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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old April 12th, 2006, 05:18 AM   #1
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Live Audio on VX2100?

Hey,

I'm about to get a Sony VX2100 which I believe has an onboard microphone as well as two inputs for Mini-Stereo. I'm going to be using the camera mainly for filming narrative music videos, but I've had some offers for live gigs. How would I get good sound when doing these? Could I run a lead from the Sound Mixer of the venues Line-Out into the audio-in of the camera to record a channel of sound? Does the onboard mic of the camera already use on of the two mic-ins, or will I have the option of using the onboard mic as well as two external inputs?
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Old April 12th, 2006, 06:21 AM   #2
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Hello,

The VX2100E does have a good on-board mic but it only has 1 x mini stereo input jack which is switchable for either external mic or external line in.

Also - although it does have a good on-board mic (for live ambient recording or narration) it is not good enough to record a live band i.e. I tried this once for fun and it sounded terrible (too much top end, no bottom end, basically useless for this purpose). I also don't think that it can handle the sound pressure level coming from a live band.

Be aware that on the VX2100 the automatic audio level setting is pretty useless i.e. much noise on quiet passages and much clipping of the signal on too loud passages (which is quite normal). You have to be prepared to use the manul audio level setting to get any type of result. This of course can be quite a problem if you have to be constantly adjusting the level while shooting.

Assuming that the person sending you a line out from a mixer knows what they are doing and sends you the correct levels (and you have of course adjusted your levels accordingly) you would have audio but remember that having a cable running around will severely restrict your movement. Also the mini jacks are prone to bad connections i.e. you might be getting great sound at a certain point and sometimes the slightest movement of the plug itself can cause you to lose your input on one or both channels (not to mention what might happen if someone just happens to be standing on the cable and you don't notice and the whole cable gets pulled out of the socket). That is why the 'pro' camcorder have XLR inputs - far more reliable (and there are a couple of other good reasons but I think I have already made a strong enough case to discourage you from using this external jack and a cable for live recording purposes)!

If you are happy that you can get a good feed from the mixer then you could mount two wireless receivers on the camera (stereo - left and right going to a Beachtek adapter that has XLR inputs for the receivers but still has a stereo mini jack going to the camera's input (so this does defeat the object somewhat although this is a slightly more reliable setup). You would then take the left and right outputs from the mixer to two transmitters and adjust the levels on your camera and that should work.

However - in my opinion - all of the above options are unreliable, costly, and really not worth the effort (although I have tried them all believe it or not).

The best way to record live sound (from a band anyway) is to record it digitally using some or the other high quality audio capture setup and then synch the video to the audio in post production (I use a notebook and firewire mixer for this purpose). This of course means additional high quality mics etc. etc.

Thas the bad news.

The good news is that it is a great camera i.e. exceptional image quality, low light performance, and excellent manual control capability (I also have an FX1 and there are one or two things that I can do with the VX2100 in low light conditions that I cannot do with the FX1 but that would be the subject of another discussion).

In my opinion - over the years - I have come to the conclusion that the camera is there to shoot video - not audio (unless the video is for amateur purposes only).

Regards,

Dale.
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Old April 12th, 2006, 06:45 AM   #3
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Thanks Dale, :)

Is monitoring audio on the camera and adjusting it manually a rather easy task? I'm making the move to digital from analogue, so a lot of this is new to me, but I'm assuming the setup would be one of these options.

The on board mic in one channel
external source in the other channel

Or

on board mic disconnected and external source in its channel
external source in the other channel

Or

Just onboard mic in both channels

Or am I totally wrong about this? Can the on board mic not be disconnected to free up an input for an external source if I want to use two?
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Old April 12th, 2006, 07:39 AM   #4
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I have the VX2000 but I think it works the same as the VX2100 in these areas.

When you plug something into the mic input, it kills the built-in mics.

The best approach is to get a Beachtek or Studio One XLR adapter. It plugs into the mic input, and gives you a lot of control. For instance you can select mic level or line level inputs and stereo or mono. Plug the venues mixer output into that.

Buddy
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Old April 12th, 2006, 07:59 AM   #5
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The 1/8" stereo mini jack on the VX2k1 can be switched between mic and line, so you could conceivably plug a line level in from the mixing desk as you film.

Better to take Buddy's approach though and fit a Beachtek DXA-4 or similar - that way you can use proper XLR microphones and level control them independently.

tom.
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Old April 12th, 2006, 08:11 AM   #6
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Hey Aviv: I have merged your two threads together. Please don't post the same question to more than one forum, it's against DVinfo rules.

Thanks.
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Old April 12th, 2006, 10:45 AM   #7
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Sorry Boyd, wasn't sure which forum it should go in.


Do any of you find the VX2100 having only one input for external sources? I know that the Panasonic DV15's we use at school have two inputs, for each channel. For instance, one mic can be used for the interviewee and the other mic can be used for the interviewer.

Can this be achieved from the get go with the VX2100? Can a Y-Splitter be used for two mics to go into the one input?

Does the Beachtek adapter, while allowing the use of XLR input, also still limit you to using only one mic/line in?

Last edited by Aviv Hallale; April 12th, 2006 at 12:43 PM.
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Old April 12th, 2006, 11:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Paterson

The best way to record live sound (from a band anyway) is to record it digitally using some or the other high quality audio capture setup and then synch the video to the audio in post production (I use a notebook and firewire mixer for this purpose).

Dale.
I have pretty much the same question as the thread starter, and really appreciate your advice, Dale. May I ask what kind of notebook and mixer you use? I think it may be just the setup I'll need but I'm pretty green on the technology at present. And you using any specific software to capture the audio? Thanks in advance.
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Old April 13th, 2006, 01:49 AM   #9
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Hello.

Aviv:

There are quite a few issues here - most of which have been touched on or answered - but I will clarify.

The VX2100 has an onboard mic as well as an mini jack input for an external mic or line level input (switcheable). When this mini jack is being used (either for an external mic or another line level input) the onboard mic is disconnected. That is why you need the Beachtek or similar unit to enable you to connect the following - one or two mics / one or two line level inputs / or one mic and one line level input.

As far as using a Y cable is concerned - bear in mind that the mini jack is a stereo input. What this means is that if you connect a mono source like a (mono) mic you will only get audio on the left channel. I have used a stereo Y cable with some success in the past i.e. stereo Y into camera and mono mic on each channel. This did work but of course one mic is recorded on the left channel and one mic is recorded on the right channel. These can be combined in post production however but be aware that if you are not going to edit this footage then you will have the interviewer on one channel and the interviewee on the other channel which, when viewed on a mono system would be OK but if viewed on a stereo system would be odd.

I still maintain that getting a feed from a mixer via a cable directly into the camera is not a good idea - not unless you are not going to move the camera AT ALL! Like I said before the mini jacks are unreliable and there is always the risk that the cable will pull out (and even using the XLR inputs of a Beachtek type unit is not a good idea because the XLR's clip in so if someone pulls or stands on the cable the cable will not pull out but you can be sure that your whole rig will fall over).

Nelson:

My setup is as follows:

Alesis MultiMix FireWire 16 Mixer
Fujitsu Siemens Notebook - Intel Centrino 1.6Mhz Dual Core (new)
Sony Vegas
FX1 and VX2100

I record multiple inidividual audio tracks in Vegas from the mixer onto the notebook and once the shoot is done all you do is align the video to the audio tracks in Vegas. This allows freedom of movement for the cameras and as long as the person operating the mixer knows what they are doing i.e. monitors and adjust the levels of each channel you're set.

Regards,

Dale.
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Old April 13th, 2006, 04:00 AM   #10
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Cool, and does the Beachtek only allow the input of XLR connectors?

Could I connect the mixer to my Laptop's line in and just record the sound into Audition, and then line it up with the video in Premiere?

I'm pretty sure most of my questions will be sorted out and easier to understand when I have bot hthe camera and manual in front of me.
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Old April 13th, 2006, 08:34 AM   #11
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I film live bands in L.A. and have had good results. I use A beachtek with 2 xlr dynamic mics mounted to the hotshoe of the camera. I went to my local guitar center and bought a 2 mic holder that spaces them 6 inches apart, 2 Audio Tecnica dynamic mics and online I found the mount for hotshoe to mic holder. As long as you watch the levels going into the camera it sounds good. It doesn't
have that camcorder distortion sound. I will see later if I can upload a sample.
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Old April 13th, 2006, 11:40 AM   #12
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Aviv - now that is an idea that I did not think about - connecting the line out from the mixer to the line in on your laptop - simple if you think about it - and a great idea if you are happy with the mix that your will be getting and do not need access to individual audio tracks i.e. more than one stereo track.

Doing it that way will free you up to shoot wherever and whatever you want.

Just one thing to consider - because you will be shooting bands / music (an assumption that I have made) you will obviously not be able to stop and start the camera as you will then have many breaks in the video (scenes) and this makes it much harder to synch the video to the audio track (when you have many small video clips). Normally (for better or for worse) what I do is just start the camera and don't stop it until it runs out of tape. That way I know that I have about an hour of footage to synch to the audio accurately and then make cuts into that hour of footage to remove bad camera shots (or 'floor shots' as I call them) and then fill the gaps with 'fill shots' etc. etc.

One thing that I vow to myself that I will try at every shoot (and then always forget to do) is to get some sort of tone generator or even a small dictaphone / tape recorder that has some sort of recognisable 'beep' sound on it (something like 'beep - beep - long beep - beep' - almost like a pager). The idea is to start the camera and the audio recorder (whatever it may be) and then record these beeps at the beginning of every video tape / audio recording. That way - my logic tells me - you can accurately visually synch the video and audio without having to rely on your ears (it will at very least create a starting reference point) i.e. without having to use the camera audio for correct (approximate) alignment.

I have not used Premiere for anything - I am a Sony fan - but I am sure that Premiere can do it.

The Beachtek (at least the DXA-2S that I bought some time ago) has two XLR inputs and one (stereo) mini jack input but you cannot use the mini jack and both XLR's at the same time (although someone else mentioned this in another thread and I am pretty sure that I managed to do it at some point - I must go and check to put this to rest).

Regards,

Dale.
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Old April 13th, 2006, 12:04 PM   #13
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A small electronic flash, held close to the microphone so you record the pop will work since the camera will pick up the light flash for 1-3 frames. Gets you in the ballpark very rapidly.

Then match waveforms from the two sources on your NLE and finally (or):

Pan the camera sound to one of the stereo channels and the recorder sound to the other channel on your NLE. Makes it very easy to match up by ear.
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Old April 13th, 2006, 02:18 PM   #14
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Hi Mike,

Thanks - another great idea.

I have had a problem trying to synch this very same audio / video just recently - see:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=64559

I think I must go to the above thread and add some more info to it.

Regards,

Dale.
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Old April 13th, 2006, 06:18 PM   #15
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That's pretty cool, I'll give it a try...If I use a rather cheap mini-stereo mic though, will I need to use a power supply for it? What does a hot shoe do? Supply power from the camera to the accessory? If I get a $20 mic, will it need an external power source of some time, or should I not even bother with such a cheap mic?
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