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Topic: Cellphone Headset Mics
Message: Posted by: Lou Hilario (Aug 30, 2004 08:10AM)
I was just wondering if those tiny cellphone mics which attach to the ear can be used as a wireless microphone for Sennheisser or Shure. They are quite inexpensive and it looks very light and comfy as compared with the conventional headsets.
I haven't tried it yet. I was planning to attach a suitable plug in the transmitter. Would this work?
What is the difference of these cellphone microphones with the wireless headsets? Does anyone here know? Thanks in advance.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Aug 30, 2004 04:20PM)
I don't know but someone should find out. It sure would save a lot of money!
Message: Posted by: Andy Leviss (Aug 30, 2004 08:46PM)
Not easily, and beyond that, it would sound godawful. Telephones have a relatively limited frequency range, so these mics are only optimized for those frequencies. Plus, since it is such a limited bandwidth, the general sound quality, even beyond the frequency range, doesn't have to be as high. That's why they're so cheap--they don't have to be made to such high tolerances as ones made for sound reinforcement.

There's a reason that good microphones cost so much. They aren't just arbitrary numbers. I hate to sound so blunt, but quality costs, it's a fact you need to get used to. Don't try to find a cheap way out, you'll only end up regretting it.

No, you don't have to buy a $600 headset, you can find ones good for spoken word for less, but don't take the cheap way out for you and your audience and try to find one for $30-60. Your performance will only suffer.
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Sep 1, 2004 02:01AM)
Most cell phones use a non-standard connector - they are standard for phones, but you would need an adapter for use with a wireless system and, frankly, I haven't seen one yet.

I would look at computer headset mics instead. Still not great in the dynamic ranges, but, unless you are doing a Eugene Burger story-style show, or are a stage hypnotist and need to "play" your voice, then that might be the route to go.

Just a thought,

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Andy Leviss (Sep 1, 2004 07:24PM)
[quote]Still not great in the dynamic ranges, but, unless you are doing a Eugene Burger story-style show, or are a stage hypnotist and need to "play" your voice, then that might be the route to go.

Before I get into the rest of this, I need to address this comment, which just has me seething. EVERY performer needs to "play" his voice. Not just storyteller types. EVERY SINGLE PERFORMER SHOULD BE USING HIS VOICE AS A TOOL. But, even if (for some reason I can't possibly understand) you wouldn't properly use your voice, you STILL wouldn't want a crappy quality mic.

That mini-rant aside, I wouldn't do it. Contrary to what some magicians might want to believe, audiences can tell the difference between the sound of a cheap computer headset that's not made for vocal reinforcement and a high quality microphone made for sound reinforcement.

Would you try to cut costs by using a square cut from a t-shirt instead of a real handkerchief? How about using twine instead of good rope?

Why not? Probably because they aren't as durable as using the right tool for the job, nor are they as aesthetically appealing. So why the heck would you do the same thing with your sound gear?!

Like I said, the "cheap" mics, which most sound engineers would avoid for singers, but that are suitable for magicians who speak but don't sing, cost well more than a cell or computer headset, while still being significantly less than the top of the line headsets. So you're talking about going for cheaper than cheap. Even without knowing what product you're talking about, just thinking about the thought of going for cheaper than cheap seems a bad idea.

I assume that every performer here either already does or wants to charge the highest price he can for his show, right? To do that, you have to provide a show that is worth that price. To charge high quality, top dollar rates, provide a high quality, top dollar product. Cheaping out on your sound gear isn't doing that.

Computer headsets are made for telephone applications and for voice-recognition. They are not made for sound reinforcement, and are pretty much equal in quality to cellphone headsets.

Not to mention that by the time you got the appropriate connector to put onto the headset, and either did it yourself (which is no easy task, Lemo and TA-4 connectors, the most common wireless connectors, are tiny and a pain to solder) or paid somebody to do it, your savings shrink and shrink.

And you don't ever want to use an adapter on a wireless mic. You want your connector directly soldered, with appropriate strain relief, to the cable. To add two more pairs of connectors in an adapter is adding two very weak points of failure, not to mention that an 1/8" plug as on a computer headset (or 3/32" on a cellphone) WILL become unplugged during the course of a show at some point, since it's not a locking connector.

Stop being so frickin' cheap, and buy the right tool for the right job!

--Andy, who unlike many other people here actually does work regularly as a live sound engineer, knows what he's talking about, and has no benefit from the advice he gives here other than the satisfaction of knowing that he's helping both you and your audiences by providing you with guidance to improve the quality of your show

P.S.-One of these days I should send a few of my sound engineer buddies over here and see how people react when they start posting suggesting that people use twine for rope tricks and dirt cheap souvenir uncoated cards for card tricks. Would be quite the interesting experiment.
Message: Posted by: Lou Hilario (Sep 2, 2004 01:31AM)
Andy, thanks for your feedback on this matter. Now I understand that mics used in telephony will not work. I am just in search for a lightweight, comfortable and INVISIBLE headset.
I understand the Countryman is highly recommended for this purpose. Perhaps there are other headworn mics available aside from this brand. No, I am not searching for the cheapest. I just want something more practical because I move and sweat a lot. The mics tend to rust quickly on me.

Message: Posted by: Andy Leviss (Sep 2, 2004 04:53AM)
The Countrymans are killer for sweat resistance. They claim (I've yet to test it) that the elements can survive a night soaking in "your favorite cola beverage". I can, however, attest to the fact that they'll survive human sweat that you wouldn't believe. Depending on how you wear it and where and how you sweat, it may develop what's known as a "sweat out", where the protective screen gets covered in sweat, and the sound suddenly becomes noticeably dull and distorted.

The quickest fix for this is a blast of compressed air, like you'd buy in a spray can at an office supply store to clean electronic equipment. When I'm working backstage as an assistant engineer, I always keep a can of this nearby to spray out mics if necessary. You can also experiment with making a small disc or ring that fits on the boom slightly behind the mic, which will often help deflect the sweat and keep it from sliding down the boom to the element itself.

With regards to the E6, just be careful; depending on who does the terminating (ie, putting the connector onto the mic cable), you may have issues where the leads are stripped too far back, which, as the strain relief softens, can lead to nasty pops and crackles as they short out. This happened a lot when I was out with a compliment of about 28 B6s (the lavalier version of the element used in the E6); both on mics we got from the shop and ones that were sent back to us as repaired units direct from the Countryman factory.

I'd make sure to ask whomever you buy them from to ensure that the leads are insulated all the way to the solder points so that they can't short, and even get it in writing that if it does short out due to that, it's covered either by the retailer (if they do the termination) or Countryman; we got hosed paying for these repairs when Countryman claimed they weren't warranty issues.

That aside, they sound pretty good (not as good as larger elements, but great for their size), and are the only headset I've ever seen or heard of that would qualify as "invisible".

The other good headset is the one from DPA's 4060 line (I forget which the exact model number is, there are a couple lavs, a true headset, and a headset adapter to use a lav as a headset, all which start 406_), but it's much larger than the E6.

Hope this helps,

P.S.-The previous rant wasn't directed at any one person in particular, or even two or three. It was more of a general, "Aargh!" sort of thing. It's frustrating seeing lots of people play "instant expert" on what I've spent a long time learning to do and do for a pretty good dollar every day, when if somebody else came around and tried that with magic, those same people would be insulted. And I also hate seeing people spend hundreds or thousands on magic props, books, and videos, and then cop out when it comes to the tools that let the audience actually enjoy the show. :)
Message: Posted by: Dan McLean Jr aka, Magic Roadie (Sep 2, 2004 05:09PM)
The Countryman E6 is very fragile. I just bought two of the DPAs, based on some pretty extensive, professional testing. The boom arm's about the same size as an E6, and the element' is still very small, probably about 5mm. That's bigger than an E6, but it's MUCH more robust than the E6, and sounds a bit beter.

I got DPA 4067 mics because their features are condusive to pro user rental, but the 4065 and 4066 are very similar. The new 4088 is directional. Directional, however, does NOT mean it's more resistant to feedback: More goes into feedback resistance than just the directional characteristics of the mic. The DPAs are quite expensive, but gorgeous.

Go to Products, and then to Headbands. If you need help selecting a model, I'd be happy to help describe the differences in lay terms. As Andy pointed out, with DPAs, you also need to order the right adapter for your wireless system.

For a mid-way alternative, you can get a Sennheiser NB2 headset adapter to use with most existing lav mics. Go to Google, click on the IMAGES tab, and do a search for sennheiser nb2.

As Andy says, if you want to be treated like a pro, you gotta put on a pro show, and that includes good sound. A cheap mic won't sound even CLOSE to as good as a pro one.

Message: Posted by: Lou Hilario (Sep 5, 2004 09:58AM)
Thank you Andy and Dan for your experience on this matter. I will consider buying the DPAs.