Sound for Video Session: Line Level Inputs, Zoom F8, Limiters, and Brighter Sound

In this week's sound for video session, we talked through several questions:

- How do you feed a microphone into the line level inputs on the Sound Devices 633?

- Zoom F8 - file naming issues, limiters

- Which mics can you use outdoors? Sanken CS3e

- Do you blend lav and boom mics?

- How do I make sound "Brighter" in post?

- Recommendations for starter boom mic and recorder kit?

- How do I send audio from my recorder to my camera?

- Can an Orca OR-30 sound bag hold a Zoom F4 or F8 plus three or four microphones?


Small preamps to feed line level inputs on your recorder:

RODE NT5 Microphone

My recent meta-review of several audio recorders:

Orca OR-32 sound bag

Orca OR-34 sound bag

Some of the above links are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of these links and buy, I receive a small fee which I then use to bring you more reviews and tutorials. Thanks for your support!

Which Audio Recorders for Filmmaking do I Use?

We have reviewed several recorders over the last several years at various price points and with different feature sets. While I attempted to be very thorough in those reviews, nothing can replace the experience of working with a recorder over a longer period of time. Now that I have more experience with each of these audio mixers/recorders, let’s talk about what I’ve found since I posted the reviews.

Recorders Covered:

Zoom H1

Tascam DR-05

Tascam DR-60DmkII

Zoom H4n Pro

Zoom H6

Tascam DR-701D

Zoom F4

Zoom F8

Sound Devices 633

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

3.5mm Audio Plugs, iPhone 7 and the Impact to Audio People

I'm an iPhone customer. I'm on the "upgrade every 2 years" plan with phones. I've been pretty happy with my iPhone 6+.

I have an iPhone 7 on order which should arrive later this week. You are probably aware that Apple removed the 3.5mm TRRS jack used for audio accessories starting with iPhone 7. Instead, they offer Bluetooth for wireless audio input and output or the proprietary lightning connector for wired audio input and output.

The first question that came to my mind was, "Ok, does that mean that the lightning connector feeds a digital signal or can it send an analogue audio signal? Is there still an digital to analogue converter in the iPhone? Or are the separate headphones, speakers, or microphones responsible for conversion from now on?"

Why does it matter which device does the conversion?

Digital to analogue and analogue to digital conversion is easy to do but it is difficult to do really well. The iPhone's converters have historically been quite good for a consumer device.

For wireless audio, the iPhone will, of course, send a digital signal. So any wireless audio devices will need to do the analogue to digital or digital to analogue conversion (A/D D/A) themselves, always communicating back to the phone with a digital signal.

But what about devices connected to the Lightning connector? I suspect that the Lightning port can actually provide an analogue audio signal and that the iPhone 7 still has an A/D D/A converter. I assume this because the little adapter Apple includes with the phone and will sell separately is priced at $9.99 USD. This likely means that it does not include a converter. It would likely be impossible for Apple to sell the adapter at that price if it did.  And I expect that if it did include a converter, Apple would want more than the entry level, lower quality converters it would have to use to keep the costs down low enough to sell the dongle for $9.99.

Hopefully I'm right because I have two devices for which I rely on the iPhone: Tentacle Sync timecode clock and the RODE VideoMic Me.

Of the two, the Tentacle Sync has become critical to my workflow. I connect it to my phone to change the settings such as framerate, output level (line vs. mic level), and set user bits. Without the phone, things could get dicey. On the job, you've got to double check that these things are set correctly. I hope and pray that this will still work with the adapter dongle included with the iPhone 7.

The RODE VideoMic Me was my go-to, inexpensive mic for corporate video projects where we could send individuals off with their phones to shoot little insert shots and hope to get better audio than they would with just their phones. Because this relies on the 3.5mm port on the iPhone to hold the mic in place, this one pretty much becomes obsolete with Apple's change. Yes, you could hook it up via the dongle, but since it no longer has the jack to hold the mic in place, it isn't really useful for the purpose it was originally designed (unless you rig up some other way to keep it in place).

Is this decision to remove the 3.5mm headset port a good idea? 

There's plenty of debate about that. My stance is that yes, it makes sense at some level, but I'm not 100% convinced that what Apple is suggesting, wireless audio, is a better replacement. I'm not convinced that a wireless future is the best option for all people and all circumstances, not because Bluetooth is flaky, though in many cases, it is. That will improve. I'm pretty confident of that.

I have some concerns about all of the radiation we already subject ourselves to and adding more, particularly right into our heads, is especially concerning. Maybe it is fine, I don't know, but it isn't a risk I want to add to my daily routine until we have a little more scientific evidence on that question.

I understand why Apple removed the floppy drives and later, the optical drives, from its computers. That all makes sense, especially in retrospect. Same with Adobe Flash being left off of iPhones and iPads. That was perhaps controversial at the time, but makes a fair bit more sense today. And perhaps wireless audio isn't a risk to our health. Maybe I'll say, in 10 years from now, "Wow, Apple really had it right again..."

But for now, it looks like I'll be using a dongle to connect my timecode clock, headsets and headphones to my phone. Hopefully it all works well.

Sound for Video Session: Sync Sound, Mic Placement, Reverb, and Orca Audio Harness

In this week's sound for video session we cover a number of questions including the following:

  • Sound sync issues between audio recorder and camera or HDMI recorder
  • Where to place a microphone if you can only mic a live event with one
  • How to manage reverb in rooms with hard walls and floor
  • Ease booming with an audio bag harness (Orca OR-40)

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box for COB 120 LED Light

For video talking head or interview shots, my go-to choice for my main light is a softbox. Ever since I got the Aputure Light Storm COB 120t LED light a few months back, I’ve been waiting for their Light Dome softbox to start shipping. And I am not disappointed. This softbox produces beautiful soft light for interview shots, feels like a quality product, and is reasonably priced.

As a bonus, because the COB 120 has a bowens mount, you can use the light dome on any other LED lights with a bowens mount.

The light dome will start shipping soon. Check back for updates.

Sound for Video Session: Managing Reverb, Live Music, Zoom F8 and F4, Blimp Covers and More

We covered a lot of questions submitted by our little community today including items on audio to video sync, managing reverse with reflection filters, recording live music, battery life of the Zoom F8, the Zoom F4, wind covers/blimps, and several others.

One reflection filter I have experience with is the sE Electronics Reflexion Filter Pro.  I'm not in a position to say this is the ultimate reflection filter to manage reverberant rooms, but it works pretty decently.

We discussed the Rycote Cyclone wind cover for recording outdoors. This is the medium model which fits most short shotgun mics like the RODE NTG2 - 4, Sennheiser MKH416, Schoeps CMIT5U and most other 28cm long shotgun mics.

A more budget friendly option which costs less than half the price is the RODE Blimp. It is a bit heavier, needs a furry cover in lighter wind than the cyclone, and takes a little longer to open but gets the job done nicely.

GVB Gimbal and 3 Low Cost Action Cameras

There are a ton of inexpensive action cameras available on the market and it is hard to figure out which perform best. So let’s have a quick look at 3: GVB Action Cam, Yi HD Action Cam, and ThiEYE i60 Action Cam. Each come in at about $100 USD.

Also, action cameras, just like any other camera, produce jerky and shaky looking video when you hold them by hand. Gimbals can help to stabilize your camera so that the video footage is smoother and more enjoyable to watch. In this episode, we also look at the GVB Action Camera Gimbal, an affordable entry-level 3 axis gimbal for GoPro Hero 4 and other cameras of the same size and weight.

Sound for Video Session: Loudness vs Peaks and Cameras vs Audio Gear

This week we discuss a question from Kevin (AKA The Basic Filmmaker) on why the peaks are always at different levels after you loudness normalize an audio clip. Then I rant for a while on why upgrading your camera every time a cool looking new camera may not be the best use of your budget.

Varavon Zeus Uni - Universal Camera Cage

What is a camera cage? It is a metal, protective piece of gear which allows you to attach accessories, usually with 1/4-20 screws and cold shoe mounts. The trick with most affordable cages is that they are purpose built for a specific camera model. This gets expensive when you go to upgrade your camera because then you often also have to buy a new cage. The Varavon Zeus Uni solves that problem quite effectively with a design that adapts to your camera. Let’s have a look!