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SeanMAC

IFB on the cheap.

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Hey y'all!

Wanted to share something that I came up with (I'm sure I'm not the first to do this) this week. I'm a mixer in Idaho, and generally I don't really get requests for IFB/listen in etc, but every now and then it'll come up that a client would like to listen in on a scene or shot. Now, seeing how rare these requests are, and that not having it has never lost me work, I've never felt the need to drop $1-2k on a full IFB set (Comtek and the like). So instead I decided to do what you see below. Coming out of my 633, is an XLRF to 3.5mm. Then I have a Female to Female 3.5mm barrel connector. Then that connects to a 5 way headphone splitter. Going off that I have five 6-foot 3.5mm cables. Then on the end of each of those is a 3.5mm Female to Female barrel connector. The volume can be adjusted through the 633, so I set it at a volume that's comfortable and leave it there. Anyone that wants to listen in can just grab a cable and plug in their headphones (or a set of cheapies I keep with my). Sound quality is great even after going through a bunch of cheap connections. Clients can listen, the 6 foot cables can be replaced with longer ones should they get on my nerves, and all in I spent 8 dollars. Hope you guys are at least entertained by this! Thanks everyone for reading.

ED6CB55A-F1C1-4735-AB25-88ABBDAC3D8C.jpeg

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I like the idea (and the color coding!) but I would probably skip the female to female adapters by using the proper cables and use a cheap headphone amp, like:

Tape-out -> 10meter cable --> headphone amp --> multiple headphones

 

advantages are longer cable runs, individual volume control and possibly better quality when using multiple headphones.  

disadvantages that you need AC power or a separate battery.

total cost still below 50bucks

chris

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OK, yes I can see this would work but I also see many issues. The biggest being that it looks about as cheap as it is and will reflect poorly on you or your client. 

 

No problem if you know all the people that are going to use this setup and everyone's low-key but I wouldn't want to make new clients use this who are paying everyone's bills. And believe me, I've deployed some pretty cobbled together IFB/village setups over the years. If you can find a used Comtek 72MHz system that's in good shape that might be able to serve you well on certain shoots for a few years especially if you're in a pretty RF clear area. 

 

For example, I have a BST-75 which is really too big for a bag rig (remember big 72MHz antenna) so I'll use a G3 transmitter or sometimes Lectro in my bag to hop a signal over to the BST-75 which I setup by video village or if range is long I'll set it up between myself and village. Works well for relatively stationary shoots.

 

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9 hours ago, chrismedr said:

I like the idea (and the color coding!) but I would probably skip the female to female adapters by using the proper cables and use a cheap headphone amp, like:

Tape-out -> 10meter cable --> headphone amp --> multiple headphones

 

advantages are longer cable runs, individual volume control and possibly better quality when using multiple headphones.  

disadvantages that you need AC power or a separate battery.

total cost still below 50bucks

chris

 

 

Chris! Thanks so much for the idea, the thought hadn't even crossed my mind that they make headphone amps with more inputs than maybe 2. I'll give this a try soon, Thanks again!

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Sean,

 

Derek is right... Just get a Comtek transmitter and about 5 or 6 older 72MHz units... they can be found for little money and will allow you to transmit from your bag to the receivers... Then you will do what MOST in our field do...   hand out some units and headsets and go to work...  Nobody wants to be tethered in 2018...believe me... that is NOT normal.. just do it!!!

 

Be careful buying ANY Older Comtek transmitters and receivers,  there are right ones and wrong ones.. I do not care for the numbered frequencies... You WILL see a LOT of those on EBAY...   I would steer away from ANY White button top units... You'll see those on EBAY!!   Too old for service...  You want one with the black knob on top... Further, find a transmitter with Lettered frequencies...  A-B-C-D-E-F-I FOR EXAMPLE...  AND, MATCH YOUR RECEIVER XTALS TO THE TRANSMITTER YOU BUY...

 

  BETTER YET, FIND SOME USED 75A RECEIVERS... LOOK MODERN, CAN BE FOUND FOR $150EA.  USED..

They will auto tune to whatever you broadcast...A-B-C- etc....

You CAN have them locked (programmed) to whatever you broadcast by the way if need be..

 

Questions, call Comtek...they are nice... They can use serial number info and tell you whether it is before a certain serial number, meaning they still service the unit or not... Again, button tops are usually too old for service..

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Appreciate everyone's advice and input, especially afewmoreyears, I know veeeery little about older Comtek systems. Basically, I split my time between Idaho and LA, and when I'm down there working, it's 10-15 Comteks and Zaxcom ERXs and the lot (even some earwig fun from time to time). But up here, it's Idaho, land of the potatoes, and if you worked here (and trust me, we would have met if you did haha) you would never bother spending more than $50 on a listen in system. This is just a handy little thing I whipped up in my spare time, and hopefully everyone working in LA/Atlanta/Chicago got a good laugh (or painful groan) from the simplicity of it. And should you ever find that a P.A. bugging you about "how many wires on the day" knocks off your Comtek TX and breaks it on the floor, now you'll have one more quick fix in your arsenal to tide over the troublesome producers until said P.A. goes out and picks up a new one for you (and a diet soda of your choosing, of course.)

 

Really though, it is great to have everyones thoughts and advice, and if I was working literally in any other state I would take Derek and afewmoreyears advice and pick up a legitimate set of older Comtek 72s right away. But, there's maybe 2 other working sound mixers within 200 miles of me, and they both use Zooms slung around their neck, so I feel pretty confident in my gear offerings for now haha. Cheers fellas, and may the flightpath gods bring you favor and good fortune.

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16 hours ago, SeanMAC said:

 

 

Chris! Thanks so much for the idea, the thought hadn't even crossed my mind that they make headphone amps with more inputs than maybe 2. I'll give this a try soon, Thanks again!

Check your PM. I have a Comtek system for sale.

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If you have cell service, just use the producers/director and your cell phone. You would have to get a line in TRRS cable to feed your TX cellphone, then just use 3.5mm trs iPod plug for the RX cell phone. If you wanted to add listeners, just add them to the call, and have them mute there mics on their cells phones. LOL, in theory you could have unlimited Comteks/ cellphones. I like the feed to split headphones idea you had, and applaud you ingenuity. 

 

The cellphone concept is some simple semi lazy practice that reminds me of something my old boss would try to pull on a client. It should work though, if you need to get something done, but I wouldn't recommend getting used to the idea. If you provide sub level, production tends to assume, in general you want to go the opposite direction ( when possible). I understand your isolated location provides challenges, perhaps instead of cellphone service, look into bluetooth radio transmitter for the car stereo( most units use FM to transmit signal, I know iPod Nano can receive FM radio). That system should allow you to broadcast short distances from your mixer to a bluetooth speaker then with the 5 3.5mm trs outputs somewhere away from you. ( giving you wireless capability, also looking better in the clients eyes) The only problem you have to resolve is how to get small portable FM radio's. Cheap handheld FM radios are cheaper than Comteks. 

 

People always overlook FM radio. If you just need them to be able to "hear" and quality is a moot point, should be ok. Remember, the glass isn't half full, or half empty it is half capacity. 

 

Best of luck, it's a never ending process. 

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3 hours ago, Dalton Patterson said:

If you have cell service, just use the producers/director and your cell phone. You would have to get a line in TRRS cable to feed your TX cellphone, then just use 3.5mm trs iPod plug for the RX cell phone. If you wanted to add listeners, just add them to the call, and have them mute there mics on their cells phones. LOL, in theory you could have unlimited Comteks/ cellphones. I like the feed to split headphones idea you had, and applaud you ingenuity. 

 

The cellphone concept is some simple semi lazy practice that reminds me of something my old boss would try to pull on a client. It should work though, if you need to get something done, but I wouldn't recommend getting used to the idea. If you provide sub level, production tends to assume, in general you want to go the opposite direction ( when possible). I understand your isolated location provides challenges, perhaps instead of cellphone service, look into bluetooth radio transmitter for the car stereo( most units use FM to transmit signal, I know iPod Nano can receive FM radio). That system should allow you to broadcast short distances from your mixer to a bluetooth speaker then with the 5 3.5mm trs outputs somewhere away from you. ( giving you wireless capability, also looking better in the clients eyes) The only problem you have to resolve is how to get small portable FM radio's. Cheap handheld FM radios are cheaper than Comteks. 

 

People always overlook FM radio. If you just need them to be able to "hear" and quality is a moot point, should be ok. Remember, the glass isn't half full, or half empty it is half capacity. 

 

Best of luck, it's a never ending process. 

 

You will have delay problems out the yazoo with this rig. Unusable while watching video asst.

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2 minutes ago, Mirror said:

 

You will have delay problems out the yazoo with this rig. Unusable while watching video asst.

Are you speaking from experience or speculating. 

Low latency?

 

  • "NO LIP SYNC DELAY - APTX Low Latency technology guarantee you enjoy TV wirelessly with practically no audio delay. To benefit the lag free experience, please use it with a Low Latency supported Bluetooth device. (i.e. purchase another New Saturn Pro; OR transmitter: Avantree Priva iii, Leaf, Oasis, receiver: Avantree Clipper Pro, Audition Pro, Torpedo Plus)"

—Admittedly this is a low quality setup; it will have issues, just trying to provide something for someone not looking to invest too much cash. 

 

This is a $27 solution...

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41 minutes ago, Mirror said:

Have you used this?  

I think as a rule of thumb, I am not going to engage users without names and working territories. 

 

MIRROR-Are you not putting your name out, or working territory for good reason? ( information privacy, intellectual property rights concerns, just shy, etc…?) 

 

I originally began an account under a Pseudonym, but I didn't want to eventually be that 40 year old guy referred to as "insert catchy screen name here". 

 

Going back on thread— Please let me know if anyone checks out the bluetooth listening solution! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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don't bother, said the curmudgeon. Use what works - Comteks or IFBs. Why stress over stuff that can be more expensive the long run in time and energy,

when we already have equipment that works reliably.

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37 minutes ago, Dalton Patterson said:

I think as a rule of thumb, I am not going to engage users without names and working territories. 

 

MIRROR-Are you not putting your name out, or working territory for good reason? ( information privacy, intellectual property rights concerns, just shy, etc…?) 

 

I originally began an account under a Pseudonym, but I didn't want to eventually be that 40 year old guy referred to as "insert catchy screen name here". 

 

Going back on thread— Please let me know if anyone checks out the bluetooth listening solution! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All I asked is if you have used this.  You say there is no latency.  I'm interested if you have first-hand experience with it because this technology sounds intriguing.

 

I would appreciate it if you would leave your bigotted attitude out of this forum.

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There is a post somewhere here about a guy who’s director wanted something smaller than a normal IFB (comtek/lectro), so he used a cheap FM transmitter and a bunch of SanDisk Sansa MP3 players with built in tuners. Although this setup works, you’ll have trouble with battery life,  open frequencies and range. But hey, if you’d rather try a bunch of low priced options until you pony up for something a little more tried and true, that’s your business. 

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done this before. but it go strange when someone plugin a sony headphone, all signal suddenly drop for like 6db. 

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Look up Listen Technologies if you want a cheaper alternative to Comtek. 

 

They basically have have the same product line. 

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54 minutes ago, Derek H said:

Look up Listen Technologies if you want a cheaper alternative to Comtek. 

 

They basically have have the same product line. 

 

done this once during a production sound in china...where you have money and wont be able to find equipment immediately...terrible

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I’m not sure I follow you. Listen Technologies is a US company and, like Comtek, is based in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

 

Makes me wonder what’s up with that. Maybe they have a Shure/Sound Devices type story where some left one company and started the other. 

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On 4/17/2018 at 2:30 PM, traut said:

Comtek.

+1

I have never used Comteks before and I used Comteks for the last three day. Politely put, IMHO the airplane seat headphone jack sound almost as good if not better. The range is very short, 50 yards max in a perfect environment. This helps allow the people out of hearing distance to hear the dialogue, but with compromised fidelity. 

@SeanMAC

 

That being said, director dropped it and battery flew out. Later that afternoon he said, how come my sound isn't working. Instead of answering; because you dropped it, I politely said, sorry you are out of range. Also it meant that when he inevitably dropped it, I didn't care because it was just a comtek. 

 

P/s. what did you decide>>>???

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1 hour ago, Dalton Patterson said:

The range is very short, 50 yards max in a perfect environment

you must have been on a dirty frequency with just the bag based TX I get great range. With the Base station and Mighty Mite Antenna I have gotten a couple hundred yards easily 

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30 minutes ago, ProSound said:

you must have been on a dirty frequency with just the bag based TX I get great range. With the Base station and Mighty Mite Antenna I have gotten a couple hundred yards easily 

Thanks for telling me, I will play with them more. I mite have to get an antenna…

 

p.s. I was in GG Park SF. 

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