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Old September 19th, 2011, 02:10 AM   #16
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

Yes, but you need some sort of test gear and technical chops to do the measurements.

Probably the easiest way to determine it is to ask questions about specific camera's preamps here a DVInfo. :)

For instance, I've tested Canon DSLR inputs. They are pretty weak and benefit greatly from an external preamp, if not a completely separate recorder.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 06:10 PM   #17
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

Interesting discussion. I just tested a new $199 portable recorder with XLR and it did indeed benefit from a high quality mixer through it's line level input. You have to jump to the end, but you can even see the levels drop off in the meters when the line level input is utilized.


In another test that I performed with the Panasonic HPX-170 with a Sign Video portable field mixer, you could barely distinguish the difference through line level. It comes down to how good does it have to sound for your end deliverable? Proper mic technique is going to be the biggest factor in getting high quality audio.

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Old September 19th, 2011, 07:44 PM   #18
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

Thanks Guy that new tascam looks very good for the price and I had a sign ENG 44 mixer two years ago, its all down to price and if you use this prosumer kit correctly you can get good results but as broadcast has taken the attitude of using people who know nothing about technology so these days any one with any knowledge of the basics can get broadcast quality sound far better than a self shoot producer director (secretary or media graduate) with the fantastic kit we can now buy at low cost.

I have four audio tracks on my panasonic cameras so have great audio capabilities and even using prosumer gear most of the time it is far better than I used twenty or even ten years ago.

The music industry has been prosumer for 10 years now so don't too hung up on buying industry standard kit to get the best results, its only TV at the end of the day and did you ever encounter anyone asking what mic and console all those classic albums from the 70's and 80's were recorded with?

As said I have used the best for the past 30 years but these days what you can buy and do for the money is a non brainer and at hte end of the day its all about the fact that content is king and to steal the BBC charter remit from 1937 we are here to make interesting content that inspire people and inform, educate and entertain!

We have never had it so good with technology so get out there and make something interesting rather than get bogged down with too much forum bullshit!

Now can anyone tell me what mic and mixer "a matter of life and death was recorded with" or for my all time fave "the thomas crown affair" ???

Go do it, go be creative and be happy with the great times we live in.
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Old September 20th, 2011, 03:50 PM   #19
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

Guy makes a good point. The improvement you get with an improved preamp depends on how bad the recorder's preamp is. DSLRs benefit a lot. I have an M-Audio Microtrack II which has balanced inputs but really bad preamps. It also benefits greatly.

A quiet, high-sensitivity mic always helps. Good mic technique keeps the levels strong, so that helps too. A weak signal stresses any preamp and can make a recording through a bad preamp unusable.

This is a weakest-link-in-the-chain situation. Delivery matters too. If you will play this on a mobile phone with earbuds in a bus terminal, the noise can be high and you won't care. Play the same content in a theater and you will care. A lot.
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Old September 22nd, 2011, 01:09 PM   #20
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

This may have already been mentioned, but...

The 302 also comes with great metering and limiters, which allow you to record at a higher level than if you were going straight into a camera or recorder, where you'd likely have to set the levels and leave them alone, and thus have to set them rather conservatively.
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Old September 23rd, 2011, 04:12 AM   #21
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

These fine mixers are currently being offered as factory re-furbs on e-bay or can be ordered direct from here:TW Electronic Components — Products

Had a few happy hours setting my first mixer up yesterday, int old days of broadcast we used to do acceptance tests on all audio kit but this seems to have been thrown out the window along with the staff now.


These mixers are very well made and I was able to adjust the limiter threshold and calibrate the outputs and meters with no problems at all, initial tests show that they are very quiet and have some very good features and for the money (I paid 400 delivered for this one:http://www.twelco.hu/LP4S_userman.pdf) I don't think there is anything near it on the market. Even the outputs are transformer balanced and all the switches and pots are very smooth and pro like.


I had a sign ENG44 a few years ago which was a bit of a toy, but this is far superior, arrived in as new condition with a full set of AA rechargeable batteries, two power supplies (sadly two pin euro ones) and a very useable case.


My only criticism is the ballistics of the BBC type PPM meters, they are just re-scaled VU's so are too quick but having said that are still useable for quick gain settings, as the limiters are very good quality they stop any over mod happening and as I have the auto gain set on ch3+4 of my camera all levels can be recorded safely but with plenty of headroom.


Some of the great features are that you can link the inputs for stereo so you only have to use one pot to control the level of a stereo mic or source, you can also get sep outputs for multi track recording straight from the four mic amps and the mix of outputs available inc a video assist are very comprehensive.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...DSC_0001-2.jpg
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Old September 27th, 2011, 11:32 AM   #22
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

I don't see any mention of it, so I thought I'd ask about the Sure FP-33 I have.

How does this unit measure up against other field mixers?
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Old September 27th, 2011, 12:03 PM   #23
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

Tom,

The Shure FP-33 was the standard for many years. You'll still see them all over the place at TV stations, production houses and sat trucks. The Sound Devices line (SD-302, SD-442 and its replacement, the SD-552) has become sort of the new standard. The provide some additional features and they are generally a little quieter as well. But the FP-33 is a real workhorse. You can definitely get good audio using that mixer.
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Old September 27th, 2011, 06:46 PM   #24
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

I had the first generation FP32, which I took all over the world to many hostel environments, (climatic and civil ) it never let me down... even after having fallen into a stream and we got soaked. I still have it, and have only replaced the master and one of the channel pots since I bought it in 91'. Noisy in a studio environment for sure, but I always liked the warmth of the mic pre's. The FP33 is much quieter, and I'm 'shure' it's super reliable.. I now use an SD however.
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Old September 29th, 2011, 11:43 AM   #25
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

Thanks, guys, for the feedback on the Shure. I got mine off Ebay and rarely use it. Most of the time we are running two wireless mics into one of the cameras.
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Old September 29th, 2011, 12:34 PM   #26
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

Comparing specs and user reviews of the SD 302 and Wendt X3, I actually prefer the simplicity of the Wendt and don't think the missing features will matter to me in the future.

But I do notice tha SD mixers seem to have much higher resale value. For example, Trew has the X5 in exc. condition for just over $1500, compared to about $2500 new. But the SD mixers sell used for pretty close to retail. I guess the big difference is higher demand.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 10:38 PM   #27
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
Probably the easiest way to determine it is to ask questions about specific camera's preamps here at DVInfo. :) For instance, I've tested Canon DSLR inputs. They are pretty weak and benefit greatly from an external preamp, if not a completely separate recorder.
Okay! I'll ask... Has anyone tested the difference between the preamps on a Canon XF100 compared to a Tascam DR-100mkII?
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Old August 22nd, 2012, 12:28 AM   #28
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

I can't compare the XF100 to the DR100, but if it's any help, see page one of this thread for a test I did last fall. I tried adding a SD MixPre between my AT 4053b and my XF100 to see if it would get better, cleaner audio. I found that it did not. If I recorded to a laptop with a Mackie usb interface at 24 bit, it was still only a minor improvement.

The interesting part was that I also posted this test over on dvxuser.com and sort of got laughed at. They told me that I had a camera with pretty good audio already - 16bit uncompressed PCM - and so of course adding the MixPre did not improve the audio quality to speak of.

For me, the quality (and simplicity) of recording directly into the XF100 is the best approach. On the other hand, the DR100 is only $330 at B&H, Guitar Center, etc. so it would be easy to get one to try then return.
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Old August 22nd, 2012, 02:57 AM   #29
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

I think the real issue here is not the equipment, but the users. An understanding of gain structure is critical in digital systems. We now have s/n ratios unheard of in analogue days BUT we have an absolute maximum record level - digital 0 level. Push it off the end of the scale, and it distorts, horribly. This gets coupled with meters that are necessarily fast to catch these means that to avoid distortion, users record too low. The meter ballistics are also lacking the inertia of a moving needle, so the difference between the peak and the average is very wide on the display, and quieter stuff hardly even registers. So if we use a mic direct into the camera, we often for safety deliberately (and often wrongly) record at too low a level. In the edit, we realise the levels are too low, so normalise to recover the full range and up pops the cameras noisy pre-amps. If we go into a proper mixer with better pre-amps, the higher output means the camera gain is lower, so even if we normalise the noise floor doesn't rise too much, because we got the gain structure right. If you MUST add gain, it's always better to do it in the quietest device. However, using a mixer is also a hazard when not using a dedicated sound op because it's easy to get the structure wrong, and have too low an output that you then have to use the noisier camera gain to recover. My favourite is to have the device providing the most gain manually adjusted, but with a limiter to prevent occasional peaks getting through - the flattened output then set to a level top allow sensible gain settings on the camera. Adding a mixer, set up poorly, will compromise the sound in the same way that using an external mixer used well can improve it. All the portable recorders of the Zoom (and others) type produce poor audio when pads are engaged and gain cranked up. No pad and gain set at the bottom is bad,as is full pad and full gain. Both these settings look ok on the meter, but a decent enclosed pair of headphones reveal the distortion/noise issues - somewhere in the middle will be perfectly usable. I've also seen people assume the distortion recorded at the rock gig/nightclub was their fault, when often the distortion was faithfully recorded - being caused by an overdriven sound system. Our ears cannot detect quality so well when their built in compressor is working flat out. Detection of quality and also pitch is severely compromised when the levels are up in the room.
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Old August 22nd, 2012, 03:03 PM   #30
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Re: sound quality with field mixer

I am a very amature dslr user I bought a Art Dual pre and did some amaturish tests. Have a look and listen if you dare.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eF_v...e_gdata_player

Last edited by Donald McPherson; August 22nd, 2012 at 03:45 PM.
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