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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
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Old September 27th, 2009, 01:54 PM   #1
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Z1 and Zoom H4

Does anyone know if using a Zoom H4 portable audio recorder with external mics (not the stereo mics on the H4) and then post syncing in Vegas to the Z1 footage would give me noticeably better results than recording audio straight to the Z1?

I ask as I've never been too happy with Z1 recorded audio. I use a Rode NTG2 shotgun and occasionally a Sennheiser EW100 wireless lapel mic, both good mics.
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Old September 28th, 2009, 12:49 AM   #2
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Technically, yes. Practically...maybe. Since you can record at much higher sampling/bit rate with the external recorder, your audio capture should (in theory) be better. You'll probably notice greater headroom (before clipping) and cleaner high frequency capture. Since solid-state media has no wow/flutter, it should be a rock-solid audio capture.
In practice, much depends on how you put everything to use. Slapping the Zoom on your camera (with or without external mics) might not give you better audio. All depends on how close those mics are to the subject.
Best bet, a double system professionally handled by a dedicated sound-op. What is your typical recording scenario?
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Old September 28th, 2009, 02:14 AM   #3
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You don't say what it is exactly that you're not happy with, but I'd say in answer to your question that no, you'd not get 'noticeably better results'. As Oren points out, getting the mic close to the subject is a lot more important than having expensive equipment further away.

I use a cheap Minidisc recorder fed by a so-so tieclip mic and if this is up there on the podium with the speaker it beats my posh on-camera Sennheiser set-up by miles. I also have an H2 which gives very clean results - but again it's all down to mic placement.

tom.

Last edited by Tom Hardwick; September 28th, 2009 at 05:39 AM.
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Old September 28th, 2009, 05:29 AM   #4
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Thanks for your replies. No matter what audio levels I set the Z1 at, the recorded audio always seems a bit on the low side, even with the radio lapel mic when it's on the subject's jacket lapel. Without fail, the audio needs to go into Sound Forge and be boosted with a limiter and a little noise reduction.
I'm not hearing much hiss so it's not as if my settings are too low. The levels tend to peak at about -27 at best.
So, I thought that maybe the Zoom might be a better option if the Z1 could not do any better.
BTW, I've been an audio recordist for close to twenty years, for what it's worth but don't want to purchase the Zoom if it's not going to help.
Weddings are mainly my thing so you can imagine the audio needs to be A1.
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Old September 28th, 2009, 05:44 AM   #5
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Ah, with 20 years behind you you know all about the importance mic placement so I'd suggest it's a levels setting on the radio sender that's at fault. I'm pretty sure the EW100 will allow you to bump the levels in the menu under that sliding cover.
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Old September 28th, 2009, 11:33 PM   #6
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Chris,
To rule out the obvious, you do know that there is a menu option for selecting internal and external mics on the Z1U, right? You might want to check that as if it's set to external, your internal mic won't work well. There's also a switch right by the external XLR mic input that should be set to off if you are using the internal mic. I've made this mistake multiple times so thought I'd mention it. As you know, using an external mic will almost always get you better than "on camera" mic audio as you can get the mic closer to the subject and adjust levels. Hope this helps.
Randy
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Old September 29th, 2009, 04:23 AM   #7
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Just to clarify Randy, the menu switching between internal and external mics means one is completely off if the other is on. And the phantom power switch can be in any position you like if you're using the internal mics - it doesn't affect them.

BTW, you can't have one internal and one XLR connected mic feeding the soundtrack, and there have been times when this would have been useful. And I do like my Z1's internal mics for collecting stereo ambiance at odd times. Pity that the Z7 has dispensed with them.

tom.
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 05:04 PM   #8
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Though I have never used the Z1, I have read that some folks have not been pleased with the pre-amps on the Z1 (and V1).

I always wondered if the use of a field mixer like the PreMix would be a decent work-around for any issues those folks might have with the audio side of either the Z1/V1.

I'd be interested in any and all thoughts from those who use the Z1/V1 with a portable field mixer.

Be well

Rob
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 06:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hewitt View Post
I'm not hearing much hiss so it's not as if my settings are too low. The levels tend to peak at about -27 at best.
This MUST be a problem with your settings. There's no way this is an issue with the camera being worse than a Zoom.

Check that the output from the transmitter is correct, then the output from the receiver to the camera, then the level on the camera, making sure you have the channel on manual gain, and that the XLR setting in the menu is set properly so that you are not getting the shotgun on both channels by mistake.

Also, make sure the XLR input is set to mic, not line.
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Old October 3rd, 2009, 07:07 PM   #10
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We often shoot with two FX1's( both with Rode Mics), SR11 and XR500 and often also use a Zoom H4 or H2 down near the stage. This does give us better audio but clock sync will need to be adjusted to line up with camera audio. I bring all audio into Vegas and sync up the sources over the 1 hour or so that each part of the program lasts. The best audio I have got recently is with the Bluetooth mic system on the SR11 !!! I just extract this center channel as a mono track from pulling the AVCHD file into Vegas from the SR11. The SR11 is used as the fixed full stage camera and thus provides closeup mono center channel as well as surround from the inbuilt mics (which are usually discarded or just low level to give some depth to the sound).

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Old October 4th, 2009, 11:10 PM   #11
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I'd say your audio issues are most likely coming from the interference and static you get from wireless mics especially from distances greater than 20 ft. Or using a shotgun mic inside in a poor acoustic place like a church and not being close enough to the subject. But that's all do to the situation not the camera's fault.
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Old October 27th, 2009, 08:01 AM   #12
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I have used the zoom H4 before and there is noticeable audio sync issues after a few minutes, it was discussed here some time ago and I don't remember the details I would reccomend using another audio recorder.
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Old October 27th, 2009, 08:41 AM   #13
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You will always get sync issues between recording equipment that isn't genlocked. Sometimes its noticeable and sometimes it isn't. For multicam or any separate recordings I always use Vegas to re-sync the audio streams using the master camera as the reference waveform track. A poor man's genlock!!!!


Ron Evans
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Old December 16th, 2009, 09:28 PM   #14
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I own and use the Z1 and H4. First yes there is a noticeable difference (I've done tests). But because of the hassle of syncing I rarely use it. It also depends on the environment. For example, studio VO work its noticeable but out in the field... And how you are listening to it. With head phones of the H4 wav yes, after its been compressed and encoded on a dvd then played on tv not so much. I actually like the spacial and tone quality of the internal H4 mics. Like others will say, there are many important factors in the chain recording audio, each is equally important and whether the H4 is the answer your situation is hard to know.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 09:24 AM   #15
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Chris.


This is likely a silly question so dismiss it at will but please only bray at me, please do not flay me for asking.

Do you routinely record with manual audio level settings or do you leave it on auto. The auto audio level on my Z1 seems to hold down low in the regions you describe.
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