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Old March 14th, 2003, 12:18 PM   #1
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Question for audio expert

Hi all,

The question first, and then the background: Is it overkill to want to go from my minidisc to my PC with an optical cable (rather than stereo miniplug) to keep a pristine audio quality?

I have a GL2 (love it) which I use to shoot short films. I have no complaints about the camera, but I want to record my audio separate from the camera for a few reasons.

1) I read somewhere that an $80 minidisc recorder produces better audio quality than any camcorder on the market. (True or false?)
2) I don't want the boom mic and camera tethered together when I'm doing steadicam shots or other fast-moving shots. (Not even with a studio1 box with a long cable attached to my belt.)
3) I like the idea than even if worse came to worse, I'd have a backup of my audio if one or the other failed (even if I had to use on-camera mic audio in a worst-case scenario.)

SO... I'd like to have my boom guy simply record the audio on a minidisc in his pocket and sync it up in post (like the old days of film.)

I've noticed that most of the cheaper minidisc recorders have optical in, but only stereo mini out. Would I hear any noticeable difference getting a minidisc recorder with optical out and going to a soundcard with optical in rather than with a stereo mini-to-mini cable?

Thanks for any info you can give me!

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Old March 14th, 2003, 12:43 PM   #2
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Your best answers will come from Jay Roses' audio forum at I can answer a few.

Minidisc in general can get better audio, but that's assuming you record with the right chain to the right recorder. Jay mentioned that the Sony MZR37, a very old minidisc, has great sound, but reports are tha the newer models aren't as good.

If you can get optical into the computer, it would be better quality. How much I can't say for sure, but if your audio is going to be heard on anything better than a TV speaker, you'd probably hear less noise.

I know you won't want to hear this, but if what you're doing is meant for something greater than a 13 inch TV, I'd recommend getting a pro recorder. My opinion is that DV shooters with high aspirations should spend the same amount on their audio equipment as they do on prosumer cameras. Audio is one area that you shouldn't skimp on.
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Old March 14th, 2003, 04:35 PM   #3
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Hi Michael,

Thanks for the info and the advice. I actually do agree with you on your last paragraph about getting a pro recorder. It's true the worst aspect of filmmaking on the 'independent' level is the audio, no matter whether they're shooting on 16mm, DV or SVHS!

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Old March 14th, 2003, 04:50 PM   #4
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This discussion may be of interest on getting audio into a NLE,
Jeff Donald
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Old March 14th, 2003, 06:23 PM   #5
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When you are concerned with audio, make sure your mics are as good as the recorder. While it's true that capturing to a dedicated audio recorder will generally be better than the audio you get with the cam, it needs to be solid all the way thru to make a difference. Make sure you have a solid mic, good shielded cable, isolaters, wind socks, etc.

Also- please keep in mind, much of what you actually hear from Hollywood isn't captured on location. It is done in a studio and added in.
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Old March 15th, 2003, 04:08 PM   #6
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I'm not an audio expert, but I did research the issue of optical connections for minidisc.

No portable Sony minidisc recorder comes with optical out. As near as I've been able to tell, this is based on a desire to prevent the ability to make digital copies inexpensively. Most other vendors are dropping their minidisc lines.

Sony makes some minidisc decks, which you can see here: The two expensive models, MDS-JB940 and MDS-PC3, both $480 list, have optical outputs. The less expensive models do not. B&H offers the PC3 for $330.

There are two pro audio minidisc decks, both in a rack mount form factor and both with optical out. You can see them at List prices are $630 & $945.

There are some minidisc resources on the Web, including some that keep track of specs for just about every minidisc device. With that help and eBay, you can track down some older decks that have optical outs. Be aware that the deals won't be great -- the older stuff is selling well and commanding top dollar.

If you decide to go this route, just remember that you'll need optical input on your PC or editing system. I have that with my SB Audigy, but I've noticed that software support for outbound optical is good while inbound optical support is weak.
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