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Old March 29th, 2005, 07:13 PM   #1
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Connecting mixer to XL1s?

We have a multi-camera shoot coming up, and need to choose between recording the sound to either an XL1s or a GL2. Which would be better? DVMag had an article a while back that seemed to show that the GL2 had better sound than the XL1, but what about the XL1s? I have a 302 mixer which has balanced XLRs out, as well as a tape level unbalanced output. If we go with the XL1s, would it be better to use the RCA inputs or the minijack? If connecting to the RCA inputs (which I suspect is the best way) would it be best to use the tape level outputs or the XLRs on the 302? I don't have adapters to connect the XLRs to the RCAs right now, but could buy them in time for the shoot. Would I need to unbalance the signal? By the way, I'm going to be standing right next to the camera with the mixer, so the cable length into the camera should be less than four feet.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 08:09 PM   #2
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Best way is to record to both. For the XL1, get the ma100 or ma200 and send line in from the board. If the mixer has unbalanced output or secondary TRS output, this can go to the GL2.
Test the setup prior to going live. As a redundancy, I often take minidisk and also record tape out to the deck. An excellent source of 44100 stereo 16 bit wav.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 08:32 PM   #3
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So you wouldn't bother with the RCA jacks at all? I had read that you can bypass the cameras noisy preamps that way. That's why I was considering using them.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 08:44 PM   #4
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Yep, you can use the rca connectors, but the best and most sheilded connection is XLR. I have used the rca connection built into the xl1 handle in 12 bit mode with quite good results. But that was for the second cam and served only as a reference track when it came time to do the multi cam edit. I've not tried the rear rca connection as audio1 in 16 bit mode without the ma100. I suppose that would work fine for a short cable run as you described.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 09:22 PM   #5
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Well, being so unfamiliar with the camera I don't want to try anything too unusual on somebody else's shoot. I'm not too crazy about recording the primary audio to camera at all, and just want to get the best results possible.
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Old March 30th, 2005, 06:51 AM   #6
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Gotcha. I gather that you are most comfortable using your EFP mixer to DAT?

If that's the case, take your audio to the separate device and sync in post as you are likely very familiar with.

The camera option is convenient and your ears will judge the difference when you get to the edit bay. I have never had any trouble with this so it might be worth experimenting prior to the shoot...
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Old March 30th, 2005, 09:57 AM   #7
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This is a situation where there is no perfect answer. Each method will have advantages and disadvantages.
The choice will depend on what you can obtain before the shoot to make the connections.
I would avoid the MA100 and MA200 because they are prone to electrical interference from their power connection with the camera. They also can't accept full line-level signals, but you can set the XLR outputs of the 302 to reduced levels. You should become fully familiar with how to do this.
Do you have the cable that is required for using the unbalanced tape out of the 302? If so, since the distance will be very short, I'd use that output connected directly to the XL1s RCA inputs set to line-level. If you don't have that cable, it might be easiest to obtain a BeachTek type box to go between the camera and the 302. If you can't do that, then you'll need to buy or make cables that convert from balanced XLR to unbalanced RCA. Then experiment with the proper output setting of the 302 so that you don't overload the camera input. You'll need to listen carefully to the camera to hear distortion that comes from overloading the input. The meters won't show this distortion at the input, but only show the level of the signal that's being recorded to tape.
It is very important to have reasonably good audio on all cameras.
If you have access to a separate full-quality recorder, then use that as primary audio. Just remember the potential problems with sync and drift that you will need to deal with in post-production.
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Old March 30th, 2005, 10:18 AM   #8
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Previously we've recorded to minidisc, but I don't have a way to deliver the audio to the director in a format he can use, since we don't have a CD burner. We also feel, that since it's his first feature, and this is a three camera shoot, it would be wise to have at least one camera with sync sound. I do have the SoundDevices cable, and my first thought was to stand as close to the camera as possible and record from the tape out to the RCA inputs. However, I don't know what level the RCA inputs are looking for. Tape out on the 302 is fixed at -15. I had planned to callibrate the 0 reference on the 302 to -12 on the camera, and set the limiters to activate at +10. The XLR outputs on the 302 are set at 0 by default, but can be changed to +4. It also has software adjustable attenuators that will let you connect it to just about anything. Trouble is, I have no idea how to unbalance the XLR outputs to connect to those RCA jacks, that's why I was hoping the tape out would be able to just plug in with no fuss.
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Old March 30th, 2005, 10:42 AM   #9
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Also, we do have a Studio1 box. Could we use a simple adapter to connect the mini-plug from that to the RCA jacks if it came to it?
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Old March 30th, 2005, 12:21 PM   #10
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The XL1s manual says the RCA connectors are expecting a -11db signal when set to line level. So the tape output from the 302 should work well. I would experiment with the limiter settings ahead of time while listening to the camera for evidence of harsh distortion on sound peaks. If you get this distortion while the camera meters say you're still below digital zero, then you're overloading the input because the levels from the mixer are too high and the limiters aren't kicking in early enough. On the other hand you only want the limiters to kick in on the higher peaks, not even on the normal peaks.
You could definitely use your Studio1 box with the XLR out of the 302. It could hook to the mini-jack of the camera if you set the Studio1 controls to line-level. Or you could use an adapter between the Studio1 and the RCA jacks, adjusting the camera to either MicATT or line-level depending on how hot you set the output of the 302 or how low you set the attenuation on the Studio1. This camera actually records the cleanest at MicATT, but if having the extra RCA Y adapter hanging on and having more trouble setting levels is bothersome, the difference is fairly small.
It is very important to listen to the camera, even though this headphone output is very poor. It's the only way you'll know for sure that you haven't overloaded the input. If you avoid overloading the input and get a good level to tape that's between -15 and -10 on the camera meters, it should be fine.
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Old March 30th, 2005, 12:48 PM   #11
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Thanks a lot. You guys have been very helpful. I was planning on running the headphones jack back to the 302 and monitor from there so I can turn it up loud enough to hear what's going on.
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