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Professional sound without a XLR in? Newbie post.


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#1 Sam Peterson

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 05:37 PM

Hello, I'm a 21 year old student and just purchased a Canon HV20 camcorder to continue making special effects tests and start making actual short films. I plan to buy a shotgun mic soon (thanks to Dan Brockett for the helpful review) to add more professional-like audio.

My question is, because I bought an HV20 due to prosumer camcorders with XLR Ins being out of my budget, what would be my best option to be able to use a shotgun mic along with the HV20. I heard about the M-Audio USB audio board, but as I looked into it more, it seems that it must be plugged into a computer while recording. Please correct me if this is wrong. But it seems like that would make it impractical to use for almost all outdoor filming, as carrying around a laptop along with the other equipment would be a hassle.

Is there any type of setup I could use where theres an audio board that has a build in hard drive, or some other set up I haven't found yet? If anyone has any information or advice I would much appreciate it.

Thank you.

-Sam
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#2 Sam Peterson

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 11:27 PM

Little update. I now realize the USB audio board needs a computer while recording so thats pretty much out.

I also forgot to ask, would it be worth it to get a short cable that goes from 1/8" to XLR, then buy a longer XLR cable and use that kind of setup? I know there would be some quality loss, but to what extent? Would the quality loss be negligible or would it kind of defeat the purpose of buying a $200 shotgun microphone?

I'm just trying to find the best solution to getting the best audio with a Canon HV20. Thanks.

-Sam
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#3 Hal Smith

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 01:00 AM

I also forgot to ask, would it be worth it to get a short cable that goes from 1/8" to XLR, then buy a longer XLR cable and use that kind of setup? I know there would be some quality loss, but to what extent? Would the quality loss be negligible or would it kind of defeat the purpose of buying a $200 shotgun microphone?
-Sam

No quality loss but 1. Use quality mike cables like Canare and Clark. 2. Use Switchcraft XLR-3M and XLR-3F connectors, they're a bit old school but I've seen Switchcraft XLR's get run over a truck and survive. 3. Use strain relief on the cable between XLR and the 1/8" phone plug into the camera. If someone trips over a cable you don't want that stress ending up on the tiny 1/8" plug. Usually you can at least gaff tape the XLR to your tripod.

An option is to use an outboard mixer to transistion from mike XLR to 1/8" into the camera. That's a real good idea if the camera has a line level input but even without that, it's real nice to have an off-camera VU meter and level control so someone other than you can tend audio levels. I personally have a Shure M368 that I use between mikes and line level sources and my Sony miniDV. Using the Shure eliminated every problem I had trying to go directly into the Sony shooting music videos and theatrical archival tapes.
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#4 Daniel Smith

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 06:49 AM

Forget converters, especially 1/4" to 3.5 minijack. The only real advatage to recording with an on-location laptop is that you could probably find an interface or sound card that records at 96khz 24bit, giving you a bit more overhead in sound post. (You most likely won't hear any difference)

As opposed to 48khz 16bit what the camera records.

I tape the XLR cables to the tripod even though there isn't a conveter, less stress the better, however go easy as tape can often leave gunk on the cables or tripod.

Edited by Daniel Ashley-Smith, 12 March 2008 - 06:49 AM.

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#5 Hal Smith

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 09:06 AM

................however go easy as tape can often leave gunk on the cables or tripod.

Maybe this is a UK/US issue but over here you can get gaffer tape that won't leave a residue. My favorite brand is Pro-Gaff (Actually manufactured by Permacel).

3M makes a product that's a special solvent blend that removes tape residue without harming most surfaces. http://solutions.3m....JbeWWR6DCKBSPgl

I moved into a theatre a couple of years ago where the previous production had used surgical tape (plaster) to tape things down and there was white tape goo over everything. AMATEURS! GRRRR!!! :angry:
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#6 Mike Wallach

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 07:09 PM

Not sure what everyone else is talking about, but I would just use a beach box adaptor. It comes with a 3.5 minijack that plugs into the camera, and then allows you two XLR inputs...

http://dvcreators.ne...ek-xlr-adapters

This is, of course, if you want to record sound to tape. The real answer is to just get a sound recorder..
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#7 Sam Peterson

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 06:01 PM

Thanks for the replies everyone. I appreciate the help.

To Mike Wallach, what benefit would that Beachtek adapter have over normal converter cables? Do those cables tend to have hiss, quality loss, or something else that the Beachtek adapter resolves? I'm curious about this because this seems like exactly what I was looking for, but its almost $200 as opposed to an 1/8" to XLR cable that would cost about $20. (Sorry if my questions seem obvious, I'm new to this)

Thanks.
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#8 Hal Smith

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 10:14 PM

...........Beachtek adapter have over normal converter cables? Do those cables tend to have hiss, quality loss, or something else that the Beachtek adapter resolves? .......... as opposed to an 1/8" to XLR cable that would cost about $20.

I can't address whether or not the Beachtek is worth its price but one very important factor with mike cables is that they be inherently low-noise. Cheap cables generate static electricity internally when flexed which shows up as background noise in a recording. Stick with cables rated for microphone service from name brand manufacturers like Clark, Canare, Belden, etc. The best of the best are the four wire cables that use a method of twisting the internal wires that makes them almost bulletproof with respect to picking up external hum from lighting and power cables.
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#9 Mike Wallach

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 11:52 PM

I can't address whether or not the Beachtek is worth its price but one very important factor with mike cables is that they be inherently low-noise. Cheap cables generate static electricity internally when flexed which shows up as background noise in a recording. Stick with cables rated for microphone service from name brand manufacturers like Clark, Canare, Belden, etc. The best of the best are the four wire cables that use a method of twisting the internal wires that makes them almost bulletproof with respect to picking up external hum from lighting and power cables.



I never used the cheap ones. I know for a fact the beachtek works I have one. that's all I can tell you.
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 05:55 AM

The HV20 is a shockingly good little device, really one of the "holy crap, you can have those pictures for how much?" generation, especially if you can avoid making its rolling shutter too obvious.

That said I'm not sure I'd try and record audio on it. I'd look around for separate audio recording and perhaps just cable it to the camera as a guide. If the HV20 will accept line level input, do that, as you then won't be relying on its (inevitably cheap and horrible) mic inputs. If you do that, you can then use a small, relatively low cost audio mixer to feed it, and have someone mix audio for you while you shoot. That's actually not a bad solution.

P
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#11 Mike Wallach

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 11:11 AM

The HV20 is a shockingly good little device, really one of the "holy crap, you can have those pictures for how much?" generation, especially if you can avoid making its rolling shutter too obvious.

That said I'm not sure I'd try and record audio on it. I'd look around for separate audio recording and perhaps just cable it to the camera as a guide. If the HV20 will accept line level input, do that, as you then won't be relying on its (inevitably cheap and horrible) mic inputs. If you do that, you can then use a small, relatively low cost audio mixer to feed it, and have someone mix audio for you while you shoot. That's actually not a bad solution.

P


I have the HV20 and use my beachtek with it. That's why i was recomending it. I <3 my HV20.
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#12 Sam Peterson

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 04:14 PM

What I'm going to do/am doing is I ordered a simple xlr to 1/8" cable and a 25' canare xlr cable. If I get any hiss or anything that bothers me too much once I get my shotgun mic, I'll save up for that Beachtek adapter. Might as well start out cheap and see if that works for me. Thanks for the input everyone.
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#13 Hal Smith

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 01:18 PM

What I'm going to do/am doing is I ordered a simple xlr to 1/8" cable and a 25' canare xlr cable. If I get any hiss or anything that bothers me too much once I get my shotgun mic, I'll save up for that Beachtek adapter. Might as well start out cheap and see if that works for me. Thanks for the input everyone.

You won't get hiss from cables and connectors. You might get static-like noises, buzz, and hum from so-so cables but not hiss. You should do well with what you've ordered.
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#14 Warren Bake

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 01:08 PM

I've actually been looking into these XLR camcorder adapters this lately. Here's a summary of what I've found:

www.beachtek.com - Mounts to camera. Various passive adapters. Some with phantom and audio meter. New unit with preamp (DXA6HD).

www.juicedlink.com - Mounts to camera. All include preamplifier. Options include phantom, 2-4 XLR inputs, audio meter.

www.studio1productions.com - Doesn't mount to camera, and no phantom or preamp option. Option for 3 XLR input. Plastic case.

www.signvideo.com - Mounts to camera. No phantom or preamp option. 1 and 2 XLR input options.


There is an interesting demo video on the juicedLink site, showing how using preamps can reduce camcorder hiss while recording fine audio detail:
http://www.juicedlin..._comparison.htm
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