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ctboita

Sennheiser AVX. A Viable Solution for Smaller Productions?

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I searched through the forums looking for information on the Sennheiser AVX wireless system and didn't find a single post. Did I miss something?

 

What is your take on using the Sennheiser AVX Wireless transmitter/receiver on set? I purchased one for a run and gun project where I was a one man band for both camera and sound and it worked great for that purpose. I have read through a number of reviews that list the pros/cons of the AVX system and am curious if any of you within the professional community use the AVX on a regular basis. Being completely new to wireless, it worked like a dream for my shoot but have never used it in a larger production. Do you think it would it be worthwhile for me to purchase another AVX system and a couple of good lav mics for the time being instead of waiting until I can put together the money for lectros or zaxcoms? I understand that money put towards an AVX is money not going towards a better system, but it would give me two wireless sets until that time comes. BTW,  I have a SD 664 mixer they would run into.

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I think in a professional capacity as cast mics I wouldn't consider it due to the compression and automatic gain features.  But for those very same reasons, I'd completely be open to using it for myself and my own camera or for scratch purposes.  I think the receiver as an XLR plug form factor is genius.

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For exactly the reasons Tom said I wouldn't recommend it, also additionally the delay is terrible!

But meh, as low budget camera hops? Maaaaaybe. 
Or a self shooter who is doing sound themselves. Sure, I guess. 

But I wouldn't ever make it a core part of my sound kit. 

Go for Sony UWP-D11 (or Sennheiser G3) if you can't immediately get Lectrosonics / Zaxcom / Wiyscom / Audio Ltd

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Coming from a previous job where everything had to be wired, the AVX was amazing to work with for a newcomer to the wireless world. You just turned it on and the thing worked. That said, I figured there was a reason I was unable to find a single post on this forum about it. Every review I read was from an external site and seemed from a prosumer point of view. I guess I better start searching for the Lectrosonic vs Zaxcom posts and start doing my homework. I know there is a lot more to consider than just the brand/model of wireless to purchase but it is all greek to me.

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1 minute ago, ctboita said:

...and start doing my homework.


Yup, a key point to consider is what wireless frequencies are legal and open in your area, and how that is likely to change in the future. (for instance there is no point at all buying say block 28, just to give one example)

Have a look around, heaps of discussion on this point. 

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2 minutes ago, IronFilm said:


Yup, a key point to consider is what wireless frequencies are legal and open in your area, and how that is likely to change in the future. (for instance there is no point at all buying say block 28, just to give one example)

Have a look around, heaps of discussion on this point. 

 

Thank you for the block 28 information. I knew there were certain blocks that were okay in different areas but couldn't tell you which ones work where. How do you deal with travel if you lock yourself into a certain block that works in your main area of operation? I also figured asking for advice on which wireless system to purchase was a bit redundant since I am sure it has been discussed many times on this forum.

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There should be a couple of blocks that would work in most parts of the USA, I'm guessing say block 21 & 22 for instance? But don't be asking me! I'm not even an American, so I'm just guessing from what I remember from casually reading. 

But you can read here for instance on this forum about 600MHz becoming unavailable in the USA (and even higher blocks such as 28 has long long been gone as a legal option in most places, although some people keep on using it anyway):

http://bit.ly/2npbKyN

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, ctboita said:

 

Thank you for the block 28 information. I knew there were certain blocks that were okay in different areas but couldn't tell you which ones work where. How do you deal with travel if you lock yourself into a certain block that works in your main area of operation? I also figured asking for advice on which wireless system to purchase was a bit redundant since I am sure it has been discussed many times on this forum.

 

If you're going to use a traditional RF mic system (not AVX, Rodelink, or other digital transmission) check out:

http://whitespaces.spectrumbridge.com/whitespaces/home.aspx

You put in the address of where you want to shoot and it will tell you what the whitespace and available frequencies are. Then you can make an informed decision about what frequencies to use.

 

I've been away from RF for a long time, so I'm sure someone else would be better to advise you as to travel options. I know that I'm going to be in and around Portland 99.99% of the time, so I found whitespace frequencies here. If I have to go someplace my radios won't work I'll either rent (or beg/borrow!) locally.

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9 minutes ago, Allen Rowand said:

 

If you're going to use a traditional RF mic system (not AVX, Rodelink, or other digital transmission) check out:

http://whitespaces.spectrumbridge.com/whitespaces/home.aspx

You put in the address of where you want to shoot and it will tell you what the whitespace and available frequencies are. Then you can make an informed decision about what frequencies to use.

 

I've been away from RF for a long time, so I'm sure someone else would be better to advise you as to travel options. I know that I'm going to be in and around Portland 99.99% of the time, so I found whitespace frequencies here. If I have to go someplace my radios won't work I'll either rent (or beg/borrow!) locally.

 

Allen, Thank you for the link! To show my wireless ignorance, I will need to look into what the difference between whitespace and available frequencies are. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, ctboita said:

I also figured asking for advice on which wireless system to purchase was a bit redundant since I am sure it has been discussed many times on this forum.

 

Thank you for using common sense and not starting another "whats the best ____?" Thread! Yes, this has all been covered ad nosium, but one thing still always holds true when it comes to audio gear: you get what you pay for. If it's budget gear you're looking at, prepare for some drawbacks. If you want quality and options, get out the cheque book. 

 

Regarding wireless blocks: The FCC recently sold off 600mHz, and had sold off everything above that previously. So the available frequencies one may use in the USA are between 470-Block 23. However, depending upon which part of the country you live will determine how all the broadcast stations that used to live in and above 600mHz are repacking down below 600mHz. It could be that only one block has any available space, or maybe more. 

 

Prior to this recent repack, I traveled all over the country using blocks 21, 22 and 25 with basically no issues anywhere (Los Angeles being the most crowded and Key West for whatever reason was pretty much not wireless friendly at all no matter what block I used). In instances where only one block is legal to use, or only low powered wireless systems especially designed for that market are needed, I recommend just renting. The UK only allows UK block 606, and those same frequencies in the US are now not allowed, so if I traveled to the UK I'd have to rent anyways. 

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I don't use AVX myself, but I've been supervising some units for video journalists (self shooting journalists) and I highly recommend it for them. Sound quality is way better than with Evolution, linear up to 20kHz. There is no struggle with gain settings or frequencies, and AVX is very rugged. Limiter is excellent. Ideal system for people who have no clue doing pro sound and travelling around, having no time for rules and laws.

There is also an AVX system in use serving as a camera hop between 633 and FS7/2. Line cable used: Sennheiser CL2. About 66dB of dynamics is achieved, which is a sufficent compromise. That camera crew switches from country to country a lot. It doesn't always work, but then they use the audio files from the 633.

 

I personally wouldn't use AVX due to the delay (19ms) and the range which is shorter than a pro system adjusted correctly. You also have to care about the lav. A normal lav (e.g. an MKE2 from evolution) won't do. It will receive DECT noise. You have to use the lav that's shipped with the AVX.

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1 hour ago, Mungo said:

You have to use the lav that's shipped with the AVX.

 

So unless you had enough foresight to get spares, you may run into some trouble down the road when the mic inevitably needs a repair or replacement, and any rental house or pro shop around will unlikely have them in stock. 

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In my limited experience, the AVX is viable for a camera scratch track or really simple single-system use. I'd only do AVX if I had nothing other than AVX, because of the delay and the additional issues it could cause. A client loaned me some on a job once, and while they were really simple to use and the receiver's form factor is really nice, I could not get them to do what I needed to due to the limitations of having only automatic gain. Also, the delay threw me off when using a wired boom with them, things sounded phasier and I heard double transients. It's supposed to be 19ms, which is only ~half a frame at 25fps, but it felt more like a frame's worth of delay for some reason. I think I still have the files somewhere, so I could try to measure if it was in fact more.

All in all, I did not like them very much personally, but they could be a great tool for someone who just needs a bunch of cheap wireless and nothing else. A mixer I boomed for recently used an AVX for camera scratch and he told me he liked it, and that he'd never heard any complaints about the delay. In fact, he seemed a bit surprised to learn about it when I asked him if the delay was ever an issue. :D 

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I guess these units are aimed at people who want to use wireless but don't feel like getting into the whole wireless voodoo madness. Who would, too, besides weird sound people like us? But then again, those people could also hire people like us to take care of it for them...

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I own Lectro and have rented Zaxcom. Both great. I've also used various versions of the low-end Sennheiser G-series. If I were in your position and were here in the US, I'd look at those brands.

 

Heck, since Sennheiser just announced the G4 series in their lower-cost systems, you might be able to find perfectly fine G3 systems at a good price:

https://en-us.sennheiser.com/wireless-microphone-broadcast-film-evolution-g4

 

And then when you move up to Lectro or Zax, you can use the G3/G4 stuff for sending scratch audio to cameras and other more pedestrian tasks.

Also, if you go with the G3/G4, buy lavs better than the model Sennheiser bundles with it. Low-cost but decent alternatives: Oscar SoundTech, Countryman EMW. 

 

And find a smart local dealer (or at least some smart & friendly local mixers) to determine which block of frequencies are best now...and are likely to be best in the near future.

 

OK, I'm just repeating what others have said in greater detail above. Ya, the AVX wireless do appear to simplify things...but working with wireless at our end of the pond isn't super complex.

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Thank you all for the great advice! It truly helps paint a better picture of what quality productions are looking for. I am not interested in working on low budget productions and would rather show up with gear that will help produce exceptional audio. I understand I have a lot to learn but am a pretty quick study. My only experience with the AVX was for scratch audio to produce VO for and my client paid for it so it worked out in that regard. 

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