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Old November 5th, 2010, 10:16 AM   #1
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Help: Rode NT4 with XH-A1

I'm considering using a Rode NT4 for stereo recording on my A1. To date, I've used a NT-2 for mono recording, plugging the NT-2 into XLR-1 and setting the XLR switch on CH1 to CH1+CH2 for monoaural recording on both channels. (I shoot exclusively in HDV mode, if that matters here.)

Yet, I'm a little confused about connections for the NT4. It has a five pin XLR that connects to the microphone, and two 3-pin XLR's on the other end for connection to a recorder, e.g., board, mixer, camera, etc.

I assume that one 3-pin XLR should plug into CH1, the other into CH2, with the A1's switches both set to "CH1". In this way, I would record, say, the right channel on CH1, and the left channel on CH2, correct? Hence, in post, I would see two audio channels, left and right, respectively. If I have any of this wrong, would someone please correct me?

If I'm right, however, how would I best monitor levels during a shoot? With just a mono mic, I manually ride the pot (audio dial) for CH1. Easy enough. With the NT4, would I have to ride pots for both CH1 and CH2, hoping that I get both at the same level? Is there a better way to accomplish this?

Thanks,
Steve
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Old November 5th, 2010, 04:19 PM   #2
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That's one Rode mic I don't have, but give me time...

A quick look at the user's manual http://aus.rodemic.com/downloads/nt4...uct_manual.pdf confirms that the supplied cable is marked L and R at the 3 pin XLR ends, so you just need to plug these in to the XLR inputs in the camera - normally L into Ch1 and R into Ch2 - and you are away. Put the Ch1 selector switch to Ch1 (not Ch1/Ch2) and you will record the L and R mic outputs as stereo on the camera.

As for levels, with a matched pair of mics for stereo I usually try to keep both pots more or less the same because if the mic array is correctly positioned, using the same levels on both channels will give a more accurate recording of what the mics heard. For monitoring I normally use Sennheiser HD 25 headphones.
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Old November 5th, 2010, 04:40 PM   #3
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Steve, I've got the NT4 it's a great mic .. and you're correct except it's the other way around, you plug the left XLR into the A1 Ch 1 and the right XLR into Ch 2.

What are you going to record? Usually you set record levels before you start recording and for music the recommended way it to mount the NT4 on a separate stand. For that you'd need to buy a pair of longer XLR cables and you might consider a mixer like the juicedLink CX231 to bypass the A1 preamps.

The NT4 will fit in a Rode Blimp.

Cheers.
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Old November 5th, 2010, 08:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
Steve, I've got the NT4 it's a great mic .. and you're correct except it's the other way around, you plug the left XLR into the A1 Ch 1 and the right XLR into Ch 2.

What are you going to record? Usually you set record levels before you start recording and for music the recommended way it to mount the NT4 on a separate stand. For that you'd need to buy a pair of longer XLR cables and you might consider a mixer like the juicedLink CX231 to bypass the A1 preamps.

The NT4 will fit in a Rode Blimp.

Cheers.
OK, gentleman, so the basic answer is, yes, I've got the principle (except for my reversal of plugs!).

I film a lot of little league baseball, family vacations, and other 'large venue' events. That is, no documentary work, closeup vocals, etc. Since I'm solo, I keep my mic in a shock mount (Rode SM3) on camera, which is mounted to my tripod 90% of the time. This is true even though I move around a lot with my tripod, i.e., shoot, move location, shoot, etc.

My mono NT-2 is fine, especially for the occasional closeup. But frankly, mono is getting boring, and I thought that a stereo sound stage, especially for capturing crowd noise, ambiance, and baseball field excitement, would be a terrific boost to production value.

From these points, it's obvious that I'm not (and really can't) set up the NT4 on a stand, adjust levels to taste, and hit record. I'm constantly riding the pots, ESPECIALLY for baseball, where volume can peak rather unexpectedly. This is why I was concerned about having to separately adjust the A1's pots. One is plenty enough while filming action. Two, especially those TINY dials, is almost out of the question.

For this reason, I was looking at field mixers, which I know could take the NT4's dual 3-pin XLR's and then...? Well, here is where I'm afraid I have to flaunt more ignorance. Sorry. This is really basic sound stuff, I suspect. But I have to ask, since this is major $$$ (for me) to get better sound.

1. Allan, you mention that a field mixer like the JuicedLink model could bypass the A1's preamps. Help me out. Mic plugs into mixer, mixer plugs into A1s' XLR jack(s), then records to audio track on camera's videotape. Correct? If so, how does this avoid the A1's preamps? In other words, why is this better than a mic plugged straight into the A1's XLR jack, as I have things set up currently? (I know that camera's preamps are generally more noisy, but I fail to see how this scenario, as I understand it, avoids the camera's circuitry.)

2. For stereo mics like the NT4, L and R XLR's plug into a mixer, which could lock the inputs so as to control both with one gain control. Then the mixer plugs into just 1 camera XLR jack? In other words, would L and R get 'coded' into one signal (one XLR cable) and laid down on tape on one channel? Or would two XLR cables have to go from mixer to both XLR jacks on the A1?

Really sorry for the verbose post, but I have to be pedantic since I'm very clearly sailing in uncharted waters.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old November 5th, 2010, 11:34 PM   #5
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Reading your post and (no offence) realising your level of current know how, imo the NT4 is overkill for the work you just described above.

Yes it does a great job and really shines on accoustic music but it's probably going to be too heavy and unweildy mounted on your A1 along with a juicedLink mixer.

Download and read Colins NT4 manual, note page 11 for outdoors handling in the wind .. you'll definitely need the Rode Dead Cat furry windshield.

Hard Facts Dept. The NT4 + cables weighs about 1.5lbs and it's 11 inches long with XLR plug and deadcat .. get a ruler and measure that on your A1 .. it's a big mic. Its two 10 foot XLR mic cables mounted on an A1 can be a pain to handle, you'll have to get them shortened at an electronic shop, get some made up or wrap them around the cam somehow. This is not a run and gun rig.

This all falls under what's called the law of diminishing returns. That's a point past which you get no better results for an increased outlay and effort. Your outlay will be around $US1000 with mixer, deadcat and freight and the effort will bring tears.

I suggest this, buy an Audio Technica AT8022
Audio-Technica AT8022 X/Y Stereo Phantom and Battery AT8022 B&H
It comes with a single 5 pin XLR cable to 3.5mm stereo jack which plugs into your A1 3.5mm stereo input. Cost $US400+ freight .. I've got one and if you like it then maybe buy that juicedLink mixer to go with it. But I don't think you'll need that.

For the work you described it'll sound great. HTH.

Cheers.
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Old November 6th, 2010, 08:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
Reading your post and (no offence) realising your level of current know how, imo the NT4 is overkill for the work you just described above.

Yes it does a great job and really shines on accoustic music but it's probably going to be too heavy and unweildy mounted on your A1 along with a juicedLink mixer.

Download and read Colins NT4 manual, note page 11 for outdoors handling in the wind .. you'll definitely need the Rode Dead Cat furry windshield.

Hard Facts Dept. The NT4 + cables weighs about 1.5lbs and it's 11 inches long with XLR plug and deadcat .. get a ruler and measure that on your A1 .. it's a big mic. Its two 10 foot XLR mic cables mounted on an A1 can be a pain to handle, you'll have to get them shortened at an electronic shop, get some made up or wrap them around the cam somehow. This is not a run and gun rig.

This all falls under what's called the law of diminishing returns. That's a point past which you get no better results for an increased outlay and effort. Your outlay will be around $US1000 with mixer, deadcat and freight and the effort will bring tears.

I suggest this, buy an Audio Technica AT8022 Audio-Technica AT8022 X/Y Stereo Phantom and Battery AT8022 B&H It comes with a single 5 pin XLR cable to 3.5mm stereo jack which plugs into your A1 3.5mm stereo input. Cost $US400+ freight .. I've got one and if you like it then maybe buy that juicedLink mixer to go with it. But I don't think you'll need that.

For the work you described it'll sound great. HTH.

Cheers.
Many thanks, Allan. Yes, it helps. And no offense taken; I like facts, even if they're hard. ;)

Frankly, some think my A1 is overkill for my purposes, but none of my audiences attributes my videos to the work of an amateur (even though I am a lowly hobbyist). I thought the same would apply when considering the NT4 for sound, but it looks like a lot of kit for the returns I expect under my typical shooting conditions. (BTW, the NT4's dimensions and weight don't look dissimilar to what I have going now with my current shotgun, Rycote dead cat, shock mount, and XLR cable.)

Still, I'm grateful for your suggestion of the AT8022. It looks like a nice and comparatively simple entry into stereo recording. When I'm ready to part ways with more coin, and if my shooting venues are amenable, then I might reconsider the NT4 and a nice mixer.

Thanks again.

Steve
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Old November 6th, 2010, 08:49 AM   #7
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For a bit more, consider the Audio-Technica BP4025 (bigger brother to the AT8022). And you might find a discontinued AT825 (preceded the 4025 in the product line) around. At a substantially lower price point Tascam offers their TM-STPRO that appears to be similar to the discontinued AT825.

In any case, beyond size and weight considerations, having better gear then you need for the project never hurts (except maybe in the wallet), but having poorer gear than the project calls for always hurts everywhere.
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Old November 6th, 2010, 06:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Reid View Post
(BTW, the NT4's dimensions and weight don't look dissimilar to what I have going now with my current shotgun, Rycote dead cat, shock mount, and XLR cable.)

Still, I'm grateful for your suggestion of the AT8022. It looks like a nice and comparatively simple entry into stereo recording. When I'm ready to part ways with more coin, and if my shooting venues are amenable, then I might reconsider the NT4 and a nice mixer. Thanks again.

Steve
Hi Steve, in post 1 you mention you've got the Rode NT-2 which is a side address mic .. it would never sit on top of an A1 cam. (meant to ask about that before :)

Then above you mention you've got an (NTG-2?) shotgun .. did you mean NTG-2 in post one?

If so, with cables etc. the NTG-2 is way lighter in weight than the NT4 and ITS cables are the real problem, when sitting on top of an A1. My and Dons suggestions are better and you're on the right track now .. have fun :)

Cheers.
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Old November 6th, 2010, 08:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
Hi Steve, in post 1 you mention you've got the Rode NT-2 which is a side address mic .. it would never sit on top of an A1 cam. (meant to ask about that before :)

Then above you mention you've got an (NTG-2?) shotgun .. did you mean NTG-2 in post one?

If so, with cables etc. the NTG-2 is way lighter in weight than the NT4 and ITS cables are the real problem, when sitting on top of an A1. My and Dons suggestions are better and you're on the right track now .. have fun :)

Cheers.
Yes, you're correct, Allan: I have the NTG-2, and I realized my typing mistake some time after my OP. (Odd -- I can't seem to edit my OP, so the type stays.)

I noticed that the Rode SM-3 shock mount (which I use) is clearly indicated by Rode as being appropriate for the NT-4. This must be true even though the NT-4 is a few times the weight of the NTG-2. Is that really a problem, considering that RODE recommends the marriage of the SM3 and NT-4? But, yikes, the NT-4's XLR cables are 10' long!! I suppose I could (1) get shorter replacements or (2) coil them up for on-camera work. Really: is it the cable issue that drives your concern, or would the NT-4 really be flopping around in the shock mount?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
For a bit more, consider the Audio-Technica BP4025 (bigger brother to the AT8022). And you might find a discontinued AT825 (preceded the 4025 in the product line) around. At a substantially lower price point Tascam offers their TM-STPRO that appears to be similar to the discontinued AT825.

In any case, beyond size and weight considerations, having better gear then you need for the project never hurts (except maybe in the wallet), but having poorer gear than the project calls for always hurts everywhere.
Thanks, Don. Yes, I looked with some envy at the BP4025. It is about half the weight of the NT-4. As to the AT8022, I consulted my A1's manual, and I don't see clear (or any) indication that gain on the mini-stereo microphone jack can be controlled manually. Manual control apparently is ceded only to the XLR inputs. Because the BP4025 is phantom power only, in contrast to the AT8022 (battery or phantom), it looks like I'm back to my original concern if I went with the superior BP4025: how best to manually control levels for R/L channels while avoiding the A1's microscopic dials? I think I can't avoid a mixer, which probably is in order anyway, given my trajectory in videography.

And I fully agree with your opinion on quality gear: I've NEVER been sorry (other than temporarily in the pocketbook) at buying better anything for a project, e.g., garage tools, videocamera, computer gear. My only regrets are buying cheap(er) up front. For this reason, I'm leaning toward the BP4025 and a quality mixer (Sounds Devices 302 seems to be a very solid and popular one). Any reason why this is still isn't heading down the right track? ;)

Thanks again.
Steve

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Old November 6th, 2010, 10:56 PM   #10
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Is it the cable issue that drives your concern, or would the NT-4 really be flopping around in the shock mount? Thanks


Both: using the NT4/SM3 shockmount mounted on the A1s shoe, soon as you pick the tripod up to relocate the camera the heavy NT4 will likely move and even slide out of the SM3 if you tip the camera up enough. Forget slinging the rig over your shoulder to relocate.

And 2 x 10 foot XLR mic cables will be a royal pain wrapped up on an A1 out on location, you'd have to sort that out. Working on location, operation, accessibility, weight and comfort top the list .. any one of these out of whack, could screw your video.

Any stereo external mic connected to the A1s stereo 3.5mm input jack can be controlled using both variable volume controls. Unfortunately you have to use both for stereo, Canon could have included the option to gang them together so you use only one, once you balanced the sound.

I've got the Sound Devices 302 mixer, ($US1300) It's not for a one cameraman moving around operation, you can't mount it to an A1 or tripod. You can with the juicedLink CX231 mixer.

I believe the edit option here only lasts till midnight on the day of the post.

Cheers.
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