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15/11/2016

Audio-Technica System 10 Camera-Mount Digital Wireless

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Great video content isn't just about incredible pictures and amazing cinematography. Without excellent audio it becomes, literally, a turn-off for viewers.

As we're often reminded, an audience will tolerate less-than-perfect focussing or exposure, but unlistenable dialogue or distorted sound is much harder to bear.

Location sound recording brings distinctive challenges in terms of microphone technique and equipment choice, particularly for smaller crews. But it's important that time and effort is spent on achieving great audio in the field to ensure a really watchable final result. Today's wireless mic systems offer real flexibility for a sound recordist – particularly in documentary or news-gathering situations – but the whole area can appear something of a minefield to the uninitiated.

Audio-Technica's System 10 Camera Mount digital wireless aims to address those usability and operational concerns. It operates in the 2.4Ghz frequency band, simply meaning you don't need a license to use one and there's no chance of interference from digital TV or mobile phones etc. It's also really easy to set-up and use – ideal for one-man crews etc. Automatic frequency selection means the System 10 rig constantly monitors frequencies and changes them if necessary to ensure the signal doesn't drop out – all without any user input. And up to eight systems can be used simultaneously while still avoiding frequency coordination problems or group selection. Working at 24-bit / 48kHz, the set-up combines excellent sound quality with reliability too.

Another feature designed to combat interference is the System 10's three levels of diversity; frequency, time and space. Frequency Diversity sends the signal on two dynamically allocated frequencies, Time Diversity sends the signal in multiple time slots and Space Diversity uses two antennas on each transmitter and receiver to maximise signal integrity. In short it's a belt-and-braces approach to the security of your audio feed, which all happens in the background.

As important as internal design, the physical nature of camera-mount wireless systems is also key, especially if they're to be used on smaller DSLR/mirrorless or handheld cameras like Sony's FS5 for example. Too much weight on the top of a rig like this makes it hard to use in the field, of course.

With this in mind, Audio-Technica have kept the System 10 camera-mount receiver down to a mere 105g in weight – and its compact dimensions and multiple mounting options make it easy to integrate to any set-up.

To that end, the ATW-R1700 receiver also has a great array of connections, despite its diminutive size. Balanced and unbalanced output jacks with selectable level control allow connection direct to cameras or field recorders – a mini-jack-to-XLR cable is included in some of the System 10 Camera-Mount packages to interface with gear using balanced inputs. There's even an independent headphone jack and volume control for audio cueing direct from the receiver.

There's flexibility built-in to the way the System 10 Camera Mount set-up is supplied too, with handheld mic, lavalier mic and bodypack transmitter package options all available to suit the kind of situation in which it's likely to be employed.

Among those using the Audio-Technica system in the field is Charlie Allen from Naked Noise (whose clients include Capital Radio, Island Records and the Green Man Festival) and director/producer Irfan Shah. Currently in the middle of work on a documentary – The Ambulance Man – Shah has subjected the System 10 Camera Mount rig to thousands of miles on the road in challenging environments...

"The Ambulance Man is a feature length documentary telling the story of John Shackleton," he explains, "a 77-year-old from Harrogate who buys up old ambulances and drives them into war zones and other places of need. Along with the Audio Technica AT897 shotgun mic, the System 10 camera-mount kit is pretty much at the core of our sound rig. It's becoming a very well travelled piece of equipment which will have been everywhere from North Yorkshire villages to East Ukrainian military hospitals.

"We've been using the System 10 with a Tascam DR-60 MKII and occasionally running it into an Atomos Ninja 2 recorder – we've had great results, no interference and it's basically our weapon of choice for whatever we do now. We moved from another manufacturer's wireless kit to the System 10, partly because of the System 10's sturdier antennaes and it's performed brilliantly for us."

www.audio-technica.com

This article is also available to read at BFV online as part of this issue's Audio feature here, page 42.

(JP/LM)
Solidmate Ltd Memory Card Hire London

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