Today Sennheiser has launched their XS Wireless Digital (XSWD) range of wireless products. This range represents Sennheisers entry-level products into the wireless audio market, and there are various products in this range which don't apply to video production which we won't be covering today.
The first thing to note about this new system is that it's modular, you can pair any XSWD transmitter, with any XSWD receiver, and Sennheiser have talked about it, as a cable replacement technology, and that's really what it is when you boil it down. The XSWD allows you to get an audio signal from point A to point B, no matter what those points are.
So the units that have caught our eye for video production are, the XLR receiver, 3.5mm receiver, XLR transmitter, and the wireless bodypack. All the units are a similar size and weight and are really compact, so you'll have no trouble at all hiding these away on your talent, or mounting on top of your camera. The user interface is really simple, with just one button and one LED to tell you battery life, signal strength etc.
Unlike Sennheisers professional digital audio solution, the AVX, the XSWD uses 2.4Ghz wireless rather than 1.9Ghz. 2.4Ghz wireless is a consumer frequency and will be much more prone to interference than the AVX. Using a more consumer level wireless system is how Sennheiser is able to make the XSWD far cheaper than the AVX, which makes it a fantastic option for people who are just beginning to invest in audio kit. The range of units makes it an expandable product too, so it's really simple to add another unit if your needs change.
The units run off of a built-in battery, which is a shame, as being able to swap out batteries in the middle of a shoot is really useful. But Sennheiser has given us a workaround though, you can charge the unit whilst it's in use, via the USB-C port on the bottom, and the unit will charge to 50% in 1 hour plus, the battery lasts for 5 hours so for most shoots this should be fine.
One of the ways that we've been excited to use the XSWD, is paired with a shotgun microphone to have a fully wireless boom over an interview subject. Currently, the AVX doesn't offer this, which is a shame as on corporate shoots, using a wireless boom over your interviewee helps minimise setup time and wires, which removes one more trip hazard. Now it's important to note that the XSWD doesn't provide phantom power, so you'll need to use a microphone which provides its own power.