Sony Digital Wireless

A few months ago we bought the new Digital Wireless system from Sony and here are a few thoughts after taking it out into the field.

To start off: As with most things in this crazy industry on thing is for sure: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. This is not an inexpensive system. Its not any more expensive than say Lectro, Sennheiser, Wisycom or any other high end system in the same class. But by paying the little extra you also get a reliable system with the extra features that you might find useful.

We chose Sony wireless for a few reason. First, I’ve had the 855 and 860 diversity systems for the last 10 years and can say nothing but god things about them. I can easily count the number of dropouts I’ve had in that period, which is very very few. They’ve worked over great distances and in some miserable conditions. If this was the next generation from Sony I’d expect nothing less.
Secondly the receiver fits into our PDW-700 and allows 2 channels of wireless audio directly in the slot. Great news!!
Thirdly and this is actually just a bonus is the fact that we own a bunch of Sony lavs already wired for the transmitters.

I think one of the main advantages of this system is being able to control features remotely. Say you’ve hidden a transmitter on a talent, taped down and under clothing for example. Being able to change output, enter a LowCut filter, or “sleep” the transmitter to save batteries is awesome. You can also change a frequency if you run into interference, all directly from the camera meny

in camera meny to control transmitters remotely

or the top of the receiver. The little indicator that shows you battery level on the TX is just so so so useful. No more guess work or running up to the talent to lift clothing to check. Just wish you could actually switch the batteries remotely…. πŸ˜‰

remote access to features on transmitter

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We do a lot of ENG style shooting for feature news pieces and documentaries where range and rock solid performance is an absolute must. On thing with the Sony system is being able to up the transmit power to 50 mW. I know other manufacturers go even higher but I’ve used 10mW with the 860 and 855 for so many years, I think 50mW will serve all my needs. πŸ™‚ There is also the aspect of battery drainage to consider. When I switched the transmitter to 50mW I could definitelely notice more battery usage. But the option is there to go from 1mW (close sit-down stuff) to 10mW or 50Mw as range increases. In the time we’ve had the system it has worked like a charm on long distance applications and transmission has been solid.

There is also a feature to encrypt the transmission, but this is not a feature I’ve dug into as of yet. Perhaps down the line.

These new transmitters also allow for LINE level input which is great if you’d like to “tap” a mixerboard for example. Very useful again to have 2 channels in the slot providing a stereo pair.

Great build quality Also micro USB for firmware upgrades

The transmitter are, as expected, really well built in a metal chassi and like my old WRT-860 these DWT-B01 will stand up to a lot of abuse for a long time to come. Also there is a Micro USB port to allow for future firmware upgrades. Units run on AA batteries which I personally like better than 9v. The size of the transmitter is a little smaller than the old WRT. For really small transmitters hiding in hair and such there are other option from other manufacturers.

The optional mixer bag slot attachment is a great way to use this system as stand alone (by a mixer console) or in a mixer bag in the field. Here is a link of some pictures of it attached to our F3.

So any downsides or negative issues I’ve run into. Not really. One thing I think of the Analog VS digital side of it. I come from the analog wireless sound where if there is a dip/hit in transmission you might just get a hiz sound/small break up but still be able to hear a voice for example. Well with digital it is ON or OFF. Its nothing wrong with the system, just how digital works.

Also I’ve had a small issue with the “pilot connection” (feature control) on one of the transmitters to the receiver and connection has been lost a couple of times, and I’ve actually have had to reset the transmitter to factory default. It now works fine, and it may have been a user-issue. I am not a sound guy and user manuals are not my cup of tea. πŸ™‚

Also the “pilot signal” doesn’t have a best range, and I’ve found it looses connection if it’s put to sleep. For example, if you sleep a transmitter you’ve placed on a mixing console on the other side of a room, you’ll make it sleep but might have a hard time waking it. Move in a little closer and it will connect up again.

We have a few other systems as well, lower end ones costing about half of this system. But I go back to my first thought in this post, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. You really do. I hesitate every single time we take the lower end systems out into the field, which is not a reassuring way to start a shoot. They’re ok to use in a sound bag with someone monitoring them but for a camera link a high end system is the way to go.

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Disclaimer: I have no ties to Sony in any other way than having spent and enormous amount of money on their gear over the years. We payed full price for this wireless unit as well.

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mskogstrom

I work as Director of Photography based in sweden. One of my main strengths is finding the best possibilities for a chosen location, lighting it in a given time frame and producing images meeting, and hopefully exceeding the producers vision. After more than 15 years of working with the moving image I still enjoy the challange of getting β€œthe shot” and seeing the light I own/run a production company in Malmo Sweden, www.pixeltouch.se

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