Mic Check

Notes: So the learning project this week (and going forward) is to try and make up for all the videos I’ve shot with terrible audio quality over the years.  The built in microphones on almost all of the cameras I’ve ever owned are just awful.  I’ve always known that, for serious things, audio is way more important than the video.  This has been proven by the fact that we’ll watch any video as long as the moving images is adequate, but the audio must be of high quality.

The problem with all DSLR’s is that the in camera mic’s all suffer from noisy amplification.  I had the Rode Video Mic a while back, but the inherent problem is it still uses a 3.5mm jack to go into the cameras.  With that you’ll still pick up camera noise and the low quality that comes with the type of connection.  The latest batch of cameras have finally added headphone out, but will always lack XLR mic inputs, because well, they’re not professional videocameras.  Different tools for different jobs.  It wasn’t until recently that I decided to divert precious food and lens money into making a really good audio recording solution.

Most people record on a dual system, putting their mics off the camera and feeding that into a portable recorder like a Tascam or Zoom, and you sync later in post.  Again, for serious things where you have help, that makes sense to do so.  But sitting at the computer staring at waveforms diverts time from walking in the park.  I wanted to have the cleanest signal possible recorded directly to the DSLR.

Now I understand if you want to shoot video/audio, then go buy a real camcorder, but the image quality from the large sensor cameras combined with the entire catalog of interchangeable lenses, is such a powerful image making device.  Plus I’ve always liked adding things to my kit, because well, I shoot to learn, to have fun, and work within what I already have gear and budget wise.  What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for others.

So the latest rig I assembled is a D600 mounted to a JuicedLink pre amp, providing phantom power to a Shure SM58A Beta, which in turn feeds a very clean audio signal back to the camera.  Since this camera has manual audio control and levels, you can actually see and hear what the recording is like through the headphones.  For controlled situations, I think it will work.

In the video above, I purposely shot it outside to see if the noise from the busy road would pick up.  Not bad, I really like the presence of the SM58A.  I really see how it is like the 50mm 1.8 of the audio world.  Not a single complaint from anyone over its illustrious career.

The video is a bit close, because I only had the 85mm and the cord connected to the guitar was too short for me to back up.  So that’s both the Shure and guitar hooked up to the JuicedLink pre amp with pretty cool analog knobs to adjust the gain.  I did manage to shoot with a busted up non focusing 18-55mm later.  Hey, any lens is better than no lens.

I don’t claim to be an expert in anything, the internet’s got enough of those people.  For me personally I jump from branch to branch on the big old creative tree, all for the sake of learning and getting better.  I always say that music might just be the highest art form, and although I’m firmly seated in the visual arts, I would like to learn about it to gain perspective.

More to come as we work on a custom bracket so I can make this rig a little more manageable and presentable.


Posted in Photography, Videos.