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Beachtek DXA paperweight?

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Peter John
Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 14, 2011 at 5:24:54 pm

Trying to use a little Panasonic TM300 consumer camera for a job that was working fine with my Sennheiser 300 mic -- until I tried to add a Beachtek DXA-4P adapter so that I could tweak audio levels without having to dive into the menu system.

Unfortunatley this combo isn't working at all (ie no sound) and am not sure what I am doing wrong that could be due to:

1) Incompatibility of DXA-4P with Panasonic TM300 camcorder (it was designed for Canon GL1 or GL2 camcorders long before the birth of the TM300.

2) Faulty DXA-4P (unlikely as this thing seems to be more solid than an elegant brick with a few switches, plugs and wires)

3) Wrong settings of the DXA-4P? My setup as follows:

i. Sennheiser mic minijack plugged into DXA4P via AUX
ii. DXA-4P controls set to Mono, Mic, Mic
iii. DXA-4P minijack out to TM300 external mic in
iv. TM300 AGC control off and audio levels control set to Manual (not auto)

As already mentioned the mic works fine with the camcorder that seems to rule out either of these two being the cause of the problem.

Is my DXA-4P destined to become a paperweight?


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Ty Ford
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:18:44 pm

Hello Peter and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Your presumption that a mic operates at aux level is misguided.

Just because a plug fits into jack, doesn't mean it belongs there.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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Peter John
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:27:24 pm

Thanks for the reply Ty,

That is what I thought until I read this in the Beachtek DXA-4p's operating instructions before I posted my question:

"The auxiliary input allows you to attach wireless [my emphasis] microphones that use standard mini-plug connectors. This signal is sent to the right channel…"

"AUX Input
To attach audio devices with mini-jack connectors, use the AUX input on the adapter. This sends the signal to the right input and you should therefore disconnect any cables from the right XLR connector to avoid interference"


Putting this together leads me to ask is the way a wireless microphone sends a signal via a mini-jack output different to the way a hardwired mic like the Sennheiser MKE300 does? Hard for me to understand how this could be possible as I guess if I just plugged the mini-jack of a wireless mike receiver into the mini-jack input socket of the camcorder the wireless mike would interface with the camcorder same way as the fixed mike, would it not? Does the wireless mike receiver have some sort of built in amplifier that the fixed mic does not?

Maybe I have no other option than to buy an XLR/mini jack converter and see if that works, which I guess it will do, though a big XLR jack would further increase the size and reduce the portability of this little system.


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Ty Ford
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:43:29 pm

Peter,

"The auxiliary input allows you to attach wireless [my emphasis] microphones that use standard mini-plug connectors. This signal is sent to the right channel…"

"AUX Input
To attach audio devices with mini-jack connectors, use the AUX input on the adapter. This sends the signal to the right input and you should therefore disconnect any cables from the right XLR connector to avoid interference"

>>>I dislike all Beachtek products for professional use. I am not alone. Just guessing, but by "audio devices", they may be referring to devices other than microphones, which you have proven doesn't work. For, semi-pro audio devices that use unbalanced I/Os, LINE LEVEL is -10...somewhere between mic level and pro line level.

Putting this together leads me to ask is the way a wireless microphone sends a signal via a mini-jack output different to the way a hardwired mic like the Sennheiser MKE300 does? Hard for me to understand how this could be possible as I guess if I just plugged the mini-jack of a wireless mike receiver into the mini-jack input socket of the camcorder the wireless mike would interface with the camcorder same way as the fixed mike, would it not? Does the wireless mike receiver have some sort of built in amplifier that the fixed mic does not?

>>>>Are you referring to a Lav or other mic requiring a transmitter to become wireless? If so. they require a bias voltage (not phantom power) unless the mic has its own battery, or is a dynamic mic.

Maybe I have no other option than to buy an XLR/mini jack converter and see if that works, which I guess it will do, though a big XLR jack would further increase the size and reduce the portability of this little system.

>>>>If you're talking about a mic without a transmitter, you'd need the specified power supply and and phantom power for a lav, unless it has it's own battery compartment.

Regards,

Ty (oddly, audio is not plug and play) Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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Peter John
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 15, 2011 at 1:03:20 am

It is good to get feedback that motivated me to look for further information that I found here

According to this review Sennheiser MKE300 does work with Beachtek DXA via the AUX mini-jack, so that is not the problem.

But that did not explain why I got no sound - until I started moving around the cable that connects the DXA adapter to the camcorder and the levels started jumping around all over the place, even though the only sound I could get was like a dog scratching itself.

Conclusion is that my Beachtek DXA adapter probably has a faulty cable


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Peter John
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 15, 2011 at 1:08:45 am

dang, got the link wrong:

http://www.gkgraphics.com/reviews/camcorders/accessories/beachtek/dxa-2/ind...


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Ty Ford
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 15, 2011 at 12:41:39 pm

Peter,

I'm sorry and don't wish to sound snobby, but a "review" by someone at at graphics house is not compelling for me. I have held workshops here at my studio at which people with a supposedly good amount on audio knowledge have been way off base on some of their considerations.

As I mentioned before, I think :). The connection MAY work, but not ideally. So you'll get something, but, in this particular case, you may end up with more noise than you should because the input expects an Aux level and mics don't push that kind of juice.

Trying to find short cuts can work, sometimes, if you really know your stuff. Most of the time, however, following "best practices" gives best results.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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Peter John
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 15, 2011 at 1:39:14 pm

Hmmm, so what are the alternatives?

forget about the AUX input and use a micro-jack to XLR converter cable to connect the mic to the Beachtek ---though this kind of defeats the whole purpose of putting together a well functioning little system and also means more trouble on the job in terms of more cable plus weight and risk of connectors not staying in place.

buy a different mic with XLR connector or upgrade to a camcorder with easily accessible audio controls. Not sure if I want to do that as budget is tight and all I need this for is to produce small promo videos like this: http://sites.google.com/site/peterlowefoto/tanoso

try to get the cable fixed then compare the quality of audio coming from the mic into the camcorder via the Beachtek AUX compared to direct plug in mini jack of mic into camcorder.

forget about the Beachtek and continue to have to adjust the audio levels via the menu system.


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Ty Ford
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 15, 2011 at 3:14:41 am

Peter,

Excellent news (I guess), but also indicative of the reason you don't see much Beachtek gear in pro use.

Can you replace the cable?

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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Jordan Wolf
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 15, 2011 at 4:07:56 am

Peter,

When you wiggle the cable, where does the crackling noise/intermittent signal begin to occur? Does it happen when you wiggle the 1/8"TRS connector...in the middle of the cable...where the cable enters the Beachtek?

Soldering on a new connector isn't too difficult; soldering a whole new cable on might not be too hard, either, but it would depend on how adventurous you are. Plus, doing so could void your warranty.

Wolf
<><


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Peter John
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 15, 2011 at 11:19:40 am

Thanks,

Looks like this may be solvable.

The crackling noise comes when I wiggle the cable where it enters the Beachtek, so I guess the problem is with the connection rather than the cable itself. That is not bad news.

One cause for a little concern is that when I wiggle the wire the levels go up and I get a scratching noise but there is no way no matter which way I wiggle the wire that I can hear sound of my voice or any background audio coming through from the mic.

I found an old post elsewhere by somebody else who also had a Beachtek cable problem. He just cut off a little bit of the cable and solderered it back on again and that worked for him. He says as a result he was happy for his high school electronics class. I don'g have a soldering iron or an electronics class so I will just find a local technician who I can ask to do this.

Warranty is not an issue as this is an old model.

What I fond interesting is that there does not seem to be huge differences between the various models of these Beachtek DXA adapters in terms of compatibility with different camcorders. Perhaps I am wrong. At least in this case having a battery in the mic and not needing phantom power seems to make life simpler in terms of compatability, as all I really want is to use the Beachtek as a big switch to enable control of audio levels without having to dive into the menu system.

So far so good.

Let's just see what goes wrong next :-)


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Ty Ford
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 15, 2011 at 3:58:33 pm

Peter,

"all I really want is to use the Beachtek as a big switch to enable control of audio levels without having to dive into the menu system."

That may or may not work or may not work as well as something else, especially if your camera has an undefeatable Automatic Level Control.

I'm not familiar with that unit, but most of the Beachtecks only turn the audio level down. If you need gain, you're hosed.

Look at a Sound Devices 302 as a MUCH more robust and better sounding piece of audio gear.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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Craig Alan
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 17, 2011 at 11:50:39 pm

That was my experience when I used them (different model) on some consumer mini-cams. If the beachtek does not have any power source (battery or plug-in) then how could it provide any amplification? It can't. When I used them, I never had any need to use the "gain control dials." Basically you leave them all the way up and hope they don't add too much extra noise. The one thing I liked about them is they took the strain off the mini-plug on small cams. And yes accept an xlr cable.

But now I just use http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=COCSMMXF1.5&N=0&InitialSearch=yes Comprehensive EXF Series Stereo 3.5mm Mini Male to 3-Pin XLR Female Cable - 1.5'
that I velcro to the tripod or camera strap. A lot cheaper to buy and replace and unless the cord starts to got bad does not add any noise.
A right angle plug might be nicer depending on where your cam has its mike in port.

Much easier set up than balancing your cam on a beachtek.

Beyond that, you need a mixer. For $1300 the sound devices 302 is a great way to improve your productions and will most likely outlast whatever cam you are using it with. I wish that sound devices would sell a mounting cage that would sit under the camera (something like http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=KI-EXO-R0+Exo-Skeleton+for+Ki+Pro&...

Ty,
I find it ironic that BH lists your book as an Accessory for the Beachtek DXA-4P adapter.

Craig

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Ty Ford
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 18, 2011 at 12:00:27 am

Craig,

Irony exists everywhere in nature. :)

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=217488&id=742965287&l=ad70dd0e95

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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Richard Crowley
Re: Beachtek DXA paperweight?
on Jan 15, 2011 at 7:05:39 pm

"TM300 AGC control off and audio levels control set to Manual (not auto)"
1) Is the camcorder manual recording level is set for somewhere near max?

2) If the wireless receiver works directly into the camcorder with the same cable that you are using between the receiver and the Beachtek box; and assuming that the manual level on the camera is set somewhere in the upper 1/4 of the range; and after exercising all the pots and switches, then you may indeed have a bad Beachtek box. IME the output cable from the Beachtek boxes are subject to failure after some use.

3) Have you tried plugging a conventional mic (or ANY other source) into the Beachtek? This is called "differential diagnosis" and is a standard debugging procedure.


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