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Is it better to run lav audio through an H4N or through the camera?

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Tom Smith
Is it better to run lav audio through an H4N or through the camera?
on Jun 21, 2013 at 4:04:08 am

Asking for a friend... He has a Canon C100 and a wireless lav setup. He is currently running the lav through ch 1 on the camera and ch 2 is onboard (Rode shotgun mic attacked to the cam.)

TO me, it makes more sense to run the lav through the H4N in case the camera malfunctions or shuts or off or something then you have no sound until it comes back on. I would think the safer approach is running it through the H4N. I was curious what people thought of that approach.

Also, when recording it through the H4N, could you also at the same time have it recording audio from its own mics?


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Richard Crowley
Re: Is it better to run lav audio through an H4N or through the camera?
on Jun 21, 2013 at 6:24:04 pm

1) It is not obvious whether the mic preamps in the H4N are any better (or worse) than the C100. A test with your actual equipment would be more instructive than extensive discussion form an online forum such as this one.

2) If you are using a wireless rig, then the receiver typically has adjustable output so that even a marginal camcorder mic preamp doesn't really need any "help" from additional outboard gear (such as another mic preamp inline). Many wireless receivers can be set for LINE-level output which completely obviates the need for ANY mic presmp, inboard or outboard.

3a) It is not clear what you mean by your hypothetical about "in case the camera malfunctions or shuts or off or something...". If the camera malfunctions or shuts off, what is the point in preserving the audio channel? If you are recording wild sound that doesn't require camera sync, then why would the camera even be involved?

3b) Furthermore, the camera operator (or SOMEBODY) should be monitoring the audio recording AT ALL TIMES WHILE ROLLING to confirm that you are actually recording the audio you think you are getting.

(Bonus: Mounting ANY microphone on top of ANY camera is ALMOST NEVER a good place.)


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Tom Smith
Re: Is it better to run lav audio through an H4N or through the camera?
on Jun 21, 2013 at 6:46:48 pm

Hi Rich.

In regards to ""in case the camera malfunctions or shuts or off or something...". If the camera malfunctions or shuts off, what is the point in preserving the audio channel? If you are recording wild sound that doesn't require camera sync, then why would the camera even be involved?"

This is multi camera shooting for weddings.


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Craig Alan
Re: Is it better to run lav audio through an H4N or through the camera?
on Jun 23, 2013 at 5:47:01 pm

If you want to be safe you can use multiple receivers of the signal to as many devices as you wish, say two cams and the recorder. But you'll also need as many transmitters as people you need to wire. Several, at least, for a wedding.

If you use multiple transmitters, each on their own frequency, you'll need multiple receivers. If so you'll need a mixer. And I would test this at the location in case there is Interference. Always good to have a wired back up plan.

A good mixer (like the sound devices line) is much better for monitoring through headphones and better meters. This is assuming you can use an audio tech to do the monitoring - always a good idea. You could train an intern to do this if money is the most important consideration. If not, get a pro with their own gear including many wireless and wired kits and you'll have one less thing to fret over. Getting sound right is the hardest part of production and often the thing you can't fix in post.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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