Wireless can make or break your production. The ability to record audio without having a bunch of cables everywhere is awesome, but it can also be a pain. Frequencies mixing and mashing with each other, audio dropping out, and interference with other radio sources (I was once in a building that received a baseball game broadcast because they used the same frequency), can all add up to money and time wasted and you still not getting what you want or need. If those reservations have held you back, fear not. For the shining blue and white knight (A.K.A Sennheiser) has come to the rescue.
Introducing the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless G3 Series. This series is easy to set up, easy to use, and can be utilized by more than just the sound guy. In short, the versatile system is brand new and is ready to ease your worries about wireless audio.
I have been working with Sennheiser wireless systems for a while now and I have seen the progress they have made over the years. The new EW G3 system is something else! This review will be about the Sennheiser EW 122P G3 system (which includes the EK 100 G3 diversity receiver plus the SK 100 G3 bodypack transmitter with the ME4 Lavalier mic), and the EW 135P G3 system, which is the same except instead of the SK 100 G3 bodypack transmitter with the ME4 Lavalier mic, it comes with the SKM 100-835 G3 handheld transmitter, which is a handheld mic.
Here we go!
Out of the Box
When you open the box, you see that there are two bodypacks, 4 batteries, a few packs of accessories and a huge empty space along the side. Fear not, for that is what you get. Sennheiser was smart enough to use the same packaging for both of their ENG wireless sets, the EW122P G3 as well as the EW135P G3. The bodypacks are the aforementioned EK 100 G3 receiver and the SK 100 G3 transmitter. The accessories include the ME 4 Lavalier microphone, a windscreen, a hot-shoe mounting plate, a XLR to 3.5mm mini jack cable, and a 3.5mm mini jack to 3.5mm mini jack cable.
The EW135P set comes in an identical package but instead of the SK 100 G3 transmitter bodypack, you get the SKM 100-835 G3 handheld transmitter/mic combo plus mic stand clip.
Pretty standard stuff as far as a wireless package goes. It contains everything needed to get a production started.
Let’s be honest – Sennheiser hasn’t really changed the way they look for a long time. There is no problem with that however because they continue to provide you with sleek looking bodypacks that take up little space, and best of all, are extremely easy to hide when necessary. The biggest change on the handheld transmitter would be the fin-looking external antenna. Not a big deal and it probably helps the reception. Just don’t try to stand it on end. The traditional black casing with a new orange LED screen gives these set-ups a refreshing update that doesn’t stray too far from the look of their predecessors.
Does it work?
Yes, and it works great. Remember, this isn’t the top of the line 500 series. This is the base model EW series from Sennheiser. Even with that said, this system is working just as well as the G2 500 series did. The extras on these bodypacks are easy to use and are very helpful. Sennheiser has expanded to 20 preset banks that holds 12 channels a piece, as well as updating their frequency range to a whopping 1,680 frequencies to choose from! You should have no problem with interference or channel selection for your production.
Sound guys don’t get to have all the fun with this product as Sennheiser has added an extra feature that should make guitar players go nuts. The extra is called the cable emulation mode. The bodypack can emulate a cable being used to compensate for tonal differences created by certain cable lengths. This is for the true guitarist that knows what they are doing and doesn’t want to change a bunch of settings on their gear to conform to the wireless technology.
Here is my beef with Sennheiser’s wireless system. They include their bottom of the line lavalier mic that is intended to just make it by. Although it is not the end of the world, I really suggest you look at something more like the Sennheiser MKE105S-EW or higher. The price difference jumps almost double, but the quality is more of an exponential jump. It is amazing how much better your audio will sound with a different mic than the one supplied with the set up. Other than the mic, this system is the one to get if you’re looking for a mobile wireless set-up. The new handheld mic is a great option for those looking for a stage mic or something for a news report that doesn’t allow for a lot of power. The wireless receiver helps with easing the field reporting without sacrificing audio quality. The bodypacks are rugged (don’t intentionally beat them, but they can take a few knocks and still run) and easy to use.
Using the Device
I keep referencing how easy these things are to use and here’s why: they are. I remember the days when I would have to go through every menu just to find what I was looking for. Not anymore. For finding an open frequency, you just hit the scan button on the receiver and when it’s found, point the transmitter at the receiver and hit sync. You’re done. No more double efforts just to make everything right. This system also has new mute features. There are two different ways of muting the device now. AF mute is your traditional “shut-up” mute, simply blocking audio transmission. The new feature, RF mute, actually stops the transmission on the frequency, opening it up for something else to be transmitted. Sound guys: You can essentially use the same frequency for multiple bodypacks as long as they are used at different times.
While the MSRP on these set ups is a hair under $900, Filmtools is offering it at a rock bottom price of $600. Add in a nicer mic for the lavalier set, and you’re looking at about $900-$1000, but that mic will be usable on all 3.5mm applications as well as giving you way better audio.
Sennheiser has gone above expectations with their updated system. The G2 was nice as long as you had something other than the 100 series. The G3 starts with the 100 series again, but now it feels like you are using at least a 300 series. They have definitely set a bar for prosumer as well as professional wireless equipment. The new features are great and again, extremely easy to set up and use. If you’re looking for a new wireless system, either to update an old one or you are just starting out, definitely take a look at the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless G3 series.
Have you used these products? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!