Audio....again

The place for questions about shooting with Blackmagic Cameras.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

sean mclennan

  • Posts: 1433
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:28 pm
  • Location: Toronto, ON

Audio....again

PostWed Jun 26, 2013 1:23 am

Ok, have I mentioned how much I hate audio? No really....

Received all my audio purchases from B&H, very quickly. Great! Unpack everything and start hooking things up. Then the wheels feel off...

1. I bought a short coiled XLR to go from the Rode NGT1 to the Azden mixer that would be mounted on top of the camera. Problem is, it won't plug in. I notice one of the pins on the Rode is ridiculously longer than the rest. Almost 4mm. It sticks out the bottom of the mic. You can't stand it on it's end. Surely a defect. Call Rode. Nope, by design. Something about having the ground contact make connection first. Ok, fine...but why doesn't the cable it? Don't know...any "quality" cable should work. Awesome...hard to tell such things over the internet. Back it goes.

2. Grab a different XLR cable from the office and try that. Run the mic into the mixer and then into the Marantz661 recorder (which I already own). Really couldn't get any decent levels at all. The XLR output was LINE, not mic. Still ****. Well, after 20 minutes of screaming I discover I've used rechargeable AAs, instead of Alkaline. Education tip number 2. Rechargeables only output 1.2V...for phantom power you need 1.5V. Seriously....wtf?! Levels are now decent in a quiet office.

3. I also bought, in case I changed my mind and grabbed the Juicedlink RA222, a stereo 1/8 to dual mono 1/4 cable that is listed as an accessory for the RA222 on the B&H website. The Azden also has stereo 1/8 output...so I try that. This outputs mic level instead of line, which I find weird...but anyway. The audio is really "tin-y". Lost all depth. The level is fine, same as the XLR, but the quality of the audio is gone. $^&$&#$% A few more phone calls and the cable is being blamed by more than one source. To figure that out, I would need the RA222 delivered by Friday, as I leave for Australia on Saturday. The cable is also unbalanced...so is that the problem?

So is it the cable, or the mixer? well, I get good audio out of the Azden's XLR, so since I have a working solution, I stuck with the Azden. Going to try and find another 1/8 stereo cable around...pieced together from radioshack and see if the audio quality is the same. For this trip, I will run one XLR into the BMCC and duplicate ch1 to ch2.

4. Low level. So....what level should I expect from the NGT1? Running through a phantom powered mixer? Running the NGT1 into the Azden SMX22, input set to "lo" gain, input level set to max and gain set to 90%...outputting through a balanced XLR to TRS 1/4 plug...recording on ch1, line level, at 85%. In a quiet room, 20'x20', microphone 4.5 to 5 feet from my mouth...I get very clean audio...but it's averaging between -21 and -15 with some peak reaching -12.

I've read that most audio guys want their audio to average around -12...so I'm assuming that means my audio level is still too low. Correct? Does anyone with the Riggy (Frank ;) tell me what level they get out of the RiggyAssist using a Rode NGT mic, through the BMCC?

I boosted the signal in post using Audition CC, and it came up quite cleanly. I was happy with the results...basically, they'll do for the trip but I'd like to know if the output on the Azden is just too low.

I tried setting the input to "hi" mode, but the audio sounded like crap...of course, I tried setting the mixer up with the limiter already on (when set at 0) for the first hour...so maybe I should try figuring out the hi mode again.

I just want to plug 1 cable from the mic to the mixer and one from the mixer to the camera. Done. Why isn't it that simple? :shock:

I hate audio...

BTW, here was my shopping list:

Coiled XLF cable....going back.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/584258-REG/Remote_Audio_CAXJCOIL2RTMF_Coiled_3_Pin_XLR_Angled.html

Juicedlink breakout cable...going back too
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/884871-REG/Remote_Audio_CAB_M1_4_Unbalanced_Stereo_Breakout.html

Awesome balanced XLR cable
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/828650-REG/Hosa_Technology_HXS_001_5_HXS_001_5_Balanced_3_Pin_XLR.html

The Azden FMX22.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/838946-REG/Azden_FMX_22_FMX_22_Portable_Field_Mixer.html

The Rode NGT1
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/367746-REG/Rode_NTG_1_NTG_1_Condenser_Shotgun_Microphone.html
Offline
User avatar

Chris Hocking

  • Posts: 659
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:23 am
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Audio....again

PostWed Jun 26, 2013 3:40 am

sean mclennan wrote:1. I bought a short coiled XLR to go from the Rode NGT1 to the Azden mixer that would be mounted on top of the camera. Problem is, it won't plug in. I notice one of the pins on the Rode is ridiculously longer than the rest. Almost 4mm. It sticks out the bottom of the mic. You can't stand it on it's end. Surely a defect. Call Rode. Nope, by design. Something about having the ground contact make connection first. Ok, fine...but why doesn't the cable it? Don't know...any "quality" cable should work. Awesome...hard to tell such things over the internet. Back it goes.


That's just unlucky. The NTG 1 (like a lot of microphones) has a slightly longer "ground" pin for protection. In theory, everything XLR lead should be fine with this - you must have just picked a slightly dodgy one.

sean mclennan wrote:I've read that most audio guys want their audio to average around -12...so I'm assuming that means my audio level is still too low.


There are so many different audio scales, so -12 can mean a lot of different things depending on your hardware, where you are in the world, what kind of scale you're using, etc. Basically, you want the level to be as loud as possible, but without clipping. That said, if you use FCP7 as an example - then yes, ideally if your dialogue is around the -12 mark - that's a good place to be. In your case with the FMX-22 - you just want to try keep it within the green - with loud noises getting into the orange (but not peaking).

The XLR outputs on the Azden FMX-22 Portable Field Mixer are Balanced (+15 dBu @ 5kΩ). The mini-jack output is Unbalanced (-20dBu @ 2kΩ).

0 dBFs is equal to +15 dBu (in EBU terms).

The easiest thing for you might just be to run a mini-jack cable from the Azden to the Marantz. It will only be a really short cable - so the fact it's unbalanced won't really make that much of a difference.
Offline
User avatar

Rakesh Malik

  • Posts: 2592
  • Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:01 am
  • Location: Lynnwood, WA

Re: Audio....again

PostWed Jun 26, 2013 4:59 am

Try using the Marantz recorder directly. Marantz preamps are quite good, you might not need the Azden at all, especially if you're only using one input channel.

When I shot some video using the loaner BMCC, I set the audio levels on the camera to 25%, line level, and added gain with my mixer. I used an Audio Technica 4027 mic, but due to equipment limitations (didn't have a boom pole yet, cables were too short) the mic wasn't nearly close enough to the subject, so I added lots of gain with the mixer. The sound was a bit boomy because of the distance from the people, but other than that it was quite good.

My Rode NTG-2 has a long pin on it also, and I have yet to find a cable that it doesn't plug into. You must have been unlucky.

I haven't tried an NTG-1, but its slightly bigger brother the NTG-2 is excellent. And very sensitive. I haven't had any trouble getting good levels from it. Just be systematic, and when you're in production, hire someone who knows location sound. I'm discovering that very few people do, and that's possibly going to get me some work, since it turns out that I'm the only competent sound person in my entire class, and we only have 3 weeks left in our 40 week term.
Rakesh Malik
Cinematographer, photographer, adventurer, martial artist
http://WinterLight.studio
System:
Alienware M15 Hexacore i7/32GB/2070 Max-Q
Offline
User avatar

sean mclennan

  • Posts: 1433
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:28 pm
  • Location: Toronto, ON

Re: Audio....again

PostWed Jun 26, 2013 5:53 am

thanks guys.

The NTG1 is the exact same mic as the NTG2, just lacking power, which I plan to supply, so I didn't see the need to get the NTG2 with the AA bit.

I just had the weirdest thing happen. I've been testing in LO mode, as HI mode sounded like crap at the start. So I switched it to HI, turned it on and started testing. I was getting almost NO signal. Huh, ok, first thought confirmed, stay away from HI. So I switched it to LO without turning if off and presto. My level we noticeably beefier than all the previous testing I did in LO mode.

So , with everything the same as my previous test, I run it again and sure enough, I'm between -15 and -12 on avg...and highs hitting around -9. Much better signal.(these numbers are in AuditionCC scale)

I think there is something weird with how they have wired there "limiter" switch. They make special mention of setting your desired settings before engaging the limiter function. Maybe it sticks? Or you have to cycle it? or something. Anyway, WAY better signal now. If I boost the signal in AuditionCC, I have almost ZERO noise in the dead space sections. It's very clean.

weird
Offline
User avatar

Frank Glencairn

  • Posts: 1650
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:07 am
  • Location: Germany

Re: Audio....again

PostWed Jun 26, 2013 9:57 am

There is a reason for that long pin.

The ground XLR pin is designed to be slightly longer than the other two pins. This is to ensure that when an XLR is plugged into the mic XLR socket the first pin that comes into contact is the ground pin, to protect the microphone circuitry from a static electricity short that could potentially damage the microphone circuitry.

There is a rubber padding ring inside the mic's XLR socket (usually a blue ring). This ring can simply be removed if your XLR cable connector has trouble fitting in to the socket.

When I set my Riggy @65% gain and feed it with a NTG1 I get about -12 out of it, having the BMC @mic level and @80.

Hope that helps.
http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

I told you so :-)
Offline
User avatar

sean mclennan

  • Posts: 1433
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:28 pm
  • Location: Toronto, ON

Re: Audio....again

PostWed Jun 26, 2013 2:28 pm

Frank Glencairn wrote:There is a reason for that long pin.

The ground XLR pin is designed to be slightly longer than the other two pins. This is to ensure that when an XLR is plugged into the mic XLR socket the first pin that comes into contact is the ground pin, to protect the microphone circuitry from a static electricity short that could potentially damage the microphone circuitry.

There is a rubber padding ring inside the mic's XLR socket (usually a blue ring). This ring can simply be removed if your XLR cable connector has trouble fitting in to the socket.

When I set my Riggy @65% gain and feed it with a NTG1 I get about -12 out of it, having the BMC @mic level and @80.

Hope that helps.


Thanks Frank. My NTG1 didn't have the blue ring installed. It was still in the box. I must have just gotten a bad cable.

So after the magically switcheroo last night, I'm get -12 when the Azden is at 90% gain and the BMCC at 83. So it's not as powerful as the Juicedlink.

cheers
sean
Offline
User avatar

Chris Hocking

  • Posts: 659
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:23 am
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Audio....again

PostWed Jun 26, 2013 10:28 pm

Keep in mind that the gain structure changed between the 1.2 and 1.3 firmware releases.

Also, due to the DC-offset in 1.2 and the frequency attenuation in 1.3, you can't really trust the meters anyway.
Offline
User avatar

Marcel Beck

  • Posts: 311
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:45 am
  • Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Re: Audio....again

PostThu Jun 27, 2013 5:38 pm

Hello,

Thought I'd add onto this,

I recently bought the Røde VideoMicPro and hooked it up to my BMCC EF (Version 1.2.1), works surprisingly great!

Cheers,

Marcel
Marcel Beck
Cinematographer & Producer
follow me: @mxbstudios
Offline
User avatar

sean mclennan

  • Posts: 1433
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:28 pm
  • Location: Toronto, ON

Re: Audio....again

PostThu Jun 27, 2013 6:04 pm

Really? my videomicpro sounds so low on my BMCC I didn't even consider using it...
Offline
User avatar

Thomas Schumacher

  • Posts: 744
  • Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:14 pm
  • Location: Germany

Re: Audio....again

PostThu Jun 27, 2013 7:13 pm

Just use firmware 1.4 :mrgreen:
https://www.gernemehrfilm.de/
Offline
User avatar

sean mclennan

  • Posts: 1433
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:28 pm
  • Location: Toronto, ON

Re: Audio....again

PostThu Jun 27, 2013 9:29 pm

gmf wrote:Just use firmware 1.4 :mrgreen:


hahahaha :lol:
Offline

caingerrod

  • Posts: 3
  • Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:26 am

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 3:56 am

i have the latest firm ware and my rode still does not record

Amazing! :evil:
Offline

Denny Smith

  • Posts: 11083
  • Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 4:19 pm
  • Location: USA, Northern Calif.

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 7:08 am

I learned long ago not to skimp on audio -- the whole audio chain is only as good as the weakest bit. If you start with a mid level mixer, than your audio can not be better than this. I use Sound Devices MixPre, and now the MixPreD. Both have excellent gain, and both mic/line level in and outs, and very clean preamps, with very clean resulting sound. You can send signal to both camera, and external recorder without any issues.
Denny
Denny Smith
SHA Productions
Offline
User avatar

Chris Hocking

  • Posts: 659
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:23 am
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 8:25 am

caingerrod wrote:i have the latest firm ware and my rode still does not record

Amazing! :evil:


I very much doubt the issues you are having are firmware related.

From the tests I've done, I've noticed absolutely no issues connecting self-powered microphones to the camera.

I'd say you have a wiring issue. Remember - the camera is expecting a BALANCED signal.

Denny wrote:the whole audio chain is only as good as the weakest bit


...which is now the camera unfortunately!
Offline
User avatar

Frank Glencairn

  • Posts: 1650
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:07 am
  • Location: Germany

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 11:45 am

I have no idea what you guys are doing.
What's wrong with using a proper mixer or pre-amp?

Just did an interview with the Bavarian Minister President.
( you can imagine, the agency would have crucified me, if the audio isn't right)

My sound guy plunged in his field mixer, VU-levels via external monitor, applied a BMC EQ preset to the material and all is good, sounds just fine.

Also the audio I get with the JuicedLink products (when I don't have a sound guy) is great.

And yeah, the need of the EQ detour is annoying, but nothing to write home about.
Hope BM fixes this in the next firmware though.
http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

I told you so :-)
Offline
User avatar

Chris Hocking

  • Posts: 659
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:23 am
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 12:26 pm

Frank Glencairn wrote:Also the audio I get with the JuicedLink products (when I don't have a sound guy) is great.


To be fair Frank... the audio on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is USEABLE - I would hardly say it's great.

I've done lots of tests comparing the BMCC to products such as the Sound Devices 744T & 552 (where I've recorded the exact same dialogue on both system and compared) - and there is a big different in terms of noise and overall quality/clarity.

I would still STRONGLY recommend using a external recorder when shooting with the BMCC - however, for low-budget jobs, with a bit of extra post work, you can still get decent results.

The audio inputs on the BMC & Pocket Camera are great for a guide track or timeline - but I'd only actual record final production audio to it in a worst case scenario. My 2c.
Offline
User avatar

sean mclennan

  • Posts: 1433
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:28 pm
  • Location: Toronto, ON

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 4:46 pm

For the record...my audio setup worked great while I was in Australia. The Adzen FMX22 worked perfectly, if not a little on the weak side.

Rode NTG1 > Azden FMX22 mixer (Mic input at 75%, Gain at 50%) > BMCC EF (mic input at 80%)

Working at about 5 feet from subject, I get pretty clean audio.
Offline
User avatar

Frank Glencairn

  • Posts: 1650
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:07 am
  • Location: Germany

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 5:21 pm

Chris Hocking wrote:


I've done lots of tests comparing the BMCC to products such as the Sound Devices 744T & 552 (where I've recorded the exact same dialogue on both system and compared) - and there is a big different in terms of noise and overall quality/clarity.


The Sound Devices 744T is $4,195.00, I would be shocked if a $2000 camera would do the same job.
http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

I told you so :-)
Offline
User avatar

Rakesh Malik

  • Posts: 2592
  • Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:01 am
  • Location: Lynnwood, WA

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 7:47 pm

Frank Glencairn wrote:
Chris Hocking wrote:I've done lots of tests comparing the BMCC to products such as the Sound Devices 744T & 552 (where I've recorded the exact same dialogue on both system and compared) - and there is a big different in terms of noise and overall quality/clarity.


The Sound Devices 744T is $4,195.00, I would be shocked if a $2000 camera would do the same job.


Even at $3k, it's baffling that anyone would expect it to have sound quality rivaling that of ANY Sound Devices recorder. I shot an interview with my BMCC, and recorded the audio with a MixPre-D connected to my laptop running Ableton Live. The results were excellent. What I've gotten on camera with the same preamp and mics has been decent, but hardly in the same league. I need a sound guy, though :)
Rakesh Malik
Cinematographer, photographer, adventurer, martial artist
http://WinterLight.studio
System:
Alienware M15 Hexacore i7/32GB/2070 Max-Q
Offline
User avatar

Chris Hocking

  • Posts: 659
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:23 am
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 8:17 pm

Tamerlin wrote:The Sound Devices 744T is $4,195.00, I would be shocked if a $2000 camera would do the same job.


The BMCC is a $1,995 camera - however I see a lot of people using it as a B-camera for the Alexa. I think the price is almost irrelevant in this case. You can't judge a camera by how much it costs - only it's results.

It's a matter of managing expectations. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera (I highlight Cinema because to me that says the camera is high-end for professional use) claims to have "audio inputs for recording the highest quality uncompressed audio". The fact that it has balanced inputs makes you think that it should act and behave like any other prosumer camera - and yet, most (if not all) prosumer cameras seriously out-perform the BMCC in terms of audio recording quality.

If BMD didn't put such an emphasis on how great the audio is in all of it's marketing - then this would be a non-issue. HOWEVER, if you look at all the marketing on the Blackmagic camera range, one of the selling points is professional high quality audio.

The reason I'm pushing this issue is because I've already talked to multiple high-end sound recordists, who have read that the information on the BMD site, and seen posts by people like yourself saying that the audio on the camera is terrific, but when they actually test it on in a real world environment, the results suck. Luckily all of these people are recording dual-system, so this is all for syncing and comparison purposes, but I don't think it's fair to advertise that the audio is "great" when it's only really "ok" - and this is assuming you ignore the 1.3 firmware frequency attenuation issues (which I assume will be fixed soon, if they're not already in 1.4 - I still haven't had a chance to test yet).

Don't get me wrong Frank - we have recorded hours of broadcast quality jobs with the BMC, recording audio straight to camera - so it's definitely possible, and with the right setup you can get decent/usable results. However, if people expect to be able to "plug and play", they'll be rudely surprised. It's not just a matter of throwing on a quick EQ pre-set - there's also a lot of noise in the camera that needs to be removed.

Sorry - I don't mean to drag this discussion on, so I'll shut up now. But I just want to make it clear to the wider community that the CURRENT release of the BMCC firmware doesn't achieve amazing audio results straight out of the camera. You need a bit of love, time and effort in post to achieve decent results - so if you're paying a professional post house to do this work - it'll probably work out much cheaper to just hire a sound recordist and record dual system in the long run. My 2c.

Finally Frank, I'm curious... Are you able to share your EQ preset for repairing audio from the 1.3 firmware?
Offline
User avatar

sean mclennan

  • Posts: 1433
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:28 pm
  • Location: Toronto, ON

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 8:25 pm

Tamerlin wrote:
Frank Glencairn wrote:
Chris Hocking wrote:I've done lots of tests comparing the BMCC to products such as the Sound Devices 744T & 552 (where I've recorded the exact same dialogue on both system and compared) - and there is a big different in terms of noise and overall quality/clarity.


The Sound Devices 744T is $4,195.00, I would be shocked if a $2000 camera would do the same job.


Even at $3k, it's baffling that anyone would expect it to have sound quality rivaling that of ANY Sound Devices recorder. I shot an interview with my BMCC, and recorded the audio with a MixPre-D connected to my laptop running Ableton Live. The results were excellent. What I've gotten on camera with the same preamp and mics has been decent, but hardly in the same league. I need a sound guy, though :)


I think that's an interesting point. What's the acceptable level of audio fidelity to be expected "in-camera"? Does recording onto a DSLR sound better? Does the audio system in say a Sony FS100 or Canon 105 sound noticeably better? I'd love to hear some comparisons. If so, then there is an issue BM needs to address.

I totally respect audiophiles like Chris, who have a far better understanding of audio than I do, but if I can't hear the difference, should I really care?

If I need audio of that level, I would honestly hire an audio guy. He's going to have $$$ invested in equipment, or at least have experience with such tools, in the same way I have experience and have investing in image capture. Right person for the right job.
Offline
User avatar

Chris Hocking

  • Posts: 659
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:23 am
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 8:33 pm

sean mclennan wrote:Does the audio system in say a Sony FS100 or Canon 105 sound noticeably better? I'd love to hear some comparisons.


I've uploaded comparisons on this forum before between the BMCC and Tascam DR-100, as well as the Sound Devices 552. If I get time later this week, I'll do some tests between the BMCC EF & Pocket and our old trusty Sony Z1P and see how it fares.
Offline
User avatar

sean mclennan

  • Posts: 1433
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:28 pm
  • Location: Toronto, ON

Re: Audio....again

PostMon Aug 12, 2013 8:42 pm

Chris Hocking wrote:
sean mclennan wrote:Does the audio system in say a Sony FS100 or Canon 105 sound noticeably better? I'd love to hear some comparisons.


I've uploaded comparisons on this forum before between the BMCC and Tascam DR-100, as well as the Sound Devices 552. If I get time later this week, I'll do some tests between the BMCC EF & Pocket and our old trusty Sony Z1P and see how it fares.


Yeah, that would be great Chris. I'm not interested in comparing against dedicated recorders, but against other similar cameras...I think I'm going to do one with my 5D...

Return to Cinematography

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Andy Coulthurst, pnguyen720 and 24 guests