Gear Lab #2: The Sanken COS 11D and the Tram TR-50

Gear Lab #2: The Sanken COS 11D and the Tram TR-50

I always carry both the Sanken COS 11D and the Tram TR-50 lavaliers. Why would I do that when they’re two very different mics that don’t match at all and I would never mix them in the same shot?

Well, check out our brand new GEAR LAB Episode #2 to find out why!

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  1. Den Belmont
    July 21, 2013, 9:10 pm   /  Reply

    Love this, keep up the awesome work – you provide us with so much great, quality info!

  2. July 25, 2013, 1:06 am   /  Reply

    Sorry I’m so late to the party – over a year after posting, but I’ve only just found your site. Once again have to use the ‘awesome’ word.

    You’ve shaken my ‘assumed’ thinking. I work with the COS-11 a lot, always ‘exposed’ (corporate talking heads). Sometimes with a sound guy, but mostly as a single operator. Following the practice of my two sound guys, I’ve clipped the COS-11 on in ‘BBC’ style – upside down. This based on the fact that i) it’s classed as an exceptionally omnidirectional mic and ii) I do a lot of presenters, thus favouring lapel rather than central, and the ‘upside-down’ mount was purportedly to reduce popping.

    TBH, I am simply copying the ‘best practice’ of my colleagues and haven’t done any real controlled testing to see if orientation has an effect on perceived quality. Have you tried this? Have you come across the COS-11 upside-down BBC thing?

    • Dean Miles
      July 25, 2013, 8:29 am   /  Reply

      Matt, thanks for the comment. I’ve seen the upside-down lav on TV and always wondered why some ops were doing it – know I know. Even cooler, it has a name “upside-down BBC thing”.

      Matt, I deal mostly with hidden lavs, but when exposed, I drop the COS-11 pretty low to keep it out of the close-up framing. Breath pops haven’t been an issue. Even though the COS-11 is omnidirectional it still has more gain directly out the top. I found that out when hiding it, hence the reason I carry Trams and Sankens.

      Thanks for the post.

  3. David
    July 27, 2013, 4:50 pm   /  Reply

    I think the biggest and most important difference , to my ear, between these mics is that the Sanken cos-11 sounds very open compared to the Tram or Sonotrim mics. I used to use Sonotrims for everything because they matched my Schoeps mics, but then I bought Sankens and I had to get used to how much more room ambiance they pick-up. The Sonotrim did a better job of isolating a voice against the background.
    But for me the Sankens worked better hidden because they are so bright. Typically what happens when you hide lav mics in clothing is that you lose the upper frequencies and voices tend to turn muddy. The brightness of the Sanken compensates for the loss of higher frequencies.
    Clothing noise is always a threat when hiding lavs no matter what brand and I haven’t found a single technique that tackles this problem.
    It’s interesting to note that I found this page while trying to find some commentary about how long the Sanken lavs will usually last. My Sankens are wearing unevenly and they don’t match well anymore. Lav mics, expensive as they are, wear out in time. How long do you suppose your lavs mics last before it’s time to replace them?

    • Dean Miles
      July 27, 2013, 6:32 pm   /  Reply

      Similar to you, I chose my lavs (Trams TR50) because they mixed well with my Neumann shotguns. I rarely use lavs, so when I do, I don’t like them – I do hope they don’t degrade from being carted around for years.

    • Christina
      March 17, 2016, 10:36 am   /  Reply

      I know I’m replying a few years after your post but I was searching for info on the durability of the Sanken cos-11. I usually use the Tram TR-50s and I wanted to compare the durability and longevity of the Tram compared to the Sanken (in regards to the lasting quality of the capsule, as well at the physical durability of the lav as a whole.) Maybe you have some input on this kind of thing?

      • Dean Miles
        March 18, 2016, 1:25 am   /  Reply

        Hi Christina, I’ve been using Trams for about 20 years and Sankens about 5. I replaced my Trams at around 12 years old, not because they were breaking down but they were starting to sound a little dull – they were used in some pretty extreme environments. I still have my original Sankens and they still sound good. They are not showing any signs of wear or deterioration in sound quality.

        Hope this helps.


  4. Eric Rodriguez
    December 14, 2013, 1:02 am   /  Reply

    I really like that Black and Yellow Trolly bag.. who makes it?

  5. August 9, 2014, 12:42 pm   /  Reply

    I tend to do the opposite! I personally like the COS-11 under clothing (if I can limit clothing noise) because of how bright the mic is compared to the TRAM. I also use a Sanken CS3e shotgun, so the mics match well. I agree that the COS-11 looks better than the Tram as well.

    It’s interesting to hear how each person’s setup is a little bit different, compensating for different things etc.

    • Dean Miles
      August 11, 2014, 8:03 pm   /  Reply

      Hi Paul, I couldn’t agree with you more! I always enjoy hearing from operators that work different from me. It’s easy to get stuck doing things one way – hopefully they work!

      I haven’t tried any of the Sanken shotguns yet, but I’m hoping to give them a try this winter.


      • August 12, 2014, 9:56 am   /  Reply

        I’ve really enjoyed my Sanken shotgun. It definitely has a unique character. Very versatile. Since that purchase, they’ve released a few really interesting models that I’m curious about, but they’re very pricy. Maybe I’ll rent one for a shoot some day.

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