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Old December 16th, 2009, 10:36 PM   #1
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EX1 Audio?

I have been using my Sound Devices 302 field mixer when using my EX1 but wonder how your results are with out a mixer.

I used to have the Canon XH-A1 which IMO did not handle audio well. I am betting the more expensive EX1 does a better job, and although I will do some tests, curious to know how many do not use a mixer with this camera.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 07:31 AM   #2
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Denny:

I use EX-1 without mixer exclusively, depending only on the camera's input volume controls. When using a remote mono receiver, I switch the output on my stereo shotguns to mono for the second channel - of course for complete control and flexibility, something like the Sound Designs is a must, but for my applications I have not found it necessary.

The audio in this camera according to my own tests is superb (based on my own tests, with my background, study of EE at Purdue and 50 years in audio - speaker design and build, etc.)

If you want the most thorough, reliable, and valid write-ups on EX-1 audio that I have ever been able to find on Internet after very extensive searches, put "Bass Pig" in your search machine. As I remember, he includes in his very thorough studies and test results and write-ups his findings about setting up the EX-1 controls for adequate head room, etc..

For flat response extending below 50 Hz and above 10 kHz, with very low IM and harmonic distortion, with a great noise sound floor, the EX-1 and it's compatriots can't be beat by anything in its price range - some of the audio's shortcomings are more than adequately covered by Bass Pig (and some oters as well - I'm only singling out Bass Pig because he is the best reviewer I have been able to find.

I am using five cameras, and if audio is really important (for anything from a soloist to a band with a big rocking drum), the EX-1 is the one I use - in comparison, the audio on the others is garbage! It goes without saying, I guess, that if audio is important to you with this camera, the best mics available in your price range are a must, but assuming that your mics are comparable in performance to that Sound Design unit, you have an awesome sound recording venue, using an external mixer or not.

Hope this is responsive to your query.

Best regards from that greatest state, Texas!

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Old December 17th, 2009, 08:38 AM   #3
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Thanks Bill
I have a SD 302 mixer, and was a must with the XH-A1, but has its faults when it comes to quick set up etc.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 07:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denny Kyser View Post
curious to know how many do not use a mixer with this camera.
I don't use a mixer.

BUT... there's a non-defeatable limiter in the audio chain which may cramp your style.

When I first bought the camera, sub-bass frequencies (wind noise, sub-bass sound systems) would create a strange tinkling artifact, and if you hit the red dot, you got nasty distortion. The camera was sent back to Sony for the standard collection of issues, and when it was returned, the audio circuit no longer had the sub-bass issue, and sound levels that caused the red dots to light up didn't necessarily distort. They must have tweaked the limiter at that point.

In fact, I accidentally shoved a line level feed into the XLR of the camera I'd set up for Mic input (it was that kind of run-and-gun event) and whilst the limiter was comedically pumping up and down, I could ride the levels in the edit to get something that would work out of it.

Whilst that sounds fun, it's not particularly good if you're taking good care over sound or have a sound engineer working with you, as that limiter can hide danger signals that you're about to burst your levels. Me? Happy to have it there. Audiophile? Would want to surgically remove it. I record talking heads and atmos ususally. It doesn't handle live music well. But for that I guess you'd fire up a separate audio recorder at 24/96.

So I treat the on-board audio as 'safe for easy speech', driving the onboard meters hotter than a proper broadcast meter, because -1 dB (the last white dot) still comes in at about -12 dB (unscientific anecdotal experience, not actual test) in the edit.

EX1 meters are, unfortunately, a bit like car indicators that let you know that the bulb is working rather than where a car is going. They're the sort that lets a cameraman know that there's noise coming in on the XLRs rather than actually measuring anything.

Having said that, you get used to them, you wear the right kind of cans, and you smile sweetly and put it just to the right of the middle when your Sound Engineer feeds you tone at -18 to line up your audio inputs (if you've got a limiter, why not use it? Joking!).
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Old December 19th, 2009, 12:15 PM   #5
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I've been in the motion picture business for 40 years and have never used a mixer . . even when I recorded with my Nagra in the old film days.

I have a Schoeps CM4 shotgun mic which is one of the best on the planet, and E.Q. in post. I'll put my audio quality up against anyone.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 02:39 PM   #6
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Basically keep your audio levels at 5 or 6 to avoid adding noise, and use the trim to adjust for the level of whatever your subject is. With the latest firmware the limiters work quite smoothly.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 03:26 PM   #7
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Wow, great information.

I wonder if I even need my mixer anymore. I do not need the money but feel as these cameras get better, the value of that mixer that is still very good will drop fast.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 09:37 PM   #8
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The great thing about these forums is how it shows different philosophies on similar subjects. I can't imagine doing audio without a mixer and I've only been doing this for 20 years. In my experience when the audio guy and the camera guy are the same person, one or both will suffer. It must be such a sweet, simple world when you never need more than 2 inputs but that has not been my experience. The ability to solo sources, power lectro receivers, crank up camera returns so you can actually hear what is going to tape and feed 2 or more cameras/recorders pretty much makes my mixer indispensible. I have just got the EX1R and look forward to finding out how it plays with my PSC Alphamix but the flexibility and control a mixer offers is not something I will readily give up. Your mileage may vary.

mb
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Old December 19th, 2009, 11:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Barkley View Post
I've been in the motion picture business for 40 years and have never used a mixer . . even when I recorded with my Nagra in the old film days.

I have a Schoeps CM4 shotgun mic which is one of the best on the planet, and E.Q. in post. I'll put my audio quality up against anyone.
I'm confused Brian. A "CM4"? The only Schoeps shotgun is the CMIT 5:

CMIT 5 U - SCHOEPS.de

Clarify?
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Old December 20th, 2009, 03:25 PM   #10
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Perfect timing of this thread for me. My EX1's onboard channel just started to crackle when ever the sound level is over half way(an approximation). I have a NTG-2 on channel 1 and Ch2 is the onboard mic. I have never had a problem with the Rode's audio and the onboard mic didn't even have this problem when I was 20-30ft from speakers at an outdoor concert/festival except for distortion (the NTG-2 handled it perfectly though).

My EX1 is only 3 months old and when I checked its firmware 3 months ago, it was up to date.

So, is my onboard mic damaged?

If so: I want to buy the NTG 3 for my EX1 due to the $1 Blimp and use the NTG 2 for something else. Should I instead look into a good stereo shotgun or is there another option for ambient noise in addition to the NTG 3? (I mainly need it for live events which the onboard mic is useless 90% of the time due to wind or SPL)

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Old December 20th, 2009, 10:22 PM   #11
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Steve,

So you're saying the external signal inputs are fine (even if you hook your NTG-2 to both channels) and the mic for both channels is crackling? If so that sounds like a mic problem.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 12:15 AM   #12
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Adam, I always have the NTG-2 on Ch 1 and Ch 2 is onboard mic. Ch 2 is the only one with crackling sound. Because this is recent and I need loud sound to cause the crackling, I haven't been able to test switching the mic sources around. Also, I have both channels on manual gain and never allow either channels to max out.

Don't know if this is related to my problem, but moderate wind causes the limiter to kick in fairly easily on the NTG 2 which is why I am getting a Blimp.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 04:34 AM   #13
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Steve, have you been using the camera in the damp or could you have been caught in a rain shower? Crackling at high levels with condenser mic's (the ones the EX use internally) is sometimes a sign of moisture damage to the mic elements.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 05:09 AM   #14
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Alister, I have to double check, but I think this started after I did a shoot outside (35 degrees F) for 2 hours. There was snow on the ground but a perfectly clear day, and the EX1 was on a tripod for 90% of the time. The only thing that got moisture on itself was the plug on my Sony headphones when I dropped the cable accidentally into the snow (but I wiped it clean before plugging it back in).

The only other thing I can think of is the camera didn't have much time to cool before shooting that day. I didn't realize my case would insulate it so well while it sat in my car for an hour before shooting. After the event, I brought the camera inside while still inside the case, and 2 hours later, the camera was still fairly cold.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 11:38 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Bolding View Post
The great thing about these forums is how it shows different philosophies on similar subjects. I can't imagine doing audio without a mixer and I've only been doing this for 20 years. In my experience when the audio guy and the camera guy are the same person, one or both will suffer. It must be such a sweet, simple world when you never need more than 2 inputs but that has not been my experience. The ability to solo sources, power lectro receivers, crank up camera returns so you can actually hear what is going to tape and feed 2 or more cameras/recorders pretty much makes my mixer indispensible. I have just got the EX1R and look forward to finding out how it plays with my PSC Alphamix but the flexibility and control a mixer offers is not something I will readily give up. Your mileage may vary.

mb
I would not discount the value of a mixer. A soundman riding the faders, and the ability to take more than 2 channels is priceless. That being said, in a one-man-band situation with an audio situation that is not too challenging, the EX1 IS able to record a very clean signal. I find the limiters quite natural sounding. I just did a multi-cam shoot of a band playing live in the studio. Audio in the camera was not essential, as it was being recorded separately by an engineer. I only needed the in-cam audio for lining up clips in the edit. Still, with my NTG-3 mounted on-cam & routed to both channels, trim set to -29db, and audio levels set to 6, I got a fabulous recording suitable for documentary work. The band went from a whisper to very loud. I could see after capture that the loudest waveforms were limited (peaks reduced) a bit, but I did not hear the ducking usually associated with camera based limiting. It was quite musical. It says a lot for the mic too. Very full, yet detailed - and a shotgun no less! Anyone debating whether to get the NTG-2 or NTG-3 - get the NTG-3. Don't let 430.00(the difference between the 2 mics) get in the way of having stellar audio.

That was a "set and forget" situation. Actually I didn't even set, I just plugged in the mic and left the settings from the previous shoot. No headphones, as it was only for reference. I am an audio engineer, musician too and I was happy with the EX1 audio with very little fuss. It is safe to say that in a on-man-band situation the EX1 is very forgiving and can record very nice/usable audio.

STILL: IF you are doing something serious you should have a person dedicated to audio and a different person dedicated to running the camera. Anything can go wrong, and you need someone in headphones actively listening to the whole production, ready to deal with anything. For things where I am in charge of capturing great audio - like a play or a live music show - I use a 4-Channel Edirol R-4 Pro recording at 24 bit.
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