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Old March 23rd, 2004, 08:40 PM   #1
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what is mixer about?

Guys, I am going to use ME66 on a boompole and my DVX100AE (PAL) to record the sound.

I can not afford sound guys this time. Can I skip mixer and still have decend sound (for dvd maybe)?

I am going to rehearse with actors until I am sure how to set audio levels on my DVX and when I will actually shot I hope I will get "proper" audio levels. Lets say it will work. But again, is it true that THE ONLY WAY to get decent broadcast sound is to HAVE A MIXER?

Are there any (mixers or so) which do not require a man to operate them. You know - you just set them - and the device will "clean" the sound.

I have no idea what I am talking about so do not be cruel.
Thanks for your advice guys,

Voytek Stitko DVXuser
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 09:28 PM   #2
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The mixer will not add anything to the sound quality. You don't need one. The main idea of having a mixer with a single microphone is to allow a sound person to manage levels and relieve the camera operator of an important chore.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 10:36 PM   #3
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With the ME 66 being a hot mic you may want to buy a variable pad to cut the signal down for loud situations. The DVX100 has excellent audio by it'self.

http://www.shure.com/accessories/a15as.asp?PN=Problem%20Solvers

Don't forget to use good headphones
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Old April 10th, 2004, 10:37 AM   #4
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Mike (or anybody!), with regard to levels...

I'm desperately searching for a way to save money at the moment. Just yesterday, after many, many months in limbo, contracts were finalized and my project is a definite go. But (as feared) none of the grants came through so I'm totally self financing and trying to limit remaining total equip. expenditures. At present I have a DVX100 and an ME66 and headphones (and a whole lot of other stuff unrelated to audio). I've planned on adding an ME64 for wider capture w/ interviews and for better indoor acoustics where there are hard floors and stark walls (like a hospital corridor), a Gitzo (carbon fib.) boom (boom holder, mic holder for boom, etc.), a wireless set-up (still going back and forth on how much to spend... thinking maybe I can get away with a little single channel Samson Airline up in the mountains), often used at the same time as the boom, and a mixer precisely so I can check levels.

So here's the heart of the matter:

In the next six weeks can I reasonably expect to train myself to "hear" the difference with the headphones on as to when the levels have gotten too hot and distorted w/o the little LED lights on units like the MixPre (around $700) vs saving money and going with the Rolls MX 124 (under $200) which has no "dummy lights"?
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Old April 10th, 2004, 10:45 AM   #5
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You should also be monitoring the on camera metering. About the only reason for an external unit at this time would be for limiters

There is no reason that you couldn't monitor using on screen levels and headphones. Adding more gear just makes things that much more confusing, especially when you are a one person band.
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Old April 10th, 2004, 09:59 PM   #6
 
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Amen. As Bryan pointed out, extra gear can only cause confusion if you're a one-man show.
First, use GOOD closed ear headphones or electrostatic headphones such as the Etymotics.
Second, run your headphone volume not louder than 75% of total capability.
Third, never let peaks hit into red or go over zero on your screen meters. While hot levels are wonderful, it only takes once over to ruin an otherwise good recording. You can always repair levels that are too low in post, more or less. Either way, it's easier to recover from too little resolution in the signal than it is to recover from distortion.
Find a setting that works, and jot it down. put it in your shooting notes. That will help you learn.
Also, you can find a friend to help you work in simulated shooting sessions/environments, and you'll be able to listen back to your audio after those test sessions. The best way to avoid problems and surprises is to practice and know your gear as best as possible.
Audiences will notice audio errors a lot quicker than they'll notice camera errors, so practice and learn as much as you can.
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Old April 10th, 2004, 11:51 PM   #7
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Bryan, Douglas, thanks a lot for your responses. Your advice is greatly appreciated. Will practice and work it as you say. I was looking at a mixer largely because in (I think it was) Jay Rose's book he mentions that if you need to crank up the volume, if you can't get as close as you'd like (and there are several scenarios where I'll be pushing it) that it's better to turn up the pots on a mixer than turn up the camera (my DVX). He mentions that a volume increase on the camera would introduce/increase camera noise whereas you would not get the same affect if it's brought up on the mixer and then sent that to the camera. It'd be cleaner. Do you guys think that's true or no?

And I won't be alone actually. Thought I would be, but it turns out that I'm paying my daughter, who has an amazing photographic eye (just finished up at Berkeley) to work with me. She's never done video, but she's a natural behind a 35 mm camera; and light and shadow, interesting framing, etc. is her strength. She's a quick learner. too, and I'll have a couple weeks to train her on the camera before the shoot actually starts. Ironically, I'm hearing impaired (since my youth), but I'm now doing the audio. Go figure! ;-) But it'll be OK. Between headphones and digital hearing aids I should be fine. (Though that is what had me leaning toward the visual cheat of having an LED readout on a mixer... as added security.)

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Old April 11th, 2004, 12:39 AM   #8
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So far as camera audio, you can't get much better than the DVX100
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Old April 11th, 2004, 08:34 PM   #9
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Do you have head phones picked out yet?
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Old April 11th, 2004, 09:12 PM   #10
 
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if not, I highly recommend the Sony MDR 7506. Not the best headphone available, but damn common for a reason, and they aren't too expensive. I use the Etymotics, but I'm very used to them, and if you're not, you could end up easily messing up your balance in loud environments. But they sound killer.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 12:12 AM   #11
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If you use the 7506's, you'll be using what most everybody has. That way we're all on the same page when it comes to questions.
The 7506 is an industry standard.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 01:01 AM   #12
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If you can deal with carrying it around (as a 1-man band), a mixer does several things for you.
1. It should* give you cleaner mic preamps than the camera has,

2. It should* have less audible limiters than the camera,

And most importantly, when you have the luxury of an assitant, they can adjust levels as necessary for you. If they can hold the mic on a boom pole too, that's even better.

Another excellent headphone to pro's are using is the Sennheiser HD280Pro. It's even cheaper than the 7506 and has better isolation.

*Depending on the quality of the mixer.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 03:04 AM   #13
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It must be said of the 7506, "isolation" is not its
forte. If you are working in a loud environment,
look at something other than the 7506.
Actually, I don't understand why the 7506 is
so poor at isolation. Outwordly, it looks like it
could handle it, but that's not the case.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 10:55 AM   #14
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A friend lent me the Sennheiser HD265:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=93021&is=REG

Are those OK or should I get the Sony 7506 or the Senn. HD 280 Pro instead? The 265 is a more expensive headset on the B&H site, but is the fact that they're stereo a positive or negative? What I don't like about them is how big and clunky they are for long hours in the hot sun, and the other Senn and the Sony look to be the same. I really like the size of the Etymotics Douglas mentions, but I'm wondering if there's anything cheaper in that small size?

(I'm editing this after posting... the only thing I saw previously on teh Etymontics site was over $300... Douglas, are these what you mean? http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/er6.asp They're cheaper.)

Also, if it came down to deciding to use a mixer, to get back to the original question, but deciding between one with an LED readout and one without, I'm sensing from the posts that you guys are saying that if I learn what to listen for, take notes practicing, etc. that they're not all that necessary? There will be times that the camera won't be visible from where the mixer will be, so the levels on the camera won't be any help. As I said, the visual LED seems like a "safety," but at a difference of around $500 I have to ask myself how critical that "safety" is, if I can learn to monitor acurately enough without it.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 12:30 PM   #15
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I disagree with Marty in this instance, the DVX1000 audio will be just fine wothout a mixer. I've listened to Matt Gettemeier's. Another headphone that's built for monotoring and that has excxellent isolation is the AKG 271. The Sennheisers you mention should be OK as well.
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