This controversial article disappeared recently for some mysterious reason, so we wanted resurrect it here and continue with the stimulating comments.
Adam Forgione writes,
Well maybe not exactly, but for me, wireless audio is a last resort. Signal always wants to travel the path of least resistance and air is resistant. The same concept applies many times to wireless internet vs. direct ethernet connection.
The goal is always to travel through the least amount of devices and through the shortest and least resistant path. Because you are using the wireless system to “carry” the signal, it becomes two more devices (transmitter + receiver) added to the chain causing more noise. Fortunately technology has given us many options to record our audio without wireless. Field recorders are becoming more mainstream and most record directly onto media like SDHC cards. There are 2 types of field recorder – full size and pocket size.
Full size usually packs better quality parts and more channels giving you more options and better pre-amps which give you a warmer and less noisy signal but may be too bulky to hold or wear. I use this especially when conducting controlled interviews or dialogue where there is not much movement. I also can send feeds from a mixing board into this field recorder.
Pocket size is great for portability and to hide in a pocket or clip onto a belt. I use these with a good quality lav mics for interviews, lectures, dialogue, walking/taking shots, etc.
The disadvantage of wireless is huge with event filmmakers. You have no control over possible interference, dropouts, and most wireless systems only carry the signal but do not record the signal. The signal to noise ratio is noisier than wired because the transmitter is sending signal literally through air to get to its receiver. Although there are some really good wireless systems out there, the problem is that they will cost a lot of money ($2000 +) and still do not guarantee a cleaner signal then simple wired.
Using wireless is a choice you have to decide based on your own experiences. In some situations I would actually choose to use wireless lavs so I can monitor the audio on the actor and make sure there is no noise from clothing scratching on the mic. When wireless is needed, I currently use the UR series from Shure which is a highend solution and much cleaner than most. In addition I would back up with a wired pocket recorder as well.
So to summarize, I will mostly choose wired over wireless because wired field recorders will give me a better quality signal, I won’t have to deal with wireless interference, and I won’t have to invest as much money. I will warn you about electronic devices like cell phones being near wired or wireless. Some cell phones and similar devices can create interference on all recorders and wireless systems so always keep that in mind.
Here are some setups I personally use
SIT DOWN INTERVIEWS AND SCENES WITH MINIMAL MOVEMENT
Shure VP89M medium shotgun mic wired to Roland R44 field recorder
1/4” instrument cable or XLR cable wired from mixing board to Roland R44 field recorder
Roland R05 pocket recorder wired with Sanken COS11D lav mic for groom or podium in church
WALKING TALKING SHOTS
Roland R05 pocket recorder wired with Sanken COS11D lav mic and hush lav sleeves to reduce clothing noise
RUN AND GUN DSLR
Rode VideoMic Pro wired to DSLR – Not the best quality but acceptable for run and gun.
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