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wireless lapel systems for budget


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I've been using Sennheiser SK5012 transmitters paired with EK 3041 receivers because they're cheap on ebay. But it's old tech. Do they sound better than cheap current generation systems? Or is this the best bang for the buck? I'm guessing the analog amp circuitry is good since these were high end models, but that better transmission quality exists with newer digital radios.

I have them paired with DPA 4060 lapel mics.

I've also messed around with lectrosonics MM400 transmitter and CR210D Receiver. Also deals to be had on these. Seems like its wireless tech is newer. Not sure which is better. 


Besides audio quality, I'm interested in compact size, long battery life, and easily swapable batteries - so I can leave them on the subjects for hours at a time - until they forget they're there and act unselfconciously.


Any thoughts / experiences much appreciated.



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12 hours ago, bdemenil said:

I've also messed around with lectrosonics MM400 transmitter and CR210D Receiver. Also deals to be had on these. Seems like its wireless tech is newer. Not sure which is better. 


The Lectrosonics 200 series is similar age to your Sennheiser transmitter. While the 400 series is a bit newer. 

I feel the Lectro 200 series is the best bang for buck right now, which is why I went for them (after first starting out with Sony UWP-D11). Plan is to stick with these for another two/three plus years, then might go wideband Lectrosonics (once say their issues with their SRc is sorted out for instance). Or might go Wisycom or Zaxcom or Audio Ltd, who knows! Lots of options, no rush.

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See if you can't get your hands on some SMQa or SMDa's (250mw and 100mw locked respectively).  They aren't backlit but are the same dimensions / have most of the same features as the SMQV's but are currently being dumped on the used market for pretty darn cheap.  I picked up a 411a/SMDa recently for $1200 shipped.  I have some SMQa's as well although they only get about 4-5 hours on rechargeable AA's, they sound great.  The SMDa gets 8 hours since it's only 100mw.

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Been using all generations of Sennheiser wireless equipment - and yes: nothing can beat an SK 9000 transmitting to an EK 6042 (both the latest models).


Sennheiser got better with every generation of wireless: The SK 5212 sounds a little better than SK 5012 / SK 50, the EK 3241 sounds a little better than EK 3041 and EK 6042 sounds a little better than EK 3241. This is noticeable especially in clearity of high frequencies and low end freqs and audible companders. I would say that an SK 5212-II together with an EK 6042 doesn't produce any compander sounds unless you choose a very very very wrong gain setting on the transmitter.


Even if the equipment you describe is old, I would still prefer it over new low budget stuff like Evolution because:


- the HiDynPlus transmitters have an excellent limiter built in

- transmission stability is great though range may not

- ruggedness and reliability

- service friendly (only transmitter)


Yes, modern pro equipment from Sennheiser, Lectro, Sony DWX, Wisycom and all the others are way better, but if money matters it's the best choice. Those units were built for eternity.

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I used SK50s and EK3041s for years when getting started with my own gear. 


They served me pretty well and I was happy to use them over G2s. Still miss the never ending battery life, cast aluminum durability and slender shape of those packs. I don’t miss needing a tweaker and flashlight always on hand to adjust anything. I also don’t miss manually going through all 16 frequencies and squinting at that terrible LCD to look for open channels in RF crowded Chicago. They also hated having hops transmitters next to them. 


I had 8 channels of them at one point. Even had a dual quad box setup for cart use. Did some interesting jobs with them. 


I guess this is all to say if they’re working for you then I wouldn’t be in a huge rush to change. Upgrading to anything truly better will be expensive and ruled by the law of diminishing returns. Clients don’t care and as you say they sound pretty good. Certainly good enough for lavs. 


I ended up selling the the whole package for very little and then investing that plus much more into Lectros and I’ll say that while they’re a huge upgrade in most ways, especially operator setup, size, and great sound they’re not perfect and suffer from a lot of the same RF issues you’ll have with just about any professional brand. Lots of sound people love to say they’re rock solid but I feel like that’s a jinx. They are until suddenly you’re getting mysterious drop outs on an exterior shot that seems like a piece of cake.


Could be my my imagination but I’ve found Lectro transmitters seem more sensitive to body placement whereas I felt like I could put the SK50 just about anywhere on a body and the useable range didn’t change much. With my SMs I’m always taking care to avoid small of back, inside pants pockets, anywhere the arm might smoosh down the antenna, etc. 


Now, like many others, I’m looking at having to reblock them all in a year ($$) or replace ($$$) due to our wonderful Congress and FCC. Maybe I should have stuck with my old Sennheisers a few more years! 

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