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Old October 30th, 2006, 02:18 AM   #1
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Can I Get Good Audio Without XLR Mic-in Socket?

Hello,

I'm doing research on which camera I should buy for short movies and interview shows I'd like to produce. I've decided to go for the less expensive 3CCD cameras like the Sony DCR-TRV950 or Panasonic PV-GS300 for good video quality, but I'm also concerned about audio quality.

The microphone inputs on these cameras support 3mm jack plugs instead of balanced XLR inputs. What would the noise level be like if I use a microphone that has this jack plug or a mixer whose output is connected to the camera through this plug? Can I get good audio without balanced XLR mic input?

Thanks.
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Old October 30th, 2006, 02:25 AM   #2
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The beauty of XLR socketry is the roobustness, the ability to choose from a vast array of mics, the phantom powering and the fact that long hard-wired leads won't cause you a problem.

For short runs a mini-jac mic will give you just as good results, and firms like Rode and Senheisser make the same mic in both configurations.

tom.
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Old October 30th, 2006, 03:07 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick
For short runs a mini-jac mic will give you just as good results
Wow, this is great news. How long exactly can the cable of a (3.5mm*) mini-jack microphone run before the quality starts to deteriorate below that of an XLR microphone? How many feet exactly? Thanks.
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Old October 30th, 2006, 05:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seun Osewa
Wow, this is great news. How long exactly can the cable of a (3.5mm*) mini-jack microphone run before the quality starts to deteriorate below that of an XLR microphone? How many feet exactly? Thanks.
It's not really an exact science. In addition to its robustness, one of the advantages of the XLR connector is its 3 pins + shield allow it to be used for a balanced wiring configuration that resists noise pickup from the environment. Camera miniplug connectors, OTOH, are unbalanced. How long an unbalanced mic cable can get before noise pickup becomes an issue depends in good part on just how much electrical noise there is around the set in the first place. Generally speaking, unbalanced cable runs under 10 feet or so should be acceptable and in most cases you could probably get away with more. By comparison, balanced cables can be run hundreds or even thousands of feet with relative immunity from noise pickup.

Not having XLR's on the camera doesn't mean you are stuck, though. Beachtek and Sign Video, among others I'm sure, make XLR to mini conversion boxes that let you use XLR balanced mics with a camera that only has a mini input and several of them also provide phantom power for mics that require it.
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Old October 30th, 2006, 10:27 AM   #5
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One other disadvantage (at least for some people) of the 3mm system is that you can typically only use one microphone at a time.

The XLR adaptors will give you connections for two mics, as well as most (all?) camcorders with xlr inputs.
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Old October 30th, 2006, 03:49 PM   #6
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I think Seth made a good point that an external adapter like a Beachtek is the best method for inputing to a mini-plug. It gives you xlr options plus much more control over the signal. Also does line inputs for pulling a feed or a running a hot mic.

Ben
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Old November 8th, 2006, 02:53 AM   #7
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Thanks a million for the information.
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