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Old June 9th, 2006, 06:04 PM   #1
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lapel mic hiss help

Hi all,

My first post, I think. Glad to be here. Already learned lots from you all.

Anyway, I wanted to use a lapel mic directly into my camera (Z1U). We have a mono mic from Giant Squid that we bought to use with an iriver (so I think the right and left channels are swapped to make up for the fact that the iriver uses right channel as mono). This is the mic http://www.giant-squid-audio-lab.com/gs/gs-mono1.htm

We bought an XLR to 1/4 adapter, a 1/4 to 1/8 adapter and plugged the mic into a 20' XLR cable and directly into the Z1.

I put one channel on auto (just in case the other was clipping), the other on manual. Trim is set to 0db (mostly cause I don't know what it does - time for more reading). Sounded fine through the headphones (time for new headphones), levels were good, but apparently I was unable to hear that there was a substantial hiss in the sound.

Now, I'm far from a sound expert, so I don't know if it's the mic, the cable and adapters, or the camera somehow giving me this. Anyone have some guidance?

Yes, I searched the forums and Google first.

Thanks for your help,
Vito
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Old June 10th, 2006, 07:09 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vito DeFilippo
Hi all,

...
Now, I'm far from a sound expert, so I don't know if it's the mic, the cable and adapters, or the camera somehow giving me this. Anyone have some guidance?

...
Probably a combination of all the above. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and an inexpensive mic is inexpensive for a reason ... the mic itself probably has a higher internal noise level than more professional mics. It may also be sending a lower level signal to the camera either because it's too far from the sound source or has a low output itself, requiring the camera's audio gain to be run up thus amplifying any system noise in the process. Looking at the link you included and scrolling down the page also turns up that the mic is intended to be used with external mic jacks that supply 1.5 to 9 volts of mic bias power such as found on camcorder and computer soundcard external mic jacks. That bias votage is NOT present on the Z1U's XLR jacks and it is not the same thing as your camera's phantom power.

Your arrangement of going through a set of adapters to an XLR cable over to the camera may be picking up noise as well. Using simple connector adapters to convert an unbalanced source such as your mic to a balanced cable and input unbalances the whole shebang and cancels out any of the advantages of a balanced system, namely it's relative immunity to noise and interference.

Set aside the Giant Squid mic and reserve it for use with your iRiver and get a proper lav or two from Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Countryman, etc to use with your camera (and perhaps a decent preamp/mixer like the Sound Devices MixPre to go with it as well). As the sayings go, "audio is 75% of what you see on film" and "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link" so it really doesn't make a lot of sense to spend $5000 for the camera and then slap a $30 microphone on it.
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Old June 10th, 2006, 08:58 AM   #3
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Steve is right, but if you need a remedy to tide you over until you can afford the proper solution, the program SoundSoap by BIAS software will remove hiss very cleanly.
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Old June 10th, 2006, 09:12 AM   #4
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Hi Steve,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
Probably a combination of all the above...It may also be sending a lower level signal to the camera either because it's too far from the sound source or has a low output itself, requiring the camera's audio gain to be run up thus amplifying any system noise in the process.
This makes complete sense to me, except that I didn't have to put the gain up. It was at about 6, just above halfway.

Quote:
...the mic is intended to be used with external mic jacks that supply 1.5 to 9 volts of mic bias power such as found on camcorder and computer soundcard external mic jacks. That bias votage is NOT present on the Z1U's XLR jacks and it is not the same thing as your camera's phantom power.
That I didn't know! Is this why I get no hiss with the same mic when used on the iriver?

Quote:
...get a proper lav or two from Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Countryman, etc to use with your camera...
Do these mics work properly on phantom power over an XLR? And do they have a balanced connection to the cable? Beyond having a better mic, I assume you are making the recommendation to overcome some of the disadvantages of my cheap solution to connecting to XLR. Any particular lavs you could recommend?

Thanks for your time and trouble. There's always something to learn, and I'm happy to get the benefit of your experience.

Greetings from Montreal,
Vito
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Old June 10th, 2006, 09:15 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Retread
... the program SoundSoap by BIAS software will remove hiss very cleanly.
Thanks Fred, I'll check it out.
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Old June 11th, 2006, 01:50 PM   #6
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You can remove hiss by fiddling with the "HI" knob on the EQ (equalizer). Some hiss can also be removed by taking a little off the bass floor (LO). MID will also give you a little more "POW" in vocals. Adjust it so that it sounds clean, but natural, not too altered.
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Old June 12th, 2006, 12:36 AM   #7
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But if you cut the highs, you'll take the "air" out of the dialog, without really getting rid of the hiss.

Go for a noise reduction plug-in. You can get rid of 90% or more of the hiss while taking 10% or less away from your dialog. You may find that you need to add some ambient noise back in to make it sound natural - the noise reduction will take away hiss and the recorded ambient noise.
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