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Hello people of the sound realm!

I have reached a point where I am now being forced (due to client and director pressure) to procure a comteks system. In laymans terms: I am mixing and recording sound on set, whilst monitoring the signals in my earphones. Now I am finding more and more work where the client is on set and the director is requesting live sound in headphones for them too!

What I have done in the past is rent or borrow from a fellow soundie, the required bits and bobs. These generally are either the comteks system or in a few cases, the old Sennheiser brick 500 transmitter & receiver setup (one transmitter and 3 or 4 receivers with headphones). I run a cable or transmit a signal to VT, so VT can record audio with it's video and then from VT's audio out, I transmit a signal to the receivers which then deliver sound to the client or directors aural appendages! This way they hear live sound and playback from VT.

Now these systems are quiet expensive and I was looking at the cheaper Shure VHF systems, but I cannot find the receivers with headphones...can anyone out there suggest a solution, preferably wireless? (I have done the headphone splitter box, but it ties the client and the director down and usually my extra headphones get punished, through physical abuse.)

Thanks very muchly!

  • I just went through that issue on a shoot I was on this week... good question for me. – Andrew Spitz Nov 14 '10 at 12:53
  • I have found that it has been pretty standard in the past for me to provide such devices for the director and producer. I have always used comteks as they are pretty reliable and provide good audio to people who probably don't know the difference between good and bad takes. Have fun – oinkaudio Nov 15 '10 at 5:58
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The most common things on the market are Comtek's and Lectrosonics. The Lectro's are quite a bit more expensive but do provide higher audio quality. Now, the difference in audio quality may or may not (probably won't) be noticed by the client. Also, keep in mind that all of those units transmit a mono signal so don't worry too much on the left/right mix for video village.

Getting anything in the VHF range these days is very risky. There are so many radio frequencies floating around and things are getting more and more crowded. If you're going to buy something I would highly recommend getting variable frequency UHF systems. You'll have much greater range and flexibility with the units.

As you've noticed the units will be handled quite poorly by the clients. So, either get something cheap that you don't mind replacing and that you can recoup the cost of very quickly or get something very durable. Again, the Lectro's do have a higher build quality but they are quite a bit pricier.

And...ALWAYS charge your clients for the usage of the IFB/Comtek/Confidence Monitoring, etc. This is the sort of thing that is NOT a standard part of an audio kit and should always have the associated charge. When I get requests for Comtek's I have a base price for the transmitter and two receivers. Additional receivers are charged extra per unit.

  • @Matthew Freed Audio: Thanks for the info. much appreciated! I have been in contact with Comtek in the interim and have received their latest price list and am now in the process of readying an order...receivers go for round about USD300 and the transmitters for about USD500. – Andre Feldmann Nov 15 '10 at 8:13

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