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Levels too low with nearly max gain

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Stephen Lewis
Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 10, 2013 at 12:37:41 am

I'm connecting an Audio Technica AT897 shotgun mic to the Sound Devices 302 mixer using an xlr cable. The input on the 302 is set to MIC, with Phantom power on and set to 48v. I have the coarse gain set to about the "4 or 5 O'Clock" position and the the fader all the way to the right. With the mic maybe 20 inches away from my mouth, I have to talk very loudly to reach 0db on the 302's meters.

The other funny thing is that, even though the mic is supposed to require 48v of phantom power, it makes no difference when I switch between 12v and 48v on the 302. Odd, right?

I've always had issues with sound being way too weak, which is one of the reasons I bought a Sound Devices 302. So this is very disconcerting, as you might imagine. What am I doing wrong?

Part of me thinks I received a defective microphone. I bought it a few years ago and I've always suspected it was abnormally weak in terms of sensitivity. Could a defective mic be my problem here?

PS: I have tried two different xlr cables so I'm assuming that isn't the issue.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 10, 2013 at 4:38:45 am

Try changing the AA battery, many mics that use the internal battery to make them work properly despite running on phantom power. Also check the battery terminals for signs of corrosion.
Ie; I know some of the Sony ECM(various models) lapel mics and some of the Rode mics need the battery to function.


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Stephen Lewis
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 10, 2013 at 4:57:35 am

Brian,
Thanks for your response. Are you saying I should use the AA battery instead of the phantom power? Rr try using BOTH the AA battery AND Phantom power at the same time? (I'm assuming just the AA battery, yes?)

Also, when I turn up the coarse gain pot on the 302 mixer, I begin to hear a lot of noise when I get to the "4 O'Clock" position (or thereabouts). Is this normal for the 302?


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 10, 2013 at 5:07:09 am

Yes put a fresh AA battery in the mic(don't assume the battery is ok).... and ALSO run the mic on phantom power.

Yes pushing the gain VERY high on ANY mixer will give you hiss.
Are you able to try the problem mic on any other piece of gear or even a different channel? Are you able to try another mic into the 302 just for a check and reference level.


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Ty Ford
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 10, 2013 at 1:39:14 pm

Hello Stephen and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

The AT897 operates across a wide range of voltage. Please read the data sheet. 11-52 V DC.
http://eu.audio-technica.com/en/resources/f0e732ed5e1120ac_at897_ss_e.pdf

Also, from the same sheet of instructions: "The AT897 requires 11V to 52V DC phantom power or a 1.5V AA battery for operation. A battery need not be in place for phantom power operation."

Brian's got good advice here, though. Some battery powered mics require a battery in the slot in order to work with external Phantom power. Oddly there are battery powered mics that have problems with mixers when the mixer phantom power is applied. These mics usually have On/Off switches for the battery power and DO need to be turned off when attached to a mixer when the mixer's Phantom Power is on.

So, try different mics and different inputs. Also, does the mic give you low level on the meters or is it just low at the headphones or at the camera? Are your meters set for Peak + VU?

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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


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Stephen Lewis
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 10, 2013 at 4:34:13 pm

Hi Ty,
Thanks for taking the time to help me out.

The mic has no switches other than a low-cut filter which is turned off.

When I look at the meters (with either phantom on or with a fresh battery and phantom off) I get low levels on the meter and in the headphones. I don't have a recorder or a camera yet. (I purchased sound gear first!)

The meters have a solid bar, then some gap, then a single light that "holds" for a second or two for the peak. (hope that made sense!)

I experience the low levels in all three inputs.

I only have this one microphone for now, but on Friday I'll be receiving a Countryman B3 lavalier mic (wired xlr type) and I'll test it out immediately.

Out of curiosity, where do you typically have to set the coarse gain pot when you setup a microphone? 1 O'Clock? 2? 3?


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Craig Alan
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 10, 2013 at 7:44:15 pm

Something ain't right.

[Stephen Lewis] "coarse gain set to about the "4 or 5 O'Clock" position"

I have this occur only with certain dynamic mikes and even then more like 2-3 o'clock course gain with fader about there as well. Powered mikes usually 0 and adjust fader from there.

have Limiter Switch set to Lim not Link. make sure all little switches are firmly on selection. make sure all three batteries are fresh. Make sure XLR is firmly clicked in place on both ends. try talking within inches of the mike just to see if you can get higher levels. 0 is too low. You want more like +8.

Try tech support at sound devices. Great service!

If the mike needed phantom and none was supplied it would not read at all.

What did you use the mike with before getting the 302? The mike has one year warranty.

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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Stephen Lewis
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 10, 2013 at 8:27:38 pm

Hi Craig,
Thanks for your response.

Yes, something must be wrong and I'm inclined to believe it is the microphone (AT897) which I have always suspected was defective or just had unusually low sensitivity. I've had the mic for about 7 years and have always had to boost gain in my NLE which led to poor audio quality. Perhaps it is time to buy a new microphone....

Also worth mentioning is that the SD302 was purchased on eBay. The seller said it is in excellent, perfect working condition and it certainly looks like new. Maybe something is wrong internally, however, I think this is unlikely.

I'll be getting a Countryman B3 lav mic on Friday so if the gain issues persist with that new mic then I can assume the issue is related to the 302 mixer.

Before getting the 302 i used the AT897 directly into a Canon XHA1 camera. I also experienced problems with that configuration and had to keep the mic VERY close to the talent. (maybe 12 or 15 inches away from sound source)


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Ty Ford
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:59:42 am

Craig,

AT also has a good service department at (330) 686-2600 Monday-Friday 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM (EST) if you have questions.

more info: http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/site/9de91ac2563eaf16/index.html

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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


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Craig Alan
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 11, 2013 at 1:59:52 am

That's very true. I have had very good service from both. But SD will help you with the whole work flow. If it is then determined that the problem is with the mike, maybe it can be fixed. OK its out of warranty but maybe a wire is loose and its worth the price of a fix.

In fact, Ty, it seems like the whole industry in terms of manufacturers have become much more service oriented. I think they have become aware of the huge growing community of production end users that did not start off as interns to seasoned pros and the huge economy of selling to this community. AJA is another one I'd add to the good service list. On the other hand, the giants like Panasonic and Sony and Canon have been pretty spotty.

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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Stephen Lewis
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 12, 2013 at 10:30:09 pm

Well I have news to report...

I got the Countryman B3 lav mic today. I connected it to the SD302, MIC in, PH, 48v. Coarse gain to 12 o'clock, fader to about 1 o'clock... and I STILL have very low levels but the noise/hiss is very loud!

I am really at my wit's end here.

Here's the craziest part... when I turn the coarse gain higher, at say, 4 o'clock, I hear this very odd oscillating noise, it is very LOUD and it peaks into the red even though I am not making any sound.

Either the mixer is faulty, the new B3 mic I just received is faulty or I'm faulty. Or all three?

My bad luck with audio continues... somebody want to rescue me? :)


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Craig Alan
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 13, 2013 at 12:10:21 am

call sound devices tech support!

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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Ty Ford
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 13, 2013 at 12:23:06 am

Stephen,

Very good! Now try the new mic in another mixer or camera with phantom power.

If the mic works, your next call should be to Sound Devices.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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


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Stephen Lewis
Re: Levels too low with nearly max gain
on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:20:37 am

Thanks Ty,
I'll give them a call.


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