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Good quality audio for Video...how?

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Gary Angle
Good quality audio for Video...how?
on Oct 11, 2019 at 4:42:30 am

I will be creating in the video essay format and cannot find my way through the maze of recorders and methods to acquire good audio. I use a DSLR, Lumix GH5. I've looked at the Zoom H4N to mount on my camera but before I spend more money for awful results, I'd like to ask for help in how to get really good audio that I don't have to spend lots of time in post fixing! Thanks for any help!


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Ty Ford
Re: Good quality audio for Video...how?
on Oct 11, 2019 at 3:29:36 pm

Hello Gary and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Can you please explain Video Essay Format?

Where will you be shooting. What's the acoustical environment?

You may be able to use something simple like an AT8024.

https://tyfordaudiovideo.blogspot.com/2017/07/audio-technica-at8024-good-th...

But you may have to gear up to something more serious.

Please give us more info....

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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Gary Angle
Re: Good quality audio for Video...how?
on Oct 11, 2019 at 6:36:53 pm

Ty-Thank you for your reply! Video Essay (at least for me) is documentary in style but with unreliable or reliable narrator. That may not make sense but think of the book, "Catcher in the Rye". I'll be using actors in interview environment but not limited to that. It might end up with reenactment sequences.

I'm just tired of having terrible audio that has to be treated in post to be passable. Even that makes for less than good audio.

I have to use DSLR for budget reasons. I use a Lumix GH5 and its preamp has a background hum but I read that, if you go straight through any brand, the same issue persists.

What I came up as a solution is a Zoom HN4 using XLR cable for a boom and shotgun mic and directly into my camera input.I'd gone wireless from boom to camera and the results are the problem I mentioned but even a direct connection gives the hum!I have lavaliere mics also...

You mentioned a better solution. I'm at the end of the road with no real solution that I trust without guidance.I'd like very much to hear a tested method or suggestion of any kind. Thanks, Gary


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Ty Ford
Re: Good quality audio for Video...how?
on Oct 11, 2019 at 7:17:38 pm

Hi Gary,

Gear:

The hum. Can you point me to a url that demonstrates the hum?

Your camera audio input is stereo. Using a mono mic to a regular 1/8" TRS may cause hum.

Does your camera have an audio AGC (Automatic Gain Control) and if so, can it be set to OFF? ALC (Automatic Level Control) is similar. I'm just now reading that the DMW-XLR1 for this camera has that. You'll want that turned off. These can bring up background noise especially during moments between words or sentences.

here's a video that addresses two simple audio problems for your camera:





Mics:

A shotgun mic is not what you want if you are shooting most indoors. Instead, you'll want a hyper or super cardioid. What's you budget for the mic?

I'm not convinced that your camera can not be recorded to properly. Not ready top give up on a simpler solution. You DO need to monitor with headphones during shooting at all times. You just do.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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


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Brandon Lanski
Re: Good quality audio for Video...how?
on Oct 17, 2019 at 4:58:00 pm

Hey Gary! I've been shooting with GH5's for a few years and Audio has always been really important to me. There are a bunch of different situations you'll run into that change what setup is the best for you.

It sounds like you decided it's best to just record straight into the camera, either for ease or cost for documentary and small crew work, it's a good Idea.

The ZoomHN4 is noisey in my experience. Especially when you need to crank up the signal. Zoom makes a multitrack recorder which I use almost anytime I can. The F1.

But it's expensive and doesn't easily allow you to move quickly which is important for what you're doing. So what I think you should get is a DMW-XLR1

This is basically an amp that will let you put two XLR cables into your camera. It feeds the audio straight through the hot shoe mount. And for what it is, it's got a very low noise floor, I mean it certainly has been kicking my HN4's ass.

I usually do a shotgun in one channel and a lav in another channel. You should take the time to mess with the loudness settings on the transmitter end vs the receiver end of your lav set up because I've found that when you set the transmitter to a very low volume, and then you bring it back in the pre-amp, you get a much tighter sound. Less background noise.

Shotguns are great and all but they have their problems so combining the two and using the best frequencies between the two with an EQ will really make for a night and day difference.



You can get audio like this using these ideas:



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Ty Ford
Re: Good quality audio for Video...how?
on Oct 17, 2019 at 7:27:00 pm

Hi Brandon,

Thanks so much for dropping in with some great info and a lovely clip. Do you find that your setup has enough gain to make even dynamic lavs sound good?

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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Brandon Lanski
Re: Good quality audio for Video...how?
on Oct 21, 2019 at 10:39:56 pm

I've never used a dynamic lav on this system. I don't know how much responsibility that device would have to get one to work but I've had it supply fairly clean power to my shotgun plenty of times. That clip was the lav and the shotgun being powered by that little device.

And I don't think I did much more than EQ and compression. I love that thing. It really opens doors.


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Ty Ford
Re: Good quality audio for Video...how?
on Oct 22, 2019 at 12:21:29 am
Last Edited By Ty Ford on Oct 22, 2019 at 12:22:08 am

HI Brandon,

Sounds good to me. I do hear the voice pulled slightly to the left. Does it sound like that to you?

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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Brandon Lanski
Re: Good quality audio for Video...how?
on Oct 22, 2019 at 1:09:40 pm

Wow, you're right. I never perceived it that way. Is it weird?

It's like that because the base in her voice is panned slightly from the highs. I was kinda experimenting with it in hopes of getting a fuller sound.


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Ty Ford
Re: Good quality audio for Video...how?
on Oct 22, 2019 at 2:44:55 pm

Brandon,

Yeah, a little weird, but I've heard worse; like only on one side.

The cause is usually you have your audio monitors buried on your desk somewhere and aren't hearing them right.

You want to create a triangle with your head and the two speakers. They need to be in the clear, like big headphones, 2' to 4' from your ears. They need to be positioned so that the tweeters are aimed right at your ears. That means the audio monitors need to be angled in just a little (and frequently raised so they are at the same height as your head.

Good headphones are also very helpful if your content will every be listened to over headphones of ear buds. (think cell phones).

I suggest Sony MDR 7506 or Audio technica M50 or higher.

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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Bruce Watson
Re: Good quality audio for Video...how?
on Oct 11, 2019 at 10:00:04 pm
Last Edited By Bruce Watson on Oct 11, 2019 at 10:03:53 pm

[Gary Angle] "...cannot find my way through the maze of recorders and methods to acquire good audio."

Certainly understandable. Audio is just as complex as video, but everyone wants to concentrate on the video side. What they don't understand is that the audience will stand up and walk out on bad audio, while that same audience will stay and watch all kinds of crappy video. But I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know.

[Gary Angle] "I'd like to ask for help in how to get really good audio that I don't have to spend lots of time in post fixing!"

I've been where you are now. I spent years learning audio for video. Not that it made me any kind of expert. But I can tell you what I found out, which you might find useful. Or not. IDK. YMMV. Use at own risk. All that.

First, mounting any kind of microphone on camera is the road to truly crappy audio. The optimum placement for the camera is hardly ever the optimum placement for a microphone. 99% of the time it's an extremely bad placement for a microphone. Which is why so much "run and gun" video has such bad audio.

Second, proper mic placement often devolves down to signal-to-noise ratio. The dialog you want to record is your signal, everything else is noise. You control this by how close you get your mic to your signal source. That is, how close you get your mic to the talent's mouth. Typically, you'd want a hypercardiod no farther out than 60cm. Out in front of talent, above the frame line, pointed down at talent's mouth at around a 45 degree angle. This is my "sweet spot", for better or worse.

If you want to think of it another way, getting in close lets you maximize the sound of the voice while you minimize the sound of the room. If you get in close it usually sounds pretty good -- if your mic is way back (mounted on camera? Do not do this) you get as much room as you get voice, so you get that boxy "small room sound" because you're brought up all that noise like the rapid reflections of the voice off the room surfaces. And that drives understandability way down into the "crappy sound" area. Not good. Do not go there.

Third, the phrase "fix it in post" should be banned from the language. It's nearly impossible to fix bad audio in post. Capture the audio correctly in the first place if you want to avoid the "nightmare post" audio experience. The tool for getting it right in the first place is a good pair of quality headphones worn over the ears every time you record anything. Anything at all. As Richard says, recording audio without monitoring on headphones is like recording video without looking through the viewfinder. But it's not enough to wear the headphones -- you have to learn to listen. It's way too easy to put those headphones on and then ignore them. Train yourself to listen.

Forth, almost all cameras have cheap and nasty audio sections. That is, really pretty bad microphone preamps. And line level inputs that are really just putting an attenuator (aka "pad") on the signal then routing the attenuated line level signal through the mic level parts (and those nasty mic preamps) anyway. So... to fix and control this, you need a field mixer, even if you're still going to record to camera. The one I use for this duty is a Sound Devices MixPre-D. There are bunches of them on the used markets for less than half of retail. They give you three major advantages over your camera audio section. These being excellent mic preamps, excellent meters, and excellent limiters. There are other advantages as well.

Fifth, most people should not own a shotgun mic. Shotguns can be tricky to use (especially indoors, if you don't know how, leave the shotgun outside). Instead, your first mic purchase should be a hypercardiod, which can be used indoors or out without much problem.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So... what do you do with a mixer? First you have to find out what the mixer's meters are actually showing you. The MixPre-D's meters are showing you dBU, which is not at all the same as the dBFS your camera is probably showing you. So you have to find out what you're looking at. When in doubt, read the manual. If you're using a MixPre-D, it can send a calibration tone to your camera. Do that, and set your camera to around -20dBFS. Then, don't ever touch the camera audio levels again. Do all your changes on the mixer. No, I'm not kidding.

When it comes time to record your video / audio, get your microphone in place (using a boom op, boom pole on a c-stand, mic talent up with lavs, whatever you're using) then have your talent "rehearse" a bit to give you a sound check. Use this to set the gain on your mixer to the equivalent of around -12dBFS peaks (on a dBU scale that's around +8dB (and no, that's not a typo, that's a plus sign). +8 dBU is the first red LED on the MixPre-D. I recommend leaving the limiter set at factory defaults (for a MixPre-D that's +18dBU IIRC). You do it like this, your setup is way closer to un-clipable than you might think.

As to mics, the small documentary crowd still seems to like the Audio Technica at4053b, or the Audix SCX1-HC. There are of course dozens of similar mics that will do the job. But these two keep coming up in the forums I watch. Make of that what you will. I've actually got a 4053b; it's a great mic for the price. I imagine the Audix is too, but I've never used one.

On the lavalier side, most people go straight to radios (wireless). That's almost always a mistake. Radios are a last resort, not a first. If you can go wired, you should. There are three reasons: cables sound better than even the most expensive radio, cables are way more reliable, and oh yes, cables are way less expensive. And if you think ahead and buy an XLR-plugin power converter, you can run your lavalier off the phantom power from the mixer. Which is convenient.

The other problem with wireless lavalier kits is usually the mic itself. Sennheiser for instance is known for merely adequate kit mics in their bottom end wireless kits. At least the gen-2/3 kits. I hear they upgraded the old ME-2 kit mic for the gen-4 kits, IDK. Anyway, the biggest bang for the buck as it were still seems to me to be the Oscar Soundtech 801 or 802 lavs. When I bought a pair for my old Sennheiser G3 wireless kits I got large step up in audio quality. About as much as going from camera mic preamps to the MixPre-D.

BTW, never use a directional lavalier. Only use omni lavalier mics. This too will save you from many hours of post-audio hell.

So, there's years of experience crushed down into a single post. Clearly there's a lot more, but maybe this will get you pointed in the right direction.


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