Dienstag, 12. März 2013

Sound improvement

When i was still working on my old Canon 7D, the biggest issue at the beginning was the sound. The camera first came with only an automatic sound system, that allowed a external microphone to be attached but no real control of the levels. Some tech friends later figured out to "stun" the AGC ( Automatic Gain Control ) with piping in a very high frequency on the second channel. Therefore you needed a separate device. Advantage was, that with this devices, you mostly could also control the levels with comfortable dials and sometimes it even came with XLR input.

But it also made the camera more bulky and many solutions where not perfect, making it sometimes still quite a challenge to level in the sound, especially in a fast changing broadcast environment.
I used the first Beachtek boxes and later upgraded to a new Beachtek SLR-DXA mini, wich turned out to be quite sophisticated. I barely use it anymore though, only if i have 2 signals i have to mix together.

Now, after cameras like the 5D Mark III or the Eos 1D X/C are out, the manufacturers heard the complains and provided the cameras with a quite well built sound implementation. It still doesn't have XLR inputs ( which in my view is going to vanish anyways in the not so far future) nor separate buttons and dials for level control. But through access of digital menus and using the normal camera dials, on-the-fly level modification is possible.

So, what you actually need nowadays is just some boom mic, alternatively a radio mic setup and some shotgun mike for the run-and-gun shooting.

My personal choice for the boom mic is the Rode NTG2, its not perfect, but it comes to a halfway decent price and for the 99% sound recording you will encounter during broadcast features etc. it is more then enough.

For the radio mic setup, which is helpful for interview or if the person in front of the camera needs his hands free, the choice is pretty much Sennheiser or Sony. Both come with good setups and the Sony is slightly less expensive, but performs in my eyes as equal...its slightly more bulky though.

For the shotgun setup i used for some time the Rode Stereo Video Mic, but that is an old model, and it got phased out. It is also pretty bulky and has some flaws. It performs ok and i was in general happy with its performance, but if i replace it i would go for the MKE400 from Sennheiser, which has a nice size/performance balance or if I can afford it, get one of Ambient's "Tiny Mike":

The performance is superb and the size and weight is even better.
I was told they also have an excellent customer service, which ended up of a friend having his phone replaced in 48 hours, while he was shooting in south east asia.

I clearly speak here as a camera person, not a sound aficionado who might have a lot of things to complain about the mentioned sound tools, but for TV broadcast with the focus on news, i think that is really sufficient.

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