Audio levels at

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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).

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Old May 7th, 2008, 10:26 AM   #1
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Audio levels

I have the audio set so that it peaks just around 12. When I import into Final Cut, the volume is VERY low. Is this something that I need to adjust in camera or in my NLE? Is 12 a good target for levels?

Also, I noticed that I can hear the little servo motor when I zoom, has this noise been a problem for anyone else when using the onboard mic or even a shotgun mic attached to the hotshoe?

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Old May 7th, 2008, 10:45 AM   #2
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These have been discussed quite a bit. In short you want to record a good strong signal but *don't* clip it. Getting good audio is more nuanced than that so search the boards for good practices and experiment also.

Re. servo, that should be less noticeable (if at all) if you have your shotgun mic in a shockmount. The on-board mic and built-in mic holder transmit all sorts of handling noises to your mics as you are noticing.
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Old May 10th, 2008, 02:08 PM   #3
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Peaking at -12dB is about spot on for professional broadcast (European standard is -10dB). However, in prosumer use people tend to peak much higher - partly because a camcorder isn't a dedicated piece of audio recording equipment and has a relatively high noise floor, but also because instruction manuals tend to say 'Set the levels so they hit the red on the loudest bits'.

Given that the meters on a camcorder won't show the 'true' peaks, I tend to follow industry practice and leave 10dB at the top. Unfortunately, most home editing software is aimed at non- or semi-professionals, and consequently expects much less headroom. Premiere Elements, for example, will barely register audio recorded with -12dB peaks on its meters and the waveform display will be almost flat however much you blow it up in scale.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 05:12 AM   #4
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What you want to see in the meter will depend a lot on the program material; e.g., whether it has a lot of transients peaks or is a fairly constant level. In general you want to avoid peaking in the red, which can result in clipping, But occasional clips on high, fast transients may not be objectionable able with some material, especially with material like a gun shot or door slam.

I find for "average" material peaking between -6 and -2 works well. And even auto audio level mode works OK for some things. But run plenty of test yourself and let your let experience be your guide for your work.
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