In my journey to find the best (and cheapest) ways to improve our production value, I found that there is no cheap way to get audio feed to my boom operator, until now. I will lay out all the options here and show you why I chose the best option.
The PM50S are a classic in the world of Music, drummers use them every time they are recording, or musicians when they need to get their own mix independently from the mixer. With a mic through and a monitor input, you can mix both signals independently and hear your own instrument/mic while also hearing everyone else.
Huge con though is that the PM50S has to be powered, which means you will need a battery or a power distributor if you want your Boom Op to hear what he’s pointing at.
Also the Boom will need to be wired to the recorder and will not have the possibility to go wireless.
These Comtek are industry standard wireless audio communications. These will be the IEM’s you see on set for any Hollywood production team. They are reliable, sturdy and long range.
However the price is what makes them exclusive to the Hollywood sets, with a whopping $1,363.00 on B&H for this kit of 1x transmitter and 2x belt-pack receivers.
Pro’s: The monitoring kit is absolutely top quality, it has a good range and the audio quality is good for the medium.
Con’s: The price is steep considering the alternatives.
The Senheiser like the Comteks are well known in their industry, the Senheisers known more in the Music industry while the Comteks are more known in the film industry. Senheisers EK models are constantly used for In-Ear-Monitors for musicians on stage. These body packs however need a Transmitter base that is even more costly than the pack itself, these unfortunately are sold separately and can range in the $1,000’s.
Pro’s: These are the highest quality audio, reliable and rugged.
Con’s: Just like the Comteks, their price is high for smaller productions. But you get what you pay for and in this case is quality and confidence from the similar performance as Sennheiser sister product the EW’s series for their lavaliere microphone packs.
This is the gem that we found through word of mouth, this VocoPro gear does exactly the same that a Sennheiser or a Comtek would do as a cheaper alternative.
The Silent PA has a Transmitter with an Aux input and a mini XLR microphone input making it easy to communicate with the receiver at the other end and also send a line mix from the recorder.
The Receiver has a 1/8” 3.5mm Headphones out and an Aux Line out. Both of these packs are completely equipped with their belt clip, and antenna. Only needed 2 AA batteries per pack.
Range on these packs (personally tested) is within line of sight : 340 ft (100m)
Lavaliere included with these packs is enough for a quick run-and-gun type of shoot for communicating with your boom operator.
Con’s: They are made with a very fragile hollow plastic, it feels somewhat cheap (again you get what you pay for) however this does not make them ineffective, rather it shows why the price tag is substantially lower than the higher end options.
All these systems will do their job with incredible reliability. My personal take on this because of our small production size and needs, we will go for the VocoPro Silent PA. The VocoPro IEM system is the cheapest, most effective, albeit somewhat fragile and not as sturdy as the comteks In-Ear wireless monitor system.
If you are a small production and need to send audio to your boom operator from the recorder, and you are looking for a wireless solution, the VocoPro will do more than what you are asking for and will do it without any issues.