Is a field mixer absolutely necessary? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old March 28th, 2010, 10:47 PM   #1
New Boot
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 5
Is a field mixer absolutely necessary?

I have a short film shoot coming up. I'm syncing sound, using a Tascam HD-P2 or a Fostex FR-2 field recorder. I'm recording into one channel using one shotgun mic (Sennheiser me66). A friend who does a lot of audio recording said he thought I would be fine without a mixer. It's not like I have to mix microphones, and I can monitor and change my audio levels on the recorder. What would a mixer be good for in this case?

Thanks,
Chris
Christian Butler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 28th, 2010, 11:07 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: North Hollywood, CA, United States
Posts: 790
The only thing a mixer would give you is better preamps than the ones built into the recorder. I haven't used either of the recorders you've mentioned, but from what I've read, they have good preamps already. You would need a really really good mixer to make a difference.
Edward Carlson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 29th, 2010, 01:24 AM   #3
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
Posts: 2,207
It might also give you better display of levels, easier to use gain controls, etc. I always use one feeding my SD 702 but only because it's just easier to operate the mixer than to do the same thing with the recorder. But I don't absolutely need it.
Jim Andrada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 29th, 2010, 08:24 AM   #4
Trustee
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Little Rock
Posts: 1,383
It would also give you the opportunity to send audio to your recorder as well as your camera, giving you a better shot at syncing your audio to picture in post.

All the Best!
__________________
David W. Jones
www.joneshdfilms.com
David W. Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 29th, 2010, 08:36 AM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 1,177
No

If you don't need to MIX multiple microphones, you don't need a MIXer.

Now a mixer might offer easier to use controls, and/or an easier to read level indicator, but those are operational issues and not audio performance related. Note that monitoring the recording process should always be done at the END of the chain, the camcorder or audio recorder. Monitoring through a mixer is fundamentally wrong and will one day bite you in the backside.

For all camcorders and most portable recorders, a mixer will NOT improve performance by virtue of "better preamps". The mixer may very well have better preamps (or perhaps not). But even if the preamps are better, your audio is still going into the camcorder/recorder preamps, even if you have it switched to "line level". That is because camcorders and recorders simply throw in an attenuator pad into the audio path to handle line level. Even very high-end camcorders do this.

Furthermore a mixer is NOT a solution to insufficient levels. If you can't get enough level with the microphone and camcorder preamp, then something is fundamentally wrong and/or broken, and adding extra gain from a mixer is merely applying a bandage over the real problem.
Richard Crowley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 29th, 2010, 09:25 PM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Carlson View Post
The only thing a mixer would give you is better preamps than the ones built into the recorder. I haven't used either of the recorders you've mentioned, but from what I've read, they have good preamps already. You would need a really really good mixer to make a difference.
Pardon me Edward, but I disagree.

Mixers are more than knobs that let you vary the volume.

1. They let you vary volumes without shaking the camera or getting in the way of the camera op.
2. You may need to do that a lot with some people. I ride gain even if one person is talking if their voice fades on the end of each line. You can only do this in a relatively quiet environment, otherwise you bring up the ambient noise.
3. Mixer preamps (good ones) sound better than camera preamps.
4. Good mixers have input transformers that scrape off RF before it get into your audio.
5. Good mixers have limiters that allow you to record hotter, keeping your audio further above the noise floor without distorting.
6. Good limtiers have EQ that lets you roll of LF HVAC noise before it gets into your audio.
7. Good mixers have mulitple outputs so you can feed more than one camera, or separate recorder simultaneously.
8. Good mixers make your sound better. If they didn't pros wouldn't use them.


Regards,

Ty Ford
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 29th, 2010, 09:53 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: North Hollywood, CA, United States
Posts: 790
I agree wholeheartedly with you Ty, I was just speaking to the OP's situation, only using one microphone and an external recorder, not recording audio to camera. If he were recording direct to the camera, then I would definitely recommend a mixer.

Since he's not recording audio to the camera, and both of the recorders he mentioned have audio level controls on them, he won't need to touch the camera to change the audio settings. As I said, I don't know much about the recorder's preamps, but I assume they are better than that of a camera. I forgot about limiters and EQ, always a valuable tool. The OP never said anything about recording to camera as well as a recorder, but a mixer would definitely be necessary if that were the case.
Edward Carlson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 29th, 2010, 10:13 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
Thanks for the citing the additional points, Ed.

I'm SO wed to using the limiters in my 442 mixer (and not trusting limiters in other devices), that I have an overabiding mistrust of recorders and their controls.

Please excuse my jerky response.

Regards,

Ty (knee jerk) Ford
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 29th, 2010, 10:29 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: North Hollywood, CA, United States
Posts: 790
I've heard really good things about the Sound Device's limiters (the 302, specifically, but I'm sure the 422 is just as good.)
I'm currently using a Rolls MX422 which just recently broke, so if they can't fix it I might just have to upgrade :)
Edward Carlson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 30th, 2010, 01:46 AM   #10
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Southern, CA
Posts: 198
Ty forgot one.

9. Good Mixers have a sound man who understands and pays attention to the audio and let's you shoot the video.
Kirk Candlish is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 30th, 2010, 04:04 AM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
Ed,

the 442 is the big brother of the 302 and worth the difference. LAst week I was feeding two cameras at line level and a Zoom H2 at mic level all at the same time.

There are many other feature differences. Interestingly, the 442 has recently been discontinued in favor of the 552, a 5 channel mixer with a built-in 2-track recorder.

Kirk,

Yeah, well a good soundperson can bring a lot more to the show than that. I've been cross-training for a while now and am picking up combo gigs where I grip, gaff, and act as a second pair of eyes for the DP. And yes, I help with load in and load out as well as set up cameras and lights.

Tooting my horn just a little, the two big projects I worked a lot on last year took some top honors. A Turkish documentary I was technical editor for won a Special Jury Award in the Turkish International Documentary Festival and I produced "Hot Flash", and indie short that has won grand prize in an international indie short festival and a best of show for the Baltimore Videographers Ass'n. These events have really raised my profile.

More about that stuff here. Ty Ford Video Production
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 30th, 2010, 09:38 AM   #12
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 48
I just have to say that I recently started using a SD-302 and it is a fantastic piece of equipment: solid, well-built, great sounding. It's nice in this day and age to buy something, and then when it arrives, open the box and lift it out and immediately know that you have purchased something designed to work well and last a long time.

I'm sure the 442 and 502 are even better--they were just more than I needed.
Andrew Hughes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 31st, 2010, 11:40 AM   #13
New Boot
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk Candlish View Post
Ty forgot one.

9. Good Mixers have a sound man who understands and pays attention to the audio and let's you shoot the video.
10. A good sound recordist should also not need to rely on the limiters either, they are not compressors that you can use creatively, they are a last resort. If you're judging a mixer on the strength of it's limiters I'd go back to the drawing board if I were you.

May I also suggest a campaign to ban anything with Vu meters as they are utterly useless, or perhaps that should be virtually useless, lets all stick to good old BBC style PPM's with a needle. This for me is the biggest draw back with Sound Devices kit, well made and excellently featured as they are, the flashing disco lights are just a nasty cheap gimmick
Simon Forrester is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 31st, 2010, 01:37 PM   #14
Trustee
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: New York
Posts: 1,844
Sound Devices: "the flashing disco lights are just a nasty cheap gimmick"
Yeah man, they're PSYCHEDELIC.. It' a marketing strategy! I sometimes stare at em' all day even without a hit of acid... That's why they're so popular!
Rick Reineke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 31st, 2010, 02:31 PM   #15
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Reineke View Post
Sound Devices: "the flashing disco lights are just a nasty cheap gimmick"
Yeah man, they're PSYCHEDELIC.. It' a marketing strategy! I sometimes stare at em' all day even without a hit of acid... That's why they're so popular!
Ohhh.. Flashlight mode on the recorders are so much more fun though.
Jeffery Magat is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:34 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network