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Audio Distorted 5 year old Sennheiser 100 ENG G2 into new Canon XA20

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Bruce MacKown
Audio Distorted 5 year old Sennheiser 100 ENG G2 into new Canon XA20
on Jul 6, 2014 at 10:42:33 pm

I recently purchased a Canon XA20 camera and the audio sounds distorted even though I am setting the level no higher than -6db. I’m using the same wireless lav setup that I’ve had for five years, a Sennheiser 100 ENG G2 (with ME2 clip on mic) with which I’ve shot dozens of videos on a Panasonic HPX170 and (when shooting DSLR) into a Zoom H4n with no audio problems. When I pull the clips into Adobe Premiere the levels are the same I set manually on the camera, which is below -6db so how it could sound distorted is beyond me.

The first video I’ve posted below is the first that I shot with the new camera. It has audio distortion even though I manually set the level on the camera between -12 and -6db, as I usually do.

For the second video (posted below) I recorded with the Canon’s audio level lower than normal, peaking at -12db (so in the range -18 to -12db, which I later boosted in post) and it still sounds distorted.

For the third video (again, posted below) I experimented with the location of the clip on mic itself thinking maybe the mic is too close to subject’s mouth (even though I’ve shot many videos before with the mic clipped on to the shirt collar close to the neck, with no problems). I clipped it about 6 inches further away from the speaker’s mouth than before, basically half way down his shirt front. I set the audio level in the -12 to -6db range. Still the audio sounds distorted.

I read the manual and went through the camera's menus and don’t have a clue what could be the problem. Any help you guys could provide would be much appreciated. Thanks!

First video: audio level -12 to -6db







Second video: audio level -18 to -12db







Third video: lav mic location further away from subject’s mouth, level -12 to -6db






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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Distorted 5 year old Sennheiser 100 ENG G2 into new Canon XA20
on Jul 6, 2014 at 10:54:32 pm
Last Edited By Brian Reynolds on Jul 6, 2014 at 11:31:26 pm

What was the Tx gain setting(-10.....-30 / -50)? It's easy to quote figures but what was the level meter on the TX unit showing?

The figures you are quoting are in 6db steps... that is the output level of the RX unit. If the distortion in incomming the adjusting the output level won't solve the problem.

Every shoot and every voice is different.... radio mics are not a set and forget sort of piece of gear. Lots vary, talents voice level, distance from the mouth, is he trying to talk over the roar of a motor, is the mic out in the open or tucked under clothing?

If you don't adjust the settings to get the optimal signal it would be like using a 'fixed' focus camera.


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Eric Toline
Re: Audio Distorted 5 year old Sennheiser 100 ENG G2 into new Canon XA20
on Jul 7, 2014 at 1:40:53 am

Set your tx & rx to -20. Be sure your camera is set for mic level in. If you keep the levels peaking on the camera to -10 you should fine.

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Bruce MacKown
Re: Audio Distorted 5 year old Sennheiser 100 ENG G2 into new Canon XA20
on Jul 7, 2014 at 7:19:14 am
Last Edited By Bruce MacKown on Jul 7, 2014 at 7:22:41 am

Eric,

Thanks for the quick answer.
Actually, I went back and read the camera manual more thoroughly and realized that I hadn't experimented with two adjustments yet. So after adjusting the "mic. trim" (whatever that is) from 0 to -6db and turning the "mic. attenuator" (whatever that is) on, the audio sounds clear. I don't hear any distortion. Would be nice to know why these adjustments solved my problem. Could you possibly explain?

I'm curious to know what you mean by tx and rx adjustments. Never heard of those so I'm assuming they are for a piece of audio equipment that I don't use (a field mixer?).

Thanks again!


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Eric Toline
Re: Audio Distorted 5 year old Sennheiser 100 ENG G2 into new Canon XA20
on Jul 7, 2014 at 1:45:45 pm
Last Edited By Eric Toline on Jul 7, 2014 at 1:53:43 pm

Bruce,

You have just learned the basics of gain staging and the most important rule of working with new gear which is RTFM. When you figure out what that means you'll be miles ahead.

Eric

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Bruce MacKown
Re: Audio Distorted 5 year old Sennheiser 100 ENG G2 into new Canon XA20
on Jul 9, 2014 at 3:45:44 pm

Read the freakin' manual. Got it. Thanks for taking the time to help me out Eric. This info on audio setup is really critical.


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Bruce MacKown
Re: Audio Distorted 5 year old Sennheiser 100 ENG G2 into new Canon XA20
on Jul 7, 2014 at 7:21:40 am

Brian,


Thanks for the quick answer.
Actually, I went back and read the camera manual more thoroughly and realized that I hadn't experimented with two adjustments yet. So after adjusting the "mic. trim" (whatever that is) from 0 to -6db and turning the "mic. attenuator" (whatever that is) on, the audio sounds clear. I don't hear any distortion. Would be nice to know why these adjustments solved my problem. Could you possibly explain?

I'm curious to know what you mean by tx gain setting adjustment. Never heard of those so I'm assuming they are for a piece of audio equipment that I don't use (a field mixer?).

Thanks again!


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Distorted 5 year old Sennheiser 100 ENG G2 into new Canon XA20
on Jul 7, 2014 at 7:38:29 am
Last Edited By Brian Reynolds on Jul 7, 2014 at 7:43:54 am

A radio mic system is actually 2 electronic devices....The transmitter (Tx) and the receiver (Rx).

Firstly you need to set up part one.... the Tx levels need to be set correctly (not over driven and not to low) and thats why there is a level adjustment that can be changed. For example a loud yelling man will need a different setting than a nervous bride saying 'I do'. Most Tx units have some metering or lights to indicate levels and when they are over the correct input gain.

When you have part one set correctly it sends it via a radio frequency to part two the receiver Rx, this receives the signal and then sends the audio signal out.... the output level can be adjusted to suit the needs of the camera / mixer input. Some cameras need mic level (most DSLRs are like this) and other cameras can handle 'line' level.

So a well adjusted 'system' is a combination of both of these units set correctly, the TX and Rx.

Leaving them on a medium 'preset' level is like setting a cameras focus / iris to a medium setting and hoping for the best.

The key thing is to monitor the audio with headphones.....ALWAYS. You wouldn't use a camera without a viewfinder would you?

Radio mic systems aren't hard to set up....infact a lot simpler than a camera (tripod setup / leveling, balancing, correct color temp, iris settings, framing, resolution etc etc)


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Bruce MacKown
Re: Audio Distorted 5 year old Sennheiser 100 ENG G2 into new Canon XA20
on Jul 9, 2014 at 3:42:58 pm

Brian,

Thanks for all the info. on wireless mic adjustment. Really helpful!


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