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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CCD HDV camcorder.


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Old July 1st, 2008, 12:21 AM   #1
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Balanced Audio / Non Balanced

I am looking to get either an FX1 or a Z1 camera soon.. I have noticed people who use the FX1 often have an adaptor (such as beachtek) to convert the 3.5mm input to XLR and phantom power.. It seems this is an easy option to input a microphone with XLR but it still doesnt allow balanced audio to be recorded to the tape because your connection out of the beachtek is unbalanced.. Is that right ? Its my understanding that a 3.5mm lead is unbalanced.

So thats got me thinking, when you add the cost of a Beachtek into the equation its not that much more for the Z1, at least not at the prices i have seen recently. Am i right on this or am i missing something ? Im just trying to decided between either a Z1 or FX1.

Also how does the beachtek screw into the bottom of your FX1 ? Do you have to physically rotate it around for it to screw in or does it slide on somehow ?
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Old July 1st, 2008, 01:14 PM   #2
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but it still doesnt allow balanced audio to be recorded to the tape because your connection out of the beachtek is unbalanced.. Is that right ? Its my understanding that a 3.5mm lead is unbalanced.
Eventually, the balanced signal is made unbalanced again even inside the electronics of the Z1. Balanced audio doesn't sound any different than unbalanced audio; it is merely a way to transport audio with less of a risk of adding noise in the process. The risk of adding noise is the greater the longer the cable is. Also, the lower the voltage of the actual audio signal is, the worse the effect of any noise that's added will be. Therefore, the need for transporting balanced audio is greatest when we are talking about long cable runs with microphone-level signals. The short connection from a Beachtek box to the camera, carrying a much stronger line-level signal, is pretty safe even without balancing.

I agree with your basic thinking, though. If you can get a Z1 for around the same money that you'd pay for an FX1 and a Beachtek or similar, get the Z1 - if for no other reason than the black stretch feature. I couldn't live without it, and it's not an option on the FX1.

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Old July 1st, 2008, 05:01 PM   #3
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I come from live audio work so im familiar with the main benefit of balanced audio over long cables.. But i also thought the lower impedance of balanced audio made for a cleaner signal when recording ? In the past i have recorded things like Bass guitar and found noticable difference when processing a balanced line against the same thing unbalanced.

But that means nothing if the Z1 doesnt actually record the balanced input.. How do you know this to be the case ? Is there a schemantic of the signal path for Z1 somewhere ?
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 04:19 PM   #4
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Also how does the beachtek screw into the bottom of your FX1 ? Do you have to physically rotate it around for it to screw in or does it slide on somehow ?
XLR boxes simply screw onto the bottom of you camera. In the same location where you would screw in your QR plate. These boxes also have a small pin (like QR plates) that keep the box from rotating.

BTW, besides Beachtek, there is also Studio 1, whci produces clip on adapters. And there's also a new kid on the block Juicedlink (http://www.juicedlink.com/). I have done quite a bit of testing against several Beachtek boxes (DXA-4, DXA-FX, and DXA-6HD which is their new top of the line unit with active pre amps), and the Juicedlink boxes were quieter than all of them. And the CX231 with phantom power comes in quite a bit less than the DXA-6HD.

The only thing that I like better on the Beachtek DXA-6HD is the form factor, as it fit my FX1 perfectly. The Juicedlink boxes seem to be made for smaller camcorders and are shorter. With my QR plate attached, my FX1 sometimes tips over when I place it on the ground.

But performance wise the Juicedlink boxes are very well constructed and wired.
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