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Old February 4th, 2013, 01:02 PM   #1
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Do i have my audio setup correct? (DSLR rig)

I am about to start a documentary end of February as a side job, and began piecing together my audio gear. I normally work with an audio tech who has her own gear, but i'd like to have my own gear and build my own skills as well, as we plan to diverge in the next few months.

I do need a recommendation for a low to mid-priced indoor mic (hypercardioid), as the NTG-2 i have now was used exclusively outdoors, and where i will be shooting has lots of glass and hard reflective surfaces, and the NTG-2 echoes badly inside. Also a lav mic or two, on the cheaper side. My budget is rather low for this project unfortunately.

It will be shot mostly indoors, there is fluorescent lighting but i intend to take my tungstens. I will likely hang or aim the mic at the subject rather than boom; most of the rest of the work is old film footage, or of vintage cars outdoors. I may not need lavs, but im open to suggestions.

Here is what i have at the moment, and what i perceive to be the correct setup.

ART USB Dual Pre (XLR or 1/4 phantom power preamp with monitoring and line level output)
ART Phantom II Pro (mistakenly ordered), 2 channel XLR phantom power
*Best recommendation Hypercardioid mic* Indoor mic
Rode NTG-2 outdoor mic
Sennheiser HD 25-II for monitoring.

I am not sure i understand the whole 'balanced/unbalanced' XLR and TRS/TS issue, so i bought both types and plan on keeping what works. Here are the equipment specs and the cables i have ordered. I only need one working audio input for the moment, but i need to figure out what combo i should be using, then order more correct cables and a hypercardioid for interior shots. It confuses me as everything down the line is balanced, except the T2i, and i am not sure what type of cable to use between the mic and pre-amp, and pre-amp and T2i.

NTG-2 to USB Dual Pre
XLR cable (Balanced) from NTG-2 to ART USB Dual Pre
- OR
- XLR cable (UNbalanced) from NTG-2 to ART USB Dual Pre

ART USB Dual Pre (sends phantom power to Mic, Balanced 1/4" TRS outputs)
- 2x TRS 1/4" Balanced to TS UNbalanced 3.5mm (CMP159) into T2i 3.5mm input
- OR
- TRS 1/4" Balanced to 3.5mm TRS Balanced (CMS110) into T2i 3.5mm input

Canon T2i (i have 2 available for two camera angles, i plan on recording mono on both)
- UNbalanced Stereo 3.5mm input

(these are the cables i ordered)
Hosa Cable CMS110 3.5mm TRS to 1/4 Inch TRS Adapter Cable
Hosa CMP159 Stereo Breakout, 3.5 mm TRS to Dual 1/4 in TS
XLR Male to XLR Female Black Balanced
XLR male to XLR female Microphone Cable (does not say balanced; not sure here)

The Phantom II Pro is also for sale for $40 shipped (assuming i dont need it; i goofed ordering the ART USB Dual Pre and it shipped before i could cancel the order). From what i understand, it should be (from camera to mic)
T2i 3.5mm unbalanced to 1/4" balanced TRS into...
ART USB Dual Pre pre-amp
Balanced XLR male to balanced XLR female into...
NTG-2 or other XLR phantom powered mic

Thanks a ton for your input!
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Old February 4th, 2013, 02:01 PM   #2
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Re: Do i have my audio setup correct? (DSLR rig)

The best recommendation I can give is to get some stands and blankets when working in office buildings with lots of glass. The blankets have two uses: eliminating stray light and eliminating audio reflections.

I did one interview with both a lav and a nice hyper on a stand for a seated interview. The speaker was facing some glass about 60 feet away. That created a terrible echo on both mics. Hang one blanket and both mics sounded tons better. A cheap mic and the blanket would have sounded better than the most expensive mic and no blanket. In Europe, a duvet might be the way to go.

Mics to consider are the Audio Technica AT-4053b, the AKG Blue Line with CK93 capsule. Audix might make an instrument mic that could work (small, light, hypercardioid), but they often have low sensitivity. You want at least 10mV sensitivity for dialog, which might be whispered at a distance of just under a meter. This is a very different application than an instrument mic, which might be intended to be inches from the head of a snare drum.

You can also consider a large mic like the Rode NT2000, but only if you do studio work and exclusively seated interviews. No way you'd want that at the end of a boom pole! I'd recommend a lav over that for most video work.

In fact, I think a lav is the more flexible solution. The good news is that you can do wide shots and the speaker can move around. The bad news is that the sound can be affected as they fold their arms and their clothing moves about.

A lav might be more affordable as well. In the US, the hypers above cost around $500, and they are mid-quality mics. On the other hand, $500 will buy you a world-class lav, like the Sanken COS-11D.

And all you need to make that mic sound fantastic are stands, a blanket, good placement, and the ability to tell people not to cross their arms and interfere with the mic.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 02:03 PM   #3
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Re: Do i have my audio setup correct? (DSLR rig)

Use an XLR cable between the mic and preamp. ..All the (store bought) XLR cables I've ever encountered over 30+ years were balanced.
Balanced line level 1/4" TRS (tip-ring sleeve) and line level XLR devices normally operate at the same nominal +4dB level, however a line level un-balanced 1/4" TS (guitar plug) are usually -10dB.. 1/8" can be -10dB or more commonly in DSRLs and consumer camcorders and portable audio recorders, unbalanced mic level.
If recording audio on a DSRL, be aware they do not record very good audio.. no matter what the front end is. Though it may be adequate for hobbyists.
IMO, for low budget, the AT4053, Audix SCX1/HC and Oktava 012 are "*Best recommendation Hypercardioid mic* Indoor mic". There's a few others I don't recall at the moment. In any case, a shock-mount and foam windscreen should be factored in.
Good luck on your project.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 02:14 PM   #4
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Re: Do i have my audio setup correct? (DSLR rig)

Take a look at the RODE M3 cardioid condenser (battery or phantom powered, $149). I picked one up yesterday, works very well as a shotgun replacement, especially indoors. It's large and heavey but sounds really really good.

WRT your ART preamp, the 1/4" line outputs are at +4dbu and will completely overload your Canon's mic inputs, which expects to see a mic level signal (-40dBu nominal). You would need an attenuator cable; I was not able to find a dual balanced 1/4" to 1/8" stereo unbalanced attenuator cable so I'm evaluating a Sescom cable that's made for the headphone output of Zoom recorders.

Sescom makes a number of cables; the one I purchased is designed for Zoom recorders. It pads (attenuates) the signal by 25dB and has a headphone tap so that I can monitor the audio that's being sent to my camera. In a very quick test last night with my H1n, DR-40 and USB Dual Pre my GH2's inputs were peaking and yet the sound coming through my earbuds was quite low with all three units. I think that Sescom's -35dB cable (designed for Tascam recorders) would be a better choice because it pads the signal by -35dB - unfortunately it lacks a headphone tap, so I'd need to split the headphone output before it gets to the cable (hate doing that, yet another connection to fail).

A final issue to consider is getting your camera an impedance that it likes. I've had a maddening issue with broadband noise and it seems to be related to impedance, 600 Ohms is noisy and 150 - 200 Ohms is quiet. The ART's headphone output impedance is quite low (50 Ohms), but the 1/4" outs are 600 Ohms, so simply padding their output may not be sufficient to get a good result.

EDIT: I have an Oktava MC-012 and can verify that it works well for video. I compared mine to the AT 835b shotgun indoors at a distance of about 8' and felt that the 012 was far superior. I plan to compare it to the RODE M3 ASAP and can let you know the results if you like. One caveat, however: My Oktava MC-012 failed. It was easy to fix - about 15 minutes and a soldering iron - but WHY it failed is what concerns me: the mechanical connection between the screw-on mic element and mic body is also the electrical connection. This connection is a piece of spring steel, so it's under mechanical tension, and even though it was never dropped or handled roughly the solder joint broke. After seeing the design I decided that I didn't want to trust it in the field, but it's a very nice mic and very widely available used for >$150 (do a web search to find out how to tell if you're getting a real MC-012 or a Chinese knock-off).
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Old February 4th, 2013, 03:57 PM   #5
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Re: Do i have my audio setup correct? (DSLR rig)

Thanks; i also have an old Dell Inspiron with a Creative Audigy 2ZS Notebook PCMCIA soundcard i may record to; the on-board is noisy when plugged in, but the 2ZS is silent and also 24 bit, though i know the ART is 16 bit, which i am fine with. Its a backup recorder in the event the audio sounds like garbage; i've read a lot concerning the audio recording quality on T2i's. Friend of mine (Dutch DJ) has been using it for the last few months, but it has 3.5mm jack in and out, which double as S/PDIF input/output.

I also forgot to mention i have a softie, foam, shockmount, shop blankets and stands, but thanks for the head up. I was sure there was a lot more to this than simple cabling.

Regarding attenuation, would the Sescom DSLR-ML (25 or 35 db attenuation) work in this case (between the Dual Pre and T2i/Laptop)?
Sescom DSLR-ML DSLR Connect Anything Mini-Link Line to Mic Level Interface with Selectable Attenuation and Headphone Monitoring Jack

I assume this is the cable you mean...
Sescom LN2MIC-TASDR100 3.5 Line to Mic 35dB Att. 3Ft DSLR Cable for Tascam DR-100

I will not be back in the USA but should have most of that stuff within a week to test setup, and will look into the mics you all recommended. I may go with just a lav for now. Actually for the money, the NTG-2 does a wonderful job with engine and exhaust notes (used to use it with an XH A1).
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Old February 4th, 2013, 04:08 PM   #6
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Re: Do i have my audio setup correct? (DSLR rig)

The Sescom box should work fine, it attenuates the signal enough and its output impedance is 92 Ohms. Hate dealing with another box and additional cables, however.

The Tascam cable pads the signal by -35dB but it's longer than I prefer and lacks a headphone tap.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 05:24 PM   #7
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Re: Do i have my audio setup correct? (DSLR rig)

The DR-100 (mk II at least) has two audio outs, HP and line, so paralleled 'Y' cable (like for the H4n) would not be needed. The 05, 07 and 40 do not though.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 05:36 PM   #8
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Re: Do i have my audio setup correct? (DSLR rig)

Agreed; less is more. I am having a friend rebuild a metal suitcase to accommodate all the audio gear, keep the wiring internal, all the DC adapters internal and on a single power strip, with only a sealed extension cord female connector at the bottom rear, and all the outputs and inputs organized on different sides with appropriate connectors clearly labelled, and all cords/cables/wires headphones etc in the lid compartment. Also leaving space for future additions (proper mixer, etc). Most connectors will be reinforced internally.

also something similar for the video monitoring side; case with 2 built-in field monitors, AC adapters on a single power strip, battery chargers also located in the lid with the HDMI cables.

and eventually another to accommodate my two T2i rigs, fully assembled, lenses, filters, battery chargers, packs, and A/C adapters, on 1 power strip.

I already have my 4 main lights with dimmers in a pelican with longer power cords, fuses, and extra bulbs, and same with two tripods and 4 stands and an adjustable stand.

so that way everything is organized, integrated, modular, and professionally presented. Individual cases for Audio, Support, Lighting, Monitoring, and Video.

This is part of the reason i want a workable solution. I dont plan on changing gear for another 2-3 years, and then probably only cameras and adding audio gear and perhaps a lens or two.
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Old February 5th, 2013, 12:45 PM   #9
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Re: Do i have my audio setup correct? (DSLR rig)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Reineke View Post
The DR-100 (mk II at least) has two audio outs, HP and line, so paralleled 'Y' cable (like for the H4n) would not be needed. The 05, 07 and 40 do not though.
Line outs are +4dBu nominal, so you'd to reduce the signal to -40dBu mic level or you'll severely overload the camera's mic input.
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