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Old September 18th, 2011, 09:49 AM   #16
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
First thing I'd try would be adding an in-line pad, say -10dB to -15dB or so, between the mic and the camera/mixer/recorder input and see if that improves the situation. Also make sure the mic is getting full 48v phantom. Even though it's rated as working with anything from 12 to 50 volts, trying to run on less than full voltage sometimes can compomise a mic's high SPL handling.
Thanks for your reply, Steve. So you think the problem is in my camera and its audio circuits rather than the microphone itself? I'm asking because if at some point in the future I need to buy another camera that would be something to look for in a new camera, the ability to handle loud volume both through the built in mic and the XLR input. Adding the attenuator would make this already long connector on the side of the camera twice as long, about 6 inches, but I will get one to keep in my pocket just in case.

However, I still have to try one thing that yesterday I didn't because I couldn't stop shooting to go through the menu. The camera, in the audio menu, has one item that is called XLR set > Audio 1 trim, and you can adjust that anywhere from +12dB to -18dB. Perhaps that works as an attenuator between the microphone and the camera input level knob. I'll see if I can run a test playing music very loud with my home theater, which won't be as loud as the levels I got last night, but the room is also much smaller than the bar, so maybe that will create the same level overall.

As far as making sure the mic is getting full 48v, the switch in the camera where the XLR inputs are is set to +48v, however, if your question is how do I make sure it's getting actual 48 volts, I have no idea how to measure that. But I'm guessing it's working fine, as the microphone works great.

Thanks,

Sebastian
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Old September 18th, 2011, 10:13 AM   #17
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

Also, Steve, what would be the cheapest stereo directional XLR mic you can think of. I mention directional because that is ideally what I need, a microphone that can capture voices well but without the dullness of mono, because mono is perfect as long as people are just talking, but when there's clapping, or when there's music, mono just sounds dull. I noticed that while editing an Indian engagement party I shot a few weeks ago, in which I used the Audio Technica for all the parts where the emcee was talking, but at one point she starts dancing to some Indian music, and even though the sound is very good, it just sounds boring coming out of just the center channel. The rest of the music I shot using the built in mic, and even though I had to raise the higher end a lot, in the end it sounds better because it's coming from all the channels (as long as Dolby Prologic II is used in the receiver).

The Azden SMX-10 microphone I have gives me that, pretty good sound (not as good as the AT, but still far better than a built in mic) and at the same time it captures voices very well, while still capturing the clapping and ambient sounds pretty well, but it doesn't capture everything around the microphone, it focuses much more on what's in front of it. Unfortunately the Azden is 3.5mm and I need an XLR stereo. Can you think of a less than $400 alternative?

And, what do you think about adding a second AT like the one I have? I know that would not work for ambient stereo, but would it give me a kind of directional stereo, since both would be directional mono?
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Old September 18th, 2011, 10:15 AM   #18
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

The internal software menu trim adj. will probably give you the attenuation you need.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 06:02 PM   #19
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

I'm going to have to disagree with Rick and express my doubts that the menu "trim" adjust will fix the problem. By being adjustable between +12 and -18 it sounds like it's a coarse gain adjustment for the recording circuits and I'm concerned the signal overload is occuring before those gain control circuits have any chance to act on the signal. Some cameras that have a mechanical switch for their mic sensitivity actually do switch an internal pad right at the input but I have my doubts that's how this control works. It would be nice if camera manufacturers published block diagrams of the audio stages the way some of the better mixer manufacturers do but alas, that's not to be. No harm in trying it, but the in-line pad is cheap at $20 to $50. In any case, I doubt your 'playback on the home theatre' test is going to be a valid simulation unless you have the speakers and the amplifier power required to crank up the volume to window cracking levels. Driving a consumer level theatre system that loud is going to introduce distortion in the playback itself which of course will be recorded during your test.

Mentioned the phantom voltage thing because some devices have a switch that selects either 12v or 48v phantom while others, like some of the Zoom recorders, may claim to be supplying 'phantom' power but only put out 24 volts or so. Since your camera says it's 48v I'd accept that that's not the issue.

A second shotgun would not give you stereo (as well as making your camera look like it has antlers). The narrow pattern of a shotgun doesn't lend itself to setting up a stereo array. Shotguns are like narrow beam spotlights, isolating the single sound at where they're pointed from the surroundings - that's what they're made for for. Stereo mics are like diffused floodlights - spread over a wide angle and picking up multiple sounds coming from across a broad area, preserving the sensation of their locations within that area. Narrow single point pickup, broad area pickup - two diametrically opposed criteria. And to continue the analogy, imagine a dark stage with two people on it, one far right and the other far left. At best two shotguns would be like hitting each person with a spot but leaving the rest of the stage dark. For true stereo, you want to light the entire stage, including the area between them.

How did you handle the audio where you had the 'dull sounding' music? Your camera would have recorded it to one track I'm thinking. Did you pan that track into both channels in post?

If you want to try the Azden, it can be done with your camera with a little ingenuity. You could wire up a female TRS 1/8 jack to two XLR3-M plugs if you're handy with a soldering iron. (Haven't spotted any ready-built on the web so it may be a DIY proposition.) Or you could just get a stereo breakout Y cable such as the Hosa YMR-197, 1 female stereo TRS jack to 2 male RCA plugs, and two RCA-F to XLR3-M adapters such as the Hosa GCM-133. That would let you connect your Azden's 3.5 plug to the left and right mic inputs on your camera.

If it were me, after testing the concept of a stereo mic on the camera with your Azden, I'd bite the bullet, get a proper professional stereo mic and be done with it. I'm not wealthy by any stretch but the right tool is the right tool and sometimes you just have to figure out a way to pay the tariff. If it's any consolation it whould be tax deductable if you're charging for your services. The right question to ask is not "what can I get for less than $400," it's "what tools will I need in order to deliver the job at the level of quality I require, where do I get them and what's the least I'll need to pay for them." (Okay, that's three questions.)
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Old September 19th, 2011, 10:34 AM   #20
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

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Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
Also, Steve, what would be the cheapest stereo directional XLR mic you can think of...
I think a "directional stereo" mic is a contradiction in terms. Maybe what you need to do is record a stereo ambience track (perhaps on a separate recorder) and then mix that with a close-up mono track of the speaker, from a mic mounted on a lecturn, on the speaker's collar or perhaps from a shotgun mic (boom, or on-camera if the camera's quite close).

You might get the effect you want with a "Mid/Side" stereo mic, which mixes the output from a directional mic (for the real subject) and a figure-8 mic (for the ambience). Some MS mics give you a fixed mix (or maybe a choice of 2 or 3 - such as the Sony ECM-MS957 mentioned earlier), but to really control things you need one that gives you the raw output from the two capsules that you can mix on the time-line. This can be tricky, as I understand it (not tried it myself yet). Also, figure-8 mics are VERY susceptable to wind noise - tricky outdoors.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 10:51 AM   #21
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
In any case, I doubt your 'playback on the home theatre' test is going to be a valid simulation unless you have the speakers and the amplifier power required to crank up the volume to window cracking levels. Driving a consumer level theatre system that loud is going to introduce distortion in the playback itself which of course will be recorded during your test.
I was thinking that maybe it could get close because of the size of the room. My home theater is far from the high end models that are thousands of dollars, but it still can put out a decent level without distorting. While it wouldn't get close to the amp and speakers at that bar in raw output, if you consider the small size of my entertainment room when compared to that bar, wouldn't the levels the microphone capture be similar?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
How did you handle the audio where you had the 'dull sounding' music? Your camera would have recorded it to one track I'm thinking. Did you pan that track into both channels in post?
I synchronized the track from the camera with the one from the mixer, which was mono on the left channel so I copied the left channel to the right channel to get it centered, and it works well with the stereo from the AX2000 built in mic, because the latter produces an extremely wide stereo, and the mono track from the mixer gives it a little more presence, especially the voice. I also applied to both tracks the Izotope Mastering EQ that comes bundled with Edius 6, raising the low and high ends. This is always necessary with the AX2000's audio because its built in mic drops the high end quite a lot. It still sounds bad whatever you do, but at least it sounds a little better raising the high end.

Of the songs I chose for the highlights video (that's all I'm doing with the footage) there was only one where I had used the AT mic so in that case both tracks were in mono and it sounded a little dull, so what I did was to use the Voxengo Stereo Touch VST plugin, which produces a fake mono that normally sounds awful by itself, but since this is in combination with the mono track from the mixer the end result sounds fine and gives it a little more ambiance. I will post the link to the video as soon as I upload it to show you what I did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
If you want to try the Azden, it can be done with your camera with a little ingenuity. You could wire up a female TRS 1/8 jack to two XLR3-M plugs if you're handy with a soldering iron. (Haven't spotted any ready-built on the web so it may be a DIY proposition.) Or you could just get a stereo breakout Y cable such as the Hosa YMR-197, 1 female stereo TRS jack to 2 male RCA plugs, and two RCA-F to XLR3-M adapters such as the Hosa GCM-133. That would let you connect your Azden's 3.5 plug to the left and right mic inputs on your camera.
You might not remember, but we had talked about this on another thread a while ago. I tried the Azden using a 3.5mm female to two RCA male short cable, and two RCA to XLR adapters to connect it to the camera, and I had two problems: one, that I couldn't use any of my Kingston memory cards because it introduced a weird screeching noise every second, which it didn't do with the other cards, but my 32 GB cards are Kingston; and two, even with the other cards that didn't have this problem, it had a low frequency hum that was very noticeable.

I'll probably end up buying the Beyerdynamics at first and then if business goes well something much better in the future.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 10:56 AM   #22
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

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I think a "directional stereo" mic is a contradiction in terms. Maybe what you need to do is record a stereo ambience track (perhaps on a separate recorder) and then mix that with a close-up mono track of the speaker, from a mic mounted on a lecturn, on the speaker's collar or perhaps from a shotgun mic (boom, or on-camera if the camera's quite close).
Why is it a contradiction? I can tell there's a big difference between the stereo field of my Azden SMX10 and that of the typical built in microphone. Built in mics usually get a 180 degree stereo while the Azden seems to get a 90 degree or less, which is great for an on=camera microphone, because it allows you to get voices well while still having some sort of stereo when you need it for applause, or if you're shooting a wedding outdoors and you want some ambient sounds and clapping, but still being able to capture the voices with some clarity. With typical stereo ambient mics voices are not captured very well, a directional stereo mic may not be as good as a directional mono one, but it's still good.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 10:57 AM   #23
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

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Originally Posted by Mark Fry View Post
...Also, figure-8 mics are VERY susceptable to wind noise - tricky outdoors.
As well as being expensive. I'm not aware of any figure-8's that are down in the couple of hundred dollar range. If I were personally putting together an M/S stereo mic array with a highly directional mid, I'd get an Ambient ATE208 Emesser figure-8 kit and mount it on my Rode NTG-3 ... but that's going to run way over the budget Sebastian wants to keep within.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 06:07 PM   #24
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

In the end, I decided to go for an cheaper solution, although it will make things a bit more complicated when editing, but at least I will get the best of both worlds. I bought these two things:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005COYA4Q
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005BON4K8

So I will keep on using the AT directional mono microphone, but I will also use my Zoom H1 recorder mounted on that bracket, while also being able to use the on camera light. That way, I can still get the good voice sound of the AT microphone and at the same time get the stereo capture that will give me great audio for applause, or if there's music, or even ambient sounds if it's an outdoor wedding or something similar. And I already checked that the H1's microphone sounds a lot better than the built in mic in the AX2000.

The biggest problem with this solution is that I have to remember to press record on two buttons, and if it's an event that is 6 hours or less I will just leave both camera and the H1 recording the whole time so I don't have to worry about synchronizing several times.
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