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#1 Aaron Hultin

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 02:03 PM

I have been testing a TASCAM DA-P1 DAT recorder with a Azden SMG-2X mic. It is functioning and recording normally, but unfortunately I am experiencing quite a bit of hiss, and I would obviously want to eliminate this. I have tested two different XLR cables, both of which have the same problem. I do have access to a Sennheiser ME66 microphone, so I am hoping to try that out and see if it fixes my problem. I am using high quality headphones, the Sennheiser HD 280, so I doubt the problem is from them. Are there any things you could suggest to help me solve this problem?

PS - I currently only have the mic feeding into the left channel, as I don't have a XLR splitter to feed my single mic source into both the left and right channels. I am going to be picking up a splitter later today so I can feed into both channels, hoping this will reduce the hiss somewhat.

In the meantime, any suggestions?
Is the Azden SMG-2X a poor choice?

Thanks.
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#2 Hal Smith

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 08:40 AM

In the meantime, any suggestions?
Is the Azden SMG-2X a poor choice?

One possibility is that your DAT has microphone preamps that are noisy with nothing plugged into them.

I looked at the specs on that Azden mike, they claim a maximum sound pressure of 110dB, and a dynamic range of 85dB. That implies a noise floor unweighted of 25dB. By comparison the Sennheiser ME-66's noise floor is rated at 10dB unweighted. The difference of 15dB is a lot of extra noise. And being a prosumer product the Azden figures are probably "enhanced".

Unfortunately there is no such thing as a free lunch, or a cheap quality mike. Rent an ME-66 for a day to see if your problem is the Azden mike. And MAKE A WYE CORD - NOW!!!
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#3 Christopher Kennedy Alpiar

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 01:42 AM

using and getting in tune with a decent noise gate is also ultra important! Any hyper sensitive microphone used directly into a recorder is going to pickup noise. So especially for on location shoots where you cannot isolate in a controlled environment it is important to understand where your noise is coming from, what kind of mic is right for the situation, and how to use a noise gate. Many mic preamps have a gate built in that you can adjust the parameters. Its important to experiment a bit to find the right balance between getting out unwanted ambient noise and also not sounding weird with the gate opening too fast (the attack will sound like a walkie talkie clicking on) and not closing too fast behind also. If you arent using a mic pre or your pre has no gate, You can pick up cheap and cheaper used a stand alone noise gate, or even better a compressor with a gate included. I have mentioned a few places my ISA 430s and I live by them for getting great sound in almost any situation =)

As for WYE cords, I never would make or use one, was that comment in jest? WYE is just asking for trouble. If you must split your signal and cant use a mixing board of some kind, get a line distribution amp which will guarantee that the power of your signal once split will remain constant

Edited by Christopher Kennedy Alpiar, 01 August 2007 - 01:46 AM.

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#4 Christopher Kennedy Alpiar

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 01:54 AM

As for your problem "PS - I currently only have the mic feeding into the left channel, as I don't have a XLR splitter to feed my single mic source into both the left and right channels. I am going to be picking up a splitter later today so I can feed into both channels, hoping this will reduce the hiss somewhat."

Why do you want to record stereo with a mono source? Your hiss will only get worse when you split it into 2 seperate feeds (double! and add in noise created from the splitter!) Mono microphone should be recorded in mono, or run through a mixer or distribution amp and recorded as stereo. But when you go to edit your mono signal is just fine and can be turned into stereo sound much more efficiently and with greater quality at that time. If you want to "record" stereo well you need a stereo mic or a pair of mono mics positioned as their polarity requires to capture stereo. Otherwise just record your mic in the left channel once you have a nice clean path with noise filtered out and if you want more then a mono signal you can adjust it during editing
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#5 Aaron Hultin

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 04:58 PM

An update:

I have completely eliminated the hiss I was hearing earlier with the DAT.

I hooked a Sennheiser ME-66 directly into the DAT (no noise gate/compressor/pre-amp) just the mic running by a short XLR cable into a single channel of the DAT. The DAT didn't pick up any of the 'extra' noise that was bothering me before. It recorded a completely smooth, clean track.

The conclusion:

Don't buy a cheap microphone. The difference of about $350 - $400 in price between the lower-end Azden SMG2X and the Sennheiser ME-66 was huge.

Thanks to everyone who helped my work through the issue, as it is now resolved.

Edited by Aaron Hultin, 20 August 2007 - 05:02 PM.

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#6 Hal Smith

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 05:02 PM

An update:

I have completely eliminated the hiss I was hearing earlier with the DAT.

I hooked a Sennheiser ME-66 directly into the DAT (no noise gate/compressor/pre-amp) just the mic running by a short XLR cable into a single channel of the DAT. The DAT didn't pick up any of the 'extra' noise that was bothering me before. It recorded a completely smooth, clean track.
The conclusion:
Don't buy a cheap microphone. The difference of about $350 - $400 in price between the lower-end Azden SMG2X and the Sennheiser ME-66 was huge.
Thanks to everyone who helped my work through the issue, as it is now resolved.

Taa-Daa!
I thought that might be the trouble, Azden's specs were obviously written by their marketing department.
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#7 Aaron Hultin

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 10:19 AM

Yeah it made a world of difference. This mic will probably be best suited for someone looking at something a bit cheaper, who is less finicky about audio than me. I really have become quite obsessed with creating clean tracks, and the ME-66 did the trick.

But now I am wondering ....

Is there any other equipment that would be a good idea to have? A mixer (So my output to DAT is at line level? - Thanks for the tip, Hal) A gate? Compressor? I guess I should mention that I am recording plain dialog, indoors and out, with a single mic only. The audio was good to the point of satisfaction, and I'm not sure if any other equipment will improve it, however I did read that running an XLR cable from the mic, directly into the DAT without going through anything else is undesirable. True? Believe it or not, I am finding audio guides/resources relating to film/tv much harder to come by than the countless 'Make Your Own Movie' style websites that at least touch on the basics.

Edited by Aaron Hultin, 23 August 2007 - 10:23 AM.

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#8 Hal Smith

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 08:11 PM

Is there any other equipment that would be a good idea to have? A mixer (So my output to DAT is at line level? - Thanks for the tip, Hal) A gate? Compressor? I guess I should mention that I am recording plain dialog, indoors and out, with a single mic only. ..............

One concern would be the quality of the mike preamps in the DAT - but if you're not hearing any background hiss the ones you have are at least "good enough".

There are people who like to use quality external mike preamps and mixers to get the best possible audio into their recorder - not a bad thought but I've noticed that when you get into discussions about mike preamps you start to get a lot of "audiophile" BS going on - people start talking about hearing things that are absolutely unproved and unprovable,

A good compressor is often nice to have around but you need to really play with any you might get to ensure you know what settings to use on location. I prefer Aphex Compellors (as I've mentioned) but they are quite pricey. The built-in compressor in my Shure M387 isn't too bad but it's a very simple minded one compared to a Compellor. I use the Shure's compressor mainly for "oh poop" limiting, to keep levels below the clip level in the gear following it (like a camera). I've never found much use for gates, if you've got that much background noise and hum, it's much better to fix the problem, not try to hide it with a gate.
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#9 Aaron Hultin

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 09:02 PM

So does having a pre-amp allow me to make the dialog a little more 'rich' by playing with the gain and other features? That is my one complaint about my direct-to-DAT audio, is that is was a little, 'hollow'. I want rich ....
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