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Preamps for 7D

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Stephanie Joan
Preamps for 7D
on May 21, 2012 at 5:11:14 am

It's been tough for me to record on audio on my h4n when I'm shooting alone on my 7D (not in a position to mount the recorder on the camera at the moment), so I've decided to buy a preamp. Right now my choices are the Beachtek DXA-SLA and the JuicedLink DT454. JuicedLink is also about to release a new "Riggy" line, including this device meant for the new 5D MKIII and D800 (and another called the RiggyAssist that will have the features I need for the 7D - AGC disabling, headphone jack, etc):

http://www.juicedlink.com/audio-preamps-mixers-etc-c-66/rm333-riggy-micro

What I have to decide now is whether to buy the DXA-SLA or the DT454, or to wait for the new RiggyAssist preamp to come out. I found a few threads on here talking about buying the DXA-SLA and DT454, but not a lot of these threads had folks discussing which preamp they use on an everyday basis and why.

So -- if you use a preamp regularly with your dslr, which do you use? Why did you select that particular model? What features have you found essential, and what missing features have you found annoying/infuriating?

---------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


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Stephanie Joan
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 21, 2012 at 4:07:49 pm

And BTW, I've requested more info from JuicedLink about the Riggies and their response was "subscribe to the blog feed and wait for more info. Not very helpful.

---------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


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John Young
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 21, 2012 at 5:49:23 pm

What would this Pre-amp do that your H4N can't do?

When I am on a shoot with my 7D and have to do video and audio all by myself. I attach my H4N to the hot shoe (a very inexperience accessory)and turn it 90 degrees so the H4N is facing me. I then take the mini-phono out from the Zoom to the mic in on the 7D. I record on the SD card on the Zoom and also sync in camera. If the AGC in the 7D screws up the in-camera sound, I can always use the separate-system sound on the Zoom.

John


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Jay Windland
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 23, 2012 at 5:06:32 am

I just picked up an ART USB Dual Pre and am so far really happy with the preamp quality. Low output wired lavs and dynamic mics get a nice big boost of quiet gain, it runs on 9V and it was only $69. I haven't fed my DSLR or audio recorder with it yet (I literally just got it) but the preamps sound great through my studio headphones. There are no mounting options like on the Juicedlink units, so I was thinking of mounting it with a super clamp and friction arm. More testing to be done first though.


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Stephanie Joan
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 23, 2012 at 6:24:59 am

Huh - I've never even heard of this. Makes me wonder what other preamp models I've missed.

Thanks for the details!

---------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


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Jay Windland
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 23, 2012 at 8:08:03 am

Yeah, I've been scouring the web and audio catalogs, and there are tons of preamp models. Battery powered portable preamps are pretty few though. There is another cheap one by Nady that got some bad reviews, there is this one, then there is the Juicedlink models, and up from there to Sound Devices. Honestly though, I've just been testing this unit with different mics for the last few hours and it is so-so. There is an exact spec for preamp self-noise called Equivalent Input Noise, or EIN, but to be less precise, I would say this: DSLR preamps completely suck, my Tascam DR-40 is a lot better than DSLR preamps, but still not good enough, and this ART preamp is better than the DR-40, but still not amazing. It may work as an irreducible minimum, but I'm still looking at Juicedlink...and maybe even Sound Devices. I just really hate preamp hiss.


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Brent Dunn
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 23, 2012 at 5:26:41 pm

You don't need a pre-amp. Just connect the H4n via 1/8" audio cable and a hot shoe mount.

Or, there are many microphones you can connect to the hot shoe and camera.

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
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DunnRight Video.com
Video Marketing Toolbox.net

Sony EX-1,
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Mac Pro Tower, Quad Core,
with Final Cut Studio

HP i7 Quad laptop
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Stephanie Joan
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 23, 2012 at 6:37:28 pm

But if I plug my h4n into my 7D and record audio that way, I'll still have to deal with the AGC hiss since the h4n doesn't provide an AGC disabling tone, right?

---------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


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Phil Balsdon
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 24, 2012 at 12:13:38 pm

With the Canon 7D it is very important to choose a model with "AGC Disable" because internally the camera Auto Gain cannot be disabled. This means whatever audio you feed in the 7D will try to lift levels whenever the feed in becomes lower in volume.

The Beachtek DXA-SLR does this by feeding in a constant but inaudible low frequency tone on one of the channels. It doesn't actually disable the the camera AGC it just gives it a constant reference level of audio to stabilise it's normally dramatic fluctuations in level.

There is no after market hack (a la Magic Lantern) available for the 7D to over ride it's AGC and allow you to set in camera audio levels manually.

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.
http://philming.com.au
http://www.steadi-onfilms.com.au/


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John Young
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 24, 2012 at 2:00:17 pm

[Phil Balsdon] "With the Canon 7D it is very important to choose a model with "AGC Disable" because internally the camera Auto Gain cannot be disabled"

You are right. But is it worth $399, just for AGC disable if you already have the H4N? Wouldn't it just be a better option to record on the H4N and then get Dual Eyes for $149?

Although if that $69 option has AGC Disable, that might be a good option.

John Young


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Phil Balsdon
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 24, 2012 at 9:50:54 pm

Having both the H4n or a similar external recorder and a pre-amp with AGC gives you the option of not having to use the external recorder and still get usable audio (although not quite as good). This might be when the pace of a shoot is so hectic it becomes difficult to remain organised and keep up, particularly when working solo.

It also means that if you loop your master audio out of the H4n to the camera (you should use a padded cable to do this to convert line level to mic level) you will have a usable back up audio track on the camera in the event of a problem.

I've had both these situations happen, (it's not a case of if it will but when it will happen). The last thing you want is to go back to the client without coverage or an unfixable problem, it's financially likely to be a bigger expense than not having all the kit in the first place.

I also use PluralEyes in post.

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.
http://philming.com.au
http://www.steadi-onfilms.com.au/


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Stephanie Joan
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 24, 2012 at 11:27:54 pm

"It also means that if you loop your master audio out of the H4n to the camera (you should use a padded cable to do this to convert line level to mic level) you will have a usable back up audio track on the camera in the event of a problem."

Thanks, Phil. But - if I plug my h4n into the camera to record audio, won't the AGC hiss still persist since there's no way to turn off the camera's preamps?

---------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


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Phil Balsdon
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 25, 2012 at 4:48:14 am

Yes Stephanie it will, but as an emergency back up it can be used. Also that hiss is less evident in noisy uncontrolled environments so you can get away with it in certain circumstances and because it's a constant it can be EQ'd out in audio post if necessary.

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.
http://philming.com.au
http://www.steadi-onfilms.com.au/


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Jay Windland
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 25, 2012 at 7:41:34 am

With regard to the "Why use a preamp?" and "You don't need a preamp" comments - perhaps we are looking at two separate issues here. One is AGC disable, and the other is audio quality. These consumer grade external recorders (Zoom and Tascam) are not designed for film and video production. They are designed to record amplified music in practice sessions or on the road. That means strong signals going in and the ability to capture strong signals without turning the input gain very high. When you are recording dialog in a quiet setting with a lower output mic, you end up needing to crank the input gain all the way on the recorder to get a usable signal, even with proper mic placement and boom technique. This results in audible hiss from the relatively cheap internal preamps of the recorder. That's why you need an external preamp when using a consumer grade external recorder. Granted you have camera mounted shotgun mics like the Rode Video Mic Pro that put out a very hot signal to combat this particular issue, but you aren't going to use that to do location sound on a film.

All that being said, if your project demands audio be recorded in camera and you can't control the gain (as on a 7D), the DT454 is really your best bet. I saw one sell used on eBay the other day for $235. Pretty sweet deal.


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Stephanie Joan
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 25, 2012 at 9:52:05 pm

Very good points. Question - any reason you prefer the DT454 over the Beachtek?

---------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


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Jay Windland
Re: Preamps for 7D
on May 25, 2012 at 10:08:48 pm

Not really. I have only used the old Beachtek units that were passive, so didn't actually have preamps in them. I haven't used the new ones. I did however just get back from demo'ing a Juicedlink DT454 in a local camera shop. It was awesome. They let me bring in my own shotgun mic and headphones to compare to the ART preamp, and there was really no comparison. You can crank the Juicedlink all the way with no audible noise floor. Crystal clear and a very strong signal. This little $69 unit is so going back.


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Malcolm Matusky
Re: Preamps for 7D
on Jun 9, 2012 at 6:11:27 pm

Just saw a notice that there may be a software update for the 7D that will enable audio control! I hope it's true.

Malcolm
http://www.malcolmproductions.com


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Stephanie Joan
Re: Preamps for 7D
on Jun 9, 2012 at 6:31:06 pm

Where did you see this?

---------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


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Peter Burger
Re: Preamps for 7D
on Jun 12, 2012 at 6:43:01 am

[Stephanie Joan] "Where did you see this?"

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/280/9079 ;)

------------------------------------------
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