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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 01:05 PM   #1
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audio meter question

Hi there,
On a recent shoot I got some distorted audio (clipping). It shouldn't have happened, but I was using a second camera at the same time, and wasn't paying attention. Anyway, the end result is that I'm now a bit paranoid on the subject of audio.
A few questions:
- is there a bigger audio levels meter I can bring up on the EX-1 (as I used to be able to with another Sony camera, in the past)?
- the horizontal meters that I currently have in my display... am I avoiding distortion as long as stay to the left of the red (which is at the very right of the scale)?
- any other advice to someone who's been paying too much attention to pictures, and not enough to sound?
thanks, Malcolm
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 01:15 PM   #2
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If you kept your levels under zero ALL THE TIME, you should be fine. Hitting zero will clip, so you need to keep the highs under zero. Average levels should be -20 or -12 at most with peaks at -3. This is different than analog systems where going over zero for some peaks was fine. Zero is death!

You might have had clipping in another part of the chain, perhaps the wireless or other source.
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 01:27 PM   #3
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thanks for your reply, Ed.
With regards to this advice: "Average levels should be -20 or -12 at most with peaks at -3"
... I wish there were a meter I could watch which would show me these numbers/levels. I just have the little dotted horizontal lines in the bottom right of my display. Am I missing something?
Malcolm
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 01:28 PM   #4
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Oh Ed... I meant to ask you what you meant about my getting clipping with my wireless mics. How can I check to see if these are the culprits?
Malcolm
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 01:30 PM   #5
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(I've got the sensitivity set to -20db on my wireless mics)
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 01:35 PM   #6
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To see larger audio meters, press the Status button and go to page #2.
You're not going to want to leave that display on all the time, but it is good to toggle on/off when necessary.

Also, may I suggest not running your mics straight into the camera? If audio is important to you, then investing in a decent field mixer is money well-spent.

Doug
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 01:36 PM   #7
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I'm on -35 on mine, with the camera level at 5-7.
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 01:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Jensen View Post
[...] may I suggest not running your mics straight into the camera? If audio is important to you, then investing in a decent field mixer is money well-spent
Very wise advice. A while back I invested in a Sound Devices 302 mixer, and I'm really happy with my audio, it's small enough to wear on my person, and it offers the ability to adjust and monitor levels away from the camera. The mixer sports excellent LED meters you can see in broad daylight and it also has a good limiter, better than the limiter you find on most cameras, so peaks are less of a problem.

The only cameras I'm comfortable using without a mixer are cameras like the Panasonic HVX200, HPX170, DVX100, etc. that have excellent audio input stages and handle over modulation more gracefully that most other video cameras. But that's another story. Most video camera designs treat audio as a second class modality, even though it's half of the picture.
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 02:14 PM   #9
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thanks for your help, everyone.
Doug... I've got page 2 of the Status window memorized now, and will check it regularly.
Mike, I think I'll try your -35 setting.
Doug and David - I just had a look at the Sound Devices 302. Is there anything smaller, for less money, do you happen to know? I work by myself, and really have to stay mobile. With something like this, I guess the receiving half of my RF (which currently sits on top of my EX-1) would be attached to this mixer, and then this would feed (via XLR) into the camera, correct? It sounds like it might weigh/slow me down. Maybe that's a price I'll have to pay.
thanks for the advice,
Malcolm
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 02:25 PM   #10
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Just for a contrary opinion. When I'm a one man band, I avoid carrying a mixer unless necessary or I am in a very sedentary situation. Just more gear to slow you down, more things to troubleshoot when there is a problem ( and there always is with audio.)

You should be able to get perfectly good audio by going directly into the EX-1.
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 10:18 PM   #11
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If you are using only one mic directly into the camera, get a Y cord. Feed the mic to both channels with the Y cord and set channel 1 to "normal" levels and set channel 2 down 10% to 15% for protection.
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 10:21 PM   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Kukla View Post
If you are using only one mic directly into the camera, get a Y cord. Feed the mic to both channels with the Y cord and set channel 1 to "normal" levels and set channel 2 down 10% to 15% for protection.
You can accomplish the same thing by the proper setting in the AUDIO setup menu.
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 11:16 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Leonard Levy View Post
Just for a contrary opinion. When I'm a one man band, I avoid carrying a mixer unless necessary or I am in a very sedentary situation. Just more gear to slow you down, more things to troubleshoot when there is a problem ( and there always is with audio.)

You should be able to get perfectly good audio by going directly into the EX-1.
My sentiments exactly.

But should you need additional inputs from time to time and your budget very small, consider the Rolls pro-mix line (made in USA, believe it or not). The first unit arrived with a dead channel but replacement was swift. Audiophiles may wince at the thought of using a $120 field mixer, but it works great 2 years later (light duty) and the pots are still quiet.
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Old May 23rd, 2009, 02:57 AM   #14
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Malcolm,

Although it's quite possible you have set your RF too "hot", I thought you might benefit from reading this thread:

The Skinny on EX1 Audio - DVXuser.com -- The online community for filmmaking

A gentleman nicked "Basspig" is giving a very sound advice on handling EX audio....
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Old May 23rd, 2009, 08:10 AM   #15
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thanks again, everyone. Piotr, I'll read that right away. I will also be checking my levels carefully, and, when I can, setting different levels (one low one for safety).
Regards, Malcolm
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