I’ve been using Sony’s UWP-D series radio mics for more years than I can remember. In those years they have proved to be absolute workhorses and they have never let me down. The audio quality is very high, the transmission range very good thanks to the use of a diversity receiver and you have the added benefit of being able to attach the receiver to most of Sony’s more recent cameras via the MI Shoe.
When you use the MI Shoe the mic receiver is powered by the cameras battery and the audio passes into the camera via the shoe. If the camera has XLR connectors then these can be used to connect additional microphones allowing you to record from up to 4 audio sources without needing a mixer.
If you want to get 2 channels of wireless audio into the camera you can either use 2 receivers and connect them via the XLR inputs or put a single channel receiver on the MI Shoe and then connect a second receiver via XLR. But an even neater way is to use one of Sony Dual Channel receivers. I already have the previous dual channel receiver, the URX-P03D and I really wanted to see how this new version compares.
The URX-P41D a new dual channel receiver that replaces the previous model, the URX-P03D. It is slightly shorter but a little fatter than the previous receiver so overall similar in size and weight, but features some really nice new features. You will also be pleased to know that it is completely compatible with the previous generation of UWP-D transmitters including the UTX-B03 belt pack lavalier mics. It even includes an Infra Red port for wireless pairing. You can even bypass Sony’s digital compander, allowing it to be used with microphones from other brands. However to get the very best out of this receiver you want to use it with second generation UWP-D transmitters such as the UTX-B40 belt packs or UTX-P40 plugin transmitter.
The UTX-B40 belt pack transmitters are smaller than the previous generation and have a couple of new features that are quite handy. The first is the ability to set the audio gain to auto. Auto gain set the audio to a high gain level and then uses a limiter to ensure the the audio doesn’t clip or distort. This mode can be useful for presenters that talk quietly but may become much louder if they get excited. Another nice feature is the use of NFC for pairing rather than infrared.
Pairing a transmitter to the receiver is very easy. You simply press and hold the NFC Sync button, the receiver will then scan for a clear channel. Once it has found a suitable clear frequency a message pops up on the nice clear OLED display to pair the RX and TX. This is done simply by holding the transmitter and receiver together so the NFC logo on each are facing each other. The receiver will then vibrate to confirm the pairing process has finished.
The dual channel receiver has 2 on and off switches, one for each channel. So if only using one channel the other can be switched off to save power. There are separate 3.5mm sockets with locking rings for each channel and the receiver is supplied with two locking 3.5mm to XLR cables. In addition there is a Y cable that connects both 3.5mm outputs to a single stereo 3.5mm plug. this is handy for cameras or other devices that only have a 3.5mm jack plug input. As well as the outputs there is a 3.5mm headphone socket.
In addition to the outputs, rather curiously there is also a 3.5mm microphone input socket, the previous P03D also has this extra input. This additional input allows you to connect a 3rd microphone to the receiver. This third microphone is then mixed with the other 2 channels. This might be handy for some applications where you absolutely must have 5 sources feeding the camera but don’t have a mixer, but because this extra input is mixed with the wireless channels I think it has only limited usefulness.
When you want to connect the receiver directly to a Sony camera via the MI Shoe you have to use an adapter called the SMAD-P5 (Sony accessories have such easy names to remember, apparently it stands for Sony Multishoe ADapter). The SMAD adapter for the new second generation receivers is neater and more compact than the one used by the first generation. It connects to a socket hidden under a rubber cover on the underside of the receiver. If you are using the URX-P41D with an FX6 as well as the MI-Shoe powering the receiver and providing the audio connection you get the added benefit of the receive signal strength of both channels being displayed on the cameras LCD screen.
The UWP-D radio mic system is a hybrid Analog/Digital system. The transmitters and receivers use a digital compander system to process the audio to ensure as little loss of quality as possible during the transmission process. The companded signal is then transmitted from the transmitter to the receiver using analog FM. The frequencies these radio mics use offer greater range and are much less affected by obstructions or reflections than the 2.5Ghz band commonly used by many lower cost all digital radio mics. I typically get over 100m(300ft) range. The digital compander is particularly good at preserving the sibilance in human speech. Often “S” sounds and other sharpe notes can become muted with lower quality radio mics, but the digital compander in the UWP-D series does a very good job of maintaining a wide frequency response.
One particular advantage the new UWP-D receivers bring over the previous generation is the ability to output the audio either conventionally as analog audio or digitally. To take advantage of the digital output you have to use the MI Shoe and your camera must support the digital output. There isn’t a huge boost in audio quality when you use the digital out, but you do get a little less background hiss and the audio is less likely to suffer from other electrical noise from the camera. It’s certainly a nice feature to have, but if your camera only has an analog input the audio quality is still very good.
These second generation UWP-D radio mics are fully compatible with the previous generation, so you can upgrade just your receivers or add new transmitters if you wish. I think these are great and I would recommend anyone looking for a good quality professional radio mic system to at the very least have a close look at the Sony UWP-D series.