Sennheiser G3 vs the AirLinc App | AirLinc App
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Sennheiser G3 vs the AirLinc App

Sennheiser G3 vs the AirLinc App

Sennheiser G3 and AirLinc Comparison

We all know and love the Sennheiser G3, and for good reason! It’s been a necessary and reliable piece of kit for videographers around the globe for many years. However, over the years the old eventually gives way to the new. Today we’re going to do a feature by feature comparison to explain a few of the core differences between the good old RF based G3 that we all know and our new WiFi based smartphone App, AirLinc.

A bit of a recap on the Sennheiser G3. It was first brought out in 1999 as part of Sennheiser’s ‘Evolution’ series of wireless microphones. the G3 body pack wireless microphone has been standard issue for many video production crews and on-stage presenters since that time. The G3 retails for around USD $629.

SIZE

Its small size (82 x 64 x 24 mm) (3.2 x 2.5 x 0.9 inches) makes the G3 body pack ideal for concealment in a pocket or under clothing, giving presenters and talent ease of movement without being constricted by cables that may also appear in shot.

By comparison, AirLinc is an app that uses the WiFi capabilities of Apple iPhones to emulate the radio frequency (RF) wireless capabilities of the G3. It’s similar in size to the G3 body pack when using an iPhone 5s but the iPhone is much thinner at 7.6 mm (0.3 inch) making it easier to conceal under clothing or in the pocket of skinny jeans. AirLinc also works on the iPod touch, which is thinner still at 6.1 mm (0.24 inch).

PRICE

The main point of difference between AirLinc and the G3 is in price. Assuming you already own two iPhones (or own one and can access another) you would pay USD $31.99 (AUS $49.99) for the app. You only need to purchase the app for one phone as the second phone can use the free version. The only other expense necessary in order to achieve a fair comparison with the G3 is a professional lavalier microphone capable of plugging directly into the TRSS microphone connector on the iPhone. We used the RODE SmartLav, which is readily available for around $55 from eBay, bringing the total comparative price to around $87.

With such a huge price difference, you would expect AirLinc not to be designed for professional use. And in some aspects that’s true since it uses iPhones that were not specifically designed for audio transmission. But mostly, AirLinc has been designed to satisfy professionals who require very high audio quality.

LOCAL RECORDING VS LIVE INPUT

The main difference is how you would use the two devices. The Sennheiser G3 is designed to be plugged directly into the camera via a ‘mic in’ connector, whereas the AirLinc system is designed to monitor and change the record level in real-time and record the audio locally on the miked-up device. The expectation is that the audio will later be synced with the video in post. (Although AirLinc has plans for a low latency version that will enable direct to camera input).

The advantage of recording directly onto the miked-up iPhone is that you will always have a drop-out free, high quality copy of the audio.

FREQUENCY

Another point of comparison where AirLinc has an advantage over the G3 is multi-device recording. Currently using more than one G3 in close proximity requires quite complicated tuning to avoid intermodulation interference between channels. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/audio/tips-solutions/purchasing-and-setting-multiple-sennheiser-g3-wireless-microphone-systems

On the other hand, AirLinc has no problem with intermodulation as it operates on WiFi and records locally so you could run 10 or 20 AirLinc setups in close proximity without any disturbance (although you would need to crowd-source a lot of iPhones / iPods and possibly a WiFi router and plug each channel into a mixer for monitoring). On that point, though, AirLinc intends to bring out a multi-channel version before the end of 2016, which will make monitoring your levels in a multi-channel session a whole lot easier.

We are currently in Beta test phase for the multichannel version. If you would like to sign up as a beta tester, please click here.

RANGE

Distance tests with both systems reveal the G3’s operating distance with clear line of sight and low RF or WiFi traffic is 137 m (150 yards) as opposed to AirLinc’s 300 m (328 yards).

Although the G3 has been a trusty and worthy wireless microphone system for 16 years, changes in the frequency allocation for wireless microphones in Australia in 2015 and the US between 2016 and 2019 will make life difficult for users of RF-based wireless microphones. By comparison, AirLinc uses the 2.4Ghz and 5.0Ghz WiFi (when used with iPhone 6) frequencies that are not likely to be changed in the foreseeable future and are standard wherever you go worldwide.

What are your thoughts on using a smartphone App as a replacement for the trusty G3? Let’s chat using the comments section below!

8 Comments
  • CraigB
    Posted at 00:29h, 21 October Reply

    So, looks and sound awesome… but don’t you need a router or WiFi hotspot for the phones to connect to, to obtain an IP address? That means you need another piece of gear to power and bring along. Am I missing something? And can it just use the regular iPhone onboard mic, instead of a shotgun or lav mic? thx.

    • Luke Thorn
      Posted at 17:03h, 27 May Reply

      Hi Craig,

      Thanks for getting in touch, no need to bring along another piece of gear for wifi as AirLinc runs really nicely over the inbuilt WiFi hotspot on the iPhone. WiFi hotspot can be turned on in your iPhone settings (more info here: https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT204023).

      You’re right, there’s no need for an external mic however for the best audio we recommend using something like the Rode SmartLav+ or Aspen HQ-SPK lavs.

      Cheers!
      Luke

  • Brandon Li
    Posted at 23:19h, 17 July Reply

    I really could use a multi-channel version of this. You could basically kill standard wireless mics with this feature, since multiple G3’s can quickly become a nightmare. If you have this in beta, I’d love to test it.

    • Mark Thorn
      Posted at 21:50h, 18 September Reply

      Hi Brandon. Thanks for your feedback. Our multi channel version is currently in Beta. Please keep an eye on our website for release information.

  • Aly Khairuddin
    Posted at 12:53h, 18 August Reply

    Hi I’m really searching for my perfect solution – I intend to shoot pilates videos. I will need to record myself as I go through the exercises. I intend on filming using my iPad or iphone. I’m really puzzled about how it all works though. Do I need two iPhones? Or can I use my ipad?
    So, do I plug the lavalier mic into my iphone, slip it into my pocket? how would I sync the audio with the video? Thanks!

    • Mark Thorn
      Posted at 22:35h, 18 September Reply

      Hi Aly, AirLinc would be great for recording audio on Pilates or exercise videos as there is no restriction to your movement and the audio will always be crisp and clear. Yes, you would use 2 iOS devices (can be iPhone, Ipod Touch or iPad – as long as they can run iOS 8 or above). You would plug your lav mic into whichever is the smallest and shoot the video on the other one. Try to use a tripod for the device shooting the video as you will want to limit the amount of camera movement as much as possible. (You might need to invest in a holder to mount your iPhone or iPad on the tripod). Make sure you have AirLinc loaded on each device. If there’s no WiFi available in the room you’re shooting in then set up a wireless hot-spot between the 2 devices. Now launch AirLinc and designate the device you are shooting the video on as the ‘receiver’ and device you have on your person as the ‘microphone’. When you’re all set up, put both devices in ‘Aeroplane’ mode, press ‘record’ on your video camera and then press ‘record’ on AirLinc (both are on the device recording the video). Here’s a tip that will save you time later – when you get positioned into shot clap your hands loudly where you can easily see them (I’ll tell you why later). Do your Pilates routine and when you’ve finished, go over to the video record device and press ‘stop record’ on the video and on AirLinc. Now you’ll have to edit the video and you can do that right on your iPhone or iPad. You’ll need to download iMovie from the Apple App store if you don’t already have it and load it onto the device you recorded the video on. iMovie is a great editing tool that will allow you to create really professional videos using Airlinc audio. Now you’ll need to get your AirLinc audio into iMovie. Export your audio file from AirLinc using iTunes (see our instructions on exporting) and then upload it to iCloud. Go back to iMovie, create a new project and import the video you just shot into the project. Then press the + icon and scroll down to the ‘iCloud Drive’ option to add the AirLinc audio you just uploaded to iCloud. The audio will appear in the timeline. Now’s where you use the ‘clap’ I told you to about. Go to the part of the video where you see your hands come together for the clap and then listen for the clap sound on the AirLinc audio. Drag the audio so the audio clap occurs where you see your hands come together (this might take several attempts) and your audio and video should now be in sync. With a bit of practice you should get quick at doing this. Now you will be able to get great audio on your Pilates videos without seeing a mike in shot or having cables restricting your movement!

  • David Gan
    Posted at 04:04h, 11 September Reply

    It would be great if Airlinc could send the wireless audio direct to another app like e.g. Filmic Pro. It would complete mobile videography!

    • Mark Thorn
      Posted at 22:54h, 18 September Reply

      Hi David, Filmic Pro is a great tool but unfortunately I don’t think it can import external audio into a timeline. We use iMovie for importing AirLinc audio into a timeline and once you master syncing the audio it works a treat. Of course you could always shoot your video in Filmic Pro and import it into iMovie – then add your audio from AirLinc. Best of both worlds and all done on an iPhone!

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