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Old October 4th, 2008, 02:33 AM   #1
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To buy or not to buy an XLR adapter?? help...

Ok... i don't know much about audio i admit it!

I have a Sony HDR-FX1 with an ATR-55 which only has a mini jack 1/8" input for a standard mic. (no XLR)

I know i can buy an XLR adapter (Beachtek/Juicedlink/Mixpre/Signvideo/Studio1/Cevl etc...) and plug any XLR microphones in it bla bla bla.

But here's a question for you guys.
Why would I do that? what are the main reasons people buy XLR adaptors??

Can't I just put a "Y" mini jack on the camera and plug a shotgun microphone (with battery / Rodemic or Atr-55) on a boom pole in one hole and plug a wireless mic set in the other hole??? all mini jack 1/8" would that work?? there's even a wire for XLR microphones to mini jack 1/8" that i could use on my camera as long as the mic has it's power source.

I must make a decision this week-end!!

Thanks!!
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Old October 4th, 2008, 08:06 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Donald Blake View Post
Ok... i don't know much about audio i admit it!

I have a Sony HDR-FX1 with an ATR-55 which only has a mini jack 1/8" input for a standard mic. (no XLR)

I know i can buy an XLR adapter (Beachtek/Juicedlink/Mixpre/Signvideo/Studio1/Cevl etc...) and plug any XLR microphones in it bla bla bla.

But here's a question for you guys.
Why would I do that? what are the main reasons people buy XLR adaptors??

Can't I just put a "Y" mini jack on the camera and plug a shotgun microphone (with battery / Rodemic or Atr-55) on a boom pole in one hole and plug a wireless mic set in the other hole??? all mini jack 1/8" would that work?? there's even a wire for XLR microphones to mini jack 1/8" that i could use on my camera as long as the mic has it's power source.

I must make a decision this week-end!!

Thanks!!
Don:

The big advantage of XLR microphones is that, in addition to being of generally higher quality than the 1/8" counterparts, is that you can run long XLR cables without worrying about interference.

This is especially important when you consider what you're doing - putting a shotgun on a boom pole in the left channel, and putting a wireless lav on the right; I tried the "Y-cable" solution with an interview with prime minsiter Jenny Shipley.

Like you, I thought it -should- have worked. And I still don't know what went wrong, but it seems that there was a point of failure. I got unusable audio on the tape for that interview. Luckily I had the foresight to record from a second audio source, so the interview was saved.

Here's the rub: I don't know the math on it, but the more unsheilded cord you have, the more it's likely to act as an antenna and pick up interference from cell phones, police radios, etc. By using XLR adapters, you cut that down to the minimum.

It also allows you greater control over audio levels. Your microphones are probably capturing at different levels. This means that you could have a choice - either have one audio source so loud that it starts clipping, or have the other audio source so soft that it introduces hiss when you try to "turn it up" in post.

In short: Get it.

In long: Get it and get a backup field recorder like an Edirol R-09 or a Samson Zoom H2.
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Old October 4th, 2008, 08:33 AM   #3
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The typical 1/8 "Y" you find at Radio Shack, etc is designed for feeding two stereo headsets in parallel from one stereo output. Using a Y in the reverse, to connect two sources together to feed one input is iffy at best as the two signal sources, the mic and the wireless for instance, can and probably will interact with each other to the detriment of both signals. One of the functions of an adapter like the Beach or JuicedLink is to isolate the sources from each other so that doesn't happen.

Another problem with the simple Y is that the Stereo->StereoX2 wiring put both sources on both channels, or worse, both sources on just one channel (depends on the plug on the mic or wireless), in the camera. You want an arrangement that puts the boom on one channel only(usually the left) and the lav on the other.

If you want to try using a Y you're going to have to "roll your own" and makeup a cable that has two MONO 1/8 jacks (or two stereo jacks wired as mono) leading to a STEREO 1/8 plug, wired so that the tip of one jack goes to the tip on the plug and the tip of the other jack goes to the ring of the plug. That way the mic plugged into the first jack will appear on the camera's left channel, the other mic or wireless will appear on the right channel, and they won't be connected to each other at all.

All in all, I think an active device like the JuicedLink is a better bet. The Beach is a passive adapter and I don't think it's quite as flexible as the Juice. I have the 431 4-channel model, you might find the 231 a good candidate for your needs. They both provide phantom power, opening up your mic options further. A couple of the Rode VXLR 1/8 to XLR adapter plugs would be a good, inexpensive ($20 or so) addition, letting you use either 1/8 consumer mics like the Videomic or ATR-55 and wireless mics with a 1/8 outpout as well as the more professional XLR mics with it.

The MixPre is on a different class altogether and is a true 2-channel mixer, not just an XLR adapter. It also outputs line level signals while the Juice and Beach output mic level signals. If it's within your budget it would give you the most flexibility of all. I'd still pick up a couple of the aforementioned Rode VXLR adapters if you think you'll need to interface consumer gear like the Videomic with it.

The adapter cable you mention, XLR->1/8, will work for a single, self-powered mic if it's wired properly (not all of the ones on the market are).
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Old October 4th, 2008, 09:53 AM   #4
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Thanks Brian and Steve, then it's obvious if I want a respectable system with multiple mics and ok sound I need an XLR adapter.

Then tell me what you think about this deal, there's a beachtek manufacturer that are offering me one of there own models, it's basically an exact copy of the beachtek DXA-6 before they upgraded to the DXA-6A (couple of years ago) it's brand new with a 1 year waranty for 129$ I heard the DXA-6 makes a small hissing sound...

Also could I plug a power adapter directly in the 9 volt battery socket in the beachtek when i'm filming near electricity plugs??
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Old October 4th, 2008, 11:36 AM   #5
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Don:

...
Here's the rub: I don't know the math on it, but the more unsheilded cord you have, the more it's likely to act as an antenna and pick up interference from cell phones, police radios, etc. By using XLR adapters, you cut that down to the minimum.

...

One note of caution. If you are unbalancing an XLR cable at the camera end with a simple adapter connector that connects XLR2/hot to 1/8 tip (or tip and ring for a stereo input), XLR3/cold to 1/8 sleeve, and XLR1/shield to 1/8 sleeve as well - which is the proper wiring for such an adapter - the entire cable functions as an unbalanced cable and you lose the noise advantage of the balanced system. For you to retain the noise immunity of the balanced cable XLR system, you need to use a transformer or impedance unbalancing circuitry at the camera end - that's precisely what a Beachtek or JuicedLink does and one reason why they're a better choice than a simple connection adapter.
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Old October 4th, 2008, 11:43 AM   #6
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Thanks Brian and Steve, then it's obvious if I want a respectable system with multiple mics and ok sound I need an XLR adapter.

Then tell me what you think about this deal, there's a beachtek manufacturer that are offering me one of there own models, it's basically an exact copy of the beachtek DXA-6 before they upgraded to the DXA-6A (couple of years ago) it's brand new with a 1 year waranty for 129$ I heard the DXA-6 makes a small hissing sound...

Also could I plug a power adapter directly in the 9 volt battery socket in the beachtek when i'm filming near electricity plugs??
9 volt batteries are cheap, buy 'em by the case at Costco or get ProCells from a professional location audio dealer. I wouldn't bother rigging an AC supply. Besides, inexpensive wall warts don't necessarily put out the cleanest DC.

Give a listen to this demo before deciding juicedLink / Beachtek Demonstration Comparing Performance (watch video)

You get what you pay for.
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Old October 4th, 2008, 02:03 PM   #7
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and using a external AC supply also means you can introduce a ground loop ( hum ) problem. its one reason most camera folks run there cameras on batteries instead of AC even for some studio type shoots, it avoids ground loop problems with both audio and video. you'd solve one problem as the risk of another.

there are 9V rechargables. not cheap if you only need them once in a while, but if you shoot all the time, the payback is pretty quick. they have excellent performance equaling at least single use batteries as they are lith ion based. also good not to be dumping toxic batteries into the landfil for no good reason.

brand name is iPower, sold by several pro audio dealers like Trew.
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Old October 4th, 2008, 02:51 PM   #8
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I don't know this model Sony, but does it allow you to have separate gain on the two channels? If you use a boom and a radio receiver, then the radio usually has a much higher output, so if the left and rights are 'glued together' that's not good.

The advantages of balanced mic lines are pretty well covered, but in reality, the noise reduction benefit only really shows itself in electrically noisy environments, typically indoors near lighting dimmers, fluorescent tubes and things like high power radio devices. If you don't use balanced cables unless you're applying lots of gain, it may never appear as a problem. After all, many mics used on radio mic systems are not balanced. If you must have long cables, then there's more chance of problems, so balanced then makes sense.
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Old October 4th, 2008, 03:23 PM   #9
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Concerning the Juicedlink adapter, I heard the difference in the demo with the beachtek DXA-6 I'm looking to buy, it is not that big of a difference and correct me if I'm wrong but it is easily fixed with any good video-editing program, for exemple I have an ATR-55 mic plugged in my camera and I can almost cancel all the hisssing sound with Sony Vegas (unfortunately the motor sound from the camera itself is transfered to the ondoard mic because they are directly in contact), I don't wanna sound already sold to the beachtek solution and I don't know about you guys but I'm always running on no budget projects, since I just bought a 7" monitor and a graphic card, saving almost 200$ on an XLR adaptor can really help me get that OK mic i need, am I making any sence here? just be honest with me thanks again!

by the way here's the XLR adaptor i'm looking to buy, XLR Dual Phantom Power Adapter - For use on DV cameras - (eBay.ca item 180290091309 end time 16-Oct-08 15:26:29 EDT)

Steve noticed it is manufactured in Ontario...
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Old October 4th, 2008, 04:04 PM   #10
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I know nothing about the specific device you're looking at or its manufacturer's reputation so I can't say anything one way or the other. It may be fine, then again it might not. There's no way to know. I've heard the results with a Beach and I own a JuicedLink. My objectives are professional and that may colour my opinion as I don't feel I can personally afford to compromise in order to economize. In my experience starting off low and working up to the gear you really should have bought in the first place is always the most expensive path in the long run. Bargains rarely are. YMMV

Hiss and other electrical noise is not always THAT easily fixed in post. Usually the best you can do is make it less bad and your corrective measures will almost always also compromise the desired sound.
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Old October 4th, 2008, 04:37 PM   #11
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I understand your point of view Steve, i'm doing all this as a hobby, if I'd make money with my projects I'd be able to pay off my equipment and probably would look at all this very differently.

For your info I asked many questions about this product and about the company itself, here's what they had to say :

"We are former mfg company for BeachTek Inc and all DXA adapters This unit is our own improved product but identical in function to BeachTek DXA-6."

Hey! by the way you mentioned earlier to buy a couple of Rode VXLR 1/8 to XLR adapter plugs to plug my ATR-55 in the XLR adapter, what I dont understand is that the ATR-55 has 2 AA batterys and the XLR adapter i'm looking to buy has a 9V battery for pahntom power, will that work?
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Old October 4th, 2008, 06:43 PM   #12
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....
Hey! by the way you mentioned earlier to buy a couple of Rode VXLR 1/8 to XLR adapter plugs to plug my ATR-55 in the XLR adapter, what I dont understand is that the ATR-55 has 2 AA batterys and the XLR adapter i'm looking to buy has a 9V battery for pahntom power, will that work?
The VXLR are not for power, they're to allow you to plug a mic or wireless with a 1/8 mono plug on its cable into an input that needs an XLR. It has a female 1/8 jack and male XLR connectors. RØDE Microphones A handy adapter to have in your kit.
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Old October 5th, 2008, 03:40 AM   #13
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In my experience starting off low and working up to the gear you really should have bought in the first place is always the most expensive path in the long run.
I must admit I agree with Steve here, get the best equipment you can afford... I also had an FX1 and used it very effectively with a Sign Video XLR PRO unit. No hiss and was a useful little piece of kit. The chap at Zotz told me it was way better than the Beachtek... However I've since used a Z1 and the extra control you get with proper audio lay out makes a huge difference. I should have got a Z1 to start with.

Anyway you might want to check out the Sign Video unit, it doesn't have phantom power which may be an issue, but it is solid and fits under the camera where mine lived permanently.
It was not that expensive if my memory serves me well.
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