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Old June 12th, 2006, 02:31 PM   #1
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Using old mics with a Sony HDR-HC1 camcorder

This is the greatest site on the net. I've scoured a few other message boards but none are as knowledgeable and thorough as this one. So my hat is off to you all.

My particular question revolves around the HDR-HC1 camcorder. I was looking at purchasing the HDR-HC3 camcorder recently, but the lack of a mic input and headphone port really bug me.

I am looking at purchasing the HDR-HC1 camera now (because I can't justify spending all that money for the A1U/FX1 or Z1U until it supports true 24p which I'm hoping is right around the corner, but I have a few questions with regards to mic-ing.

I'm planning on using 2 cheap Sony mics I aquired through the years: the ECM-608S (stereo mic I record concerts with) and the ECM-HM1 (interview mic).

Can the HC1 record from both mics to different channels if I have them both plugged into the HC1? The HM1 uses the AIS and the ECM-608S uses the minijack input (i'll have to get that arm that will hold it), because it'd be nice to have two mics to record with.

Only problem is that the ECM-608S records in stereo and the HM1 records in mono, so that probably won't work. But would it work if I had two mono mics? What do people do with the FX1 cam, only record with one mic, or use a minijack splitter?

Also, will the HM1 mono interview mic be decent for recording a concert in a bar? I know I can fill in the other channel with Premiere Pro afterwards, but will the quality suck? I know this isn't the intended usage for the HM1. But it saves me having to buy a proprietary Sony AIS mic.

Sorry for the barage of questions, I've been saving up while waiting for my account to be activated :)

Any thoughts?
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Old June 14th, 2006, 03:24 AM   #2
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Need 2 mini-jack mono mics. Plug into a 2 mono to 1 stereo mini-jack adapter. I've done this with the HC1. One issue is that you set levels for both right and left channels together, so can't adjust 2 different mics seperately at time of recording.

Also, if you use a Rode videomic (or other mic with stereo out) you have to use a stereo to mono plug, then go to the mono to stereo adapter. Not sure why - but that was my experience.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 05:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence Spurgeon
...
Also, if you use a Rode videomic (or other mic with stereo out) you have to use a stereo to mono plug, then go to the mono to stereo adapter. Not sure why - but that was my experience.
FYI - the Rode videomic is a mono mic but they use a stereo plug on the cable wired with tip shorted to ring in order to provide parallel dual mono to both the left and right channels in the camera. Can't imagine why you couldn't plug directly into a camera's mic input without the adapters IF the camera is designed to accept a stereo mic at the aux mic jack - that's what Rode had in mind when they designed the mic. OTOH, if the camera is designed for a mono mic input and a stereo plug is inserted, it ignores the ring. OTOH, with a *stereo* jack wired to expect a mono plug (ring shorted to sleeve), which some manufacturers apparently use, plugging the Rode's unique stereo arrangment directly into it could result in all three - tip., ring, and sleeve - being shorted together and you'll get silence.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 07:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Irving
Only problem is that the ECM-608S records in stereo and the HM1 records in mono, so that probably won't work. But would it work if I had two mono mics? What do people do with the FX1 cam, only record with one mic, or use a minijack splitter?

Also, will the HM1 mono interview mic be decent for recording a concert in a bar? I know I can fill in the other channel with Premiere Pro afterwards, but will the quality suck? I know this isn't the intended usage for the HM1. But it saves me having to buy a proprietary Sony AIS mic.

Are you absolutely sure of that? Nowadays even the cheapest consumer DV camera will record stereo, so I don't see why the HM1 would be different.

On the other question, it would depend of what you would qualify as "decent". I'd say it will be poor and the quality will suck, if that's what you are after.

You may get away with using a cheaper microphone for an interview, but not for music. Though if the sound you will be picking will come from the bar speakers, then it would already be ruined by them. I mean the music will sound like coming from speakers and not quality live music. There's a large difference.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 12:15 PM   #5
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I do agree that the quality wouldn't be very good on the HM1 at all. The only reason why I was considering it is that I figured ANYTHING would be better than the on-board mic. I had to record with it recently and was very dissapointed, so I figured "Hey, I've got this AIS mic lying around, surely it must be better". And also, I was going to try to have a backup mic anyway (hense the question about splitting). Although this is really only intended to become a secondary cam anyway. I'm hoping to have either an FX1 or Z1U (or a future prosumer Sony cam) that would REALLY handle good quality audio.

All that info about splitting was very helpful, thanks! Although it seems very complicated. Is this what people are doing with the FX1? Can the FX1 handle each input seperately or does it behave the same way as the HC1?
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Old June 14th, 2006, 12:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Irving
I do agree that the quality wouldn't be very good on the HM1 at all. The only reason why I was concidering it is that I figured ANYTHING would be better than the on-board mic. I had to record with it recently and was very dissapointed, so I figured "Hey, I've got this AIS mic lying around, surely it must be better". And also, I was going to try to have a backup mic anyway (hense the question about splitting). Although this is really only intended to become a secondary cam anyway. I'm hoping to have either an FX1 or Z1U (or a future prosumer Sony cam) that would REALLY handle good quality audio.
The quality we are discussing here is the mic quality and the audio you were intending to record with it.

I am not so sure about the HM1 audio quality, as I don't know it. In consumer cameras audio is usually compromised because you only have automatic level, and such AGCs tend to clip audio, particularly music. But it's reasonable for interviews, as long as nobody shouts.

What you asked was about the mic input being mono, which I doubt.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 12:45 PM   #7
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Sorry, what I meant was that whatever high-end cam I decide to go with would have it's own high-end XLR mic (going through a BeachTek adapter, or what have you...)

I guess I just figured since my mic says "Electret Condensor Mic" that it may do a decent job, since I've heard you don't really want a gun/zoom design you just want a good condensor.

That being said, I still recognize the importance of having a good QUALITY mic. Very important. An $80 mic just won't give you very good sound and I know that.

My only question is, will it be margianally better than the on-board mic do you think?

Last edited by Craig Irving; June 15th, 2006 at 11:29 AM.
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Old July 19th, 2006, 08:58 AM   #8
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You will see a big improvement in sound by getting your mics (whether built-in or external) close to what you're recording.

I have the Sony A1U, which is basically the same as the H1, and if you're close enough, the built-in stereo mic is ok. Otherwise use your external mic close to the subject.

Radio shack sells a stereo-to-two-mono plug adapter that will solve the L-R plug issue -- if the mic doesn't work in left channel, try the right.

And finally, think of sound and video as two separate things -- record them separately and mix later and even with built-in mics, it'll be a lot better.

Chuck
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Old July 19th, 2006, 09:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Irving
...

I guess I just figured since my mic says "Electret Condensor Mic" that it may do a decent job, since I've heard you don't really want a gun/zoom design you just want a good condensor.

...
"Electret Condensor" covers a lot of territory ranging from Radio Shack $10 toys to professional mics from AKG, A/T, etc in the $500-$1000 range. You also hear them referred to as "permanently polarized" mic capsules. If the phantom power requirements in the specs are phased something like "requires 12-50 volts phantom" it's an electret. If it says something like "requires 48v +/- 2v" it's probably an externally polarized "true condensor." You can find very high quality mics in both categories.
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Old July 20th, 2006, 08:15 AM   #10
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On-camera mics are only good for picking ambience sound. You may get a good audio if you are up to 2-feet from your subject, but it gets worst after that.

If you can detach the mic from the camera you may get closer to your subject and keep that 2-feet distance, which might be considered the ideal one for a location dialogue. Either from above or below your subject.

About the voltage on phantom mics, some real capacitor mics, like the MKH416, work with less. I got mine to work down to 40v. They don't work with 30v, like some old Shure mixers supplied.

The AKG Blue-Line have a sound quality that is as good as the 416, and they are electret condensor. Try them and see for yourself.
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