Recently I was treated to a sampling of the new Viviana Straps from Soundfish, based out of Italy. I wanted to play around with them a bit before writing this review, and I am very glad that I did. Put simply, these make me want to ditch my Neopax straps all together.
Preface: I am aware of the similarities between the Viviana Straps and the Ursa Straps. However for the purposes of this review, I am examining them based only on their inherent qualities, with just some basic comparisons to the Neopax (seeing as they had been our only option until recently). I am also reviewing it this way because many people who are considering an upgrade would be doing so from a position of having already had Neopax straps or would be doing so from a position of having never had any straps at all.
Now, lets start with the materials.
As you can see in the photos above, the Viviana Straps are extremely thin. They’re also extremely sleek in the sense that the soft side velcro is very fine, yet still very strong. They’re also breathable and moisture wicking, so they would help the talent to not feel doused with sweat on their body.
When you unravel the strap, you will find that there is a dedicated area to store excess cabling, and, of course, the transmitter pouch. Now its important to note that the strap in the above photo is an ankle version which has just one side area for cabling. The larger sizes have two. I’m not sure why there are two cable storage areas on the larger straps, but I suppose that it couldn’t hurt to have options.
On the left, is the Viviana Strap. On the right is a Neopax Strap. As you can plainly see, the Viviana Strap is much thinner and softer looking (it feels that way too). Now to be fair, this Neopax Strap is not brand new, and with any piece of gear, it does wear over time. However the Neopax was never as soft or as thin and breathable as the Viviana strap is.
One of the areas where these new straps excel is in the extra stitching around the corners of where the transmitter fits in. This allows the transmitter to stay very snugly secured inside of the pouch with virtually no way to wiggle itself out. In fact, one drawback to this design is that is can be a little bit of a task to get the transmitter inside of the pouch. It doesn’t just slide in like with a Neopax. But when you think about it, any losses in time of securing the transmitter is gained in the security of knowing that your transmitter will never fall out. For me, its a no brainer.
While we are on that subject, there is an included strap to place over the transmitter pouch for that extra bit of confidence, but honestly its not needed. That transmitter isn’t going to fall out.
The packaging lists the compatible transmitters. I think that this is just a list of the ones that Soundfish tested. When you get one of these in your hands and feel how nicely stretchy it is, you’d realize that you could probably fit any transmitter in there that wasn’t taller than the pouch. It’s just a matter of forcing it down in there. But because of that stretchy nature and the stitched top corners, it would only serve to seat the transmitter more firmly.
For my tests, I laid out a Lectrosonics LT, SMQV, and UM400a. These are very common types of transmitters and none of them are too small. If you look above at the photo on the right, you can see a screen grab from the video review, showing the LT seated inside of the strap. I can confirm again that this thing is not falling out.
The Viviana logo on the end of the strap is a hard stitch which actually ends up helping you when you want to roll it up. The firm embroidery gives you a good first fold at the start which is a nice little bonus when trying to pack up in the end.
In conclusion: The Viviana Straps are great. They are strong, lightweight, breathable, very soft, and keep your gear seated very securely. I highly recommend these to anyone wanting to either pick up straps for the first time, or to anyone looking to upgrade from Neopax. Neopax Straps were great back in the day when there were no other options, and they are certainly better than having nothing, but when looking at a product like the Viviana Straps, you can see that Neopax just hasn’t done enough to innovate.
To follow up once more about the Viviana Straps vs the Ursa Straps: Again I am aware of their similarities. But comparing those two is certainly going to be like honey crisp apples to honey crisp apples. Comparing Viviana Straps to Neopax Straps however is more like comparing honeycrisp apples to those tiny generic apples in school that you just had to accept because those were the only apples available. You still might eat those tiny generic apples because you want an apple, but it wouldn’t be your first choice if you could instead get your hands on a honey crisp.
Jared Elkin is a professional sound mixer located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.