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Old March 23rd, 2010, 11:03 PM   #1
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Great Result Recording with Canon 2.0.4 firmware- I found the sweet spot...

I recently recorded a 4 hour live concert of a singer-guitar player. I downloaded the new firmware (Canon 2.0.4) and used a CX431. I used a Whirlwind mic splitter and DI Box that allowed me to intercept the mic and guitar feed before it went to the house soundboard. IThis allowed me to have balanced XLR feeds directly into the CX431 and Canon 5D MKII. I panned the vocal mic left and guitar right in the CX431.
As for settings in the Canon 5D MK II, I set the audio manual input 1 click right of off (all the way left).Of the 64 settings the new Canon firmware allows, I chose setting 1 of 64. At this setting, I had no hiss or noise and plenty of headroom. I had the CX431 pre-set to medium with the trim at the 1:00 position. What I got was a clean recording of the vocal and guitar on each channel. Once in FCP, I can take the audio to Soundtrack Pro for mixing and mastering. I anticipate this will turn out good. When I set the Canon 5D MK II audio to 1/3 or 1/2, I got a ton of noise. Then I called Robert Rozak at Juicelink and he convinced me to experiment... So, 2 hours before stage time, I started to experiment and came up with this extremely low setting on the 5D MK II that seemed to work. Why, I don't know but the final result was clean and quiet and with plenty of headroom. Anyone have similar success??? Pleace, Joe Ray Skrha at: joeray@alaska.net
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Old March 24th, 2010, 02:08 AM   #2
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I tested the 2.0.4 firmware and the manual audio control levels with an old two channel XLR passive mixer (SignVideo XLR-PRO), and two Sennheiser G2 wireless mics receivers EW100G2 and xlr transmitters SKP100G2 with low-end Sennheiser e815S handheld xlr mics. I've used the SignVideo XLR-PRO xlr mixer, which is similar to Beachtek XLR adapters on an old DV Panasonic DVC30 camcorder for a while with no issues. Prior to the Canon, and sometimes doing interviews with two camera angles, I've used a Panasonic HMC150 camcorder with proper XLR inputs and manual audio level control onboard.

At least for me, I noticed that past 1/8 of the manual audio level control on the 5D Mark II there was excessive noise with the passive Signvideo mixer and the Sennheiser wireless mics. Basically I bump the Sennheisers nearly to their max sensitivity (0db on SKP100G2 transmitters) or AF OUT levels (+6 or +12db on the EW100G2 receivers) to try to get decent or adequate levels at the Canon "Rec Level" of 1/8 to avoid the noise. I try to stay away from 1/4 on the 5D Mark II if I can help it. From Joe's original post, 1/3 or 1/2 is pretty noisy on the Canon "Rec Level".

I wonder if a forthcoming powered pre-amp Beachtek DXA-SLR or a Juicedlink CX231/CX431 preamp/mixer would have helped with noise, as opposed to the passive Signvideo XLR-Pro (to help stay at 1/8, or below 1/4 on the "Rec Level". Joe's setting of going 1 out of the 64 clicks on the "Rec Level" and having sufficient audio levels with the CX431 sounds great. Joe, did you get the DN101 also with the CX431?

Certainly doing double/dual system audio into either a proper field mixer like a Sound Devices MixPre, a dedicated digital audio recorder like a Zoom H4n, or another camcorder with xlr inputs/manual input/cleaner preamps like my HMC150. For run and gun one-man interview type shooting, it's easier to do with one device.

I'm grateful for the manual audio control and the disabling of the AGC or auto gain control, but clearly I'm expecting too much of the onboard preamp.
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Old March 24th, 2010, 12:16 PM   #3
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I agree that 1/8 up the level is about where you are going to want to stay. I also have no doubt that with the CX231, and its preamps, in combo with the two G2's you will get a decent recording.

I have used the CX231 with my NTG-3 and the new 2.04 software, and it can be expected to be quiet, but you will likely have to add gain in post which will also bring up the noise floor.
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Old March 24th, 2010, 12:46 PM   #4
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Allan, in reply to you r question if I used the DN101, the answer was NO but I wish I did. I just ordered one. The reason is that in live work, I would like to have seen how the recording was going with on-board meters. Additionally, nothing beats having a pair of cans to monitor your recording. I was lucky in that I set the levels based on a brief sound check and there they stayed till the 4 1/2 hour concert was completed. If I had the DN101, I could have adjusted the trim of the CX431 where necessary. GoodLuck, Joe Ray
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Old March 24th, 2010, 03:29 PM   #5
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I'm very satisfied with the new firmware. I use a Sennheiser MKE 400 and I boost one channel by 6 dB using an 1:2 audio transformer. The noise floor of a recording in an absolutely quiet room is at -65 dB (using rec. level 1 of the 5DMKII) and is practically not audible. More info can be found on my blog.

I wonder if there are any drawbacks of such a simple batteryless audio boost. So far I'm very pleased.
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Old March 26th, 2010, 09:43 AM   #6
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With a passive mixer like my Signvideo XLR-PRO, there is no way to monitor the audio with headphones. I can monitor using a simple 3.5mm or 1/8" coupler and a passive 3.5mm or 1/8" splitter (one to the 5d Mark II, one to my Sony MDR headphones), but what happens is the Sony headphones substantially reduces the input levels to the 5D, forcing me to jack up the audio levels on the 5D, and incurring noise over anything at 1/8" on the "audio level meter". So that's why I was wondering about the DN101, in addition to seeing LED VU meters for visual confirmation.

I know the Beachtek DXA-5Da (passive, $330), and the DXA-SLR (active, $400) both have a way to monitor your audio via headphones. The DXA-SLR also uses the old analog 3.5mm camcorder port to RCA composite connection to *feedback* to the mixer, to verify the 5D Mark II is actually recording audio. This is pretty unique. The DXA-5da lets you monitor audio via a headphone port on the mixer, but the 2nd method is an additional verification you are getting audio (since even with 2.0.4 the audio levels aren't accessible realtime when recording).
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Old March 27th, 2010, 10:20 AM   #7
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Allan are you saying you have the RCA's from the 5D patched to a mixer and you are able to monitor 5D's audio during record?
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Old March 27th, 2010, 10:40 AM   #8
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Philip Bloom reviews a pre-production unit of the Beachtek DXA-SLR model (not the DXA-5Da).
The DXA-SLR mixer/pre-amp gives you the ability to monitor in two ways

1) monitor audio from the mixer directly (verifying audio before the HDSLR)
2) monitor audio from the HDSLR camera (1/8" from HDSLR to RCA audio into the mixer)

The juicedlink DN101 with their CX231 or CX431 mixer gives you the ability to monitor audio also with any headphones, plus with VU LED meters. The Beachtek DXA-5da has some mini lcd display with levels as well (the DXA-SLR just has one LED to indicate if you are clipping)

Review of new “Beachtek DXA-SLR” XLR adaptor for HD-DSLR cameras | Philip Bloom
BeachTek DXA-SLR Active DSLR Adapter
Juicedlink Preamp: Buy Direct and Save

From my Signvideo XLR-PRO passive pre-amp/mixer, it has a 3.5mm or 1/8" inch jack into any typical camera with 3.5mm or 1/8" input. For monitoring, I can use a simple 3.5mm to 3.5mm coupler to join the cable to a generic 3.5mm Y-splitter. Then I have one of the ends of the y-splitter plugged into headphones, then the 2nd end of the y-splitter has a 3.5mm to 3.5mm male cable to the HDSLR like a 5D Mark II. The problem with this is that my Signvideo preamp doesn't output enough power, so when I plug my Sony headphones into the splitter, the 2nd end of the splitter into the HDSLR has drastically reduced audio levels.

So again either a Beachtek XLR adapter, Juicedlink XLR preamp, a separate audio recorder like a Zoom H4n, or any other camcorder with XLR inputs and proper audio levels works.

3.5mm or 1/8" Coupler - HDMI Cable, Home Theater Accessories, HDMI Products, Cables, Adapters, Video/Audio Switch, Networking, USB, Firewire, Printer Toner, and more!

3.5mm or 1/8" splitter - HDMI Cable, Home Theater Accessories, HDMI Products, Cables, Adapters, Video/Audio Switch, Networking, USB, Firewire, Printer Toner, and more!

3.5mm male to male cable for 2nd end of splitter (1st end is for monitoring with headphones)
HDMI Cable, Home Theater Accessories, HDMI Products, Cables, Adapters, Video/Audio Switch, Networking, USB, Firewire, Printer Toner, and more!
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Old March 27th, 2010, 12:00 PM   #9
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We have been using this simple Boostaroo device to boost the sound out from the AV port to give a better monitoring level. A bit noisy but helps aid in audio monitoring.

The Best Headphone Amplifier | Audio Amplifier | Audio Splitter

I ve added a volume control from Radio Shack to allow headphone level adjustments.\
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Old March 27th, 2010, 12:36 PM   #10
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Hey Chris, I'll have to give the headphone booster amp a shot. Have you tried 2.0.4 with the AV port? Do you need one of the magic lantern firmwares for it to work to monitor audio while recording?
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