Limiters for Recording Sound: Analogue vs Digital

When recording sound for video, is there a difference between analogue and digital limiters? If so, should you upgrade your recorder? Here’s an example and my thoughts.

The samples were recorded with the following:

What is striking to me is that if you're careful and willing/able to do retakes more often, you can get recordings that sound almost as good on a $200 USD recorder as on a $3200 USD recorder. But if you're working for a paying customer, retakes may make you look less than professional and possibly even cost you your next job. That's where a limiter can save you.

But if you're not paid for your recordings, don't sweat it! Besides, not having an analogue limiter forces you to be very careful and learn to be a ninja quality sound guy. 

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Sound for Video Session: Fix Waveform Asymmetry, Gear, Bias Power, Preamp Quality

In this week's episode we cover questions submitted by our little community on how to record and process better sound:

- How to fix asymmetric waveforms in Audition
- Recommended gear for no/low/big budget films
- Sound Devices MM1, Tascam DR-10CS and bias power
- Recording dynamic scenes
- Getting audio from FCPX to Audition
- Why is there such a big quality difference between the Zoom H6 and F8?

Here are links to some of the things we discussed in this episode:

Episode on Microphones:

Audio Recorders/Mixers:

Tascam DR-10CS (not available in the US)

XtoCC (App to convert an XML file of the audio from FCPX to a format that Audition can read):

Aputure Deity Shotgun Microphone Review

Aputure has just announced their first pro-grade shotgun microphone, the Aputure Deity. let’s put this new mic through its paces to see how well it does relative to other microphones in the same price range.

I'm pretty impressed! Usually companies that don't specialize in microphones don't do this well. Personally, I prefer the sound of this mic over the others we compared it to here. Nice work, Aputure!

Shure MV88 Microphone for iPhone Review

The Shure MV88 is a microphone made specifically for lightning based iPhone, iPad, and iPod mobile devices. Despite its small size, it produces impressive sound quality and proves quite flexible with its four polar pickup patterns for different situations: Stereo with adjustable width, cardioid, bi-directional (figure 8), and mid side stereo. These patterns equip you to record in a variety of situations including live music, VLOGs, podcasts, and ambience for films.

To decode mid side stereo recordings, you'll need a decoder plugin. I use Voxengo MSED (free plugin to decode mid side recordings).

Sound for Video Session: Wireless Hop from Mixer/Recorder to Camera with Sennheiser G3

In this week’s sound for video session we had a chat with Gregg Palmer, one of our friends and fellow sound mixers from Oregon. Gregg explains his experience using Sennheiser G3 wireless systems to send audio from your recorder/mixer to the cameras so that they also record high quality production sound.

Greg discusses the following gear:

Sennheiser G3 Wireless Lavalier System (Be sure to research whether this frequency band can be used in your local area)

Cable to Adapt from G3 Receiver to XLR input for Camera (if your camera has an XLR input)

Cable to send audio from Zoom F8 or F4 to G3 Transmitter and from G3 to camera

Sennheiser AVX Wireless Lavalier Kit (MKE2 Microphone)

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!

*Added 2 Jan 2017*

Mark Kirchner added additional technical information for those who would like to use this method to optimize the signal from the mixer to the transmitter:

Your guest on your G3 hop video can optimize the signal with a custom cable to turn his transmitter into a hop-transmitter that will receive a "tape level -15 dB audio signal. The wiring on the TX side should not be soldered to the tip of the TRS plug. The transmitter want to "see" a mono "unbalanced" signal, not a L/R signal like your video guest was sending it using stock TRS to TRS mini 3.5 plugs. E.T. designed this cable for me to "sum" the left/right channel(left/right mix-bus) to the G3 transmitter.  The audio signal leaves the mixer as L/R unbalanced signal (tape level -15 dB). To use this tape level signal correctly it must be sent (soldered) to the "ring" of the TRS plug.  If you like I will make you one for free for your Sound Devices 633 and then you can try it with a G3 TX and RX yourself.

The following are notes from a conversation with E.T. He designed this cable. I know you are not a "soldering guy" and purchase your XLR cables. It will take awhile to understand what I have written. Unity Gain, Reference Level, Gain Staging and Unbalanced/Balanced are concepts that take time, but worth the struggle to put them into the old gray matter. You might find it helpful to draw a diagram of the 2 connectors, using colored pens and different colors for each conductor.

Last, my family roots come from Grantsville Utah. There was a film made about my second cousin Kimball Johnson called "Pigweed Philosopher." Check it out it is about film-making. If you have been to Grantsville, you may have seen the old Victorian house on main street. That's the Johnson house, our family house. I saw you have not been on this sight in a while, so this letter may find you in 2017.

Best,

Mark Kirchner mkirchnersound@gmail.com

PS Thank you for interviewing "The Senator" Mike Michaels!

 

WIRELESS HOP from the 442 MIXER w/ SENNHEISER G3

Set-up

1.    Use the Sound Devices 442 Tape/Mix out (TA3) connector.

2.    Tape/Mix Out = -10 dB *

3.    Use Custom E.T. Mix-Out Hop Cable**

4.    Connect 442 to the G3 Tx

5.    Starting recommendations from E.T.; settings for the Tx –12 dB sensitivity.

6.    Set the Rx about the same and test.

*The Tape/Mix out of the 442 sends both left and right signals at a –14 dB level if the mixer is set for a "0" dBu reference level. All left channel assignments (channels 1-4 on the 442 mixer) will be “mixed” and output as a discrete “mixed left channel.” The right channel will mix all right channel assignments.

**The E.T. Hop Cable sends a unbalanced, left and right signal to a TRS connector, assigning the left and right signals to a single terminal (ring) on the TRS connector making a “summed mono signal” that the Sennheiser G3 transmitter needs for the proper signal input.

Note; The Sound Devices manual for the 442 mixer lists the maximum output level for the Tape/Mix Out as follows.

Page 24  Tape/Mix Out +6 dBu

Page 26  Block Diagram Inputs and Outputs

The schematic diagram (page 26) displays the Mic / Tape / Line  as  0/-14/-40 which should be written as Mic – 40 / Tape – 14 / Line “0” .

A “Tape Level Signal” is normally –10dBu. The designation of “tape level as –14” is based on an “0” dBu reference level. The Sound Devices schematic is based on a “0 dBu” reference level (-14 dBu @ “0” reference level = -10dBu @ +4 dBu reference level).

E.T. WIRELESS HOP CABLE (Sennheiser G3)

This cable was engineered for use with the Sound Devices 442* “mix/tape out” output on the TA3 output.

 

TA3f Connector

Redco TGS-1 Cable (2 conductors + shield and drain)

TRS 3.5 Mini locking connector

 

TA3f connector (output)

 

Pin 1 Ground  (Eric used drain wire)

Pin 2 Signal (+) red conductor (Left)

Pin 3 Return (-) clear conductor (Right)

 

 

TRS 3.5 Mini Connector **

 

Tip        No Connection

Ring      Signal and Return (+ @ -)

Sleeve   Ground (drain wire)

 

Notes:

*The Tape/Mix out of the 442 sends both left and right signals at a –14 dB level. All left channel assignments (channels 1-4 on the 442 mixer) will be “mixed” and output as a discrete “mixed left channel.” The right channel will mix all right channel assignments.

**The E.T. Hop Cable sends an unbalanced, left and right signal to a TRS connector, assigning both left and right channels to a single terminal (ring) on the TRS connector making a “summed mono signal” that the Sennheiser G3 transmitter needs for the proper signal input.

Tascam DR-10L Micro Recorder and Lavalier Review

If you need to record audio wirelessly but you don’t have a lot of money and you want to make sure you get the best possible audio quality, the Tascam DR-10L is worth a look. It is not a traditional wireless lavalier microphone kit. Instead of transmitting the audio to your camera, it records the audio. Then when editing your video, you simply sync the audio from your Tascam to the video recorded by your camera. Don’t worry, it isn’t hard as you can see here:

The audio quality of the Tascam is quite good, especially if you place the lavalier microphone on the talent’s forehead or their ear. I know, that sounds like crazy talk, but it sounds much better than on the talent’s chest. Try it some time!

The DR-10L has a solid feature set on the most critical things. Battery life is good at 7 hours on a single AAA alkaline battery (longer on Ni-MH or lithium), easy to use controls, a useful screen, a locking plug for the microphone, and more. Let’s have a closer look!

Demo: Mixing Sound for a Short Film in Adobe Audition

In this week’s sound for video session I demonstrate how I mixed a recent short film from my friend Levi Whitney with Uphill Cinema - http://uphillcinema.com

I recorded the production sound. Levi directed and DP’d.

In this demo, I quickly demonstrate the overall idea of mixing dialogue, music, and effects for a short film. For serious projects I would definitely spend more time on the details but wanted to give you a quick example to show the basics. I hope you find it useful!

Gear Used:

Audio Technica AT4053b Hyper-Cardioid Microphone (the dialogue and effects in the film were recorded with this)

Sound Devices 633 Field Mixer/Recorder (the film sound was recorded with the 633)

Electrovoice RE20 Dynamic Microphone (Voiceover for this demo was recorded with this)

Antelope Orion Studio Audio Interface (Voiceover for this demo was recorded with this)

Full disclosure: These are affiliate links. If you buy using these links, you don't pay more and you help support our efforts to produce future tutorials and gear reviews. Thanks for your support!

Kamerar BrightCast LED Light Panel Review

LED lights have finally improved in quality and come down in price to make them more accessible to enthusiast filmmakers. This new light from Kamerar called the BrightCast V15 is a flexible LED panel with 256 color tunable LED chips and can be powered via battery (Sony v-mount style batteries) or via AC. Color quality was a big problem on sub-$1000 LED lighting instruments in the past, but the BrightCast has a CRI of 97 and our tests confirm that the color quality is very good. This means you won’t end up with video footage which looks all funky in terms of color. Overall, the BrightCast is a great, compact, light-weight option for location work or shooting in very small spaces like many of us do. I give this one two thumbs up!

Like most LED panels, in some cases you can run into an issue where there are multiple shadows because the panel has 256 light sources. You can easily fix this by diffusing the light coming out of the panel. One way that works great is to use Kamerar's D-Fuse softbox which works nicely with the BrightCast.

Sound for Video Session: EQ Basics

In this week’s sound for video session we cover the basics of EQ, a tool in your audio post-production kit. In this case, we’ll use Adobe Audition’s stock parametric EQ.

Apologies for my poor microphone technique which makes the loudness inconsistent. Also had to contend with a fair bit of noise in this recording - I was a little pressed for time and recorded in a busy office environment. Ah, the real world!

I hope things are going well and that you're learning more about audio. Happy Holidays!