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Old June 17th, 2010, 10:25 AM   #16
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Gain or no gain, DSLRs still record lousy sound. The 5D MKII now has the manual audio levels and it still sounds relatively crappy.

Low dynamic range, not great S/N ratio.

Dan
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Old June 17th, 2010, 10:36 AM   #17
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Dan: I am curious, have you ever tried the beta Magic Lantern with the 2.04 firmware, and a mixer or one of the Juiced Links. Setting the Magic Lantern gain at 10 and and the digital gain on each channel at 0, you get a pretty decent sound recording capability in camera.

Shooting without Magic Lantern, I found you need to still feed with outside mixer or the Juiced Link, and you should not take the manual level any more than 3 ticks above 0.
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Old June 17th, 2010, 10:38 AM   #18
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That's why I was considering the Zoom H4N. Record audio directly to that, then sync up in post. Not ideal, but it's a way around the AGC; at least, until / if Canon decides to do a firmware update.
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Old June 17th, 2010, 10:41 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
Dan: I am curious, have you ever tried the beta Magic Lantern with the 2.04 firmware, and a mixer or one of the Juiced Links. Setting the Magic Lantern gain at 10 and and the digital gain on each channel at 0, you get a pretty decent sound recording capability in camera.

Shooting without Magic Lantern, I found you need to still feed with outside mixer or the Juiced Link, and you should not take the manual level any more than 3 ticks above 0.
Does the firmware work with the T2i? I hear it used for the 5D, but I've not heard anyone using it with the T2i
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Old June 17th, 2010, 10:45 AM   #20
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No, sorry, I would like it to, because I have a T2i also.
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Old June 17th, 2010, 10:56 AM   #21
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I don't have a T2i, but I've tested the DT-454 with the 5D in auto mode. I'm pretty sure that all of Canon's DvSLR audio front ends are basically the same.

I've got to run right now, but I should be able to post some examples this weekend...
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Old June 17th, 2010, 11:06 AM   #22
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Figured that was the case. So, seems to me, you guys are suggesting that the only two options are:

1) a box that provides phantom power and AGC kill
2) Record on a stand-alone, sync in post.

Does that sound about right?
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Old June 17th, 2010, 01:16 PM   #23
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I'd suspect that what you're hearing is the result of the noisy preamplifiers in the camera that virtually all video capable DSLRs are inflicted with.
Yup. I found exactly this with a Canon HF200. I was using a Sennheiser G3 wireless. I ended up turning the mic gain up on the wireless receiver, and the mic gain down on the camera (quite a bit down, from it's "nominal" setting of -12 to about -30). This eliminated quite a bit of background hiss. Nice that the HF200 has manual mic levels so one can do this.

The "ideal" solution seems to be separating video and audio so you can record audio with equipment that's optimized for audio. Seems ridiculous that we have to do this, but there it is.
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Old June 17th, 2010, 01:42 PM   #24
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Hi Chris:

I tried the older ML when I was running the old firmware. To me, the result was not much different than the current 2.04 Canon firmware as far as audio quality. I think the main point for is that none of the DSLRs are going to even be in the same neighborhood of a competent audio recorder. The DT-454 I am currently testing is fine for dialog but I shot a month ago with it at a music festival where the recording is being pushed a lot more than it would be for dialog because of the full frequency and dynamic range of live acoustic music. The bottom line is that DSLR audio circuits can record fairly usable dialog. But it ends up sounding "thin" and the dynamic range is so-so. Tried using the internal mics, the RØDE NTG-3, the Audio-Technica AT875R and the Sennheiser ME-64. The sound quality naturally varied with the mic, but overall, it doesn't sound good. Thin and feeble sounding, even though the levels are fine.

I also own the H4N and it sounds like it has a thin veneer of acceptability for dialog but same thing, once you try to record very soft sound like whispered dialog or acoustic music through the internal H4N mic-preamps and the end result has a lot of zipper noise (quantizing error) on soft fade outs especially. The H4N can actually record really high quality stuff when fed line level input from a good quality front end. But that sort of defeats the purpose of using one with a DSLR. I am using the H4N these days mainly for phone interviews. I have used it with the Canon 5D MKII but to me, I find the DT-454 with the 5D MKII to be much simpler, faster and easier than double system sound when shooting alone.

My advice is, if you are just recording dialog, the Juicelink DT-454 paired with any of the DSLRs is okay. If you are shooting a feature, music, nature or other situations where the sound REALLY matters, use a "real" outboard recorder, typically something that costs over $1,000.00. None of the sub $1,000.00 recorders are what I would call "impressive" sounding, although some of them sound decent. I am pretty sold on Sound Devices mixers and recorders though, definitely the biggest bang for the buck in sound recording world.

Dan
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Old June 17th, 2010, 01:44 PM   #25
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Bruce Watson - That's exactly where I noticed the problem the first time around; I was using the HF100; seems the same problem existed then as it does now. As for the T2i, I think I agree. It's one or the other. Moral of the story: my old Beachtek box won't cut it. I either need to get a new one, or some other recording device and sync.
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Old June 17th, 2010, 01:49 PM   #26
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My advice is, if you are just recording dialog, the Juicelink DT-454 paired with any of the DSLRs is okay. If you are shooting a feature, music, nature or other situations where the sound REALLY matters, use a "real" outboard recorder, typically something that costs over $1,000.00. None of the sub $1,000.00 recorders are what I would call "impressive" sounding, although some of them sound decent. I am pretty sold on Sound Devices mixers and recorders though, definitely the biggest bang for the buck in sound recording world.
I completely understand, but just flat out don't have the cash for a $1000 setup. I do intend to use my setup for a feature, but understand that the budget won't allow for equipment purchases of that price.
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Old June 17th, 2010, 03:11 PM   #27
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Dan,

I agree. The 5D2 with a preamp is fine for dialog, but isn't great for critical music recording. For instance, the 5D2 has a low frequency roll off, which is great for removing wind noise when talking, but not good at all when recording a contra bassoon.

Also, the signal will show some distortion when really pushed hard. There seems to be some harshness in the A/D converter. When keeping the dialog below -12dB, it's usually fine, but be careful about riding the limits. Again for normal dialog - or loud dialog where you allow headroom - this isn't a problem. As I put it, you can get pro-level dialog (clear with low hiss), but not audiophile sound (that magical combination of edginess and creaminess.) With a preamp into the 5D with ML, you get can get cleanliness and edge, but not much cream.

By comparison, the H4n gives slightly more noise, softer edges, and the cream is still lacking. overall, I find the H4n to be a bit dull.

Like Dan says, if you want top results, plan on spending a lot more cash on mixers and recorders. But for good, pro-level (not audiophile level) dialog, a preamp into a DvSLR is a good solution - especially when shooting solo. (You can't keep your eye on an audio recorder when looking at a view finder. You won't know that the device ran out of batteries or storage space or just plain isn't recording until it's too late.)
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Old June 17th, 2010, 04:42 PM   #28
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The audio sample reveals more than hiss, and I believe this is the real problem. The distance from the mic to the sound source is too great - listen to the room sound - a good indication that the distance was too much, and the output level from the mic too little. Passive devices that don't introduce gain don't produce the noise, but the input circuit attempts to take this feeble signal and amplify it. Cheap audio circuits are pretty poor at this, and to get decent level, they have to apply too much gain and this is the noise we're hearing. If you provide the camera with decent input level, the cheap input design can do less work, and the noise level will be better. The solution would be a higher quality mixer or pre-amp for the mic, or simply get the mic in closer or use a more directional mic. Even the best pre-amp designs are noisy at their maximum gain settings.
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Old June 17th, 2010, 06:18 PM   #29
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...The "ideal" solution seems to be separating video and audio so you can record audio with equipment that's optimized for audio. Seems ridiculous that we have to do this, but there it is.
Not at all ridiculous ... always use the right tool for the job. A camera is designed to record images. Any audio capabilities it has are at best an afterthought, sort of akin to the colour of the carry-case. An audio recorder is purpose-built to record audio, the right tool when the quality of the recording is important (as it always should be ... good audio is actually more imprtant than pretty pictures when it comes to telling a story).
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Old June 17th, 2010, 07:34 PM   #30
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Why a top recorder?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Brockett View Post
Hi Chris:

The H4N can actually record really high quality stuff when fed line level input from a good quality front end. But that sort of defeats the purpose of using one with a DSLR.

If you are shooting a feature, music, nature or other situations where the sound REALLY matters, use a "real" outboard recorder, typically something that costs over $1,000.00. None of the sub $1,000.00 recorders are what I would call "impressive" sounding, although some of them sound decent. I am pretty sold on Sound Devices mixers and recorders though, definitely the biggest bang for the buck in sound recording world.

Dan
Given Dan's first quoted sentence, if I want quality, can't I just start with a good mic with its own preamps and ADC; connect the digital signal through an AES 42 to AES 3 connection kit to a cheap recorder such as the Hn4: would it work? what can go wrong?

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