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Old August 3rd, 2004, 08:19 PM   #1
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DVX100A audio without a field mixer

Is it possible to control audio levels satisfactorily in camera on a DVX100A? I am not able to get a field mixer at this time, though I do have the MKH416 mic, plus other audio accessories (boom pole, windsock, etc.) I always prefer to work with a dedicated sound person w. field mixer for all the obvious reasons, but as I can't for this shoot, I am curious if it is technically possible to go without and get decent sound, however taxing.

I've yet to receive my camera (PAL, in case that's significant here), so I haven't had a chance to explore this myself.
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Old August 3rd, 2004, 09:01 PM   #2
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Zareh, what are you doing? If you're interviewing or doing a dialog driven scene where the dynamic range isn't that great, I would have thought that you would be OK. I don't think the DVX has limiters of any sort.

If you're wanting to ride the levels as you shoot, I don't know, but I'd think you'd have a difficult time then.

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Old August 3rd, 2004, 09:24 PM   #3
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Is my most current thread not showing up on this forum? Sheesh, I'm addressing this very question just 2 subjects below this as I type.

NO. You do NOT need a mixer... practice a bit with your mic. I have the SAME mic and camera as you. With the 416 you can set a mean level and feather your positioning as needed.

If you've got somebody who plans to whisper and scream randomly then you better get a soundguy/field mixer... otherwise no worries.

The DVX has very good limiters built in... just select ALC ON in the menu... That will not engage an auto-level as it's meant in other cameras... it only engages a limiter to prevent clipping. Then set your levels so normal peaks light up 3 reds. That'll have you at -6db average peaks and give a nice usable signal.
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Old August 3rd, 2004, 11:02 PM   #4
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Matt, the DVX built in audio sounds better the more I hear about it....

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Old August 4th, 2004, 12:15 AM   #5
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Matt, Aaron,

I thank you both.
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Old August 4th, 2004, 10:41 AM   #6
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Matt:

I've been of the mind that it's best to keep peaks below -12 db if possible to avoid distortion; it sounds like you are allowing it to go hotter. If you were to use a field mixer or something that can output tone, do you set it right at the midpoint notch (vertical indicator) on the DVX levels? I've been going a couple of notches down for safety. Am I being a pussycat (without the cat part) about this?
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Old August 4th, 2004, 11:20 AM   #7
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Charles... you are the pro and I'm the punk who wishes he was... it just happens that in my experience the editors I've shot video for were upset when I aimed for -12db peaks.

I used to think that -12db was standard procedure, but then I started aiming for -6db peaks and I'm a lot happier with the results in my own computer... and so are the people I've been shooting for.

Really I'd like to do a test to see if I can hear the difference between using ALC or not... but so far I always use it and when I adjust everything properly I'm 100% satisfied with the resulting sound... even if I get an occasional 0db peak.

In the dvx meter it goes from white to red at -12db... then each red represents 2db closer to 0db... where the meters tap out.

If you want to hear exactly what -6db peaks sound like Click HERE and you'll hear a couple Rode NT1000s that I set up at a friend's house. Pop on a pair of headphones and you'll hear a quick bit of distortion from me moving the stand after the "break"... but after that it's pretty damn clean. There's an aquarium on the left and a computer on the right... toward the end of the clip it seems like I can hear the computer fan attenuating with the guitar plucks... I think that's just the signal of the guitar over-riding the computer fan's drone... but it's possible that it's something to do with the camera's ALC... that's why I want to test it. But either way... if you have good 'phones or speakers you gotta' admit it's REALLY clean.
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Old August 4th, 2004, 07:32 PM   #8
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wendt 2x field mixer

Hey guys,

I just found a field mixer that seems right for what I'm doing - the wendt 2X. I'd be grateful to hear your thoughts about this model.

I am obliged to shoot without an experienced sound person for this job, which is taking me deep into mountain ranges half way around the world. I'm tring to get the best sound possible for outdoor interviews and often noisy ceremonies.

While I don't question the level of professional expertise needed to make the most out of a mixer, do you think it is feasible for a quick-witted first timer to operate this well enough to get results better than being without? Again, I have an MKH416 with boompole etc. that my partner will wield. I'd love to just concentrate on shooting, not sound.

If this sounds do-able, any basic suggestions for setting up and operating a field mixer with a DVX100a would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old August 4th, 2004, 08:02 PM   #9
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Zareh. Is price an issue, because that's quite an "expensive" mixer at around a grand? Have you looked at the DVPromix 3? That's about half the price but I think it's larger than the Wendt. Also at the Wendt's price you're getting close to a SoundDevices 302 (3 channel mixer of really high quality) so you could even drop down to the 2 channel sound devices MixPre and save a little cash.

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Old August 4th, 2004, 10:06 PM   #10
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Azden?

Thanks for the tip Aaron. I did a quick check at B&H and didn't find the DVPromix 3. I'll continue the search.

Meanwhile, I did find an attractively priced unit calling itself the Azden FMX-20 Microphone Field Mixer. This is a 2 channel mixer priced at USD 269.95. What's your take?
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Old August 4th, 2004, 11:09 PM   #11
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Zareh, Here is the DV Promix 3 at B&H.

Looking at that Azden, I couldn't see that it had Phantom power which I think you need for your MKH416 right? Also, with my limited knowledge it looks a bit noisy at -57dB and 60dB which might be OK for broadcast - just? Maybe someone else can clear this up, don't want to put you wrong.


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Old August 4th, 2004, 11:53 PM   #12
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Aaron, thanks again. I really appreciate you going to the trouble of including the link. I checked it out and the Promix 3 looks very compelling, though not having real knowledge of mixers, I'm still not to sure what to look for.

"Left, Right and Center position switches are located on every input channel, routing signals to separate destinations or for panoramic placement of audio via the stereo outputs. "

Forgive my ignorance here, but does this mean that one channel - say the shotgun - is effectively recorded in stereo?

At the end of the day, used with the DVX, do you feel that the Promix 3 will achieve results comparable to a more expensive mixer?
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Old August 4th, 2004, 11:59 PM   #13
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Zareh, no problem at all. There is a review Here at DV.com by Jay Rose. He likes it but had a couple of issues with some things that may or may not bother you.

From what I've read the DV Promix 3 will be fine for broadcast work, but you might not want it if you were doing theatrical where you'd want, I guess something like a SoundDevices 302.

Read that review as it will be better than anything I could tell you ;)

Good luck.

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Old August 5th, 2004, 02:02 PM   #14
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The Left, Center, Right switches on each of the inputs determine which of the two output connectors that input signal goes to. If a mono mic is hooked to an input that is set to Center, then that signal comes out equally from the two outputs but it isn't stereo.
It's just two-channel mono. You'd have to use either two mics in a stereo configuration or a stereo mic, plugged into two inputs, set separately to left and right in order to generate true stereo.
Most field work, especially dialogue, is recorded in mono or two channel mono and then panned appropriately in post-production. The human voice is almost always centered.
Usually only music and atmospheric or ambient recordings are done in stereo in the field.
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Old August 5th, 2004, 03:39 PM   #15
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Thanks to everyone for the great input on this thread.

Jay - your explanation finally set this straight for me. Cheers.

Speak to you guys soon. Meantime, good luck to you all.
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