Camera gear is expensive and high-quality microphones can be as well. My weapon of choice for our Lectrosonic wireless system is the Sanken COS-11D lavalier. It’s a great sounding easy to hide in clothing microphone. it’s not cheap at $379US but great audio is a must and the COS-11D delivers. Wouldn’t it be great if you could use a Sanken COS-11D or other lav mics wired with connectors for a Sennheiser or Lectrosonic transmitter with a good old XLR cable? Well, you can. With a simple adapter, I’m able to use the same lav mic with an XLR cable plus the phantom power it needs is also provided by the camera.
I have a Sanken COS-11D that is wired for a Sennheiser with a 3.5mm locking connector. I use it with the Tascam DR-10L as well making it a very useful lav mic. Unfortunately, the Sony wireless systems require a different wiring scheme that prevents me from using my Sanken lavs with it so I did have to buy another COS-11D for it. That was a bitter pill to swallow.
As with all wireless systems they can get interference and be unusable in certain situations so a wired mic is a must have in your kit. The idea of buying yet another Sanken COS-11D with XLR connector was a real turnoff.
I found a few options that work. One is the Sennheiser MZA900P-4 In-Line Preamplifier with a locking 3.5mm input. This one passes the phantom power from the source. The adapter also has a switchable gain (0/-12 dB) and switchable roll-off filter (125 Hz (-3 dB), 12 dB/oct). Retails for $179US. I use it and it works great for all but the Sony wireless lav mics.
The second option is a company I recently found. Ambient Recording. They have fifteen different models to choose from that covers a lot of microphone options including those pesky Sony’s.
The EMP5S is for the Lectrosonic transmitter. The EMP5S and EMP3.5 adapters convert phantom 48V to 5.6V electret power and output an electronically balanced signal with low impedance. The adapter is designed for use with Lectrosonics microphones and converts a 5-pin Switchcraft connector to a standard 3-pin XLR male connector. They are fairly expensive at $120US however they are much cheaper than purchasing another COS-11D for $379. These options only make sense if you have higher end expensive lav mics.
The last option is one I haven’t tried but is a real bargain from Deity. The D-XLR 3.5mm to XLR Adapter is for 3.5mm connectors and also passes phantom power. The D-XLR can convert 12 to 48 VDC phantom power down to 3V plug-in power, which allows microphones with 3.5mm TRS connectors to run off phantom power. This adapter also works with the COS-11D. The Deity D-XLR retails for only $24US. Again I haven’t tried it but the price is incredible and it’s compatible with the COS-11D.
A plus for the Ambient Recording adapters is the size is almost half of the Sennheiser MZA900P making it more compact. I haven’t noticed any sound quality issues using either of the two I own. Of the three the Deity is the only one that doesn’t have a locking connector. That is important to me.
If you have a lav mic that you use with a wireless system you can now adapt it to work with a hardline XLR cable too. Options are good plus saving some hard earned cash isn’t a bad thing either.