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Vivid Lizard

Low-End Saramonic Wireless

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I've been toying with the idea of using those newer cheap Saramonic wireless units, the ones that look so much like the Sony UWP D-series, on low-budget shoots for, say, a scratch track camera hop, a boom op hop or as IFB's (since they have a headphone out).  I would rather use something like these when I agree to help out on a student film, or various other shoots where I would rather not risk my Lectros, etc.

Has anyone ever played with these, even for just "s**ts & giggles"?  Or heard any scuttlebutt about them?

At their price point I can't imagine their sound being very good, but if they inherited their innards from the Sony original then maybe not so bad.

Like the Sony's they have a 30mW max RF output, and say they are "hybrid digital".

Unlike the Sony's the receivers are 2-channel, but they don't tout being diversity.  My guess is that they sacrificed the diversity to go with the dual channel thing.  I asked a Saramonic rep about that and he had no clue what diversity meant, so I got no usable answer.  Not a good sign.

Again, just toying with a thought here... thanks.

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So you are saying they are a Sony knock-off?   How did they do with a "key test"?  Are they better made than Senn. G2s (which work fine as scratch hops but flunk the "key test", BTW)?

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Heard over about this Saramonic wireless from a local guy here. I'll see if he got one.

Have you seen some reviews about this?

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This may be besides the point, but honestly, if I get asked to work on a student film and they can't afford to rent proper wireless, I would only work with boom and plants instead of working with bad wireless. Good learning effect for them too in many ways.

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Saramonic is a waste of money, doesn't matter if it's cheap. Cheap is G3 also.

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Thanks, everyone for chiming in. Haven't done the key test since I don't have one to test with. The Sony is supposed to do well because of it's hybrid digital feature, but I haven't tested that either. VAS, do you have experience with the Saramonic? If so, what aspects of it did you find below par?

Thanks.

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I tried a Saramonic, I couldn't find any kind of level control on the transmitter, and the receiver have a continuous high frequency tone (at low level). Looks like a Sony, but isn't close.

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43 minutes ago, ramallo said:

I tried a Saramonic, I couldn't find any kind of level control on the transmitter, and the receiver have a continuous high frequency tone (at low level). Looks like a Sony, but isn't close.

I was surprised when I didn't find any level control on the transmitter.
Really waste of money, doesn't matter if it's super cheap.
I prefer to spend some money in chest straps from URSA. 

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Generally speaking I've thought anything priced below the likes of the classic G3/RodeLink/UWP-D11 is total crap and should be avoided, but after hearing so many good reviews of the Saramonic UwMic9/10 I thought I'd give it a chance and ordered one pair for myself. Worked out ok ish enough for a few shoots.... then died on me. Maybe I just got unlucky? Who knows. But for me it was money wasted. 

I think eventually we'll see some wireless arrive at the lower end of the market which will deliver a bigger punch for your $ than you'd expect, but that day hasn't arrived yet (I suspect however that day isn't too far away, I know about some products under development at the moment...).

So if you're looking for a super budget item then just wait around and you can get lucky on a secondhand G3/RodeLink/UWP-D11 at some very cheap prices (although personally I intensely dislike the RodeLinks due to their ultra bulky sized TX packs!! Grrrrr). 

Or for only a small further stretch of the budget, you could pick up an older Lectrosonics 200 series kit.

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There is a reason that the Senn G2-3s are so popular, esp with one man band filmmakers and newb soundies:  for all their faults they actually WORK, and work pretty well.  They hold up quite well to abuse (many of my one-man clients take them off on expeditions etc), don't need a lot of power (mine run all day on far-from-new white Eneloops) and probably best of all have a receiver whose size is unusually small for a pocket type device (re: mounting on a small camera). 

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17 hours ago, Constantin said:


Then why were you looking at wireless gear?

It's better to spend few bucks in something different rather than Saramonic.

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Excellent!  Thank you very much everyone for the input, especially from those who experimented with them. I will definitely be avoiding them.

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3 hours ago, alenK said:

What is the 'key test"?

a great way to test the quality of processing (particularly the compander) in a radio mic system. Jangle a ring full of metal keys about a foot away from the mic and listen to the result - then compare it to another brand / model. It's a very complex and edgy sound source that can be a bit unfair on gear, unless you are working on a cooking or renovation show, when such sounds are common!

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I bought a UwMic 9 system (a set of 2 Tx and a dual RX, with frequencies compatible in Belgium). And a XLR plugin. To see if I could recommend it as a cheap alternative to students. Long story cut short, I don't recommend it.

First of all the plugin Tx came dead on arrival. Backlight turned on, but that's it. What I also immediately noticed was that the XLR plus was quite short, and I confirmed it with the fact that it doesn't hold well when plugged in (a little lateral motion and it pops off. Even slightly jiggling is enough to make it fall off). The store I bought it from was quick to exchange it with a working model. But the XLR problem remains. The XLR connector looks like the front part of a Switchcraft XLR, so I managed to modify the Tx with a Switchcraft part (with a little elbow grease and a Dremel). By doing the modification, I understood that the problem is a combination of the XLR connector being slightly too short and the locking pin being too small (and rounded to booth). After modification, it holds now. Has phantom power, nice.
So quality control seems off.

The beltpacks come with integrated antennas, quite thick and quite stiff, not removable. Care should be taken to store them properly. They are very sturdy (metal casing), but quite heavy also (way heavier than a G3). But then the stupid part, the battery compartment is in flimsy plastic. They use more power than Sennheisers, batteries don't last as long.

The Rx comes with a belt clip and a camera adaptor. Also a minijack to XLR cable (with caps to block phantom) comes with it also. Only mono though. Which is a shame, because the first models mixed both channels to a mono output, but they were quick to put a setting in the newer firmwares (as far as I know, not user updateable) where you can chose to output each channel separately. But then you need to make your own cable. Separate phone output, but doesn't go very loud.

Each Tx comes with a lapel mic also. Problem also, the lapel clip seems to be glued to the microphone, you can't remove the mic without breaking the plastic clip. The sound of the Mic is meh (quite nasal, and not a lot of air). The Tx are modelled after Sony's, so the mic cabling follows Sony also (if you have Senns, you need to rewire them).
Main problem I find is that there is no sensitivity setting in the Tx, only the output of the Rx can be changed. The mics that came with the Saramonic seem to be quite sensitive, as I couldn't get adequate level with any other mic (I used Senns, DPA's, Sankens, even hi sens models, they didn't reach the level of the included mics). So forget using them as hops, unless you can pad down to mic level. Same with the plugin Tx, no input level setting.

Setup is quite easy, the Rx has an autoscan feature for each channel. Once a free frequency is found, you can just hold the Tx close to it, and they'll sync up properly. Rangewise it's adequate. Haven't run into problems inside, even with thick concrete walls. Outside, I managed to get about 120-130 meters before getting drops (30mW). There seems to be a squelch, but you can't modify it.

Soundwise, meh. If you use them with the included lav mics, the levels are in the sweet spot for talking. But no input level setting means as soon as it gets louder you risk clipping. And if the levels are low, there's some audible expanding going on. As I stated, the lack of input gain setting is a big no no for this system, it shows it was made to a budget. Key test, scratchy as hell

I firmly believe if they would add an input setting in the Tx, they would have a capable low budget system, but as it is now, stay clear. I contacted Saramonic with all those details (both US and China), never got any reply. So I don't know, they don't seem to care.

So basically, you get what you pay for. Stay away if you care about sound. If you want a good cheap system, G3's remain tried and tested.

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