Hands-On Review:Sennheiser EW 135 G2 and EW 112 G2
Sennheiser EW 135 G2 and EW 112 G2
Wireless mic systems redefined and perfectedBy Louise Appel
Sennheiser's Evolution Wireless Generation 2 remote microphone systems take an almost flawless technology and remove the "almost." The EW 112 Clip-on and EW 135 Handheld Systems are sonically indistinguishable from high-end cabled systems while delivering total freedom of movement up to 150' with amazing clarity, robust signal strength, and no dropouts. And Sennheiser has added high-performance features like AA battery operation with battery status LCDs, audio signal metering on the transmitters, XLR jacks on the rackmount receivers, plus roadworthy metal construction.
An industry legend
My retro R&B stage act is kinetic to say the least. My two backup singers and I work as much on choreography and rehearsing dance steps as we do on singing. As such, a reliable wireless system is not just cool-it's a necessity. When I was first creating the act back in the mid-'90s I asked around for the best wireless systems out there. Three different sound engineers directed me to Sennheiser. What made up my mind was hearing that Sennheiser systems were used for the Broadway musical Starlight Express. A wireless system that could work perfectly for dozens of singers/actors wearing metal costumes and zipping around on roller skates through a set with 60 tons of steel should definitely be able to handle a few women making Motown moves.
The first three hand-held systems I bought have worked so perfectly I haven't replaced them, and they've held up to nine years of regular use, including road tours every summer. (OK, we're not the Supremes, but we're still working.) All that history notwithstanding, the Evolution G2 Series has so many added benefits I think it might be time to upgrade.
Great signal strength and reception don't mean much if the signal is not pleasing. But the microphones I received for review-the SKM 135 hand-held that comes with the EW 135 System and the ME2 lavalier with the EW 112 System-both deliver a crisp, full signal without brittleness or exaggerated high frequencies. The ME2 is an omnidirectional clip-on condenser mic with great sensitivity perfect for theater, worship, and educational applications.
The e835 capsule in the SKM 135 is a dynamic cardioid element that delivers really sweet, round tones for singers. The transmitter is a well-balanced and ruggedly constructed unit that features an LCD display with an audio signal meter; transmission frequency readout; channel, mute, and battery level indicators. A rotating cover on the base closes all control surfaces or provides access to the mute switch, the on/off button with LED indicator, or the frequency set buttons. Unscrew the bottom and slide it out for quick, easy access to the battery compartment which holds two AA batteries or an optional rechargeable battery pack. The on/off button requires a few seconds to activate in order to avoid inadvertently shutting off the mic during performance. The compact SK 100 G2 transmitter that accompanies the EW 112 System features the same functionality and LCD indicators as the SKM 135 hand-held unit.
Spot-on signal clarity
The really amazing part of the G2 systems
is the part you don't see or hear. Sennheiser's AutoScan quickly finds available channels in any venue while a broader 36MHz bandwidth makes a huge range of channels available for the scanning. A pilot tone squelch function new to the G2 Series
ensures that when the transmitter is off, there is no noise coming out of the receiver. This function can be bypassed so that G2
mics and bodypacks can be used with first-generation receivers.
The rackmountable EM 100 G2 receiver that comes with both the EW 112 and EW 135 Systems is very compact, taking up only half a rackspace. Its two antennae lock on in a quick, no-nonsense manner. Its LCD sports the same features as the one on the transmitters and adds RF signal and antenna indicators. The whole setup and basic operation of both these systems is so simple you don't need any instructions. Just plug everything in, turn it on, and you're live. In the event you're getting interference on the preset frequency, scanning for available channels and selecting one is very simple. It took me less than five minutes with the manual to learn to do this. The other advanced functions were equally easy to learn using the clear menu diagrams in the manual.
The range of both systems was amazing. I had a friend take the hand-held for a walk while I monitored the signal inside my apartment. He was outside the building, one floor down, and more than 150' away before there was any signal dropout. That's plenty of range even if you're singing the "Star Spangled Banner" at the 50-yard-line and your receiver is down at the end of the field.
Frankly, I didn't think there was much room for improvement over the original Sennheiser Evolution Wireless systems. Clearly, I was wrong. A couple of major enhancements and a lot of very intelligent smaller ones add up to an overall huge improvement. Kudos to Sennheiser for their relentless pursuit of perfection.
Features & Specs
|EW 112 G2 System||EW 135 G2 System|
|Both systems feature|