URSA Mini Audio Issues

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Shayne Metcalfe

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URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostFri May 06, 2016 3:59 pm

Hi,

We are experiencing audio issues with our URSA Mini. We have tried a lab, a stick mic and a shotgun (phantom powered) and they are all very noisy.

Has anyone else experienced this?

Any ideas on a fix or do we need to send our camera back for repair?

Thanks
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paulgolden

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostSun May 29, 2016 4:28 am

Yes. I had a dispiriting session today trying to get clean audio onto my new Ursa Mini 4.6. I found using the XLR inputs basically unpredictable and very noisy. They'd cut in and out sometimes refusing to work until I rebooted the camera.

I tested extensively using phantom power, not using phantom power, mic high and low in, line level in, and everything including the headphone jack was atrocious. Mixing phantom and non phantom sources was impossible and would result in audio shut down.

The headphone output delay is worse than most other recorders and the headphone quality extremely noisy. The line level input is overly sensitive and clips with a very low signal coming from my Sound Devices Mix Pre. The mic pre-amps are really terrible, with a lot of hiss and distortion. The headphone signal is somewhat misleading because the recorded audio was a little better than what you hear on playback. Either my camera is a lemon or BMD's audio engineering is lacking.

Overall, BMD gets another F in the audio department. My suggestion: use the onboard mics to record reference audio and make sure you have a good external recorder that can do the job right.
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rick.lang

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostSun May 29, 2016 1:56 pm

But others have reported that the Mini 4.6K finally does audio right. Not perfectly. Not as well as an external recorder. Perhaps your camera does have a fault, Paul.


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Denny Smith

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostSun May 29, 2016 4:43 pm

Rick, Using the line level inputs connected to your MicPre (canmera phantom power off), use the SD MixPre reference tone to set camera audio input level to unity (100/percent) level, then with a good mic connected to,the MixPre tweak,the camera input to see if you can get a good voice audio level setting. Check results in your computer, not camera playback, as various reports suggest the camera monitoring (headphone) amp is noisy, like the old Shure SM32 mixers had.
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Dave Perry

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostSun May 29, 2016 9:55 pm

I've done two shoots with my Ursa Mini 4.6 so far and used audio. First shoot was audio from a Sound Devices 442 mixer and 744t recorder at mic level into Ursa. It was a little cumbersome and disorienting adjusting headphone levels via menu. I don't like the lack of hard stops on the physical knobs for input levels because I can't just look and see where they are set. The second shoot was a one man band for a stand up interview using my AT897 mic straight into the channel 1 input with ch 2 using ch 1 levels. Phantom power on. It worked like a charm on both shoots and I'm so happy to have good audio without having to use a recorder for sync sound. Granted, the bar was set pretty low since I'm used to using the BMPCC and BMPC4K. It now frees up my MixPre to be used as a field mixer by a dedicated sound person.
BMUM 4.6k PL, BMPC 4K, BMPCC
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rick.lang

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostSun May 29, 2016 10:01 pm

Dave, when you recorded audio in camera with the AT897, did you monitor the audio using headphones using the stereo mini-jack?


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Dave Perry

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostSun May 29, 2016 10:17 pm

rick.lang wrote:Dave, when you recorded audio in camera with the AT897, did you monitor the audio using headphones using the stereo mini-jack?


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Yes, Rick, I did. No problem other than no physical knob to adjust volume. The delay doesn't bother me. I'm so used to it from working digital over the years.
BMUM 4.6k PL, BMPC 4K, BMPCC
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Director of Photography • Editor • Digital Film Production
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Roanoke Va. 24017
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rick.lang

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URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostSun May 29, 2016 10:28 pm

No hard stops has been an irritation for most people using the knobs. But glad you still managed.

For my daughter's wedding in early July, I'm thinking I may have to record sound using my iPhone with Zoom iQ5 as well as my Canon HV20 with DM-50 shotgun mic. I know it won't be great, but hope it's good enough since I've almost exhausted my budget and don't have ND filters for the Fujinon zoom yet! The DM-50 does a credible job as I've used it to record a choral group and they preferred the results over a pro who also recorded stereo audio for them at the same time!


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paulgolden

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostSun May 29, 2016 11:52 pm

Then I think I've got a dud camera.

I tested again today for a shoot. A Sennheiser MKE2 lav hardwired wired to XLR and a Neumann KM81 shotgun on left and right channels. First I went straight in to the camera's XLRs. Using Mic Low and 48v phantom power, I was unable to get a signal without a ton of hiss, no matter how I altered the gain. When I switched to Mic High, I get no signal at all, as in nada. The headphones sounded crappy, but then I popped the card to see how it sounded on my computer. Vocals were there and correct level, but rushing noise like the ocean.

I switched over a SD MixPre and sent Line out to the Ursa Mini. I was able to get a pilot tone over at -20db, but actual signal resulted in way too much clipping. Vocals were distorted at all gain levels. Even if I dialed in the levels down to 1 on the camera and had more or less normal output levels on the MixPre, the audio levels were OK on the recorded but really distorted and gravelly.

I then sent the line out signal from the MixPre into a Marantz PMD 661 and it was clean as a whistle.

I was unable to get an acceptable recording, so we're going have to record 2nd source and post sync. I'll talk to BMD on Tuesday and see what they say.

Does anyone know if this camera has some sort of AGC or other signal processing going on that's affecting the gain, such that turning the gain down all the way on Line In will cause distortion if you flood it with clean gain from an external mixer?
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paulgolden

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostSun May 29, 2016 11:55 pm

One last question, the manual is vague on this: does anyone know what the technical difference is between Mic Low and Mic High? I've not seen any specs or suggestions on when to use which in the manual.
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rick.lang

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostMon May 30, 2016 2:47 am

I don't know if this helps, but the gain set at 50% is neutral, not raising or lowering the signal strength. So setting gain down to 0% is really suppressing any signal received.

And regarding the lack of any sound from the internal speaker, one possible cause is that the Program Mix is set at 0%. Set it to 100% or 50% to hear the audio from your recording. 0% means that the Program feed coming into the camera from the Director over SDI is all you will hear. At 50% you hear the Director and your own audio. At 100% you are ignoring the Director and only getting the audio from the video. That's my understanding, but I could be wrong!


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Dave Perry

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostMon May 30, 2016 3:00 am

paulgolden wrote:One last question, the manual is vague on this: does anyone know what the technical difference is between Mic Low and Mic High? I've not seen any specs or suggestions on when to use which in the manual.


I'm pretty sure I read that it's a 15db pad.
BMUM 4.6k PL, BMPC 4K, BMPCC
----------------------------------------------
Dave Perry Cinematographer LLC
Director of Photography • Editor • Digital Film Production
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Roanoke Va. 24017
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Jerry Carlsson

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostMon Oct 10, 2016 8:19 am

paulgolden wrote:Then I think I've got a dud camera.

I tested again today for a shoot. A Sennheiser MKE2 lav hardwired wired to XLR and a Neumann KM81 shotgun on left and right channels. First I went straight in to the camera's XLRs. Using Mic Low and 48v phantom power, I was unable to get a signal without a ton of hiss, no matter how I altered the gain. When I switched to Mic High, I get no signal at all, as in nada. The headphones sounded crappy, but then I popped the card to see how it sounded on my computer. Vocals were there and correct level, but rushing noise like the ocean.

I switched over a SD MixPre and sent Line out to the Ursa Mini. I was able to get a pilot tone over at -20db, but actual signal resulted in way too much clipping. Vocals were distorted at all gain levels. Even if I dialed in the levels down to 1 on the camera and had more or less normal output levels on the MixPre, the audio levels were OK on the recorded but really distorted and gravelly.

I then sent the line out signal from the MixPre into a Marantz PMD 661 and it was clean as a whistle.

I was unable to get an acceptable recording, so we're going have to record 2nd source and post sync. I'll talk to BMD on Tuesday and see what they say.

Does anyone know if this camera has some sort of AGC or other signal processing going on that's affecting the gain, such that turning the gain down all the way on Line In will cause distortion if you flood it with clean gain from an external mixer?


We experience the same issues with the sound, a small ocean in the background and some gravelly (digital?) noise. Did you get any answer from BMD?
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rick.lang

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostWed Oct 12, 2016 5:16 pm

Dave, the URSA Mini menu has an option to enable a -15dB pad but that might be distinct from the Mic low and Mic high setting.


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Justin Ong

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostMon Nov 14, 2016 4:41 am

Ive the same issues, they've replaced my 4.6k with a new one.
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Denny Smith

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostMon Nov 14, 2016 6:14 pm

Justin, Et all, you do realize the SD mixer is showing analog VU scale with "0" as Unity on it meter, while the UM camera (and digital recorders) use a different "Digital dB" scale, where ""0" on the SD mixer equals about -18 on the camera digital scale, with average peaks set at -12, to get the necessary headroom before clipping occurs at digital "0" (which equals +18 on the SD, which is where the scale goes red. From 0 dB on the SD to +6 is where you want the actual audio levels to be at.

So set the camera level with the tone generator on (at 0dB on the mixer) to -18 on the camera meter, as a starting point and test it. If the audio sounds too noisy, reduce gain on the camera to -20, the. Test again. Every camera/recorder is a little different in the scales their meters use. When recording, the camera should be hitting peaks at around -12, which will be around +6 on the SD mixer. Hope this helps
DS
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Philippe Metro

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostMon Nov 14, 2016 8:41 pm

Also, I noticied that the audio recording is impossible to use because of the noise when the camera is powered by the AC plug, but is working perfectly (after RMA) when powered by the battery.

It probably has to do with the fact that most sockets are not connected to the ground where I'm living now.
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JonathanDMack

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Re: URSA Mini Audio Issues

PostThu Apr 20, 2017 8:15 pm

Hey Justin,
When they replaced your camera, was the replacement successful at fixing the audio issues?

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