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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
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Old May 14th, 2007, 09:32 PM   #1
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Recording Audio: use a Beachtek or a Zoom H4

Hey all, awesome boards you have set up here! I recently purchased an HV20 but I'm still trying to glean as much information as possible before I go ahead with further purchases.

My current focus is to upgrade my sound. I'm pretty sure what I want is a mic that I can set up as a boom (if I can camera mount it too, all the better) and, from what I've read, it would be best to go XLR for this. From what I've read, this means getting a Beachtek adapter in addition to whichever mic I choose.

However I have been curious if some recent field recorders that can input in from an XLR source would do a better job than recording through the Beachtek and onto the MiniDV tape. Mostly I'm looking at the Zoom H4, because I've read scattered reports that their internal mics do a fairly good job, as well as it being able to record at what I *think* is a higher level (24bit, 4 tracks, etc) than what the HV20 can do.

So yeah, do I go for a Beachtek or for the Zoom H4? I sadly only have about $400 to put toward sound right now, and think I can get a used H4 for about the same cost as a new DXA-2s (although i am looking at possibly getting a used DXA-2s instead, halving the cost and putting more into a microphone investment). I've heard people sing the praises of Beachtek's stuff, but is there anyone here who's tried the Zoom H4?
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Old May 15th, 2007, 07:22 AM   #2
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I'd like to know too. I only stumbled onto H4 info yesterday. It looks like a very decent unit, and I love the fact that I could record audio to a separate media, thus giving me two copies, just in case. However, I'd like to know how noisy (or not) H4's preamps are. Anyone care to comment? TIA.

P.S. I was too excited to do a search first, sorry. Looks like there's a lot of good info already available on the forum. But, just as Patrick had asked, a direct comparison of H4 vs. DXA-2 would be nice.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 10:56 AM   #3
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the audio quality for hdv in general is actually pretty good. it is compressed to tape at a pretty high bitrate (384 kbps) and is more than adequate for general shooting purposes. where quality sound recording is absolutely critical, a dedicated mixer/recorder and operator is definitely the way to go. most field recorders will give the option to record uncompressed, or compressed audio at higher bitrates. if you have a recorder coupled with a good multi-channel mixer, and a dedicated sound person watching levels, you will have superior audio. also, many higher end recorders and mixers will give you the option to use phantom powered microphones, and you are no longer limited to battery powered mics. i think the higher-end beachteks provide 48V phantom power too. but, to reiterate, hdv audio should be fine for most things.

i used to have a beachtek a while ago (i think one of the "4" models), and i found it was a little too noisy for me. i've since been using a psc field mixer, feeding either an edirol r9 or the camera, and i really like that setup. no experience with the zoom h4.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 03:51 PM   #4
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How do you sync audio with video

Just a dumb question. I know how to lay and audio track down with my video but how on earth do you sync it and does it stay in sync or do you have to tweak it every minute or so of the video? I've stayed away from using an external capture for audio because I thought syncing would be a nightmare, even though 90 % of all my shooting is music. I'll be trying this summer to move to a setup with a wireless xlr mic laying next to the speaker. Maybe mixing two mics. I use the XLR Pro to my camera.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 06:02 PM   #5
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a clapboard, or just clapping your hands in front of the camera while your video and audio are running, on takes works great -- anything that provides an audio/visual cue to line things up in the NLE. a small drift in sync can happen, especially on long continuous shots, but is easily corrected. just slice the audio track in a good spot where drift is apparent, and shift the audio over a bit until sync is re-established.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 06:31 PM   #6
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Separate systems nearly always work better, if only because each element is designed in a competitive marketplace to be better at what it does. I'm using a late model Beachtek DXA-8 that I'm very impressed with. Excellent S/N ratio, very impressive, plus phantom and limiting to boot.

You can go to the sky and more on decent audio gear, so be aware. Your $400 would perhaps best be spent, IMHO, on a decent short shotgun with a used pole, mic cable, and some kind of good mic pre with a separate volume control and maybe mic limiting, to take the signal into your 1/8" jack on your camera.

AKG is a good brand that's relatively seldom talked about. Their short shotguns are pretty good for the money. There are many used boom setups on sale at eBay and other places by people who are upgrading to pro level carbon booms. Mic cables are cheap from your local guitar store.

I've been toying with modifying the ART Tube MP for field use. It runs on 9v DC so it should't be hard, but it is a tube device so it'll eat power. But there are plenty of great mic pre's on the market (including the Sound Devices MP1 that costs more than many cameras...)

In the end, you have to get the mic close to the person. Less than 2 ft away from their mouths, if you can. Also, don't forget that the mic doesn't just pick up the person, but anything in the direction the mic is pointed at, which is why most pros mic from above the subject, pointing down at the ground.

Whatever mic you end up getting, where you put it will usually matter a lot more than how much it costs.

That means long cables, mic stands with booms, popper stoppers, cargo blankets for sound muffling and the like, as well as just the mic, the boom and the pre.

HTH, YMMV, etc.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 01:03 AM   #7
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I just picked-up a Beachtek DXA-4P for my Canon XM2. Truly a very clean audio stream - a revelation to me! Oh yes, I picked it up secondhand for 75! An even "sweeter" sound to my wallet - I'm well pleased.
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Old May 17th, 2007, 06:08 PM   #8
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Thanks for the input everyone, it's been really helpful. It sounds like XLR via a Beachtek is how I'll probably go, but I am still curious about the Zoom. It just seems like it might be handy on-the-go, so I might look into picking one up later. I still would really like to hear if anyone has ever used one, or still does, and what particularly it's most useful for (gathering foley, background samples, maybe even some budget ADR, etc).

Also, would I be better off asking about all this in the Sound forum?

~Patrick
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Old May 17th, 2007, 10:47 PM   #9
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mixer

i figured i'd post my 2 cents, as i've been trying to wrap my head around the audio on this cam.

i've been playing with a behringer eurorack mxb1002 mixer at835b shotgun mic input directly from the balanced out to mini into the hv20 with mic att on

here is a sample clip of the audio. i recorded this with the cam in dv mode straight through the computer into quicktime

http://file.meyersproduction.com/hv2...dio%20test.mov

check it out
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Old May 17th, 2007, 11:37 PM   #10
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I have a Zoom H4 and used it to capture audio of a rock band I was videotaping. Compared to the built-in mic on the HV20, the sound was quite a bit fuller, especially the bottom end. Being that I was constantly changing camera proximity to each band member (HV20 on a Merlin), it was nice to have a mix that didn't change perspective just because I was in motion.

On the bad side: there was about a 200 millisecond drift between the camera audio and the Zoom audio after 15 minutes. I plan to do a sync experiment with the HV20, H4 Zoom, and Tascam DA-P1 DAT machine.

In general, it's always nice to have audio options. The more devices you can have recording audio from different perspectives/distances/locations... the better. It's good insurance to have.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 03:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Austin Meyers View Post
check it out
Austin
Sounds pretty clean to me.

The Behringer 1002 is discontinued, I believe (with the consequent issues of service and spares) but sounds good enough for basic voice/mic use.

Most field mixers have a kangaroo pack attached to their chests, so getting that mixer to sit out so you can see where the controls are would be a little bit of a trick, especially if you're tethered to the camera and it's being hand held.

Also it would be a bit of a handful to operate if running with the cameraman, you've got one hand on a boom and the other also operating the start/stop of a digital recorder...

However, if you're operating it as a location mixer would on a feature film, i.e. seated in front of a trolley/desk, with wireless or long cables coming in from your boom op, and a cable person to tend to the spaghetti, why not?
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Old May 18th, 2007, 03:36 AM   #12
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OK, it isn't going to be stereo - unless you use 2-bands - but I picked-up this tip. Set up the mixer as per your wishes, leave the "box" at or near source, taking the output and plug THAT into a TX - I've got a set of Sennies. Then on the RX side you can then record as per. So the benefit here is not all those miles of XLR cabling.

And yes, I too have the Behringer 1002 - love it!
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Old May 18th, 2007, 07:05 AM   #13
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Zoom H2

imho no need for a soundcard since audio is transfered via usb which makes the Zoom H2 way better (and $100 cheaper) than H4 if you don't need the extras provided.

the H2 has got 3 mic capsules for true MS recording, thats mono & stereo compatible!

http://www.samsontech.com/products/p...fm?prodID=1916
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Old May 18th, 2007, 10:46 AM   #14
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i'm pretty happy with it, especially for the price ($99), it's got 5 xlr inputs and 10 total inputs, and it's battery powered so it works nicely in the field. as far as running around, i plan on using it in a swamp boat where the camera isn't going anywhere anyways

mixer setup:

http://file.meyersproduction.com/hv20/mixer%20setup.JPG
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