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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).

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Old May 28th, 2008, 08:35 PM   #1
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Ever hear/record a "buzz" sound when using a XLR mic?

Just after I got my A1 last year, I got a Rode NTG-2. The first couple of times I used it everything was fine. Then during one shoot I started hearing a buzz in my Sony headset. But the buzz wasn’t continuous; it only happened once it a while, but it was always the same. Sort of a “Buzz, Buzz, pause long Buzz”.

I was very dismayed as it ruing the taping for that night. Luckily the next night it didn’t happen so I did get a good copy of the show. I spent hours search forums and web sites for what could be causing it. The best I could come up with was the XLR cable wasn’t very good. So I went out and bought a new, very expensive, XLR cable.

The next few times I recorded things, everything was fine. Then one night it happened again and I almost screamed right there while I was recording the show. I checked all my connections and made sure they were tight and it didn’t happen again that night.

I almost called Canon, but since it was an intermittent problem, what were they going to do or tell me? I guess I could have sent an audio of the problem, but I didn’t.

It didn’t happen again in the next six months. Then, when I was at a company meeting and they were using wireless mics, I heard “my buzz” of the speaker system. It is very recognizable and it was exactly the same as when I recorded.

After the meeting I went to the sound board and asked the guys, “Did you hear that buzz over the speakers when so-in-so was talking?” Two said no, one said yes. I asked him if he knew what that was and he said no. Then their boss walks up behind all of us and says I know what it is.

Please tell me, I said. It is the sound when a PDA phone, usually a Blackberry, but it can be an iPhone or Palm, automatically checks for email. “If that device is within 30 feet of the electronics, we hear it over the speakers.”

So if you have every heard that sound and you know what I’m talking about if you have. You now know what it is.

So in the future, I plan on placing my camera as far away from people as I can get when I record show.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 12:47 AM   #2
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Actually it's not really when those devices are checking email... it's more like a polling of the signal to make sure the device & the network are still in communication and it's ANY cell device. For me, I wouldn't call it a "buzz", but more like a "beep beepity beep beepity beep beep" etc etc.

I think in certain venues it's safer to have someone make an announcement to TURN OFF all cell devices. Simply muting the ringers won't do jack. Of course there's no guarantee all will comply.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 01:53 AM   #3
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The constant 'checking in' of cell phones with their closest home base is not the only threat to recording clean audio. I shot footage on a navy fregate some time ago and most of the sound recording was ruined by one of the ship's radars. With every turn of the rotating antenna, when the beam hit my cam, there was a loud hissing sound. Plasma screens are also famous for the RF problems they cause. Hit any forum of radio amateurs and search for 'plasma'. You'll find hundreds of pages with complaints. I once played my XH-A1 close to a older plasma screen and the image was full of stripes. The controls of the FCC should perhaps be more severe, or manufacturers should comply better with the existing rules. Every day there are coming new kinds of transmitting devices on the market: bluetooth, PDM's, door-openers, remote light dimmers,... Many of these work on an ultra (400 Mhz-range) or super high frequency (2 tot 4 gigahertz, the same as a microwave oven!) and are poorly shielded. In fact, in most cases we have the right to file official complaints about this, but who does?
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Old May 29th, 2008, 07:06 AM   #4
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That is a better description of the sound. Thanks.

Now that I think about what the sound guy said, I think he did say polling.

But if it was every device, I would think it would be more often than I hear it. But I'm sure our sound guy only thinks it is from PDA type phones.

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Old June 4th, 2008, 09:21 AM   #5
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The noise you're experiencing is pretty common with cellphones on the GSM network. They interfere with most electronic audio equipment.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 03:59 AM   #6
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The cell phones even can intrude into land line phones, those with electronics in them; and ata high level, Blackberry's are just specialized cell phones in terms of how they communicate with the world.
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Old June 8th, 2008, 04:50 PM   #7
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I just stumbled upon this. I haven't had this problem with the XLR's, but I had this with the 1/8" jack. I had a stereo lavalier mic plugged into it, and got a constant buzzing through a whole shoot. It ruined the audio for that cam. I was lucky, we had a shotgun running too, which might save it.The buzzing basically took up the bottom 1/4th of the output range. I thought it was the mic, but I plugged it in later at my house and there was no buzzing at all. So... who knows... maybe it was a cell phone.
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