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Old July 9th, 2011, 01:31 PM   #1
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I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

I have a Sony HDR-AX2000 camera. As anybody who has this camera knows, the video quality is superb, but the audio quality is about as bad as a $100 toy camcorder. Not only it sounds muffled, it has an equalization curve that yells cheap. My consumer Canon HF100 sounds a thousand times better than that. This is outrageous for a $3500 camera, but it's the Sony way.

So I need an XLR microphone for it, since it doesn't take a 3.5mm plug, but I searched B&H and something I could afford, the MXL FR-303 for $120, is mono. Doing a search for stereo brings the Edirol / Roland CS-50, but it's $475, way out of my budget. I know the pros are going to tell me that even that Edirol is going to sound like crap because they're used to $2000 mics, but I'm happy with my $70 Azden SMX-10 microphone, so it doesn't take a big lot to please me. I just want something that doesn't sound so horrible as the built in mic in the AX2000.

So are there any other mics out there for about $100 that are XLR, stereo, and will sound half decent? This is not permanent of course, I just need something for now until I can afford a decent one.

Also, would a female 3.5mm to male XLR cable to use my Azden be a good option? I know there's a good reason in theory why balanced is better than unbalanced, but would this adapter cable give me the same audio quality I get when I plug in my Azden to a camera with a 3.5mm connector?

Thanks,

Sebastian
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Old July 9th, 2011, 01:59 PM   #2
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

The only stereo mics I've ever seen have 5 pin xlrs to handle the two channels - ordinary 3 pin xlrs are mono - so the nicest sounding one I ever had was the old Audio Technica 835 - I assume the new version sounds as good, if not better. The only snag is the mic comes with a 5 to 2 x male xlr adaptor, but mine didn't reach the rear sockets on my camera - I suspect they should reach yours as it's closer. I found the m/s setting the most useful.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 02:11 PM   #3
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

Thanks, I had not realized that the 3 pins in the XLR connector are mono, which makes sense now. However, the camera has two of those, so now I realize that a stereo XLR mic that would work with my camera would have to have two different cables and plugs, one for each channel. So the female 3.5mm to XLR adapter cable I saw would convert the stereo mic signal into mono, unless I find a female 3.5mm to two 3 pin XLR male.

So now I have another question, do they make stereo XLR mics that output two cables to two 3 pin male XLR plugs?

I hope I'm not confusing anybody, as I understand "plug" is the connector at the end of any audio or video cable, and "jack" is the connector that goes on the wall or the piece of equipment whether it's a mixer console or a camera, is that right?
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Old July 9th, 2011, 02:17 PM   #4
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

If you really must have a cheap stereo mic you could use a minijack to 2x XLR cable to connect a
Audio-Technica Pro-24CM - Stereo Microphone PRO 24CM B&H Photo
but I would also urge you to think where best to put it (ie near as possible to the source of the sound) as this can make a huge difference in the quality of the audio, probably more than spending lots of cash on a mic and mounting it on the camera.

I would also suggest that you consider whether you really need a stereo mic or whether you would be better off getting a higher quality mono mic, or even two lesser quality mono mics. The only time I use a stereo mic or array is to record an acoustically balanced live performance like a good choir or orchestra.

EDIT: Didn't see the previous replies
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Old July 9th, 2011, 02:24 PM   #5
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

Thanks, Colin, I'm trying to find a cable that has a 3.5mm female plug to 2 XLR male ones, but all I can find is just 3.5mm female to one XLR, so that would make it mono in the end.

I had tried the PCM24 before I got the Azden over a year ago, but I didn't like it. It had very low gain, while the Azden had excellent gain. Besides, it's stereo but directional, so it still gives a stereo image but more focused on what's right in front of the camera. I read that audio pros have a very poor opinion of Azden, but in my experience with the SMX10, they are very good, if not top notch of course. But far better than what comes built in in low end pro camcorders.

I will probably get a mono one too, but I want stereo for when I need ambient sound, and also for my own personal videos of trips and things like that. Having a nice home theater, I want to have a realistic ambient sound.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 02:31 PM   #6
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

There's the Rode Stereo VideoMic for 250.00, or the Rode NT4 at 529.00
Rode NT4 - Cardioid Studio Condenser X/Y Stereo Microphone NT4

This AT2022 looks interesting at 250.00
Audio-Technica AT2022 X/Y Stereo Microphone AT2022 B&H Photo

But maybe think about what you are recording. If you are recording people talking, a mono mic is better. With stereo, voices get washed out and lose focus in the stereo spectrum. Maybe a shotgun would work for your purposes. It rejects side sound, clearing up the sound you are aiming at. The Rode NTG-2 is decent. I wouldn't recommend going for the cheapest mic you can find either, or you'll just be in the same boat, only having paid more money for it.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 02:37 PM   #7
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

Now I'm confused. Paul said that 3 pin XLR is mono. But this Audio-Technica AT2022 says it's stereo, and yet the specs says it's a 3 pn XLR. So how is that possible if stereo needs 5 pins? I mean, if the mic is stereo, but the output is 3 pins, then how does it produce a stereo signal?
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Old July 9th, 2011, 02:42 PM   #8
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

These mics usually come with a cable that plugs into the mic, and the other end is split to be 2 mono xlr ends that you plug into your camera, or recorder, or additional XLR cables for more length.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 02:47 PM   #9
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

Wait, now I'm confused. I think the AT2022 needs to end up as 1/8" mini, rather than 2 XLR for pro use.

YouTube - ‪Audio Technica AT2022 - NAB 2011‬‏
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Old July 9th, 2011, 03:06 PM   #10
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

OK, so maybe I misunderstood Paul, or he got that wrong. His post seems to imply that any 3 pin XLR connector is mono, but this guy in the video showing the AT2022 says "... and it outputs left and right stereo on a standard 3 pin XLR connector."

So that means that stereo using a 3 pin XLR connector is possible. In that case, a female 3.5mm to a single 3 pin XLR connector would preserve the stereo sound, or not?
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Old July 9th, 2011, 03:07 PM   #11
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

The AT2022 uses a non-standard XLR wiring. It is unbalanced, using pins 2 and 3 for left and right respectively. The included adapter cable is wired with a stereo 1/8" connector.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 03:18 PM   #12
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

OK, so then 3 pin XLR is mono, except that in this case they just use as unbalanced and it goes down to a 3.5mm connector. I suppose that if you use a XLR cable to connect this then it would carry a balanced mono signal? Or it wouldn't work because it's just meant as unbalanced to end in a 3.5mm connector?
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Old July 9th, 2011, 03:24 PM   #13
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

So a proper stereo XLR mic would have a 5 pin output on the microphone, and to keep the stereo you would either need a straight 5 pin to 5 pin cable, or in my case, having two separate 3 pin jacks in the camera, a 5 pin to 2 3 pin Y cable, is that correct?
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Old July 9th, 2011, 03:27 PM   #14
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

Yes, a Y cable is usually how it is connected. Some mics come with a Y cable (the Røde NT4 does)
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Old July 9th, 2011, 03:42 PM   #15
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Re: I need a very cheap stereo XLR mic

That one looks great, but out of my budget for now. Although it's one model I will consider in the future. For now perhaps I'll just get the mono XLR for when I do events and see if I can find the 3.5mm to 2 3 pin XLR cable adapter for using the Azden I have when I need stereo.
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