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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old January 18th, 2010, 10:53 AM   #1
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audio levels

Is there a way to show what the recording levels are on the EX3 (i.e. -12dB, -6dB, 0dB)? If not, how hi on the meters shown in the VF should you let set the levels too?

I have to admit I haven't worried about it until now because I always used a separate audio recorder to capture sound and only used the sound from the camera to sync. I may be doing some field work at the end of the month that might require me to use the sound recorded by the camera.

Thanks,
Garrrett
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Old January 18th, 2010, 11:05 AM   #2
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I have always had very good results on the EX3 with audio.

I generally set audio to ride about half way up on the scale. Make sure peak never reaches the end. And of course monitor with good phones.

If it is an interview with pretty level sound go about 2/3 up the scale for average. Just watch the peaks.
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Old January 18th, 2010, 11:11 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
Is there a way to show what the recording levels are on the EX3 (i.e. -12dB, -6dB, 0dB)?
Yes.
Press the Status button and then go to status page 2.
These are the meters you should always use when adjusting the levels.
You mostly want the peaks to hit between -20 and -10.
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Old January 18th, 2010, 11:23 AM   #4
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Thanks Olof and Doug,

I read through the manual and was able to get the meters to show up in the lower left but no dB readout. I'll check it again when I get home tonight.

I read somewhere on the forum here that there is no way to turn off the limiter. Is that actually true? And if so do you know at what point the limiter kicks in? I've got a Sony PCM D50 digital recorder that has a very good limiter in it. Does the EX's limiter work similar to that and as well? It is hardly noticeable when the D50's limiter kicks in unless you are way over on the levels.

Thanks again for all your help,
Garrett

Last edited by Garrett Low; January 18th, 2010 at 12:11 PM.
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Old January 18th, 2010, 11:35 AM   #5
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OK, just looked at the manual I have on my computer. So the numbers don't actaully represent the traditional dB readout. I'm assuming then, going by Doug's post and by just looking at the scale of the readout that -20 would correspond to approximatly -12dB and that -10 would possibly be around -6dB, and would the red indicate 0dB?

My sound guy on a shoot and I were trying to figure out how what levels the camera was recoding to. He was using a SD 442 and trying to figure out what was happening in the camera.

Thanks,
Garrett
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Old January 18th, 2010, 08:22 PM   #6
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Olof's approach is pretty close to how establish audio volume on my EX3. I get the levels pretty darn close to the -12 dB/-6dB range. I usually do a small tweak in the NLE.

Sealed headphones/earbuds are also key too as has been mentioned.

I don't use the limiter, ever. But I will often ride the level knobs with the side of my thumb while shooting in event situations. Less in post is always better in my view.
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Old January 19th, 2010, 02:26 AM   #7
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Just record a continuos sound/tone at say -20 or -10 then open the sound track in your audio editing software and you should be able to see the exact db level of those values.
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Old January 19th, 2010, 08:05 AM   #8
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Remember, digital audio recording is much more forgiving than the older analogue recording. If you were to go totally blind, then the "12 oclock" rule would get you through 99% of your recording situations. Set the audio recording knobs on the camera at the "12 oclock" position and you would seldom have to worry about a thing.

In the days of analogue recording, over recording would distort the audio and under recording would pick up tape hiss when you raised the audio in the mix. These fears have been all by eliminated in digital audio recording.
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Old January 19th, 2010, 08:57 AM   #9
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Good point Vincent. Duh. I swear sometimes I think my brain goes on vacation.

On another EX audio question. Is it better to turn down the trim and not have to turn the audio controls up as high or the opposite (trim set to a higher number and turn up the audio via the dials on the camera)?

-Garrett
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Old January 19th, 2010, 10:55 AM   #10
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The trim is to set tune the line/mic input so that you have a good range on the volume.

Some mics are "hot" so you turn the trim down.

I like to use the "unity system". IE trim so that the signal is -18DB when volume is on 5 (middle setting), during normal volume into the mic. This gives you a nice adjustment range.

I f I use a 367 or similar mixer I send tone 0 DB (on 367) to -18DB on the Camera.
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Old January 19th, 2010, 11:25 AM   #11
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Thank Olof, that sounds good.

-Garrett
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Old January 19th, 2010, 05:19 PM   #12
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Tip for recording levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
Is there a way to show what the recording levels are on the EX3 (i.e. -12dB, -6dB, 0dB)? If not, how hi on the meters shown in the VF should you let set the levels too?

I have to admit I haven't worried about it until now because I always used a separate audio recorder to capture sound and only used the sound from the camera to sync. I may be doing some field work at the end of the month that might require me to use the sound recorded by the camera.

Thanks,
Garrrett
Don't have a camera here, but I'm sure someone told me that if you turn on the 14:9 safe lines on the viewfinder then peaking to that line on the RHS is approx -12dB and a good MAX level to go for.

Worth checking.

Dave
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Old January 20th, 2010, 11:05 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Brian Barkley View Post
Remember, digital audio recording is much more forgiving than the older analogue recording. If you were to go totally blind, then the "12 oclock" rule would get you through 99% of your recording situations. Set the audio recording knobs on the camera at the "12 oclock" position and you would seldom have to worry about a thing.

In the days of analogue recording, over recording would distort the audio and under recording would pick up tape hiss when you raised the audio in the mix. These fears have been all by eliminated in digital audio recording.
Brian, I don't know about you, but I'd never say that digital is "much more forgiving" compared to analog. For instance, if you run your levels into the red on digital, you get nothing but noise, clicking and distortion. The same mistake on analog tape will get you tape saturation but not much else. I love what digital noise floor levels can give us to work with, but you NEVER go over 0db in digital.
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Old January 21st, 2010, 07:28 AM   #14
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Dave, I'm never persnickative about my audio levels and I always get great sound. I'm currently producing a documentary where I've interviewes almost 80 people . . and ALL of the audio is crystal clear . . of course my Schoep's CS4 mic has been a huge part of my sharp audio. Proper audio levels are fine, but they do not necessarily assure good audio.

Some of the worse audio you will hear is on the cable channels ... CNBC, CNN, FOX, etc. because they use limiters, automatic leve controls, and EQ . . and they end up with this monotone sound with no life in the voices whatsoever. My audio is 100 times better than these huge networks with their millions.
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Old January 21st, 2010, 08:53 AM   #15
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Quote:
" My audio is 100 times better than these huge networks with their millions. "
A very confident statement :-)
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