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Range Issues - Lectrosonics. Is this normal?


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Hey all! Firstly I want to say thank you to everyone within this community for sharing and passing on insight and knowledge. Also I just want to say I'm a bit of a location sound noobie so go easy on me!

 

I've recently started a show in Galveston, TX and am having some range / RF issues.  I'm running block 20 / 21 Lectro 411a's with SMQV TX with a PSC Multi Splitter and RF Venue Diversity Fin Antenna in a K-tek bag with a Comtek M216. Also the DP provided some Sony TX/RX units to be used as camera hops as he has a super slot within his Sony camera. I've been clipping the Sony TX (hops, 10 mW) on my belt on the small of my back. He swore these units wouldn't interfere with my Lectro's but every time I power it on I can see additional RF interference on my 411's. Also the Sony unit's cause terrible interference with my Comtek's, the only way I've figured out how to have them play nice is by dropping the mW. SMQV (100 mW, sometimes 250 mW ) TX placement on talent has been mostly in the small of their back, but if the wardrobe allows it I'll try to position the TX off to the side a bit. Normally there's 2 - 3 talent.

 

For the most part I'm getting 15 - 20 ft. of range and often I find myself having to position myself off to the side of talent to get line of sight on the TX's during cross coverage. Galveston has been very rainy, hot, and humid. Also I don't have any 100% clean channels within block 20 / 21. I've coordinated frequencies using the 411's tuner setting (D) and also checked all channels with Freq Finder for intermodulation and selected the most clear channels.  Usually they read about 80% clean.

 

Is this normal given the circumstances? Is there something I'm doing wrong or can be doing different to increase range? Any insight is much appreciated!

 

 

Thanks you!

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Had a similar experience with high end Sony digital hop. Frequency OKd by Freq finder. The Sony hops don't play well with Lectro,

and the DP said he had had the same effect before with other sound guys. We went hard wire and range for the Lectros was back to their normal performance.

 

This was on a doc style shoot, so couldn't get the Sony transmitter far enough away from my bag. You might have better results if working off a cart, and wiring a good distance (10 feet or so away) to the transmitters stands or something like that. Not sure, but maybe.

 

 

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How much of a deal breaker is that slot RX?  How about a scratch hop for syncing that's relatively innocuous like Comtek or G3 or a Zax deal?  If a DP's wirelesses were hosing my talent wireless I would talk to the producer about priorities in their sound world.....  And what is up with this DP who knew going in that his gear would make trouble for the talent wirelesses?

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1 hour ago, Philip Perkins said:

How about a scratch hop for syncing that's relatively innocuous like Comtek

Yes Philip, that is what I normally suggest, but some clients want to have better than scratch tracks on camera files.

Most of the work I do is straight double-system with no camera hop, but still run into the folks who want better than scratch on camera, (maybe less than once a year these days). Hard wiring will always work, but not great for human safety at times.

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My guess is the various transmitters are beating together and producing an undesirable signal that the 411a receivers cannot handle.  They have a tracking front end along with decent mixers, 1st at 244mhz and the 2nd at 10.7mhz.  For a small receiver they are first rate.  I seriously doubt it's an outside frequency.  I don't know anything about the Sony transmitters, so I would suggest contacting Lectro.  Someone there will have a better idea.

Personally I would lose the Sony hops and supply the camera with one of your Comteks delivering a scratch track.

 

Good luck

David

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Those Sonys don't do well with receivers in the same bag. I experienced similar issues with Sennheiser receivers.

Workaround: Choose a Sony frequency as far away from the Lectros as possible. The Sonys have three "bands" consisting of three tv channels. Transmitter and receiver at least mustn't be in the same band.

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1 hour ago, Mungo said:

Workaround: Choose a Sony frequency as far away from the Lectros as possible.


This. 

Important information being left out here, what frequency is the Sony set to?

If they're in the same block as yours then I would suggest you ditch and get production to rent something better for you. Because it is desensitizing your receivers. 

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Thanks everyone for the response! I've implemented a lot of your suggestions and seem to have found a middle ground.

 

I changed my TX channel 1 to a more open frequency, swapped my Comtek cable for the manufacturers cable, and changed the Sony TX (hops) freq as far away from everything else as I could. My range has mostly returned to normal but I am still battling some issues with the Comtek's. They seem to work decent indoors but when running around outside every so often theres a terrible clicking sound that lasts 3-5 seconds sometimes. It's pretty loud and persistent and seems to overtake any audio being sent. Is there anyway to scan for more open channels on the Comtek M216 / PR216's? (I've attached an img of freq finder with my current frequencies)

 

Also I've ran into a different issue recently - whenever dialog gets close to or barely hits the limiter on the SD633 I get distortion (+14db hard knee). I feel like I shouldn't be getting distortion as the level's aren't super hot. Normally I shoot for 0db and +8db for peaks but it seems any louder than that will cause distortion(maybe talent will yell or cheer and hit roughly +16db) . It doesn't happen every time but often enough to look into it.  I reviewed some files to see if the distortion is just from hitting my L/R too hard or if it's on the ISO tracks and it seems to be distorting on both. The distortion isn't super prominent, after reviewing the files you kind of have to be listening for it to notice. In hopes to isolate the source of problem, I cranked the 633 channel gain to hit the limiters very hard and I got the same distortion sound (trying to rule out the lav's being overloaded, TX turned up too high, and RX being turned up to high). The interesting thing is, I'm working on a home renovation show, and there's lots of hammers, power tools, etc.. The power tools or hammer transients never seem to cause distortion - they'll hit the limiter and be fine. It's only the talent's voice that will cause distortion. I've tried different thresholds for the limiters as well as hard and soft knee. In the end I just started shooting for 0db - +2-3 for my peaks and for mix L/R +8 for peaks and +10 for the limiter threshold hard knee (these levels are for dialog).

 

I'm using Sanken Cos-11, with SMQV's and Lectro 411a's.

 

Has anyone experienced this? Am I just recording too hot? I feel like in the past I've hit my L/R pretty hard and have never really heard distortion under normal circumstances.

 

We've been working in rainy or super humid conditions.

 

Thanks everyone!

IMG_1314.PNG

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Just a thought regarding the distortion. Transients from for example a hammer is much shorter than the human voice and can actually sound quite natural even if it is hard clipping or having a quick limiter, or at least more so than voice.

 

Are the levels the same on TX and the isos? Just to eliminate that you are either running the Tx too hot or overloading the recorder. Does this happen even without the recorders limiter engaging? 

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Regarding the distortion, I would check your monitor (headphone) level to make sure it’s not cranked too high- especially on a Reno show. Sometimes we tend to crank it higher to hear things then it can affect how high your mix and iso are set. (I like mine at -6db/- 4db using Remote Audio HN headphones, but to each his own.) I run my mix lower and iso’s Hotter, Just a thought.

And for the Sony WX hop prob, ditch them, I always talk production out of a mix track/ hop whenever I can. You are more then likely overloading the 411 fronts by having the Sony TX so close -even low power and away from the bag is only going to help so much. The most I’ll do is a Comtek for scratch track. 90% of all audio problems-in my opinion- is camera audio, aka hop. 10 years ago you HAD to have a mix to camera, nowadays forget about it. We are already barely  squeezing in frequencies in  a congested set, especially if you have a high mic count.  Why sweat a mix for camera when usually all they -cam op - is only  looking for is to hear the action via headphones into the camera. Quick fix hand them Comtek to listen on, slap a MKH60/416 on camera and all is fixed. I’m sure you have TC boxes on so it takes 3 min for an editor sitting in an AC edit suite to sync.  I’ve heard dailies from 15 feet away from camera, chainsaws running, heavy equipment in background and it sounded like the talent is mic’d from the shotgun running on auto. The Comtek clicks could be faulty unit, swap the TX out for another to test, Comtek are fairly fragile, and the service is quick and affordable. Just my two ¢. 

 

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