Wireless. They’re great aren’t they? No messing around and falling over wires, and no constraints. Literally take your mic, and sing anywhere you like! Awesome!
This is a review for the Sennheiser G3 systems which I’ve used.
So what is it?
The Sennheiser EW100 G3 system, is a high quality, high fidelity wireless microphone system, designed for semi professional use. It consists of a ruggedly constructed radio handle, which can take a variety of wireless microphone capsules. Mine, has an e935 head, and I also have an e835 head from which I can draw comparison.
My system runs on channel 38, and whilst specific frequency bands are available from the manufacturer, as are Channel 70 systems (licence free, but less reliable), these are either not relevant OR are more likely to be interfered with when the 4G operators switch on their transmitters right next to them in the frequency band.
The first thing I look for in a wireless microphone, is for it to feel comfortable and balanced in my hand. The Sennheiser units are “reassuringly fat” in my hands and there are times when I wish they were slightly slimmer – but they are still comfortable to use.
All of Sennheisers range, is made of metal – from the EW100, all the way up to the SKM 5000 series. They are rugged, solid, and have the added benefit, that if an audience member ever got violent, they’re heavy enough to be a proper weapon! (obviously I don’t condone this behaviour, I’m just thinking pointing out that they COULD be used for that!)
One of the key things to realise with radio mics, is that in terms of the quality of radio equipment – if you stick with known, respected brands such as Sennheiser and Shure, there is very little to choose in the radio department.
As expected, the EW100 system, performs faultlessly in the radio department.
One key feature that the Sennheiser units have though, is the SYNC function. There was a time when setting up your radio mic meant finding a frequency on your receiver, that was free, and then matching that frequency to your transmitter. Not now. The easy setup menu allows you to scan for available channels, and then the infrared sync system, activated by a button on the receiver unit, automatically downloads all of the information required, to the radio mic transmitter. Its a process which takes all of 10 seconds, and is something I haven’t yet seen from any of the competitor products.
It is worth noting, that Sennheisers units are ALL compatible with each other, assuming the frequency bands are the same on the receiver and the transmitter. You can easily use Sennheisers SKM5000 (top of the range) transmitter, with their basic EW100 G3 receiver. The differences in these units come down to their use in a network and managed environment, where productions have multiple mics on wireless sets.
This is where the difference is made in the sound of the mic. I originally had an EW100 system, with an e835 head. Sennheisers base, standard microphone capsule. It has an cardoid pattern pickup, and is generally regarded as a solid performer.
Then, the opportunity to procure an SKM2000 handle, and e935 head arose, and I took it. Wow. The difference is incredible. The e935 head, is more concise, and has less “ring” about it. Where the e835 head sounded tinny, the e935 is concise and tight sounding. It might be that it suits my voice, and that others get a better result the other way around. Visually the capsules are identical – the only clues being the numbers printed on them – but in a benched comparison, I could certainly tell the difference! (I’d love to have recorded some comparisons, but I didn’t think about it at the time, and I’ve since sold the EW100 handle and head).
Sennheiser do a range of capsules for the EW100 series, and SKM2000 series, with specialist capsules available from Neumann, and even adaptors available to allow you to fit Shure capsules to Sennheiser radio handles. So you truly can pick the mic which best suits your voice!
I have used all manner of wireless microphones over the years – offerings from AKG, Trantec, and Shure have all been part of my kit in the past – but I found the step up to Sennheiser the most valuable. In terms of value for money, their wireless systems are excellent, and whilst they are slightly heavy, I find that extra weight reassuring. The build quality is fantastically rugged, and, coupled with the simplicity of the Sync function, I cannot recommend Sennheisers G3 systems highly enough. They truly are the leader in their class, and excellent for professionals and semi professional use.