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Old January 5th, 2009, 04:05 PM   #1
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Worthwhile To Attach External Mic to Canon HG20?

I'm not sure this topic is worthy of the advanced audio topics I normally see here (yes, I'm a little intimidated about posting in this forum), but since the forum is called All Things Audio I figured why not. Be gentle!

I recently bought the Canon HG20, and while I like the video quality, I'd like the sound quality to be better. More specifically, I'm noticing the camcorder's built-in mic picks up more background ambient noise from the sides and rear than I'd like, making it hard (at times) to hear the subjects in front. I use this camcorder for recording family events (first child due at the end of this month - woohoo!), both at my house (indoor and outdoor) as well as on the road. I'm not a wannabe filmmaker or have any grand plans of becoming one. This is my very first camcorder - ever.

I've read through the FAQ at the top of this forum, read many posts in this forum, and even watched some video reviews on YouTube of some Rode and Sennheiser mics. I'm not sure it really helped me much - or maybe it did help but the answer it seems to be pointing me to is not one I really want to hear. From what I have been able to gather, adding an external mic like the Rode Stereo VideoMic to this camcorder is not really going to improve the audio quality if I am going to leave the mic attached to the top of the camcorder. I need to get it off the camcorder and as close as possible to my subject to really hear a big improvement.

Most of the stuff I shoot is spontaneous and there is usually no one to be my audio assistant. So boompoles, extension cords, etc. are not in it for me. It has to attach to the camcorder. And wireless mics are out of the question due to cost right now.

Has anyone here simply put a decent-quality external mic on one of these handheld camcorders and noticed a worthwhile improvement in the audio quality? Am I asking too much for "any" camera-mounted microphone to offer much help? All I am really looking for is a microphone that does a better job of picking up the sound in the front, blocking sounds coming from the sides and rear, and at the same time improving the quality of the sound the subject is producing.

Thanks for taking the time to read my rambling, and for any advice or product suggestions.

Regards.

Jason
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Old January 5th, 2009, 04:34 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome. Well, I have no experience of the HG20 but have read it's noisy! I did find a heck of an improvement with a Sony HC1 when using a Rode VideoMic over it's on board mics, and since this mic a low cost option it's certainly worth thinking about for this first stage on the (long and never ending!) journey of sound improvement! The Stereo Videomic is excellent as an alternate second choice - it's much, much heavier than the VM though (I have both). I'd start with the VM, and maybe later get a SVM.

I'm sure HG20 owners that have gone down this road will tell you if it's a worthwhile option or not. Good luck...we'll have you holding a boom pole one day!
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Old January 5th, 2009, 05:16 PM   #3
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Hi Jason, and welcome!

I second Andy's opinion:
the Rode Videomic is your best bet.
It will significantly improve your sound quality
(for just a few bucks).
What it won't do is miracles:
you'll have decent-to-good sound as long as your
talents are within 6 to 8 feet
(and not too much noise around...).
You've got to live with it:
distance mike-to-talent is crucial,
even if you buy a $3000 mike...

Enjoy your toy,
and all the best!

Vasco
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Old January 5th, 2009, 05:22 PM   #4
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You could probably also get some improvement out of a $50 Audio Technica ATR55, but I'd still recommend the $130 Videomic.
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Old January 5th, 2009, 05:31 PM   #5
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Hi Jason,

Welcome to the forum.

YES to getting an external Mic.

Whichever Mic you choose, be sure to get (or make) a Shock Mount (isolating Suspension) . A direct mount will still pick up the noise of the Cam, and any touching you do to it, like operating the controls.

You can also buy, or make, a Cam handle to put the Mic a bit away from the Cam.

Do a search for Cam Handles and Mic Shockmounts to see the many options out there to buy or make.

Harold
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Old January 6th, 2009, 02:31 PM   #6
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Hi Jason,

The most popular consumer camcorder mic is the RODE Videomic

While I like that mic another option to consider is the The Sennheiser MKE400 Shotgun Mic

I feel that while the RODE Videomic sounds better musically - the MKE400 is tuned for dialogue. Voices will sound better with the MKE400. Both the MKE400 and the Videomic have 1/4"-20 threads at the bottom - in addition to the cold shoe mount.

The form factor of the HG20 partners well with the MKE400. Now, if you want to shoot outdoors, the optional windmuff snaps on easily and adds great wind protection - even has a bit of dead air space.

The RODE windmuff aka "Deadcat" on the RODE slips over the foam and begins to look a little menacing. Great if you want to look more pro, but if you want incognito go with the Sennheiser. If you want better sound and don't mind the size and want to save $50 - go with the RODE Videomic - either way, you're going to be impressed with the improvement over your stock mic. A wide angle lens will also help you in getting closer to your subject - you can get 30% wider image with an adapter - that extra step or two that you can take in towards the sound source may often double your levels - resulting in much cleaner audio.

I would also look at a Bracket 1 mini or a http://www.dvcreators.net/hama-delvc...oe-mount/mount to push the mic a little bit away from the noisy mechanical noises of the camera.

Make sure to monitor with headphones and carry extra batteries. That's the drag about these little mics taking batteries and having switches - you might forget to turn them off and if you are not monitoring with headphones, the battery could die and you have zero audio. So be careful - good luck!
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Old January 6th, 2009, 05:19 PM   #7
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Having evaluated both the Sennheiser MKE400 versus the Videomic, I was surprised the Senn had such a clean sound, not much noise and side rejection for such a small mic.

It sounded thinner than the Videomic which sounds warmer and has better side rejection because of the longer barrel.

A point worth mentioning is the MKE400s suspension, it's not replaceable by the user. A small mic like that is going to get crammed into cam bags and if one of its 2 suspensions breaks, the mic will have to go back to a dealer. The VM has 4 user replaceable O rings.

And the MKE400 is $US50 more expensive than the VM which could go towards a set of headphones so you can hear what you're recording.

Senn. obviously designed the MKE400 for small cameras, which is its major plus and it makes a lot of sales because of that.

Jason, reading your post at present looks like it's a toss up, but your post is similar to a lot here, from folk who go on to make better videos and sound is extremely important. Welcome to the forum :)

Cheers.

Last edited by Allan Black; January 6th, 2009 at 05:53 PM.
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Old January 6th, 2009, 05:53 PM   #8
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Good advice there from Allan. Just an fyi, as a RODE dealer we sell about 30:1 Videomics to MKE400's...so if you wanted to know what the market says... the Videomic is the clear winner.

Here's a couple of pics I had saved of the Sennheiser MKE400 on the HV20.

And if you want to go completely nuts go for a bracket1 with beachtek or a juiced link along with the RODE NTG-1 or 2.
Attached Thumbnails
Worthwhile To Attach External Mic to Canon HG20?-mke400hv20.jpg   Worthwhile To Attach External Mic to Canon HG20?-mke400withhairy.jpg  

Worthwhile To Attach External Mic to Canon HG20?-sr11.jpg  
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Old January 7th, 2009, 05:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Cochran View Post
Hi Jason,

The most popular consumer camcorder mic is the RODE Videomic

While I like that mic another option to consider is the The Sennheiser MKE400 Shotgun Mic

I feel that while the RODE Videomic sounds better musically - the MKE400 is tuned for dialogue. Voices will sound better with the MKE400. Both the MKE400 and the Videomic have 1/4"-20 threads at the bottom - in addition to the cold shoe mount.

The form factor of the HG20 partners well with the MKE400. Now, if you want to shoot outdoors, the optional windmuff snaps on easily and adds great wind protection - even has a bit of dead air space.

The RODE windmuff aka "Deadcat" on the RODE slips over the foam and begins to look a little menacing. Great if you want to look more pro, but if you want incognito go with the Sennheiser. If you want better sound and don't mind the size and want to save $50 - go with the RODE Videomic - either way, you're going to be impressed with the improvement over your stock mic. A wide angle lens will also help you in getting closer to your subject - you can get 30% wider image with an adapter - that extra step or two that you can take in towards the sound source may often double your levels - resulting in much cleaner audio.

I would also look at a Bracket 1 mini or a http://www.dvcreators.net/hama-delvc...oe-mount/mount to push the mic a little bit away from the noisy mechanical noises of the camera.

Make sure to monitor with headphones and carry extra batteries. That's the drag about these little mics taking batteries and having switches - you might forget to turn them off and if you are not monitoring with headphones, the battery could die and you have zero audio. So be careful - good luck!
Guy, it was your video review of the Rode SVM Stereo VideoMic that has me wanting that one over the Sennheiser MKE400 and the Rode VideoMic. Would you say that for all-around sound quality, the Stereo VideoMic is better than the MKE400 and the VideoMic? How does the SVM do with rejecting noise coming from the right and left that is not part of the area being recorded? It seems really good for noise coming from behind the mic.

You wouldn't happen to have any pictures of a VideoMic or Stereo VideoMic attached to that HV20, would you? The camcorder you use in the SVM video on YouTube is much larger than my HG20 so gauging relative size is difficult.

I have two concerns with these two Rode models (VM and SVM):

1. Their size relative to my HG20.
2. If I use a simple hot-shoe to cold-shoe adapter like this one - Pearstone | Cold Shoe Adapter for Canon Camcorders | CSA | B&H - will the end of the microphone be visible in the picture as I'm filming? If so, how do I fix that?

Also, I have a quick question regarding wide-angle adapters (sorry, I know this is the audio forum but I would hate to start another thread elsewhere and since Guy mentioned wide angle adapters...) - there are a number of them out there that will fit the HG20's 37mm threads. I know the Canon one (pricey) will let the camera maintain focus throughout the lens zoom range... will the others (cheaper than Canon) allow this as well? A .55x adapter from Century Precision Optics would seem to offer a better wide-angle factor for less money, but if it won't allow the HG20 to maintain focus throughout the zoom range that's not for me. I would most likely put the WA adapter on and not take it off very often, so I need the focus system to work at any zoom level.

Thanks again to Guy, as well as everyone else who has been so gracious as to take the time to help a newb like me. It's much appreciated!

Jason
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Old January 8th, 2009, 03:31 AM   #10
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Jason,

somewhere on DVinfo Audio Section I have posted pictures of my Sony HC1 with both SVM and VM on it (both with deadcats). Maybe a quick seach for those with Rode and my name in this section of the forum will bring them up.....In a rush right now as have a big filming job today - but if I get time tonight I'll post a link.

For sure one of the pics is on my website (SVM I think).

Now I've no idea how the HC1 compares size wise with your camera but I would imagine it's similar.

VM is better at rejection than SVM, by the way - for obvious reasons. Start with VM in my opinion.

EDIT: Found it - post No 12 in this thread

http://www.dvinfo.net//conf/showthre...light=Rode+SVM
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Last edited by Andy Wilkinson; January 8th, 2009 at 03:41 AM. Reason: adding link to SVM and VM pics on HC1
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Old January 8th, 2009, 09:42 AM   #11
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I join with those recommending the Rode VideoMic. I own an HV20 and purchased the Rode to go with it. Later when I purchased a couple of Sony V1U's I went with the Rode NTG2 microphone.

The only drawback of the videomic on the HV20 is that it is almost the size of the camera itself! if you are wanting to travel small and light and be inconspicuous it may not fit the bill. However the quality is very good.

If you still get motor noise with an external mic you can buy one of those shoe extenders that moves the microphone physically further away from the camera itself.
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Old January 30th, 2009, 12:16 AM   #12
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I have another question. In the specs section of the HG20 owner's manual, it says the onboard mic is "stereo electret condenser microphone" and the Mic input terminal is "3.5mm stereo minijack -57dBV (with 600 ohm microphone) / 5kohms or more"

Does this mean if I plug in a Videomic, NGT-2 or other non-stereo microphone, will the audio only play back on the left or right channel of my stereo system instead of out of both the left and right? Sorry if I'm not making sense.

Thanks!

Jason
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Old January 30th, 2009, 02:03 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jason Woodbury View Post
I have another question. In the specs section of the HG20 owner's manual, it says the onboard mic is "stereo electret condenser microphone" and the Mic input terminal is "3.5mm stereo minijack -57dBV (with 600 ohm microphone) / 5kohms or more"

Does this mean if I plug in a Videomic, NGT-2 or other non-stereo microphone, will the audio only play back on the left or right channel of my stereo system instead of out of both the left and right? Sorry if I'm not making sense.

Thanks!

Jason
That's a valid question. Most, in fact probably all mono mics have a stereo output plug so they feed their mono output to both the left and right channels of whatever you plug that mic into.

What you have to watch out for is...you push the plug fully home into the input. Some are a bit difficult, support the rig properly and just go for it.

Cheers.
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Old January 30th, 2009, 04:28 AM   #14
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Depends on the mic and the specific adapter. As I recall, the stereo miniplug on the Videomic's output connector is wired so the mic out appears on both tip and ring, hence sends a mono signal to both left and right channels in the camera. But the NTG2 is a balanced XLR output and doesn't come with a miniplug connector at all. Depending on how the adapter plug you choose is wired, you could end up with signal on the left channel only, signal on both left and right channels, or signal on both left and right but phase reversed with respect to each other (not the right way to do it by a long shot but it happens).
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Old January 30th, 2009, 11:07 AM   #15
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Depends on the mic and the specific adapter. As I recall, the stereo miniplug on the Videomic's output connector is wired so the mic out appears on both tip and ring, hence sends a mono signal to both left and right channels in the camera. But the NTG2 is a balanced XLR output and doesn't come with a miniplug connector at all. Depending on how the adapter plug you choose is wired, you could end up with signal on the left channel only, signal on both left and right channels, or signal on both left and right but phase reversed with respect to each other (not the right way to do it by a long shot but it happens).
Steve, if I used something like the NTG-2, I would also be using a Beachtek DXA-2S.
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