I’ve been shopping for a wireless mic for my Scarlet. Here is what I’ve learned about single system audio. First, hire a pro when you can, we just worked on a shoot with a great guy and the audio is 100 times better then I could do myself. When you have to, audio into the camera can work well. The first thing is to make sure that the 1/8″ cables you use are actually wired the way they appear to be.
Out of the box there are many mono audio products with 1/8″ connectors. Logically one would assume a mono audio tool with a 3 pin 1/8″ connector would be TRS. (Tip, Ring, Sleeve). It turns out this is not the case. Many companies try to help you by sending that mono signal on both the tip and ring pin. These connectors will not work with Epic or Scarlet. There is a thread on Reduser.net telling you how to cut the white wire in a Rode Video Mic pro to turn it from bi-mono to a proper mono TRS connection. That thread is worth following, I fixed up my mic in 5 minutes.
The same issue applies to both the Sennheiser G3 and Shure FP15 wireless lavaliers. They are both mono sources but they both come with 1/8″ 3-pin jacks that are wired for “bi-mono”. You can either replace the wires that come with these kits or try to cut the wire running to the RING pin yourself. Getting a wire that has mono pin – to pin TRS from either system will make it RED friendly.
Here is a quick review:
1)The Lectrosonics 100 series comes out-of-the-box working with Epic and Scarlet. This is very nice gear made here in USA. If you have the means I suggest this wireless system. For me, I’d save the extra money and use it to hire pro-audio. I’m not buying audio gear to replace working with a pro, I just need the ability to get decent sound into the camera. So I’m not investing in Lectrosonics. These units are around $1300 for a transmitter, receiver and lavalier mic.
2) The Sennheiser G3 is ubiquitous in recording, so it might be a good way to go. Out of the box it is not RED friendly, the nice screw-lock 1/8″ wire that came with the kit is wired up with signal on both ring and tip. However since it uses 1/8″ you probably have a 1/8″ male to 1/8″ male stereo wire that is wired up pin to pin in your drawer, plug that in and you’ll be good to go. If you want to find a wire with screw locks on the Sennheiser side it’s probably out there, I’ll add a link if I find one.
3) Shure FP15: I was excited by this because it is over $120 cheaper then the Sennheiser and it boasts being easiest to setup. This system is also wired with signal on Tip and Ring so the wire it comes with doesn’t work. This is bit harder to fix because the connector is TA3F (aka mini xlr) on one end and 1/8″ 3 pin on the other. I can only find this wired properly as a very expensive custom cable. If one were to open the TA3F end and cut the black wire it would work with RED. If money is the primary choice this is a good bet. Though I can’t hear much sound difference between the Sennheiser and the Shure the Sennheiser has a smaller microphone and it’s levels seem to match the Scarlet better.
In the end I’m going to keep a Sennheiser G3 and a Rhode Video Mic Pro in my kit. I may add a boom and another wireless set. Really I’m happier working with a second system sound and a pro sound recordist. The takeaway should be this: Just because a wire appears to go from XLR or TA3F or TRS to TRS doesn’t mean that’s what is going on inside the cable. Many posts have complained about the use of non-locking connectors on RED. I think the bigger issue is the non-standard ways many device manufactures are using these wires. You can’t look at a 1/8″ mini plug and know if its’s stereo, mono, balanced, unbalanced or “bi-mono” for some of these wires we literally had to put a multi-meter on them to know how the pins were mapped.
Audio sample comparing Shure and Sennheiser: