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Old June 4th, 2009, 01:04 PM   #1
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Searching for a simple separate audio solution

Now that the 5d visuals work - mostly - Iím mainly interested in trying to get decent audio. In principle I had been very keen on the new Beachtek, but the more I read and think about it the more convinced I become that separate audio is the best solution: there just seem to be too many things to go wrong with audio going into the 5D.

As a photojournalist my criteria for the solution are that it has to be small, light, rugged and reliable, and deliver usable audio in uncontrolled and usually unfavourable conditions. The key word is ďusableĒ: Iím not demanding Hollywood quality. Oh, and it needs to be idiot-proof.

But a lot of the solutions I see being discussed seem very complicated. I have a Microtrack, which wonít do mainly because the built-in battery life isnít long enough, but the audio quality seems not bad to me. ISTM that something that takes AAs for travelling and has similar or a bit better audio would work.

Iíve read up on the Zoom H4N & the Sony PCM-D50, but seen so many contradictory opinions that even thatís confusing. I have Sennheiser MKE400 & ME66 shotguns & G2 lavs to run into a unit, so it seems this should be easily solvable. Would these mikes and the Zoom or Sony do what I need? Or these mikes and another unit? Or one of these units and a different mike? Or am I expecting too much in the way of a simple solution?

All suggestions gratefully received.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 01:40 PM   #2
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We need two more simple things out of Canon (or Hudson), and that is control of gain in the camera, and monitoring. Until we get that, I have reluctantly concluded that only safe method is separate sound. Name your poison there.

If you are working alone, then you might consider something like I was showing here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-eos...oblem-agc.html

I have recently been running tone into an Juice Link CX231, I seem to be able to get levels okay, but sound efficieandos say my floor is to high. Still, the test give me some decent voice that I can use. Problem regarding monitoring still remains.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 03:05 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jeremy Nicholl View Post
Iíve read up on the Zoom H4N & the Sony PCM-D50, but seen so many contradictory opinions that even thatís confusing. I have Sennheiser MKE400 & ME66 shotguns & G2 lavs to run into a unit, so it seems this should be easily solvable. Would these mikes and the Zoom or Sony do what I need? Or these mikes and another unit? Or one of these units and a different mike? Or am I expecting too much in the way of a simple solution?

All suggestions gratefully received.
I'm in the exact same situation (with the exception of my mics, which are two Senn ME66s and two Tram lavs).

I ALMOST bought the D50 based on Dan's suggestion, but then I found out it doesn't have XLR inputs.

It was suggested to me to wait a few weeks to see if Tramm Hudson can completely master the AGC and meters with MarkFree.
Then, the idea was to take the mic(s) into a preamp like JuicedLink, then take that into the 5DM2.

Monitoring is still an issue, but there's a chance that Tramm can give us that too.
If not, this:
Give Our Portable Headphone Amplifiers a Listen for 90-Days
was mentioned as a possibility.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 03:18 PM   #4
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For run-n-gun PJ work, audio is a real problem with this cam IMHO. For dramatic, staged, or controlled interview work, there's no doubt in my mind double-system is the way to go. But for run-n-gun, one-man-band kind of work, that approach is going to be much more problematic to manage. That said, you're on the right track. I'd go for something small with decent built-in mics, and one that can take a line-in/mic-in mini jack for the most flexibility. The Zooms are OK, the LS-10 is pretty nice for this kind of thing (although not perfect), the R9 Pro is decent, I'd personally stay away from the Microcrappers, PMD620 is good, and there's a pretty decent lower-priced option now in the Tascam DR-07. All of them tend to have a "plasticy" feel, not so much a high-end production build, but as a small unit to throw in the photo bag to catch some ambient audio, most would work. Some have more handling noise than others, and some are a little better suited for in-the-field interviews and some are better at ambient. Wind chop is also a concern, so a low-cut is nice to have. You can also combine these with a cheap lav or handheld mic that is terminated to a minijack, but they only provide plug-in power to the mics, so no phantom.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 12:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
If you are working alone, then you might consider something like I was showing here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-eos...oblem-agc.html

Yes, that were some interesting ideas there. Unfortunately I'm missing some of the vital bits of kit, otherwise I'd follow through and try them out. Being in Moscow is a real problem with some of this stuff: there's no Radio Shack to get bits and pieces to build your own solution. That's largely why I'm hoping an out-of-the-box unit like a Zoom/Sony/whatever will do the trick for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Roddy View Post
It was suggested to me to wait a few weeks to see if Tramm Hudson can completely master the AGC and meters with MarkFree.
Then, the idea was to take the mic(s) into a preamp like JuicedLink, then take that into the 5DM2.

Monitoring is still an issue, but there's a chance that Tramm can give us that too.
I hope so. I think audio monitoring after the signal has reached the 5D is essential, not just for quality purposes, but to confirm that the camera is receiving a signal at all. I read on another thread where the audio simply disappeared, and I've had a couple of instances where I've lost audio. They were my fault, but they wouldn't have happened if there had been monitoring. Anyway I suspect that users will be on their own in solving the 5D's audio problems. I reckon Canon will take the view that they're a camera company, audio is a specialist subject, and they'll be more interested in delivering 25p [perhaps in another firmware upgrade] and functioning autofocus in future cameras, especially the news/sport orientated 1D series and the flagship 1Ds. Without monitoring I don't think I'd ever feel secure relying on in camera audio no matter how much the signal had been improved on the way in.

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Originally Posted by Bill Binder View Post
Wind chop is also a concern, so a low-cut is nice to have.
Low cut? You've lost me. Do you mean a windscreen/dead cat type thing?
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Old June 6th, 2009, 12:21 PM   #6
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I'm very pleased with the Zoom H4n.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 01:02 PM   #7
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Low cut? You've lost me. Do you mean a windscreen/dead cat type thing?
"Low cut" means an electrical low-pass filter. (EDIT: I meant to write "high-pass" filter.) Many mics include the feature, as do some mixers/preamps. The idea is to remove rumble before it overdrives the preamp/recorder.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 01:02 PM   #8
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I'm a TV post sound mixer...so feel I can talk with resonable experience in audio.
The Zoom and Sony 'solutions' will not really deliver the goods, because the quality of the mic amps (for external mics) is just not good enough.
I do have a Zoom H-2, which I really love-but only for a portable 'surround sound' gathering tool...and I only use the internal mics. They are fitted with a small additional Rycote windshield of course.

You need a more professional location recorder and I currently think the Edirol R-44 is the best choice.
It has 4 low noise mic channels, all capable of 48v phantom powering for good quality mics.
However you have to accept it's size and the fact that this is a 'separate sound' solution, without any form of timecode operation.
A little camera like the 5D2 is not ever going to offer the facilities of an ENG video camera so an operating method has to be used to overcome the lack of any timecode locking system.

For years movies made do with 'sync claps' as a method of finding the pic and sound sync point so that'll have to do for us again!
Don't forget that with modern NLE software, a sync clap can be anything like a tap on the mic or even a cough.
At best the sync clap will be 'seen' on camera and 'heard' on the audio recorder, but often just a sound that can be identified on both audio tracks will suffice.
Don't expect to run extremely long sections in total sync...but then the 5D2 can only record 12 minutes can't it.

I record 48k on the R-44 and of course the 5D2 is 44.1k. So the editing workflow, in my case, has to get us back to 48k. Letting the software convert the 44.1k audio guide tracks is fine.

5D2 users need to remember why they are using a stills camera for video and cut their cloth accordingly. Thanks to Canon for giving us this tool but don't expect to record audio on machine that only has a mini jack input and no audio monitoring. That's asking for 'mute' audio capture at some stage!

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Old June 6th, 2009, 03:54 PM   #9
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If if I get this camera, at long last I'll have a justification for buying a separate audio recorder. Wanted one for years, never been able to justify it. Until now!
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Old June 6th, 2009, 07:26 PM   #10
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I've had good results with the Microtrack II.

Here's a very useful chart comparing many different portable audio recorder models:
Portable Digital Audio Recorder Comparison Chart -- Audio -- digitalmedia.oreilly.com

Review comparing Microtrack II to Edirol R-09HR:
Review: Edirol R-09HR & M-Audio MicroTrack II - O'Reilly Media
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Old June 6th, 2009, 07:46 PM   #11
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I've had good results with the Microtrack II.
We shot a short film with the AT815b directly into the MicroTrack II, and I wasn't happy with the noise floor. (I spent hours applying noise reduction, and the results still weren't as good as I would have liked.) Unless you have sensitive mics, I'm thinking that the juicedLink CX231 and R09 combination would be better. The R09 lacks phantom power and direct XLR mic support, but has better usability and takes standard batteries.

Balanced input and phantom power doesn't mean much if the preamps aren't up to the task.

If you want to use the MicroTrackII connected directly to a mic, make sure that the mic is sensitive and quiet. Otherwise, plan on adding a preamp anyway.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 07:57 PM   #12
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Balanced input and phantom power doesn't mean much if the preamps aren't up to the task.

If you want to use the MicroTrackII connected directly to a mic, make sure that the mic is sensitive and quiet. Otherwise, plan on adding a preamp anyway.
Discouraging that $500 doesn't get you decent preamps -- or at least better than the junk they throw on the typical camera. Preamps aren't expensive at parts from what I know.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 09:03 PM   #13
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Does the R09 have better preamps and less noise (than the Microtrack)?
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Old June 7th, 2009, 12:03 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
"Low cut" means an electrical low-pass filter. Many mics include the feature, as do some mixers/preamps. The idea is to remove rumble before it overdrives the preamp/recorder.
Hi Jon. I think you meant to say "high-pass filter".

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Old June 7th, 2009, 01:37 AM   #15
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Hi Jon. I think you meant to say "high-pass filter".
Correct, sir! (I've edited the post to correct it.)
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