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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 16th, 2010, 01:33 PM   #1
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Getting the best sound in?

I know so much of what makes up good sound is the set up and equipment before the signal reaches the camera, but wanted to know what the best setting, tips and trick any of you have found concerning the Xha1s it self.
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Old September 16th, 2010, 08:26 PM   #2
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One of the A1s features that I really wanted over the A1 is the audio limiters. In fact when the A1 came out I was well .. stunned it had no limiters. I couldn't believe it and thought Canon had deliberately left them off, one to save cost and 2 to bring out an update .. which they did in the S model.

So I was very interested to hear what they sounded like. They're not as good as my top of the line Sound Devices 302, but I'm happy to say they're not at all bad.

So I use them a lot .. for voices they take away the necessity to watch the levels every few seconds. Getting an interview voice level I run the volume a bit hot because after a few minutes an interview will get a bit quieter as the people settle down. The limiters handle sudden voice peaks Ok keeping the levels from distorting. You've got to be careful tho, and learn to read your audio meters for peak reduction because like distortion, over driving limiters when recording can't be fixed in post.

Cheers.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 02:23 PM   #3
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Hey Allan, we will be going through a sound board then straight into the camera, would you still suggest using the camera limiter? This will be for dialog in a narrative film.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 08:17 PM   #4
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Hi Jack, why not go direct into your A1s?

For voices I always try to have a limiter available in the recording chain and there maybe one in the sound board so theoretically you won't need yours. Phone ahead and work closely with the driver of the board because with many setups like this the board puts out +4dbm (too much) level and you'll have to put a level dropping device in the line from the board. Once the general levels are balanced get a talent voice level and watch your audio meters, if there are loud peaks turn your limiters on. You might need a long phone jack > male XLR cable.

2 TIPS, go there the day before or 2hrs early to set the gear up and once you're happy, write EVERY single detail of the setup down for next time. Hope this helps.

Cheers.
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Old September 19th, 2010, 06:51 AM   #5
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I use an XH-A1 and before that an XL1 with MA-100 so your situation is a bit different.

#1 is to use the best preamps available. If the sound board has better mic preamps than the A1S, use it. In general, the mic preamps will set the signal to noise floor (unless you are using very low cost/high noise condenser mics).

If the soundboard is manned by someone who knows what they are doing, level wise, and the mic preamps are ok - go through it and have one less thing to manage.

If you can, getting separate recording of sound from the sound board as well can be useful. I use a TASCAM DR-100 for this sort of thing.

As the the limiter. Give it a sound test, and if you are happy with the results, use it to prevent problems form the occasional unintended audio peak.

And as noted above getting there early (a day early or more is better) to run tests and scope out the venue, get to know the sound person, is worthwhile.

Carry spare audio stuff too. Patch cords, cables, and connectors only fail when it is most inconvenient.
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Old September 26th, 2010, 12:46 PM   #6
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I am not a pro, but I had terrible luck with audio until a pro suggested that I use a field mixer upstream of the XH-A1s camcorder. Since I "gutted up" and spent the money for a Sound Devices 302 mixer, the audio improved considerably, particualarly when one channel was coming from a sound board and the other channel (or channels) was coming from a microphone (s). The SD 302 pre-amps are pretty good.

Now I am also using DSLR's and plan to get a digital recorder, to be fed by the SD 302 mixer.

Ty Ford's little book for good audio for video is a good investment, and portable enough to take everywhere.
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