I have a Sony Digital8 Handycam. I've read some things about balanced audio and wonder if I should go to xlr. The main advantage, from what I've read, is to protect from interference. As far as I know, I've not had interference problems. I tape a lot of outdoor music shows (un-miked, acoustic instruments only), so if xlr would improve the quality of my audio, I'd do it. But not if it's to solve a problem I don't expect to have.
Hey Bob, typically when you hear of XLR protecting from interference, it's making reference to cabling long distances (50 feet or more). It has more to do with the type of cable (number of conductors and type and quality of shielding) than the type of plug interface. For example: if microphone cables were run from the front to the back of a large auditorium (say 75 ft.) and standard 2 conductor cable were used it would likely act as an antenna and pick up radio waves out of the air.
With that said...the fact that you are using a Digital8 tells me you are not a professional videographer. You, like myself just do it for fun. Quality sound is a worthwhile goal even for us amatuers. Nobody likes to watch a video with lousy sound. Let me tell you a couple things I have learned about audio. 1) the built in mic will always produce bad sound. why? because it is built into the camera body and is located usually about an inch or less from the drive motor and a zillion other moving parts. You have mechanical activity happening inside that camcorder...motor spinning, tape dragging across the drum, capstans turning, pulleys turning, etc. etc. etc. The internal mic is always going to introduce some unwanted noise. I have spent plentyt of cash on mics and a whole arsenal of audio gear, but recently I purchased the neatest thing...I also use a Sony camcorder with the intelligent accessory shoe. Sony makes an external mic called SONY ECM-HS1 CAMCORDER GUN ZOOM MICROPHONE. No cables, no batteries. It cost about 50 bucks and it will give you great sound. For what you do, I think you would be amazed at the improvement it would gie you.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions, I will be glad to help you if I can.
Thanks, that's helpful to know. I suspected I would not find xlr that helpful but needed another opinion. As you note, I'm doing this for fun, but want to do quality work.
Interestingly, I have the Sony mike you mentioned. I first had a $60 Audio-technica that performed okay but was so long I often ruined shots when it dipped into the picture. The Sony mic was intriguing because of its small size, power via the shoe, and the sync-zoom. I found that last feature too difficult to control - it ruined a lot of musical performances. One person told me that the way it works is to turn on the internal mic at the highest zoom levels. However it works, it's no good for me unless I don't zoom at all. Gun mode worked okay but it is omnidirectional and took in too much surrounding sound. It's an interesting mic, useful for me at family gatherings and similar events. But not for the music festivals I shoot. So now I'm looking at the Sennheiser MKE 300 and the Azden SGM-X. If you or anyone has any experience with these two and can comment, I'd appreciate it.