I am working on a project where the audio was recorded on Lav mics. The audio was recorded onto the HDcam tapes, we were given dubs of the HDcam masters, had those captured at a post facility and given quicktimes on a harddrive. Much of the audio on the clips seems to be very low to me, often peaking at -30 dB. The waveforms are also very short, showing little dynamic range. Now I'm not sure if that is just the way it is and we are going to have to just jack up all the levels, but I asked the production people if they had the audio files recorded to disk as well so I could check to see if the audio got messed up when going to tape. They claim that the audio levels on the master tapes were good and that once they checked that they were they deleted the audio files. This seems very fishy to me...audio files take up very little room, why would one dump them and not archive them to a dvd or something first. Makes me think that a backup was never made or someone deleted them by accident.
Regardless, they are being very defensive and saying the audio is fine on the master, which could be the case and maybe the audio got messed up by the post house when making the dub or something. The only way for me to really confirm this is to get a hold of the masters and check their levels on an HDcam deck, which we do not have access to. I don't want to waste money just to find out that the levels are in fact low even on the masters.
I guess my question is this: are the waveforms generally a lot shorter and the levels a lot lower on lav recordings than other types of mics? Does anyone have any suggestions on how I should proceed? I mean, I've seen worse levels in my life, should I just resign myself to the fact that the levels are low and just keep my mouth shut and not make a big deal about it?
Before you do anything else, make darned sure you can actually work with that audio! Get a few clips up to acceptable levels -- is there objectionable background noise? Can you remove it? Would you rather not have to remove it?
If the audio's problemmatic, it will be worth your while to rent a deck for half a day (or less) to double-check the masters. If the levels are okay on them, this place owes you a free re-dub. If they aren't, you know for certain what you're dealing with and you can plan accordingly.
In either case, you're only out the rental money.
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA