 'demoted' to lavalier because the difference is easily noticeable. And it is true the cost is 2x to 3x more than a straight lav. However, when I've got 10-20 people mic'ed up on stage - I'm thankful for every headset I can get. I couldn't possibly ride the faders on that many amateur actors all at once.

    The only thing your guest may not like, depending on their personality, is the stigma associated with being a "performer" with a headset. For instance in my business - some church denominations are more conservative than others, and wouldn't want to appear ostentatious or 'showy'. Others see their favorite TV preacher with a fancy new headset and want to keep up with the times. One of the local clergymen, (who you might assume to be very conservative denominationally speaking) loved the sound of the headset, but was concerned his congregation might not approve. I was there tweaking the all new sound system the first time he used it and his new headset mic, he cracked a Garth Brooks wearing a headset joke the first minute and it was over and done with.

    But in any case, I would encourage you to try both. Start with purchasing whatever you're most comfortable with and go for it, you got to start somewhere.
     

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