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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 September 4th, 2008, 01:12 PM   #1
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XHA1 flat sound from on-camera mic

I haven't seen any threads on this topic, would love to get some opinions. We've shot a number of mutli-cam projects using A1s, XL2s and XLH1s, and have noticed a dinstinctly flat, almost mono track from the A1s (on-camera mic) when compared in post to the vibrant stereo tracks from the XL2s and XLH1s (also the on-camera mics). A1s are recording to tracks 1 & 2 (in stereo), but in post the A1 track sounds very flat against the tracks from the other cams. Are we missing something in the channel mix (A1 menus)? Factory settings there.

Solid levels, 48kHz, 16bit, matching audio settings all around, & confident it isn't camera placement or a capture issue, consistent as well. We've tried the A1 in every track configuration to no avail.

I wouldn't expect the greatest sound from an on-camera mic but the difference is really suprising. No real improvement with an NTG1 either.

Would love some thoughts on the topic. Thanks.
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Old September 4th, 2008, 04:25 PM   #2
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You mention A1s (plural) at the beginning of your post, but "the A1 track" and "the A1" later on. Definitely the same issue from several different Canon XH-A1s?

When you say "flat" do you mean as in "poor stereo image", or "limited frequency response" or "uneven frequency response" or what?

The mic - external XLR camera mounted or built in Canon mic?
The NTG1 would give a rather poor stereo image, being a mono mic (sorry :-)

Also, have you ever had what you consider to be satisfactory audio from the A1 camera(s)?

Last edited by Colin McDonald; September 4th, 2008 at 04:34 PM. Reason: Another question
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Old September 4th, 2008, 06:08 PM   #3
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flat on-board audio

Thanks Colin. Yes, identical issue with several A1s.

Our issue is mainly with audio recorded through the on-board mic. There is improvement in audio quality with Senheiser lavs (via XLR), but we have yet to obtain stellar audio with the A1 in any other config. Trying to get a similar sterescopic quality we hear from the XL2/XLH1 audio (on-board mics as well) since the A1 mic is supposedly stereo.

Not sure how to technically define "flat"... Left/Right channels very distinct/stereoscopic on XL2/XLH1 tracks; whereas Left/Right not nearly as distinct on the A1 tracks. I would also characterize A1 audio (on-board mic) as having limited frequency response with a tendency to clip (attenuation seems to help only somewhat).

Any ideas?
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Old September 6th, 2008, 04:02 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shahinian View Post
Thanks Colin. Yes, identical issue with several A1s.

Our issue is mainly with audio recorded through the on-board mic. There is improvement in audio quality with Senheiser lavs (via XLR), but we have yet to obtain stellar audio with the A1 in any other config. Trying to get a similar sterescopic quality we hear from the XL2/XLH1 audio (on-board mics as well) since the A1 mic is supposedly stereo.

Not sure how to technically define "flat"... Left/Right channels very distinct/stereoscopic on XL2/XLH1 tracks; whereas Left/Right not nearly as distinct on the A1 tracks. I would also characterize A1 audio (on-board mic) as having limited frequency response with a tendency to clip (attenuation seems to help only somewhat).

Any ideas?
I don't use the on-board mics much (just for ambient audio). I haven't really checked the stereo separation and anyway have fairly low expectations of the sound from on-board mics.

When recording 2 distinct channels straight to the camera using XLR inputs with Rode NT 1As I've been very impressed, but I don't have an XL2 or XLH1 for comparisons.

I've always believed the audio on the XH-A1 was normally pretty good. Anyone else care to comment?
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Old September 6th, 2008, 05:27 PM   #5
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I don't have a problem with the audio, and on my camera it's been intercut with audio and video from much more expensive cameras. I don't use the built-in mic. I have an old Sony short shotgun mounted on the camera for grabbing ambient sound, then use either a wireless or wired shotgun on a fishpole for dialog.
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Old September 8th, 2008, 11:49 AM   #6
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The on-board mics are actually pretty good, as on-board mics go. On the odd occassions when I've not been able to rig my NTG-1, they've been quite acceptable. They're fairly well isolated from motor and handling noise and the frequency response is OK, too. As you'd expect, they have a fairly wide pick-up pattern and a shorter "reach" than a hyper cardioid or short-shotgun. Because of the (relatively) good bass-response, though, you'll need a wind gag of some sort.

Generally, I have found the audio at least as good as the Sony FX1 and Canon XM1/XM2 that some of my friends/collaborators use and probably better than the Sony HC7 and Canon HV20.
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Old September 8th, 2008, 03:09 PM   #7
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apples to apples

I believe the XL2 and XLH1 have the same on-board (stereo) short shotgun. It's a dual stereo 1/8" mini input. I'm wondering why Canon opted for a single mini input on the A1? I can't imagine this reflecting on the A1's on-board mic, but I could be wrong given the issue.

I'm guessing (and griping) that perhaps this is why the stereo seperation from an XL2 track (an older rig) blows that from the A1 (IMHO) out of the water?

This may be a post for another thread, but can anyone recomend a mid-to-high-end short stereo shotgun with great stereo seperation? Looking at the Audio Technica BP409. Any experience? Suggestions? Thanks.
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Old September 9th, 2008, 08:11 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shahinian View Post
I believe the XL2 and XLH1 have the same on-board (stereo) short shotgun. It's a dual stereo 1/8" mini input. I'm wondering why Canon opted for a single mini input on the A1? I can't imagine this reflecting on the A1's on-board mic, but I could be wrong given the issue.

I'm guessing (and griping) that perhaps this is why the stereo seperation from an XL2 track (an older rig) blows that from the A1 (IMHO) out of the water?

This may be a post for another thread, but can anyone recomend a mid-to-high-end short stereo shotgun with great stereo seperation? Looking at the Audio Technica BP409. Any experience? Suggestions? Thanks.
At the budget end of the market, some friends have had very good results from the Rode Stereo VideoMic, which is about 100 in the UK. Frequncy response is very good and the pick-up angle is rather narrower than normal on-camera mics, though wider than a mono shotgun, obviously. IIRC there's a huge price gap between mics like the Rode and the "pro" stereo mics from AT and AKG (with the exception of a couple of Sonys??). How about using two super-cardioids mounted at a narrow angle?

You'll probably find the advice you need in the audio forum.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 03:58 AM   #9
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Speaking as someone who is not particularly 'technical' but quite fussy when it comes to sound and vision, I must say I have been totally under-impressed by the sound quality. To me it is ever so slightly like recording someone speaking down a hole and I am comparing the sound to that on my little Sony HDR-HC3 HD handycam which is crisp responsive and if anything too sensitive.

I recently did a corporate shoot, basically consisted of 4 people around a table in a semi-circle. There was no set up time, no time for clip-on mics or even desk mounted mics, not even my trusty Edirol R09HR. I literally had to go with the camera mic. in this situation I decided the shoot needed back-up so filmed with both the Canon and the little Sony handycam.

In post I ended up using the more responsive, crisp, sharp, clear Sony sound track.

I think I should add that when I bought the Canon, like so many people I guess, I was concerned with picture quality, so much so it never even occured to me to test or question sound - I wonder how many people do? Yet poor sound is a **** of a thing to get around both pre and post production if your camera isn't up to it
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Old September 10th, 2008, 10:16 AM   #10
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My sound quality is better than what I was getting with a DSR500. But I don't use the built-in mic. It's odd that the camera even has one. I guess Canon thought it would be nice to have for recording ambient noise, but it really should never be used for anything significant. I think you're probably right about the consumer camera built-in mic being better. I remember a few years ago doing a shoot with a DSR250 and a Sony TRV900 consumer camera, picking up ambient sound of people talking. The sound from the built-in mic on the 900 was better than that from the camera-mounted mic that came with the 250. If a mic comes with a camera or is built into it, it's just a throwaway from the manufacturer. Probably somebody in accounting tells the designers that they can sell some of the pro cameras to consumers if they include a mic. And I guess if you're just doing grab-shot home movies, or in your case corporate, it's better to have some mic than no mic.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 10:46 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shahinian View Post
I haven't seen any threads on this topic, would love to get some opinions. We've shot a number of mutli-cam projects using A1s, XL2s and XLH1s, and have noticed a dinstinctly flat, almost mono track from the A1s (on-camera mic) when compared in post to the vibrant stereo tracks from the XL2s and XLH1s (also the on-camera mics). A1s are recording to tracks 1 & 2 (in stereo), but in post the A1 track sounds very flat against the tracks from the other cams. Are we missing something in the channel mix (A1 menus)? Factory settings there.

Solid levels, 48kHz, 16bit, matching audio settings all around, & confident it isn't camera placement or a capture issue, consistent as well. We've tried the A1 in every track configuration to no avail.

I wouldn't expect the greatest sound from an on-camera mic but the difference is really suprising. No real improvement with an NTG1 either.

Would love some thoughts on the topic. Thanks.

I think the XH-A1 onboard mic is not bad, but I agree it could be described as a little "flat" sounding. As others have also said, I generally never use it.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 11:10 AM   #12
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Thanks guys. Great insight. It's a bummer that Canon put more into the XL2 than the A1 in terms of built-in audio.

Phil, I too have an old Sony TRV900 lying around and am sad to agree that it's given us better ambient audio than our A1s. I too have found myself in many run & gun situations where the built-in mic was the only option.

I didn't realize Rode made a stereo VideoMic? Strikes me as low-end but I'll definitely check it out.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 03:36 PM   #13
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Thanks for the heads up on this. I'm getting very close to grabbing the XH-A1, and this is helpful info. Up until now, I have been using the Sony HC1 (purchased in april 2006). The audio on it is not perfect, but I always felt it was very good and for the stand up vids I had recorded for people, I just used that (it was nothing really too professional).

However, if the built in mic on the XH-A1 is that bad, I should perhaps look into getting some sort of mic right away. I know the Rode Stereo Videomic was mentioned in this thread. What are thoughts on the AT822? The reason I am interested in that is because I am also a minidisc user and over on two thread I started and/or was a part of on the minidisc forums
(
recording stand up via minidisc: http://forums.minidisc.org/index.php?showtopic=11869
video production via minidisc: http://forums.minidisc.org/index.php...9&#entry100519
)

The AT822 was highly recommended.
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Last edited by Shahryar Rizvi; September 10th, 2008 at 04:35 PM.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 05:21 PM   #14
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What?! The XH-A1 has a built-in mic?!

My XH-A1 has a Rode NTG-1 on top of it every time I take it out of the case, plus either a Pro88W (with XLR adapter) or another external mic (usually a Shure handheld), unless I have room, time, need, and space to set up a pair of Nady Starpowers on stands.

I have never, once, in the six months six months I've had it, recorded with the XH-A1 built-in mics.

Come to think of it, I haven't ever used the built-in mics on the Sony A1U I've had for two years now, nor have I used the built-in mics on my "bought in 1999 and still going strong" Sony TRV 900 since I bought a Rode VideoMic for it back in... well, long enough ago that I don't remember.

The only built-in mic I use is on my little Flip Video thingie, which I have because I do tech support for a local citizen journalism operation that has standardized on them.

For my "real" work, I *never* use a camcorder's built-in mics.

Call me silly, but that's the way I am.
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Old September 11th, 2008, 03:08 AM   #15
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Robin

I admit to not having got into the audio side of things yet - concentrate what little time I have for video on getting the pictures right - but you mentioned the Sony A1. How do you rate the external mic that came with that camera. I have never used mine due to the fiddly nature of setting it up. But would it be any better on the Canon A1 than the Canon built-in mic?
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