Sound from Mixer into Camera

Discussion in 'Video' started by prabhu_v, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. I need to record video at a music event, where there will be a bunch of mics going into a mixer. Both my DSLR and my camcorder only have a mic input. What equipment cables would I need to ensure reasonably good audio quality? I need the sound out of the mixer into the camera.
    In my research I came across products from JuicedLink and Beachtek, a simple XLR to 1/8 inch cables, and even wireless transmitter/receiver where the transmitter would be plugged into the mixer and the receiver into the camera (somebody told me that a wireless system would keep the noise down). But it's beginning to get pretty overwhelming with all these options, so any guidance is appreciated!
  2. I'd take the advice about wireless with a pinch of salt. Any radio signal can be compromised.
    For the others, if you're going into a 3.5mm socket, you'll need to make sure the cable is well anchored to the camera body. I used to loop the cable around the camera and tape it in place, to put the minimum stress on the plug and socket.
    Beyond that, use the best plugs and cable you can find. Cheap cables are often a bad deal.
  3. Depending on the mixer, its output level can peak anywhere from 0dBV to +30dBV which will grossly overload the mic input of the camera so a simple XLR to 1/8" adapter won't work.
    What's required is an additional padded adapter to drop the mixer's output level:
    The amount of required signal attenuation will depend on the camera's mic input sensitivity and the mixer's maximum anticipated output. To be safe, I'd go with a 50dB pad (the first link) plus a switchable one to optionally connect the two in series.
  4. Concur on above advise. Wireless always degrades the sound quality, avoid it if at all possible. A simple adapter won't work, you at least need a transformer to convert the lo-z (XLR) to hi-z.
    Does your camera have a VU meter? Headphone jack to monitor sound while recording? If the output on the board is too hot or too low, will you have the access to adjust as necessary?
    I have a Behringer EURORACK UB802 mixer that cost me about $50 new, and it lets me turn just about any level of signal into something useable. INVALUABLE if you can't adjust levels on-camera.
  5. A good option, if possible, is to get the audio guy to give you a stereo output that you can record to another device, like a laptop or something that allows recording. Then sync up the sound with the video later. It'll be much better. I allow people to do this, but it's better to work that out before the event because you have to find out if there are going to be any available outputs for you. And we really hate last minute people who ask for help while we're trying to set up a gig. Recording straight into the camera will more than likely blow out the sound. Me personally, I use the matrix output from my mixer and record through a Presonus interface to my MacBook using Studio One. You can do the same thing with just about any interface and GarageBand, Logic, Sony Vegas on a PC, whatever. Even better when you can do multitrack the audio.
  6. Thanks everyone for your input.
    @Richard Simmons, sounds like your method may be easiest for me...I have a couple questions:
    1. Have you ever had issues with audio & video being out of sync? Or is usually pretty good?
    2. How can I set up for multi-track audio? There will likely be about 5 to 6 mics going into the mixer. How can I get all the tracks separately into my DAW?
  7. No, no issues. I use Final Cut Pro X now to sync and it's built in. Just pick the audio and the video clips and click sync. So easy. On a PC I use Sony Vegas and I've never had a problem there either. In the past when using tape to record there could be issues as tape stretches, but now, no biggie with disc recording.
    It would help if you knew what kind of mixer you were hooking up to. The interface between the mixer and your DAW has to have enough input/outputs.
    If the mixer you want to record from has direct outputs on each channel, you can put those into your interface. The interface will more than likely have a USB or Firewire to connect to your laptop/DAW.
    If the audio mixer has a usb or firewire out, then you might be able to go straight to the DAW.
    If the audio mixer has a matrix, you can set up a sub mix on the matrix, send that to your interface. I use this sometimes. I use a four channel matrix (drums, band, choir, soloist) and two direct outs for wireless mics. I use a Presonus FireStudio as my interface. Really clean and easy to carry.
    On a Yamaha M7CL I use two Dante cards that have gigabit outputs that plug into a Mac Pro's two gigabit ports and 32 channels come up in the DAW. I sub mix a matrix through the Dante cards. This is the nicest method. Totally transparent. Playback sounds live.
  8. Thanks! One more question regarding space. I'm have to record two 3 hour sessions. Any suggestions on how I should prepare for storage, and if I should do a continuous recording or if I should split up?
  9. This really does sound like a job for the Zoom H4N. Take a stereo line feed out of the mixer, and use the (surprisingly good) onboard stereo mics to get room ambience. Later, you can use the ambient tracks to un-dry the direct feed from the mixer.

    And yeah, you can use any number of tools to sync it all right up. Use a trial copy of Plural Eyes, for example, if you're not using Final Cut etc. Just be sure to let the camera's built-in cheesy mic get the audio so that the video recordings provide something to sync to.
  10. I would split the sessions into two. Audio doesn't need nearly as much space as video. You will need a few gig for each session, but nothing major.
  11. I would let the cameras run continuously so when you sync audio in post, you only have to do it once (or twice since you say there will be 2 sessions).
    I have a concern about the session length, though. You didn't specify what make/model your cameras are. Are you sure your DSLR will run that long w/o overheating? I'd try a dry run, just to be sure...
    Space required depends on what format you're recording in. Your camera manual should say how much you need at specific settings, or again, you can do a dry run and see what your actual camera is using over a specific amount of time.
  12. Go to . They are a professional broadcast supply house and can give you what you need to connect literally anythng to literally anything. I believe they are selling an XLR-mini cable that will do exactly what you need without the need for more. What was said above about mixing board output levels varying is correct. But all you have to ask the sound techician for is to plug your XLR-mini cableu into a "mike level" output. If he does that, that (in most cases) should be all you need. Talk to Marketek, however. Their guys do this for a living every day.
    Running a separate recorder as backup is a good idea, but you definitely want to be recording sound into your camera as you shoot. Shooting double system in video simply isn't necessary like it is with film. Shooting double system can have some advantages, but it's also a lot of extra work. (I've done it.) If you do go that route, still record sound into your camera if only as a reference so you'll know what you're trying to sync the external sound to.
  13. I've done what you are suggesting. Connecting consumer grade cameras to a mixer to try and record 'house' sound for video recording, with the goal of getting 'good clean audio'. My experiences, thinking, and internet research lead me to suggest the following approach:
    First, get a good audio direct box, like this one...
    Let's assume the mixer dude will give you a AUX SEND port to pull your signal. Use a 1 meter shielded audio cable to connect the AUX SEND port (mixer) to the "signal input" port on the direct box. Then connect the XDR signal output (direct box) to the mic input port (camera), using a 1-2 meter cable. Then connect the other output port (direct box) to a small stereo rcvr and use headphones to listen to the signal coming out. That let's you hear the signal coming out, and tell immediately if its good & clean, or if its distorted.
    DO NOT go into your live event with an untested setup. Give yourself PLENTY of time to connect and set everything up as described, and then make some test recordings with dummy audio material patched through the mixer. Pull the video content from camera back onto your computer and use your favorite media player to actually listen and appraise the audio recording part of the video.
    If the signal coming out the direct box sounds fuzzy & distorted in your video recording, which might indicate you are over-driving the direct box, then just press in the PAD button on the input terminal, and that will automatically reduce the signal level going into the direct box, which would eliminate the over-driving as a source of distortion.
    The AUX SEND port will also have its own volume level (gain control) so that you can turn the signal up or down as needed.
    I also strongly encourage you to try and make a 2nd simultaneous digital audio recording using a feed pulled from the mixer. One way is to connect a Tascam Digital CD recorder to one of the Tape Out lines, just like you would a tape recorder. Another way is get a small digital voice recorder, like one from Sony, Olympus, or Panasonic. $50-$100. Make sure the one you get has an external microphone connection and also lets you switch between LINE LEVEL and MIC LEVEL. Set the microphone setting so its using LINE LEVEL, then connect the DVR to a Tape Out line from the mixer. Then, just before the event starts, start the DVR recording. It will just sit there and record everything coming through the mixer.
    The main reason for the alternate audio recording (DVR or Tascam) is that if you still get bad audio recording in your video camera footage, then you will have an alternate digital audio recording to use as a backup. You can import that alternate audio material into a quality audio editor like Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 9, resample it. so that the sample rate matches the sample rate of your video camera audio track. Then you can use your video edit software to 'sync up' the alternate audio channel with the camera's original audio track. Once precise syncup is achieved you can turn off the camera's audio track and use the alternate.
    But, if you dont have an alternate audio recording available, then you can do anything like that. You'll just be stuck with whatever audio the camera actually recorded. Experience has taught me that you CANNOT just assume the audio recorded by the camera will sound good. There are too many variables and too many things that can go wrong, especially in a live event (not a studio).
    I think an approach like this would work.

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