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Proper Earpiece to monitor Audio from camera - anyone know why so quiet?

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Seth Marshall
Proper Earpiece to monitor Audio from camera - anyone know why so quiet?
on Nov 2, 2012 at 10:12:44 pm

I"ve been searching for a better dedicated solution for monitoring audio from the various cameras I work with. In the past I've used iPhone earbuds or whatever else is available, making sure to switch audio to mono in the menu because one ear is used for my walkie.

I recently bought an IPB earpiece from B&H but on both a Sony EX3 and F800 the sound that comes out of it is very low, much more so than simple earbuds.

I was told by Gotham sound you need to have an earpiece with specific impedance capabilities and that broadcast cameras have higher impedance headphone jacks. The had two products, one with lower impedance and one with higher impedance but is twice the cost.

At this point I'm curious what all this is about and why the crappiest earbuds you can buy would work but not something like the professional IFB earpiece I purchased from B&H.


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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: Proper Earpiece to monitor Audio from camera - anyone know why so quiet?
on Nov 3, 2012 at 1:51:57 am

Impedance is basically electrical resistance for AC circuits. The higher the impedance, the more voltage is needed to make it work.

Most modern electronics use low-voltage driven audio amplifiers so headphones ranging from 18-40ohms. Think iPhone headphones on the low end, larger studio monitoring headphones on the high end. While some high-end audiophile equipment is still high impedance, the trend is towards low impedance design.

An IFB earpiece (surveillance earpiece) can be a few hundred ohms (400-500ohms). As to why this is, I'm not sure... it may be a long standing industry standard or help cut on wireless interference. There is probably an engineering based answer for it.

http://www.head-fi.org/ popping over to their forums may give you a better place to ask in terms of if you should buy a new ear piece, get an in-line headphone amp, or whatever else.

Angelo Lorenzo
Fallen Empire Digital Production Services - Los Angeles
RED transcoding, on-set DIT, and RED Epic rental services
Fallen Empire - The Blog
A blog dedicated to filmmaking, the RED workflow, and DIT tips and tricks


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Seth Marshall
Re: Proper Earpiece to monitor Audio from camera - anyone know why so quiet?
on Nov 3, 2012 at 5:27:34 am

Thank you very much for your reply. It gave me a much clearer picture on how impedance works. Immediately after mentioning it needs more voltage I thought about possibly to help weed out interference and that would make sense. Still, I wonder why the standard has stuck around even on the most current cameras these days.

Even then... Lets say the IFB headset I bought had low impedance. So do the iPhone earbuds. So why would one work and the other not. Maybe because the IFB earbuds sound still have to travel through the sound coil instead of sitting right in my ear. I guess that would make sense.

If anyone else has more info to provide, I would love to hear it.


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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: Proper Earpiece to monitor Audio from camera - anyone know why so quiet?
on Nov 3, 2012 at 4:13:32 pm

The IFB earbud is high impedance. The camera is expecting low impedance and doesn't have the voltage to drive the IFB.

You could use a cheap in-line headphone amp/booster but you will boost noise along with it. Better than nothing, but will make monitoring the quality of sound difficult.

Angelo Lorenzo
Fallen Empire Digital Production Services - Los Angeles
RED transcoding, on-set DIT, and RED Epic rental services
Fallen Empire - The Blog
A blog dedicated to filmmaking, the RED workflow, and DIT tips and tricks


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