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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old August 30th, 2002, 11:08 AM   #1
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External Microphones for VX2000

Hi guys,

Now that I've got the VX2000, I found that the microphone, the Sony ECM-MS908C, powered with an AA battery in it, doesn't work in the mic. in port of the VX2000 as it did with the TRV950.

There are 2 positions on the switch at the microphone plug in: Line and Mic. The Mic, position a line to the words "plug in power" on it.

First what does "plug in power" mean and 2nd, wouldn't you set the switch to Mic. when plugging in the Sony ECM-MS908C microphone I have?

Well I tried the microphone in the plug in port and switched between Line and Mic. In the Mic. position I could get a hum and could hear a faint amount of tapping sound from it when I tapped it. To get this sound level up to anywhere near a normal sound level, I had to turn the manual controlled Audio Control way up to the top and thus induced more hum and poor sound but never an adequate recording sound volume level.

What way is there to put a fairly inexpensive external stereo and somewhat omni-directional mic. (like the ECM-MS908C), on to the VX2000, attaching it to the accessory shoe?

I am thinking, would it work (?) on the VX2000 to do a setup like the setup with the "pro" version of the TRV950 (DSR-PD100 I think(?)) with "The supplied XLR adaptor attaches onto the hot shoe of the camcorder, allowing external professional microphones to be connected to provide high quality audio sources. Through XLR adaptor, DC power(+48V)for a microphone is also supplied from the DSR-PD100."??

Maybe if this would work, are there the parts available to do something similar to the pictures I've seen of the XLR adapter and a boom mic. attached to the PD-100 camcorder like I described above?

Also, somewhere I read about putting some kind of adapter in between the VX2000 camera and the ECM-MS908C to make them work together. Anybody hear anything more specific about this?

Any help is appreciated. If there is nothing that can be done, is the mic on the VX2000 OK? PLEASE NOTE: I don't want to attach one of the large XLR boxes I've seen pictures of to the bottom of the camcorder, as I need the tripod thread for the tripod, even though this might be a solution to adding an external mic.

Thanks,

Steve
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Old August 30th, 2002, 11:25 AM   #2
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Steve, just to note:

<< I don't want to attach one of the large XLR boxes I've seen pictures of to the bottom of the camcorder, as I need the tripod thread for the tripod >>

Actually this is not a problem. Those XLR adapter boxes which attach to the bottom of the camera actually have their own tripod mounting socket on the bottom of the adapter. So you're not giving up the ability to use a tripod at all. The XLR adapter simply goes in between the camera and the tripod, no problem. Hope this helps,
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Old August 30th, 2002, 11:55 AM   #3
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Thanks Chris for that info. AN EMERGENCY UPDATE ON THE MIC!

I changed the battery in the Sony mic, and now IT WORKS!
Stupid me!

The bad thing is that when testing the external mic vs. the camcorder's built-in mic, there is MORE noise with the external mic than with the "internal" one!

Thus the Sony mic I bought is working with the camcorder, but it is of lesser quality than the VX2000's built-in mic!

To spend a lot to upgrade to an expensive microphone system is probably overkill for me, but Chris, (or anyone else out there) is there a good, relatively inexpensive small XLR box and a relatively inexpensive external (~90 degree directional) mic that could slip into the accessory shoe you might recommend which would improve my sound?

Thanks to all.

Steve
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Old August 30th, 2002, 11:58 AM   #4
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The promotional material for the microphone suggests that it should work
just fine. The microphone is not, however, on the accessory list for the
2000. Still, it should work. One assumes that you have insured that the
mini-plug is fully plugged in and that the battery is good?

The extension arm looks to be made of plastic and not have any electrical
connections, right? May have to query Sony on that. I'd expect it to work.

The microphone should be better than the unit built into the 2000. I would
not depend upon the built-in microphone as long as I had the ECM-MS908C

The microphone cable is terminated in a 1/8" miniplug. You do not require an XLR adapter unless you have an XLR microphone. Some of the XLR adapters also have 1/8" minisockets paralleled to the XLR inputs so you could use one.

The only possible problem other than those I mentioned, is that the 3 vdc present on the minisocket on the 2000 (used to power electret microphones) might be causing the ECM-MS908C a problem. But that is a long shot.

Or I guess the microphone could just be broken. Can you plug it into some other stereo socket to see if it works there?
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Old August 30th, 2002, 12:03 PM   #5
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Thanks Mike,

See above please.

Thanks.

Steve
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Old August 30th, 2002, 02:33 PM   #6
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Does anyone know the scoop on the external (long, ~9") Sennheiser MKE-300 microphone? Is it considered a good mic and is it any better than using the built in mic on the VX2000 or the Sony ECM-MS908C external mic that I already own (and which does work by the way with the VX2000!)?

I understand that the Sennheiser is pretty unidirectional. Is that an advantage for "standard" or "normal" recording?

The Sony "Tech" I just spoke with said that the mic on the VX2000 is somewhat more unidirectional than the ECM-MS908C external mic I have (it has a 90 degree and a 120 degree directive angle control) but they are both using the same principal of using only 1 actual electret condenser mic and employing the technique of splitting the sides (Mid-Side Stereo) and creating a "stereo" recording from the single pickup.

The Sennheiser is also only 1 pickup and is called a super-cardioid/lobar directional mic but I assume it puts down a left and a right track on the tape. Is this correct? (it says it has a mono jack so does this mean L & R tracks are identical?)

I spoke with some salesman at some store (I don't even remember which one since I've spoke to so many people today) who says all the people who want a "low end pro=high end prosumer" mic, go with that Sennheiser. Before I make more mistakes, I wanted to use the group's knowledge to help me sort this stuff out.

Thanks in advance.

Steve
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Old August 30th, 2002, 03:45 PM   #7
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Steve,

You say the ECM-MS908C is noisier than the microphone on the VX-2000. In what manner? Does it pick up more camera noise, room noise, or do you hear a hiss when there is no noise in a very quiet room?


<<<-- Originally posted by forrests : Does anyone know the scoop on the external (long, ~9") Sennheiser MKE-300 microphone? Is it considered a good mic and is it any better than using the built in mic on the VX2000 or the Sony ECM-MS908C external mic that I already own (and which does work by the way with the VX2000!)?

I understand that the Sennheiser is pretty unidirectional. Is that an advantage for "standard" or "normal" recording?
--------------------------------------------------------
The MKE-300 is an all-plastic, watch battery-powered shotgun microphone that may or may not make you happy. Yes, it is somewhat directional (except when compared to, say, a ME66 or AT835B). We have one at the local college where I work as the Cinema and TV Lab Technician. I've got to tell you it is not my favorite microphone. Although it has not broken in several years of student use (one year of student use = 7 years of normal use) the glued-on windscreen has come loose and the screw that holds the shoe-mount to the body continues to come loose.
--------------------------------------------------------
snip

The Sennheiser is also only 1 pickup and is called a super-cardioid/lobar directional mic but I assume it puts down a left and a right track on the tape. Is this correct? (it says it has a mono jack so does this mean L & R tracks are identical?)

-------------------------------------------------
You normally only get one track with this microphone but it depends on your camcorder more than anything else.
It has a very high output signal so you will be able to run with low gain on the camera.

Microphones of this nature are omnidirectional at low frequencies and more unidirectional at higher frequencies. Take a look at the Sennheiser Web site and look for the polar response diagrams to see what I mean.

If you wonder if it will give you better sound than the external Sony microphone, probably not. In fact, if you are a sound fanatic, you probably will not like the sound of this Sennheiser for music.
----------------------------------------------------


I spoke with some salesman at some store (I don't even remember which one since I've spoke to so many people today) who says all the people who want a "low end pro=high end prosumer" mic, go with that Sennheiser. Before I make more mistakes, I wanted to use the group's knowledge to help me sort this stuff out.

--------------------------------
Try first to define the noise issues for us, Steve. And your applications (again).
--------------------------------

Thanks in advance.

Steve -->>>
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Old August 30th, 2002, 05:13 PM   #8
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Steve,

I think you need to decide on the budget for upgrading your audio. The ultimate is a $500 conversion that the BBC had performed on their roughly 500 VX2000s. It includes an entire pre amp circuit and XLR. Also, what will you be shootong with your camera? That certainly affects what mic to recommend.

Jeff
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Old August 30th, 2002, 05:31 PM   #9
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Thanks Mike and Jeff for your replies.

Mike, by more noise I mean, I am hearing more ambient noise due to the larger field of "mic coverage" with the external mic and I also hear slightly more zoom noise. The external mic however is a bit more sensitive so to be honest, there is really no difference in the "noise" when all the adjustments are made to equalize the input levels. The biggest difference seems to be the "field of mic coverage" with these 2 mics. I seem to be pretty well covered for how I use the camcorder, with the narrower built in mic and the wider external mic to choose from.

As I will be taking just casual video, I can't see spending much more to get a little better sound. I think I will use the 2 mics I have and see how it goes from there. I was sort of putting a limit of ~$200 more to spend on another mic and the Sennheiser MKE-300 seemed to fit the bill of a narrow, bur not too narrow "field of coverage" mic. If the gain in quality is not worth the expense, I won't spend any more cash. From what I'm hearing from Mike, this mic is probably not good for me. That saves at least $150-$200. I really don't need to make the big jump to the very expensive mics or the XLR systems.

You both know how I acquired the VX2000 and I must say it is far superior to the TRV950.

I appreciate all your help through this and look forward to following this forum,

Steve

PS: See my final statement on the topic called:
Update on TRV950 (950 should be listed under VX2k companion now, eh?...)
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Old August 30th, 2002, 07:36 PM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by forrests : Thanks Mike and Jeff for your replies.

Mike, by more noise I mean, I am hearing more ambient noise due to the larger field of "mic coverage" with the external mic and I also hear slightly more zoom noise. The external mic however is a bit more sensitive so to be honest, there is really no difference in the "noise" when all the adjustments are made to equalize the input levels. The biggest difference seems to be the "field of mic coverage" with these 2 mics. I seem to be pretty well covered for how I use the camcorder, with the narrower built in mic and the wider external mic to choose from.

Suggest you need to get the microphone further off-camera to get rid of the zoom noise. You can probably move it off a foot or so and lose a lot of the noise. Another though might be to create a cardboard baffle to slide around the post that holds the microphone. There are better things than cardboard but assuming the noise is not getting into the microphone by conduction, that it is airborne, then the baffle should work.

The additional ambient noise is a function of the microphone sensitivity. All microphones have this problem but this stereo microphone you have is probably nearly Omni in acceptance angle and it just captures everything.

This is why the pro's get in as close as they can with their microphones. So the sound they want is as strong as they can possibly get. And that is why the balanced world of XLR is so important. One can have the microphone off quite a way from the camera but pick up no measurable electronic noise.

I tried to remote the MKE-300 by about 100 feet on an outdoor shoot. Just strung out 100 feet of shielded cable between the camcorder and the microphone. We picked up the local radio station with no problems at all. What I should have done is to plug the MKE into a pre-amp and driven an XLR cable with line-level signals and then converted at the camcorder through an XLR adapter. That would not have picked up much interferrence at all.

Just for a matter of interest. You can build a single channel XLR to mini-jack adapter for around $20 of parts from Radio Shack.

Then, if you wanted to, you could spend the money you saved on an Audio Techica 835B shotgun (self-powered) and run a hundred feet with no noise problems. The plans can be found on this web site. The owner makes these and sells them for $200.

http://www.take2video.com/tek.html

Gerry is an engineer turned videographer.
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Old August 31st, 2002, 01:48 PM   #11
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There are some reasonably priced XLR boxes, but I agree that the BBC unit looks intriguing.

I believe the BeachTek is available for the VX2000 and it will give you better control over the audio than you do now.

I would also check out the mic. I've just go to believe that is where most of your problems are since VX2K owners have not seemed to complain about external mics.

One other thing comes to mind, is this a new cam or used? If used do you know if the unit had the hiss fix installed?
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Old August 31st, 2002, 02:57 PM   #12
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Nathan,

I finally got my external inexpensive "stereo" Sony ECM-MS908C mic to work with the VX2000 (just needed a new battery!). To get much better sound, I think everyone here is telling me to get a much better mic for big bucks or add on an XLR box and either go with a more expensive XLR mic also, or plug my Sony mic into the XLR box to hopefully get better sound from it.

My VX 2000 is new and came directly from Sony. I heard a rumor that the hiss fix was a "silent" upgrade by Sony. I don't know if this rumor is true or not and if my camcorder has the fix or not, if there was one. The supposedly available SN list of when the "upgrade" occurred is not published for some confidentiality reason. I can give you (or someone else) who might have the starting SNs of when Sony began the fix, if that would help me know the answer to the question, if a fix was available.

What was the BBC fix? I read about it on the Yahoo V2k group list also but don't really understand it.

Your BeachTek XLR box sounds very intriguing. I read over the web page on the DXA-4 Dual XLR Adapter from BeachTek. It costs about $170 from B & H and maybe less elsewhere. The question is: will this added volume control and what I assume is some type of sound filtering (?yes?) done inside the DXA-4 help me get better sound from even my inexpensive Sony mic???

Any help here with these questions will be welcome. I don't think I can spend too much more (maybe a few hundred) to get a new, better, ON camera, mic (if one even exists) also to use with the BeachTek adaptor instead of my present Sony mic, if I went this route. SO, the question remains: is there value in getting the XLR add-on?

Thanks in advance.

Steve
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Old August 31st, 2002, 05:45 PM   #13
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im lookin into the beachtek box with the phantom power. has anyone here used this or use it currently with the VX2k? if so what do you think?

the glensound box from thr u.k. looks nice but the lanc jack power seems like a pain in the a**(another cable to fool with) also i like the idea that it has its own phones out and limiters but the box itself looks kinda big compared to the b-tek.
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Old August 31st, 2002, 06:41 PM   #14
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I hate to comment too much on the BBC box since I do not have the details around. My understanding was that BBC mod really improved the audio greatly. I am assuming the reason they were doing this was the low price/high performance of the VX2000.

The BeachTek, and there are others, does give you several advantages and I think phantom power for your mics. It is very nice to have individual audio controls for each channel and a headphone jack. It comes highly recommended from other users.

Probably before you shell out any more cash, you might pen a few words on what you plan to do with your system. You might also visit a musician's store in your area and try a few mics before you buy.
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Old September 1st, 2002, 05:06 AM   #15
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I've posted a few details about the BBC mod here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1846

including contact info.
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