Sennheiser Wireless: Old Gear, New Uses
Upgrading your talent wireless doesn't mean you need to leave those G2 and G3 units lying unused in storage.
Let's be honest, the Sennheiser G3 wireless is a staple of the budget-conscious sound kit. Many sound mixers, myself included, used them for talent lavs on smaller productions before they could afford to upgrade to Lectrosonics or Zaxcom units. Once I made that leap to Lectro, though, my G3s sat around collecting dust for a while, until some research and rethinking revealed how helpful they could be in other parts of my workflow.
Practical, Not Perfect
The G3s worked okay for me as talent wireless 95% of the time. Sure the audio wasn't quite as pristine as the other brands, but once I ditched the stock mics, it was solid. That other 5%, however, was a real headache. Dropouts and range issues are unacceptable when recording dialogue, and the a G3 audio quality in a crowded RF environment could be really aggravating.
So the key to putting the G3s to good use, then, is to determine what situations rare dropouts are acceptable. The answer, I found, was any time the signal isn't getting recorded to your final audio. So here are 3 ways I've found of keeping my G3s relevant and putting them to work to make my life easier. Keep in mind, this isn't just using them as a budget alternative for these instances. In fact, the G3s often outperform the other options on the market.
This is probably the most thought-of and frequent use for bringing the ol' Sennys out of retirement. It's really simple and effective to use the G2/3 to send reference audio to cameras for dailies and syncing purposes. The units even come with a shoe-mount adapter that I managed to dig out of some long-forgotten corner of my gear closet.
Boom op comm
Another great use I've found is to lav myself with one of these units while I'm mixing so I can have a direct line of communication with my boom op on set. I route the G3 receiver through the return of the preamp my boom op uses, set the levels, and you're off to the races.
IFBs, often referred to a Comteks in the same way tissues are referred Kleenexes, are basically just wireless receivers that clients, directors, script supervisors, etc. can listen in on takes. I have a set of Comteks, which work great but don't have the best audio quality. That issue got me thinking about how I could use G3 receivers with a small headphone amp as IFB. After using that setup for a while, I eventually bought some Sennheiser IEM units, which are basically the same as a standard G3 receiver with the addition of a stereo output for headphones and an easy to use volume knob on the top.
I've used both the standard receiver and the IEM version to send audio to speakers for playback, which is another common use of an IFB.
These are, in my opinion the best option on the market for IFB in their balance of audio quality, battery life, and usable range. You can also use the same transmitter you're using for camera wireless, killing two birds with one stone.
Wrap-up & advanced tips
I'm sure there are ways other than those that I've mentioned that the Sennheisers can be helpful to you on sets big and small, depending on the needs of your workflow. For extra range and flexibility, the G3 antenna can be replaced with an SMA socket for remote antennae. There are a few tutorials around if you search "G3 SMA mod" or, if you're not so DIY-minded, I will modify them for you. More on that service here.