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  • Writer's pictureBrett Ainslie

Lectrosonics and Sennheiser Sitting in a Tree (Wireless Compatibility)

Updated: Mar 6

Some people don't think Sennheiser and Lectrosonics units can play with each other but that is false. I was recently on a shoot where I needed to use a plug on transmitter in a busy RF environment. This was a last minute request from production so I had to make due with what I had which was a Sennheiser SKP100 plug on transmitter Range A with its EK100 G3 receiver. I also had a Lectrosonics UCR411a in Block 20 which overlaps with Range A. I used the SKP100 with the UCR411a to help eliminate as many RF issues as I could and I had no problems in the field that day. This article explains a few ways you can use Sennheiser wireless and Lectrosonics wireless units together, finding wireless compatibility and what to expect when you do.

Lectrosonics Wireless Compatibility Test #1: Tx= Sennheiser SKP100

In order for the UCR411a to receive the signal from the Sennheiser unit, I changed the compatibility mode on the UCR411a from "400" to "M3" meaning "emulation 3". I then decided to test this theory side by side for us curious folk to see the difference between the G3 receiver and the UCR411a using a Sennheiser SKP100 transmitter. The G3 Rx is on the left track while the UCR411a is on the right track. Please use stereo headphones to hear hear the difference.

I was very surprised how well the SKP100 did. I walked quite far onto another floor of the building, landing as far as above the back corner of the unit across from the apartment unit in which I started. A hospital is a few blocks away from here as well. Regardless, it is clear that the UCR411a, albeit not perfect, captured and processed the signal much better than the G3 receiver in terms of RF. I also performed the car key test in that as well. In case you're unfamiliar with the key test, if you jingle a set of metallic car keys in front of the microphone on a wireless system, the high frequency supersonic sounds the keys produce (peaking at around 30 kHz) tests the wireless system's input limiter, and its compandor's attack and decay times.

"On a system that fails the key test, however, strong sibilants won’t have a clear, open quality but will instead have a muffled sound as if someone’s hand has been put between the mouth and the mic." ~

Many wireless systems fail this test which results in almost unnoticeable, but apparent distortion of the higher frequency sibilants in the sound source you are trying to capture whether it's music, voice, ambience, sound effects, etc. The Sennheiser SKP100 going into the Lectrosonics UCR411a passed this test quite well, however that SKP100 going into its Sennheiser G3 receiver failed this test miserably. So you'd think the Sennheiser G3 receiver is what is not up to par here, but stay tuned for the test below. So if you don't need the range of Lectrosonics, do keep in mind that the quality of the sound being processed by the Sennheiser wireless is not up to par with Lectrosonics and I'm refusing to go more into detail on other differences in sound quality between the two.

Lectrosonics Wireless Compatibility Test 2#: Tx= Lectrosonics SMQV

I then did the same test using a Lectrosonics SMQV as opposed to the Sennheiser SKP100 in order to see the difference between the SMQV and the SKP100. For these tests, I wish I was in a more challenging RF environment, for once in my life, but regardless, the test is below and again the G3 is left channel with the UCR411a on the right channel:

Sennheiser G3 set and Lectrosonics SMQv/SRc set going into a Sound Devices 664

Both receivers received the signal similarly in this test. The SMQV seemed to transmit a stronger signal than the Sennheiser SKP100 but not by a long shot in this scenario. However, I used to use G3s even along side Lectros before upgrading to the Lectrosonics primarily for more range and am very confident that in a more challenging RF environment, the Lectros would quickly and clearly outperform the G3s in range if not in more categories. But what is interesting about this test is that both receivers didn't seem to have an issue with the car keys. Previously, the G3 receiver failed miserably, but with the SMQV transmitter, it was fine. So in some cases, it's better to mix the two systems rather than using, well, G3 Tx's with G3 Rx's.

I would note, however, if more range is what you need, there are many other ways to improve your range, such as using a better antenna, i.e. sharkfin antennas, getting antennas higher and closer, amongst many other. I do personally prefer the sound quality of matching brands; as in, if I'm not worried about range, I am currently preferring to use a weaker transmitter (Sennheiser) going into its correpsonding Sennheiser receiver, rather than going into a Lectrosonics receiver; it works, but sounds a little off to me. And there we have it, I may lose street cred for saying this, but they are in fact, sitting in a tree, K I S S I N G.

"It might be interesting to try Mode 6 as well - it was originally designed to be compatible with Shure UHF (not UHF-R) but we have reports that it works well with Sennheiser Evolution units. Mode 3 was designed to match Sennheiser's HyDyn Plus models (3000 & 5000 Series)." ~ Karl Winkler, Lectrosonics

On another test, I compare in depth, the Lectrosonics UCR411a with the Lectrosonics SRb and SRc receivers.


Brett Ainslie, NYC, New York Sound Mixer posing for a portrait on set of a reality show

Brett Ainslie is a NYC based freelance non-union Production Sound Mixer owner/operator.

He has been mixing sound on location for Film & TV since 2010 for narrative feature films, TV commercials, corporate videos, musical and corporate event live streams and broadcasts, digital content, documentaries and network reality shows. Brett has mixed sound for TBS, HBO, Showtime, Bravo, Disney ABC, Discovery, Food Network, Fox, VH1, A&E, ESPN, MTV, National Geographic, Bloomberg, Vice and more.


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