Ursa Mini Sound Quality

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rick.lang

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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostThu Mar 16, 2017 4:04 am

I talked to the Canadian distributor for the Fethead Phantom and the gentleman actually recommended I use the Sound Devices MixPre-D instead of the Fethead. When I told him about my interest in the Zoom F4, he said that was a good recorder with lots of features but if I wanted quality audio over features, the MixPre-D was the better choice. He sells them all so I trust his advice.


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Jamie LeJeune

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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostThu Mar 16, 2017 4:44 am

rick.lang wrote:I talked to the Canadian distributor for the Fethead Phantom and the gentleman actually recommended I use the Sound Devices MixPre-D instead of the Fethead. When I told him about my interest in the Zoom F4, he said that was a good recorder with lots of features but if I wanted quality audio over features, the MixPre-D was the better choice. He sells them all so I trust his advice.


I made the unfortunate mistake of purchasing a Fethead Phantom. It did not work at all on the Ursa Mini. When attached all that came through the XLR was white noise.

EDIT: BTW having used both the Zoom F4 and MixPre-D, I did not see any difference in the quality of the audio. Tests posted online by B&H and other reviewers also came to the same conclusion. The signal to noise ratio of the recorders is equal (or perhaps even greater on the Zoom). The major difference is that the MixPre-D has analogue limiters versus digital limiters on the Zoom F4 (and F8). In practice, it hasn't turned out to be a crucial difference, especially because the Zoom F4 can be set to use channels 3 + 4 to record the source from channels 1 and 2 with a -12dB (or more) pad which offers protection if there is some unexpectedly loud noise. The MixPre-D is wonderful and better for mounting on the camera (though still unwieldy), but the Zoom F4 offers more features and flexibility which is what swayed my purchasing decision.

This is a quite extensive review of the Zoom F4 that I found informative:
www.incafilms.com
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4601572/
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Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostThu Mar 16, 2017 7:37 pm

Jamie, as always, thanks for your sage advice. I had reviewed the thread and seen your earlier remarks, but today's note is very helpful since you mention the quality difference (with the possible exception of the analogue versus digital limiters) may be imperceptible. And as you point out channel 3&4 can help with that as well as the higher dynamic range on the Zoom F4. The beauty of the F4 is that it is a recorder. The appeal of the Fethead is the convenience of recording in camera, but only if the signal is good going into the UM46K camera. And Sound Devices MixPre-D has a good reputation as a reasonably well-priced entry to very good quality as a preamp. I'll look at the video but I've seen others before and generally was impressed. I just want to buy once-and-done.

Edit
Yes, lots of flexibility on the F4 for camera and USB interfaces. I wonder if I can interface my Zoom iQ5 mic (with Apple Lightning connector) somehow to the F4?

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Last edited by rick.lang on Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Qualitya

PostThu Mar 16, 2017 7:47 pm

And audio quality is more than just frequency specifications. The quality and type of the components used in a MicPreamp can "color" the audio signal, just as a lens does. While the Zoom is nice, Imprefer the more compact style and rugged construction on the MixPreD, and its ability to have Pan control on a mono signal, and X/Y Stereo signal separation, control. As well as the ease of use, and optional digital AES3 output. The MixPre also combines a preamp with a ADC for future proofing, and for me the unbalanced line out designed for cameras like the BM Micro cameras is also an important feature I need.
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Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostThu Mar 16, 2017 8:30 pm

The FRC-8 control panel for the Zoom F4 and F8 looks like it's out:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qgxpda67pgU

https://zoom-na.com/products/field-vide ... controller

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Last edited by rick.lang on Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostThu Mar 16, 2017 8:35 pm

Yes, being able to fairly easily include the MixPre-D on my rig is definitely nice. As is, the Zoom F4 looks like it will be isolated from the rig which is no problem when you have a sound guy.

What do you think, Jamie, is the F4 able to be managed by a sole camera operator?

This charming reviewer points out a possibly significant concern with the XLR-Out levels. Take a look at this video at about 00:06:30:00 please. This might preclude taking output from the F4 and feeding it into the URSA Mini 4.6K camera which I may want to do.

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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostSat Mar 18, 2017 5:05 am

rick.lang wrote:Jamie, as always, thanks for your sage advice. I had reviewed the thread and seen your earlier remarks, but today's note is very helpful since you mention the quality difference (with the possible exception of the analogue versus digital limiters) may be imperceptible. And as you point out channel 3&4 can help with that as well as the higher dynamic range on the Zoom F4. The beauty of the F4 is that it is a recorder. The appeal of the Fethead is the convenience of recording in camera, but only if the signal is good going into the UM46K camera. And Sound Devices MixPre-D has a good reputation as a reasonably well-priced entry to very good quality as a preamp. I'll look at the video but I've seen others before and generally was impressed. I just want to buy once-and-done.

Edit
Yes, lots of flexibility on the F4 for camera and USB interfaces. I wonder if I can interface my Zoom iQ5 mic (with Apple Lightning connector) somehow to the F4?

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Zooms mic capsules like the one you link to include their own inferior pre-amp rather than using the pre-amp used for the XLR inputs the Zoom F4/F8.
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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostSat Mar 18, 2017 5:14 am

Thanks, Jamie.


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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostSat Mar 18, 2017 6:21 pm

The Zoom doesn't have true dual balanced transformer output on its XLR wither, the signal is only present on the hot pin, instead of on the two signal pins. This for me is the main reason to go with the MixPreD, it has true balanced transformer-based outputs on the analog XLR outs.
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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostSun Mar 19, 2017 6:32 pm

Interesting comment. Zoom does say they support balanced XLR audio, but do you think they were only referring to XLR inputs?


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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostSun Mar 19, 2017 7:47 pm

Yes, single side is still balanced, but not a true balanced signal. I was reminded of this out from another where one side of the signal (hot side) was lost due,to a bad cable, and the entire signal was lost. On a true dual balanced system, the signal will still be there, but at a lower level.
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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostSun Mar 19, 2017 10:25 pm

rick.lang wrote:What do you think, Jamie, is the F4 able to be managed by a sole camera operator?

This charming reviewer points out a possibly significant concern with the XLR-Out levels. Take a look at this video at about 00:06:30:00 please. This might preclude taking output from the F4 and feeding it into the URSA Mini 4.6K camera which I may want to do.


If you are seeking a camera mounted solution to run audio directly into the camera, rather than two-system recording, I think the MixPre will serve you better than the Zoom F4.

I use the Zoom F4 for two system recording, never into camera.
Two reasons:
1) Failure is not an option on a professional shoot and I simply don't trust the Ursa Mini to record audio without issues, even when fed from a good external pre-amp.
2) If I was recording into the Ursa Mini, I would want to monitor from its headphone port, but the delay on the audio out is so long that its quite distracting.

The Ursa Mini wasn't designed for professional audio recording in camera. It's a cinema camera like the rest of the line where two system audio is assumed. Fine, however, for scratch audio or personal projects (where failure can be tolerated).

It will be interesting to see whether the new Pro model is up to par with true ENG cameras built for high quality, reliable audio recorded in camera.
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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostMon Mar 20, 2017 12:42 am

Thanks, Jamie. More to think about.


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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostMon Mar 20, 2017 1:32 am

Yes, I am also interested in seeing how the audio is in the UM Pro.
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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostMon Mar 20, 2017 5:13 am

Let's be honest here Denny: You're going to end up buying the Mini Pro!


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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostMon Mar 20, 2017 5:20 am

Maybe :?:
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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostMon Mar 27, 2017 3:34 pm

Here is Daniel Peters brief video comparison of the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K and the URSA Mini 4.6K. At about 5 minutes into the video he gives us a sample of the audio. Pro seems to be cleaner, but the Mini 4.6K does have some character to it, so not necessarily good audio versus bad audio. It's different audio.

https://vimeo.com/groups/blackmagic/videos/210111631


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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostMon Mar 27, 2017 3:51 pm

rick.lang wrote:Here is Daniel Peters brief video comparison of the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K and the URSA Mini 4.6K. At about 5 minutes into the video he gives us a sample of the audio. Pro seems to be cleaner, but the Mini 4.6K does have some character to it, so not necessarily good audio versus bad audio. It's different audio.

https://vimeo.com/groups/blackmagic/videos/210111631


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The character you are hearing is likely just Vimeo compression of the audio which also masks much of any difference in the noise floor. A true comparison would be if he shared the WAV audio files direct from camera.
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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostMon Mar 27, 2017 3:56 pm

Good point, Jamie.

I spent some time cleaning up my audio from Saturday's shoot and then posted the video on the client's YouTube website. The audio sounded cleaner on YouTube than I could do on my computer with iZotope. I'm sure what I did helped YouTube, but I must admit the web sounded cleaner than my edit station.


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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostTue Mar 28, 2017 1:14 am

rick.lang wrote:Good point, Jamie.

I spent some time cleaning up my audio from Saturday's shoot and then posted the video on the client's YouTube website. The audio sounded cleaner on YouTube than I could do on my computer with iZotope. I'm sure what I did helped YouTube, but I must admit the web sounded cleaner than my edit station.


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I knew that YouTube compression would hide a certain amount of video image noise, but I hadn't previously considered how much it might do the same thing for subtle noise in audio. That's a nice bonus :D

EDIT: Also looking at Mr. Peters video again, it's a good bet that his original Ursa Mini was set to mic "high" while the Ursa Mini Pro was not. Considering that he also left the background soundtrack running during his audio test, it's not a very reliable source from which to draw conclusions.
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Re: Ursa Mini Sound Quality

PostTue Mar 28, 2017 4:28 pm

I agree, that was so strange having off camera poor quality music makes muddying the waters as he tries to illustrate one camera's audio against another.


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