Digital Wireless Microphones – Sennheiser EW D1, RodeLink, Audio Technica System 10 Pro and Sony UWP-D

The whole area of digital wireless is hotting up. Yes there have been solutions kicking around for a while but so far they haven’t overwhelmed the market place. But that just might be about to change. Several big players are already in or just about to launch and with a much wider choice, not least in price, this might be the moment that digital wireless really begins to cut through a broad segment of the industry. My experience to date is fairly limited. Several years ago I reviewed the Zaxcom digital system, which had (and still has) recording built into the transmitter. The system was very capable and very expensive, probably deployed on major feature films and West End shows – not the market we are looking at today. The other system I tried for review was the AKG DMS 70, a ground breaking 2.4Ghz system which I really liked at the time of review, but as time went on I wasn’t convinced by the system’s rejection of interference. Interestingly AKG have discontinued the DMS 70 system. However other manufacturers are prepared to take a swing at mid range digital wireless system.

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Already in the market are Audio Technica with their System 10 and they are about to deliver a pro version which will allow remote siting of the receivers (rather than antennae because 2.4Ghz doesn’t like long leads!). When the System 10 Pro becomes available for review, I have been promised a go on it. Cool.

Sony have a 2.4Ghz system called DWZ, which seems to be aimed at guitar players. However with a slightly different approach Sony also have a hybrid solution offering of digital audio over traditional FM transport. The idea is to escape the audio quality limitations like companding which are a feature of traditional FM wireless systems.  I think this has been done before but I can’t remember who did it.

sony uwp-d11

Hot on these guy’s heals are Rode with their RodeLink 2.4 Ghz system. Rode are really targeting the DSLR market, one that they already have a strong presence in with their lavalier and gun microphones. The RodeLink gear is going to be priced very aggressively and for those looking for an affordable location solution may be a significant foot in the digital door. At the high end – with more and more sound recordists using multitrack recorders (built into their Sound Devices/Zaxcom gear) the option to use a cheaper radio system like the RodeLink as a hop the camera for a guide track might also mean some more professional interest in the RodeLink system. This is definitely on the slate for a review.

rode_dwAnd last but by no means least Sennheiser, who are one of the biggest players in the radio market and their EW systems are found everywhere. High performance, great build quality and solid reliablility have established Sennheiser’s reputation and now they’ve launched a 2.4 Ghz system to extend their profile into this brave new world. I’ve used hi end Sennheiser diversity VHF/UHF systems and the more affordable EW G1 to G3 series and have always been very pleased with the results. The prospect of 2.4 Ghz systems is very enticing indeed. If I read the marketing right the kit is built in the US, which bodes well for quality. I’m expecting a review sample any day.

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