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Comtek Questions - 72 vs 216 - Old vs New


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13 replies to this topic

#1
Tyler Neisinger

Tyler Neisinger
  • LocationLos Angeles
Hi Everyone,

I am a sound mixer in LA that is relatively new to the game. I've mostly been doing bag work for low to moderate budget projects, and am looking at adding some Comteks to my package, but I could use a little guidance on what systems to invest in.

Here are my questions:

- What is the difference between the 72 transmitter/receivers and the 216 models?
- Are there any legal FCC related concerns?
- What is Option 7?
- What models would you advise that I purchase for a first set? Used or new?

Here are some details about my needs:

I do a wide variety of work: Documentary, narrative, and commercials. Primarily, I need one or two IFBs for the director/scripty/producers to listen to on set. It would also be great to use them to send timecode to or from camera(s) on certain jobs, or to send a feed of my audio mix to camera. Obviously, I don't need the unit to do all these things at the same time (wouldn't that be great) but different jobs have different needs. Should/can I use a comtek in all those ways?

Here is my kit:

SD 302 Mixer
Tascam HD-P2 Recorder
Rode NTG-3 Shotgun Mic
Audix SCX-1 Hypercardioid Mic
2 Sony UWP-V1 wireless packages
2 Countryman EMWs

(I'd love to have a SD 552 and a 744T, but this is my starter package for now.)

I tried to find the answers to these questions via google search before pestering you all, but there isn't a lot of helpful information about Comteks available on the web as far as I could find. I would very much appreciate any information that you all could throw my way. Thank you all for the help!

#2
jason porter

jason porter
  • LocationToronto
I like using Sennheiser G2's as a "comtek". They sound good, have great range and can be used as talent mics too! (probably cheaper as well)

#3
MatthewFreedAudio

MatthewFreedAudio
The Zaxcom system can send both audio and timecode to the camera simultaneously. Also, each receiver displays timecode so your scripty simply needs to glance at his/her receiver for any timecode notes. Plus, the Zaxcom system sounds a million times better than any Comtek or Lectro IFB receiver.
www.matthewfreed.com
Production Sound Mixing for Television, Films, and Commercials

#4
WhyOne

WhyOne
  • LocationLos Angeles
Hey Tyler,

Welcome to the group!

- What is the difference between the 72 transmitter/receivers and the 216 models?
The carriers (72 MHz and 216 MHz) and the deviation wich relates to fidelity. The 216s sound better.

- Are there any legal FCC related concerns?
Oh Yeah! There are only two channels in the 72 MHz that are still legal - most of that band has been given to Public Safety. Anyone still using them is subject to a fine (though I know of no one who has been fined.) Unfortunately, the 216 MHz stuff is a little gray - one can obtain a license for the band that goes up to 216.000, but ComTek's units are just above 216.000 which falls into unlicensed assisted listening systems. Theoretically, we should not be using them for production.

- What is Option 7?
For the smaller, portable transmitters, Option 7 replaces the mini (1/8") antenna connector with a much more robust BNC connector. If you get one of these units, get the Option 7.

- What models would you advise that I purchase for a first set? Used or new?

Tough question... But I think you probably should go with the little 216 transmitter and a couple of 216 receivers. Gives you room to grow - you could buy a 216 base station down the line for cart work, and 216 receivers are always floating around on the market.

Zaxcom has some new units that are less expensive than the Lectro IFBs, might be worth checking out. Personally, I have a five digit committment to the Lectros and love them...
Jay Patterson, CAS / Engineering For Production / jaypatterson@hotmail.com / Santa Monica, CA

FCC LPAB (Part 74) Lic. WQNJ498 / http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1391060/
"It is too soon to adopt a 'Wait and See' attitude..."

#5
Tyler Neisinger

Tyler Neisinger
  • LocationLos Angeles
Awesome, thanks for the info!

#6
studiomprd

studiomprd
  • LocationHollywood CA
Hi Tyler, and welcome to the forum...
" I tried to find the answers to these questions via google search before pestering you all, "
sadly, though, you did not try very hard... (I suspect that is how you found us here!)

A lot of the information is readily available searching this group, or by contacting Comtek (email or telephone), or visiting their site, or by checking with our "usual suspects" (professional production sound dealers). Where did you buy your gear? There are lots of discussions on this group about Comtek's, their uses, and alternatives.

I'm really think it is a good idea for folks who sign up to do some "reading the mail" on a group before jumping in...

Edited by studiomprd, 27 August 2011 - 12:46 PM.

SENATOR Mike Michaels, c.a.s.
Studio M Productions

#7
RPSharman

RPSharman
  • LocationLos Angeles
While it is fine to ask a question and wait for a response (you will get some), Senator is right in that you can get the information a lot quicker and perhaps more comprehensively by searching within the forum first.

But in summary, I believe the Comtek systems to be the best value in terms of cost and performance. The Zaxcom units are without a doubt cutting edge, but range is an issue without a "larger" set-up, and they are a LOT more expensive. Lectro systems have expensive receivers, are of higher fidelity than Comtek, but when I was a utility guy I found the RF hits quite annoying and painful.

One thing I can assure you is that many academy award-winning directors, and other brilliant directors, have somehow managed to direct their amazing films listening to PR72 Comtek receivers. Our clients are typically not, nor should they be, listening to the nuances of the mix we are sending them. They should be hearing the words and the performance comfortably and with as little interference as possible (preferably none).

I am "upgrading" to 216s for my clients (my boom ops use them already and prefer them to any of the other choices), but it's only because about 10% of the time on location, I have encountered intermittent interference on the 72 band, which I find unacceptable considering I am being fairly compensated for my gear. But for starting out, the M72 Option 7 with a handful of "newer" series PR72b receivers would be a sensible, reliable and economic way to go.

Robert

#8
WhyOne

WhyOne
  • LocationLos Angeles
RPS! Hey, just imdb'd you to notice you did the video coordination on Citizen Ruth back in '95! I remember Kenny coming out to Omaha for a day of 24 frame and staying a week! Hilarious! And slightly more on topic, I used the Comtek 72s on that film and every project till I switched to the Lectros. The reason I advised Tyler to go with the 216s is a bit political - as a licensed user, I just can't recommend units that we are not supposed to be using. I agree with the rest of your logic, though.

Jay
Jay Patterson, CAS / Engineering For Production / jaypatterson@hotmail.com / Santa Monica, CA

FCC LPAB (Part 74) Lic. WQNJ498 / http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1391060/
"It is too soon to adopt a 'Wait and See' attitude..."

#9
RPSharman

RPSharman
  • LocationLos Angeles

RPS! Hey, just imdb'd you to notice you did the video coordination on Citizen Ruth back in '95! I remember Kenny coming out to Omaha for a day of 24 frame and staying a week! Hilarious! And slightly more on topic, I used the Comtek 72s on that film and every project till I switched to the Lectros. The reason I advised Tyler to go with the 216s is a bit political - as a licensed user, I just can't recommend units that we are not supposed to be using. I agree with the rest of your logic, though.

Jay


I, too, spent a little time in Omaha on that film operating. They spent quite a lot on shipping gear and operators back and forth. Crazy for a relatively low budget film. Haven't seen Kenny in almost that long. I stopped working for that company shortly after joining the union some time in '95.

But yes, on topic, it is wise to use legal items. I was completely unaware, until now, that the 72s are not legal. But my guess is that the FCC will bust our cameras' 1W Modulus on set before busting my Comteks. Or at least I hope!

Robert

#10
studiomprd

studiomprd
  • LocationHollywood CA
" FCC will bust "
actually, I suspect it will be a long wait for the FCC to bust anyone, unless maybe there is a wardrobe malfunction sent over one of the modulus's... >:D
SENATOR Mike Michaels, c.a.s.
Studio M Productions

#11
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins
I still have a bag of PR72s. They work fine, are very reliable, are serviceable, and I've never been busted with them even in gov't installations etc etc. The problem with them is that since they are given out to clients there will be an inevitable attrition happening to your package, and you can't just pick up the phone and order new PR72s or their crystals--you have to take your chances on Ebay etc.. I lost a few this year--my latest ones had to come to me (in CA) all the way from Australia--they were the only ones I could find when I needed them. So in addition to the better sonics on the 216s, there is this practical matter of keeping your package numbers up. For a one-man-band like me doing smaller projects where maybe you don't need a whole case-full all the time--they are probably a good cost effective choice, still. If you are working episodics or movies or reality etc and need a lot of them all the time under heavy conditions--probably better to go with the current models, I'd say.

phil p

#12
johnpaul215

johnpaul215
  • LocationPhiladelphia - PA - USA
The older 72 ones work fine 99% of the time. The crystal thing makes them harder to tune if you ever run in to an issue.
You can definitely use them and not get scoffed at for having old gear (if you were wondering). I bought a set of them, and even after getting some 216s, I keep the 72s around.
You can get a set of 72s for a lot less than a set of 216s.... so if you have a fixed budget for Comteks, you will get a lot more RXs if you go with the 72s.
I don't have a ton of 216s, so if a job surprises me with a request for a lot of Comteks, I just hook up the second transmitter and run both systems. I try to make sure the director, scriptie etc get the 216s... a lot of the other people stop listening pretty quickly and just want to wear the kit all day. Last week I did a commercial at a family home and realized the extra Comteks production requested were being worn by the homeowner's grandchildren (who were probably 6 years old). They were fine with 72s. :)

side tip... if your 72s have worn out pouches... try a store like 5Below (sort of a $1 store, but $5 and under). They sell phone pouches that will fit the Comtek 72s and they cost $3-$5 and come in all sorts of configurations (plenty of all black fake leather/canvas options with robust belt clips).

johnpaul golaski - Philadelphia PA USA - www.JOHNPAUL215.com
FCC LP Call Sign WQQM443


#13
pampasound

pampasound
  • Locationmontreal
I just found this thread while searching the forum and wanted to know your thoughts about the M72s...

I been wanting to get my first pair of Comteks and 72s seem more appropriate for my current budget.

- As of 2012 (almost 2013), are the 72s still running properly?
- How is their range?...

I'm thinking of using them for occasional IFBs for director and sometimes for camera feed for scratch track, since i cannot offer timecode yet....


Thanks!

#14
RPSharman

RPSharman
  • LocationLos Angeles
The 72s are still good gear for a budget listening tool.

I would strongly recommend against using it for a scratch track. It's just so bad for that, that it only serves to make you look bad when people hear it.




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