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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old October 1st, 2004, 11:27 AM   #1
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XL2 Audio

Without getting too estoteric, I wanted to give a quick report on audio tests I ran in the studio on the live interview work we did this week.

After testing different setups in a controlled studio environment (a brand new audio room tweaked with acoustic treatment, ASC Tube Traps etc.) comparing a ME66 using a Sound Devices MixPre, its pres, phantom power, monitoring etc. vs direct into the new mixer section and XLR section of the XL2, I decided to do these documentary segments straight to the XL2.

What I found (or didn't find) upon listnening back to the studio tests on industry standard Yamaha NS-10s as well as 2 other reference systems, was a "too close to call" similarity in response and, most critically, in signal to noise.

I was a bit surprised and very pleased to find the self noise of the new preamps to be below a reasonable signal threshold. Using the XL2s phantom power with the XLRT ATT off and no GAIN UP in the audio menu, I was able to get a nice fat signal averaging 12 db and peaking around 6 which is ideal for my goal of a tight signal to tape without the risk of reaching digital clipping.

So off we went to test this in a pretty critical real world situation where I had a sound person using the XL2 headphone out for monitors and using the XL2 meters in a field monitor to watch levels (which I set up and monitored during the shoot as well...they never wandered much at all).

Of course all of this is dependent on good mic technique, mic isolation and wind control etc. In this case I used a Lightwave screen, sock and isolation mount...nothing fancy, the mic properly positioned for best on axis sound and just off camera in each instance on a fixed stand, no boom opertator.

After reviewing 5 hours of footage yesterday and checking all the audio back in my recording studio through the same monitoring setup, I was very happy. Good tight audio, no hiss or digital junk, clean and loud.

As impressive was the fact that I used the onboard stereo mic with manual gain to capture all the ambient sound of ski jumpers going off the 90 meter on plastic, roller skiing, target shooting at the biathalon range etc. All very useable audio in a broadcast situation, Ideal for B-roll, and creating a soundtrack, and very 3 dimensional.

So my synopsis is simply; you can absolutely go out in controlled and dynamic situations with a decent audio kit and use the XL2 as your 48v power, preamp and mixer section and come away with great audio.
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Old October 1st, 2004, 11:37 AM   #2
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Jim

thanks for the report..good news. Can you educate me here? I have the ME66 as well, but currently I'm using the K6 module (battery powered). When you recommend using the phantom power...what does that buy me?
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Old October 1st, 2004, 12:20 PM   #3
 
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I've been using my ME66 shotgun on a Lightwave Mike mount and using the XL2 phantom power switched on. It saves the small battery on the ME66, as well as avoiding my tendency to always forget to turn it on when I start recording.
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Old October 1st, 2004, 12:30 PM   #4
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Bill

my problem is forgetting to turn it OFF...always putting in a new battery cause I left it on last time...but I guess my question was related to sound quality or signal...is there any benefit to phantom power in this area?

Barry
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Old October 1st, 2004, 12:40 PM   #5
 
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Old October 1st, 2004, 01:09 PM   #6
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Thanks for the great report :).
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Old October 1st, 2004, 02:46 PM   #7
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Some mics are a little more sensitive when using phantom power but I don't know if the differences between using the batt and phantom on the ME66 is great enough to warrant one over the other.
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Old October 1st, 2004, 03:43 PM   #8
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<<Some mics are a little more sensitive when using phantom power but I don't know if the differences between using the batt and phantom on the ME66 is great enough to warrant one over the other.>>

Exactly, and I did a good deal of listening in the studio to compare this as well. No discernible difference, and obviously using the phantom power on the XL2 is one less battery system you have to think about.

On that note there's another thing I love about this setup. When you consider a quality 7', 16:9 monitor using the Nebtek or Delvcam (good companies...lousy names) 12v Canon battery retrofits, and now the onboard XLRs w/ 48v power, you can go into the field with great video, audio, and widescreen monitoring all powered from the Canon lithium system.

And on that note, anyone wondering whether the inexpensive lithium batteries have any issues, I've been using a number of Eagle Imports 5600 mAh batteries in our kit along with the Canons. These things cost 24.95, I think, and they're about 20% more capacity than the large Canons and haven't failed once in a couple of years of useage....
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 01:38 AM   #9
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So, just a quick question. I had heard that the xl2 does not have a way to adjust xlr audio from external sources. Meaning, if you use xlr microphones you have to attach a mixer to the camera to adjust audio levels. I assume from your description that this is incorrect.

Sorry for the entry-level question. I am trying to learn as much as possible before purchasing.
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 02:12 AM   #10
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Deron, there's audio levels for each channel on the XL2. See it here.
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 08:38 AM   #11
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Deron: The issue you speak of may be that the XL2 adapter is not designed to accept a line-level XLR input. A line-level input is too hot. It is desigend for mic-level inputs (e.g., -30 dBV or less). For most users this is a non-issue.
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 08:54 AM   #12
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Indeed, the audio input *levels* are completely adjustable via external controls on the camera body. The XLR jacks are for mic level sources; the RCA jacks are for line level sources.
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 12:19 PM   #13
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So, I could buy a sennheiser shotgun mic and connect it to the xl2 directly and control the level of sound it records on the camera?
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 01:02 PM   #14
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Yup. Sorry for the one-word answer, but yes, you can.
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 01:36 PM   #15
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Thank you. I appreciate it. Sometimes one word is all you need!
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