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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old April 25th, 2008, 03:30 PM   #1
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Audio question from a Canon XL2 user

I'm currently struggling with the age old question Sound Devices Mixpre Vs. Sound Devices 302. My setup is fairly simple, I have a 4-8 man crew (depending on the project). I use 2 shotgun mics

My question is: Is there anyone out there that has used the Sound Devices Mixpre with their XL2? If so, How has it worked out for you? I really want to keep spending down and go the Mixpre route.

Will my XL2 switch between Mic level and Line level? I want to make sure I can send the Mixpre into the camera at line level, bypassing the horrendous preamps in the XL2. I know the MixPre is strictly a mic level in, line level out device... What are your thoughts.

Thanks in advance :)
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Old April 25th, 2008, 05:16 PM   #2
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Yes you can accept line level into the XL2
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Old April 25th, 2008, 05:44 PM   #3
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You have to go in through the RCA inputs on the side of the cam to get line level with the XL2, don't you? This is how I do it with my mixer. You then set the selector switch to "audio 1". It sounds fine to me, but then, I'm not an audio guy, and I've never thought of the preamps as "horrendous," having used mics straight into the XLRs on numerous occasions.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 08:15 PM   #4
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Invest in an XLR 40 dB or 50 dB line-to-mic pad to knock the line-level signal down to microphone level. That way you don't lose the advantage of a balanced line. I made a pair and keep them in my kit.

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Old April 29th, 2008, 12:32 PM   #5
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I use the SD 302 to feed my XL2. No problems in feeding the camera with line level.
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Old April 29th, 2008, 03:26 PM   #6
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One of the features you get for your extra $600 odd bucks for the 302 is the capacity to switch the outputs between mic and line level. I have one, have used it with XL2s and consider it worth every penny.
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Old April 30th, 2008, 02:44 PM   #7
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No, the XL2 doesn't have a mic/line switch. It stinks. Don't bother with the RCA inputs. They're unbalanced. Attenuate the signal AT THE CAMERA. Running a mic level signal to the camera leaves you much, much more vulnerable to interference from power cords. As suggested, you can use barrel attenuators or attenuating cables. I was on a shoot where the DP simply refused to allow me to put attenuators on the camera because he kept grabbing them by accident. I think I ended up taping them to the tripod handle and running two foot long cables from there. He griped about that too.
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Old May 1st, 2008, 11:52 PM   #8
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Marco is right: in fact the XL2's XLR inputs are mic-level-only and can NOT be switched to line level. If you need a balanced connection to your mixer, you do in fact need to pick up some in-line line-to-mic-level attenuator barrels.

Using the RCA's to get a line level connection is only a bad idea, though, if you're running relatively long cables from your mixer. If your cables are, say, less than five or six feet long, you don't necessarily need a balanced connection and the RCA's are a quite acceptable alternative to line-level XLR's--but make sure you use good cables and not Radio Shack cheapies.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 12:56 AM   #9
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Can I ask a n00b question here? What is exactly is "balanced" and "unbalanced", and why is unbalanced bad?

I don't use my mixer that often, but when I do, I usually run a 20 foot stereo/RCA cable from the mixer's "tape out" to the cam's RCA inputs, and use that to get a line level signal. I haven't really had any problems with that setup. It's a Behringer MXB1002 mixer (please refrain from the flaming; I KNOW!), it outputs only line level from the tape outs (the RCA connection--there are no XLR outs, and the 1/4" outs are mic level).

Usually works out fine, though sometimes I have to really crank the faders on the mixer to give the camera a decent level (that is to say, being able to leave the XL2's pots at around midway or maybe 2 o'clock).
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 01:10 AM   #10
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I'll try and explain this, and hopefully won't get it wrong. As I understand it, a balanced cable sends two signals down the line, one of them in inverse phase. When you add the signals together, they cancel each other out. Anything left over, (such as interference from an electrical cable) shouldn't be there, and gets subtracted from the noninverted signal, again through inverse phasing. This only works if the interference only affects one of the signals. That's why Starquad cables are better still, as they send two pairs of the signal in inverse phase with each other. It's a pretty ingenious system. Stronger signals are safer. That's why you probably haven't run into problems yet, but it's best to stay balanced for long cable runs. As mentioned, short runs of five or six feet should be okay, but in practice that would almost never be long enough, at least on the shoots I've been on. I do have a cable to convert the stereo mini-XLR output on my mixer to two RCA connections for that purpose, but almost never use it.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 02:14 AM   #11
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You know, something else I thought of. . .

You can get the beachtek XLR adapter made for the XL series. It plugs into the RCA inputs, thus giving you a line level signal. It has it's own volume/attenuator, and also has a line/mic switch on it (I think you should leave it on mic, since the RCAs are already line level, and hitting the line switch on the beacktek would be cutting/attenuating it again, no?). I don't know if going from XLR to RCA is bad, or anything, but I still have mine from when I had an XL1s (I read about the no line level on the XL2's XLRs, and so kept the beachtek). I've used it a few times, works.

So basically, balanced = less prone to interference?
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 02:48 AM   #12
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Let me rephrase the first part of that (it wouldn't let me edit)--- the XLR adapter allows you to utilize the line level inputs while plugging in an XLR source.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 10:28 AM   #13
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Hey, that sounds cool. Do you have a link to that gadget?
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 01:32 PM   #14
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Uh oh. . .don't see 'em on the beachtek site now (maybe they stopped making 'em when the XL2 came out, as it already has XLRs?).

Well, the model number I have is "DXA-4C". Maybe you can come across one on ebay. Anyway, maybe someone else'll chime in. . .make sure that the beachtek would work for you IF you could find one.
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