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Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion
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Old October 25th, 2003, 04:32 PM   #1
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Audio comparison

Boyd, Tom, and/or all,
Have you got a clear sense of the difference between the audio of the PDX10/950 and the vx2k/pd150? In my searches and readings, I haven't found what I would consider a definitive or satisfactory answer to this question. I've read that the 2k/150 audio is mediocre to okay and that the pdx10 is some of the best video audio around. Have you intercut between the two, do you find them astonishingly different? I'm wanting to get a pd150/pd170 early this next year to form a solid 2cam kit with my PDX10, but am troubled by this seeming contrast. Perhaps the pd170 will have bridged this gap, if it does indeed come to the US. If you feel inclined to throw in a few comments comparing their 4:3 image, those would be welcome as well.
Regards,
Shawn
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Old October 25th, 2003, 05:25 PM   #2
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Audio circuits on the VX2000 and the PD150 are quite different. The PD150 has XLR inputs so it is supposed to be more of a 'pro' device. However it seems that the audio circuitry in early PD150 models was pretty lousy and Sony quietly fixed it along the way, that is why their is so much talk about PD150 audio being so bad.

I have been using my PDX10 for about two months and a new PD150 for about two weeks. They are not all that different, but it would seem audio recording with the PDX10 is somewhat cleaner, the preamp and HPF seem higher quality. The audio output on both cams is noisy so don't judge the quality from monitoring through headphones connected to the cameras, judge it through an NLE or a player with high quality XLR outputs.

The PDX10 has the nice advantage of being able to remove the XLR adapter and shotgun assembly and using the onboard stereo electret "consumer style" condenser mics, which are surprisingly good for ambient sound.
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Old October 25th, 2003, 05:42 PM   #3
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Well I just tried a little A/B test. This is completely subjective and not at all scientific of course. I had two tapes of our recent "Il Trovatore", one shot with the VX-2000 and the other shot with the PDX-10. In both cases I used an mono feed from the house monitor board which is fed from mikes on the proscenium and in the orchestra pit. On the VX-2000 I plugged the XLR into a Beachtek DXA-4 and on the PDX-10 I plugged into the stock XLR box. Both cameras recorded in auto audio mode. On the VX-2000 the Beachtek box had the volume controls turned up to the max.

The first thing I noticed was that the levels are much higher as recorded on the VX-2000. While playing back the VX tape (using the VX-2000) the audio meter peaked at 0 dB during the loud sections. Playing the PDX tape (also using the VX-2000) the same sections peaked somewhere between 3 to 6 dB. But the overall average was significantly higher on the VX-2000 tape, and with my headphones (Sony MDR-V600) plugged into my widescreen monitor I had set the volume to 85% on the PDX tape whereas a setting around 48% gave a similar effect on the VX tape.

Now I know a lot was written about the so-called audio problems on the VX-2000 and PD-150, and I don't really have any opinion on that. But IIRC, Sony recommended that you use the auto setting for audio recording to avoid these problems, so I'm guessing that they may be boosting the level to get above any inherent background noise on that camera? Whatever the reason, the VX-2000 has a much hotter signal (and remember, I was playing both tapes on the VX-2000 which was hooked up the the monitor with the RCA audio cables).

Now as far as the quality of the sound, well I definitely prefered the PDX-10, but the VX-2000 wasn't horrible or anything. But it did have a muddier overall texture and the bass tended to be more accentuated. The PDX-10 tape just sounded crisper and seemed to have a better dynamic range where the quiet sections were really quiet and the loud sections were loud but without the booming bass and muddier texture of the VX-2000.

These cameras were both fed from the same source (although the recordings were made at different performances, but that shouldn't be much of a factor). I'm not sure how well they would intercut from an audio standpoint, if that's one of your questions. I think you would definitely need to adjust the levels and EQ to get them into the same ballpark. Like I said, this is all very subjective and unscientific, so caveat emptor! ;-)

I think I read that Sony was improving the audio on the PD-170/VX-2100, so maybe these new cameras will be a better match?
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Old October 25th, 2003, 07:54 PM   #4
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I have edited footage from both the 150 and the PDX-10 on the same timeline, and for the limited amount of stuff I've done, it was nearly interchangeable. They both did fine, and it wasn't possible for me to distinquish between the audio from either, even when side-by-side, one cut to the next. This was for simple dialog, as well as ambient "event" sound.
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Old October 25th, 2003, 08:44 PM   #5
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Interesting. I guess I'm seeing the difference between a VX-2000 with Beachtek vs. the PD-150's builtin XLR adaptor? There were some very noticeable differences in my test. But I was comparing the audio of a 60 piece orchestra, opera singers and a chorus of 60 or so. Perhaps the differences would be less noticeable for your dialog and room tone examples?
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Old October 25th, 2003, 10:02 PM   #6
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For me, music and vocal dialogue are pretty different in terms of my ear's expectation of the sound. I know I could live with certain inadequacies of an informational voice recording (I shot a one man presentation at close range with just the supplied PDX10 shotgun, and the sound is....fine, clean enough, clear enough), but I would need that orchestra to come to life in my living room if at all possible.
Well, if the probability of the present pd150 and the pdx10 matching audio is reasonably high, then chances are good that I'll do well with a pd170, god and Sony willing.
Fantastic. Thank you, gents.
Regards,
Shawn

ps Welcome to the table as our Wrangler, Boyd. You've always been something like one of those for as long as I've participated in this forum. Thanks for all the help!
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Old October 25th, 2003, 10:18 PM   #7
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Thanks Shawn! :-)
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Old October 26th, 2003, 11:20 AM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Boyd Ostroff : ....a 60 piece orchestra, opera singers and a chorus of 60 or so. Perhaps the differences would be less noticeable for your dialog and room tone examples? -->>>

LOL God I hope so, for the opera patrons' of Philadelphia's sake ;^)

This was just minimal dialog, by non-actor types, in less-than-ideal acoustic areas. Nothing like the glory of an assembled cast of pros doing something they love, in a performance space. What a cool job you have, Boyd. I am green!

By the way--I keep seeing mention of a PD170, and am wondering: is this a wishful thought on the consumers part, or is there really such a beast in the offing? When I see it mentioned, it seems to be (at this point) sort of an all-things-to-all-people kind of thing. Which makes me skeptical...Whats the reality behind the model number?
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Old October 26th, 2003, 12:44 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Chris Long :By the way--I keep seeing mention of a PD170, and am wondering: is this a wishful thought -->>>

http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Professiona...sp=11&id=71949
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Old October 26th, 2003, 12:48 PM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by Chris Long : What a cool job you have, Boyd. I am green! -->>>

Thanks Chris, I do try to count my blessings :-) But don't envy my greener grass too much, I have to deal with lots of difficult situations, crazy people and a brutal schedule. It takes a toll on you after awhile...
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Old October 27th, 2003, 01:47 AM   #11
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Goodness gracious, that's the PD170 at the Sony business solutions website. It's more of a reality than even I thought it was, except that when trying to search for a reseller within a 1500 mile radius, I got 0 :-) . Great if it's been released now. Now I get to wait for the price to come down..........
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Old October 28th, 2003, 05:23 AM   #12
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The PD170 lives but I think I heard that Sony has no plans to release an NTSC version, I may be wrong on that.

Concerning sound on the PD150. I recently shot with a crew doing a thing for VH1 over here in England. The sound man that was working with us would have nothing to do with hooking up to the XLR on the Sony. I asked him why but his response is unprintable here. Suffice to say he had nothing in the way of praise.
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Old October 28th, 2003, 07:52 PM   #13
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Thank you for the unprintable input, Patrick. There isn't yet getting around the fact that dvcam audio isn't studio standard. I'm a one man show with a tiny budget; external audio is still impractical. I shan't be working with music, which may lend whatever in-cam sound design I am capable of within my means credibility (this is based on my sense that there is more range of acceptibility for dialogue sound than there is for music sound).
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Old October 28th, 2003, 08:43 PM   #14
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<<<-- Originally posted by Patrick Nee : The PD170 lives but I think I heard that Sony has no plans to release an NTSC version, I may be wrong on that.-->>>

Sorry, but I think you are wrong Patrick. Look at that link I posted. It's for the NTSC version "DSRPD170 3CCD DVCAM COMPACT CAMCORDER-NTSC ". Sony also lists a PAL version on the same website
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