Greg McGuirk is a composer, keyboardist, and commercial video producer whose clients range from regional hospitals to HVAC contractors and from automobile auction house Adesa to the division of Rolls-Royce that manufactures aircraft engines.
“I do custom music, TV spots, and corporate videos, and since I went freelance some years ago, I’m also playing the role of field audio guy—and then I’m usually doing audio post-production, too.” To make sure that aspect of his work goes off without a hitch, he uses a wireless rig from Lectrosonics, consisting of two SMQV compact dual-battery transmitters and two UCR411a receivers.
“There are two things about my work that typically make wireless more practical than using boom mics,” explains McGuirk. “First, we always visit clients at their location; the days of a client coming to a video company’s building and going into their studio are long gone. So, in someone’s corporate headquarters I may be visiting for the first time, I really don’t want to be a boom operator at the same time I’m recording, and today’s budgets mean we usually don’t have extra hands around.
“Second, though some of the corporate videos are talking heads, the TV spots feature actors moving around, so boom mics don’t work there especially if it’s a wide shot. For those situations, my wireless audio bag is always ready to go, and that includes the Lectrosonics gear, a Zoom F4 field recorder, and the Sanken COS-11D lavalier mics I like to use with the SMQV transmitters.”
Another factor of visiting a client’s location is that one can’t always control every aspect of the environment. The airwaves in office buildings are often saturated with radio frequencies from Wi-Fi, employees’ smartphones, and security systems. Fortunately, the integrated RF spectrum analyzer in the UCR411a units makes it easy to find clear frequencies. Plus, since they can be powered by an external supply, McGuirk only needs to think about batteries in the SMQV transmitters—which thanks to their dual-battery design can run up to six hours on conventional alkaline batteries or over 14 hours on rechargeable lithium-ion cells.
“Also, the sound of heating or air conditioning is something clients don’t necessarily think about ahead of time,” notes McGuirk. “So, a close-miked lav setup is often ideal for rejecting that noise, because the building’s HVAC might be structured in a way that means we can’t turn it off in one area without affecting others.”
The best thing McGuirk has to say about his Lectrosonics equipment is, ironically, that he doesn’t have a lot to say about it. “I’d love to have some good war stories to tell about how Lectrosonics performed on production shoots from hell.” he laughs. “Honestly, though, my experience with it has been uneventful. Boring, even, but that’s just how I like it. It just works, the same way, every time. Once we’ve set up a shoot, I don’t even have to think about its presence in the rig because it doesn’t give me fits. That lets me focus on telling the client’s story.”
If one feature does stand out to McGuirk, it’s Lectrosonics’ reliability. “My transmitters and receivers have been pretty bulletproof in all our travels,” he reflects. “You can practically throw them against a brick wall, pick them up, and use them with no problems.”