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Comtek 216 in Europe


jlempen
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Hi all!

 

A quick question to Comtek 216 users in Europe.

 

How do you guys and gals handle the incredibly strong interference leaking into the PR-216 receivers when mobile phones in close proximity to the set are switching to the EDGE data network? I haven't noticed any interference on the Comteks when mobile phones are on the 3G network, but on EDGE, the interference spits out at full level through the headsets and you'll see directors, ADs, producers, continuity people et al ripping their headsets off their heads and giving you angry looks.

 

I'm using either a BST-75 216 transmitter with the MiniMite antenna or the M-216 pocket transmitter with its whip antenna and PR-216 receivers. The M-216 transmitter's input cable is the original Comtek, filtered XLR to minijack cable which comes with the transmitter. But I don't think the issue comes from interference sneaking its way into the transmitted signal. It seems to affect the receivers directly, even with the transmitters switched off.

 

I don't know if the older EDGE data transmission technology is (still) being used in the US, but here in Europe it gets used a lot as a fallback when the 3G network is too weak. And as we often shoot in real locations as opposed to soundstages, we sometimes cannot control the cell phones in close proximity to the set. And even a single cell phone in EDGE mode will ruin the reception on Comtek receivers in a perimeter of 5 to 10 meters.

 

Thanks for any tips or insights!

 

Cheers,

 

Jürg

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I bet that 90% of the interference you experience does still come from crew members' phones.

Are your locations so small (or so real) that people can get as close as 10 meters to director/AD/other Comtek wearers?

I can imagine that at a train station or an airport you can't clear enough real estate, but usually crowded areas like this have good 3G reception.

Even in a city apartment I would expect to be neighbours' phones to be a non-issue.

 

As to crew's phones: I tend to give the director (well, it depends - not all directors, and not usually on commercials...) the receiver that's most prone to mobile phone interference. This makes sure mobiles are really taken care of.

It's not just the interference that distracts people. People always seem to have lots of stuff on their minds when their mobiles are on, instead they ought to concentrate on their jobs.

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Jurg: " we sometimes cannot control the cell phones in close proximity to the set. And even a single cell phone in EDGE mode will ruin the reception on Comtek receivers in a perimeter of 5 to 10 meters. "

those phones are not in close proximity to the set, they are on the set!

Peter: " I tend to give the director ... the receiver that's most prone to mobile phone interference. This makes sure mobiles are really taken care of. "

great strategy!

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The only thing you can do is tell them to keep the receiver on the opposite side from their phone.

I'm sure you have the same issue with actors if they have their phones on set. It gets into the mics too.

 

Robert,

 

I won't allow actors to have cell phones in their pockets while on set, I usually offer them to charge their phones on my cart, it's a great way of keeping control of cell phones and the actors love you (even more) for that.

 

I bet that 90% of the interference you experience does still come from crew members' phones.

Are your locations so small (or so real) that people can get as close as 10 meters to director/AD/other Comtek wearers?

...

Even in a city apartment I would expect to be neighbours' phones to be a non-issue.

 

Peter,

 

You're absolutely right about that. Every time the AD yells "please switch off your phones", the crew does switch off their phones, but they'll turn them on again as soon as the scene's done to check their facebook profile and subsequently forget to turn them off again afterwards.

 

But we do sometimes shoot in very small real locations such as city apartments and hotel rooms. And I really have the impression that a cell phone in a room on the floor above the set makes my Comteks freak out. There could of course also be other factors involved, such as wireless routers.

 

The thing is, I can't recall ever having had such problems with my Sennheiser G2 IFB's in similar locations in the past. But since I had to invest in a new IFB system due to the new frequency spectrum regulations, I've decided to go with the Comteks and that's where these problems started.

 

And yo're absolutely right on airports, railway stations, public schools and other large public spaces. The network coverage there is usually good and the Comteks work great in such places.

 

Jurg: " we sometimes cannot control the cell phones in close proximity to the set. And even a single cell phone in EDGE mode will ruin the reception on Comtek receivers in a perimeter of 5 to 10 meters. "

those phones are not in close proximity to the set, they are on the set!

Peter: " I tend to give the director ... the receiver that's most prone to mobile phone interference. This makes sure mobiles are really taken care of. "

great strategy!

 

Great strategy indeed!

 

Mike,

 

Yes, those phones are *on* the set most of the time! And I've never seen as many people, interns, producers and even directors, texting and social networking even *during* takes as since facebook became so popular.

 

Knowing that, my question would rather be: why are the Comteks so much more prone to cell phone interference than, say, Sennheiser IFB's? Is it because the Comteks use the headset's cord as an antenna while the Sennheisers have their own antenna? Is it a case of VHF vs. UHF frequencies? Or are the Comteks less shielded than the Sennheisers?

 

Thanks for your input, guys!

 

Cheers,

 

Jürg

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