Sennheiser XSW-D Review: Simple Wireless Lavalier System for Solo Shooters

In this episode, we take an in-depth look at Sennheiser’s new entry level digital wireless microphone system, the XSW-D. In particular, we put the portable lavalier set to the test. The XSW-D is made to be as simple to use as a cable, according to Sennheiser. And based on our tests, we agree.

The transmitter and receiver are very small, include in-built batteries with over 5 hours of powering time, and there’s only a single button so you don’t have to fuss with a bunch of settings. Of course, there are trade-offs when you make things this simple, but overall, it seems that Sennheiser has made a winning option for solo video shooters and those who don’t know a lot about audio production but want high quality audio.

If you’d like to learn how to make great dialogue audio for your film and video projects, please have a look at my courses including processing dialogue audio in Fairlight and Audition, recording sound, how to use the Zoom F8 and F8n, and how to get the most from the Sound Devices MixPre series of recorders.

Links to gear used in this video:

Sennheiser XSW-D Portable Lavalier Set - the wireless lavalier kit we reviewed here

Sennheiser XSW-D Wireless Microphone System - all the options, kits, add-on receivers and transmitters

RODELink Filmmaker Kit - this is the set with a transmitter, a receiver, and the RODE Lavalier microphone

RODELink Wireless Microphone System - all the options, kits, add-on receivers and transmitters

Aputure AL-MW LED Light - used as the background light in the talking head shots

Aputure COB 120DII LED Light - this is my main workhorse light for 90% of my video work.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K - I used this to record most of this episode

Panasonic 12-35mm F/2.8 OIS Lens - Used on the Pocket 4K camera

Panasonic GH5

Panasonic GH5S

Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Music Copyright 2019 by Cary Judd. Used with permission.

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are Amazon.com or B&H Photo 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!

Sound for Video Session: Fairlight Questions

A week after publishing our new mini course on editing and mixing dialogue audio in DaVinci Resolve's Fairlight, I received a few interesting questions from my friend Jacob Fenn. Here are his questions and my answers.

While processing the audio for this session, it occurred to me that one of my answers was not very clear. Jacob asked, “Is it possible for Fairlight or any other digital audio workstation app (DAW) to clip since they do all of their processing in 32-bit float?”

This is the short answer: The internal processing of Fairlight will never lose data to clipping as long as the source audio was not clipped. However, when you export your mix, if the audio exceeds 0dBFS at any point in the mix, the exported audio will be clipped.

Aputure AL-MW LED Light & Fresnel 2x

In this episode, we take a look at two new lighting products from Aputure: The AL-MW and the Fresnel 2x. The AL-MW is a tiny LED video light with a daylight color balance and is waterproof to 10 meters or 30 feet. Its in-built battery will power the light for 85 minutes at high power. The color quality is very good with a CRI of almost 98 and the light puts out enough light to use even as a key light.

The Fresnel 2x is a new add-on focusing lens for lights with a Bowens mount like the Aputure COB series of lights along with lights from several other manufacturers. The lens focuses the light beam between 12 and 40 degrees so you can add a good bit of drama, texture, and dimension to your lighting design.

If you’d like to learn how to make great dialogue audio for your film and video projects, please have a look at my courses including processing dialogue audio in Fairlight and Audition, recording sound, how to use the Zoom F8 and F8n, and how to get the most from the Sound Devices MixPre series of recorders.

Links to gear used in this video:

Aputure AL-MW tiny, waterproof LED Light

Aputure Fresnel 2x - Lens to focus your light into carefully defined beams.

Aputure COB 120DII LED Light - this is my main workhorse light for 90% of my video work.

Aputure COB 300D LED Light - a BIG light for BIG jobs

Aputure Barn Doors - You can use this on its own, or with the Fresnel 2x to cut the light for even more dramatic lighting designs. I use this a LOT for lighting backgrounds.

Sennheiser XSW-D Portable Wireless Lavalier Set - used this to record all of the audio for this episode. Review coming soon.

1/4-20 to Light Stand Adapter - the adapter I use to attach the AL-MW to a light stand

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K - I used this to record most of this episode

Panasonic 12-35mm F/2.8 OIS Lens - Used on the Pocket 4K camera

Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Music Copyright 2019 by Cary Judd. Used with permission.

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are Amazon.com or B&H Photo 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!

Fairlight Mini Course: Dialogue Mixing in DaVinci Resolve's Fairlight

DaVinci Resolve is an amazing video post app for editing, coloring, adding visual effects, and mixing sound. And with free and studio versions, anyone can produce very high quality videos and films. Fairlight is the incredibly powerful audio mixing module within Resolve.

We are happy to announce a new mini course on how to edit and mix dialogue and simple music intros and outros.

In the course, we’ll teach you:

- How to configure the Fairlight settings

- Import and sync your audio clips

- How to get around the Fairlight page

- How to use track layers

- How to choose which mic to use in a dialogue edit

- How to set up your channel mapping

- How to use keyframes and automation to dynamically adjust track and clip levels

- How and when to bounce tracks and timelines

- How to loudness normalize your final mix

One of the tricks with online courses is what to do when you have a question. We have you covered there. You can email me any time when you sign up for the course. We also hold weekly Sound for Video Sessions where we cover sound for video topics in more depth and even have Q&A sessions once or twice a month.

Music from Artlist: Sunday by Rich Young Pixies - Amazing Journey. You can receive a 2 month discount on a subscription to Artlist, a subscription service for stock music you can use with your videos. Check it out at Artlist.

Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Sound for Video Session: Zoom F4 Firmware, Fairlight, & Sennheiser XSW-D Wireless

In our first audio-only Sound for Video Session, we cover the new features Zoom added to the F4 recorder in the 3.0 firmware update. Now F4 users have AutoMix an the Advanced Hybrid Look-Ahead limiters that were previously only on the F8 and F8n.

We also cover my impressions of the Fairlight digital audio workstation page in DaVinci Resolve 15.2.4. It is getting pretty close to the point where I can move to Fairlight and away from Adobe Audition. There are still some minor issues. In fact, in mixing this episode, I learned that Resolve has issues exporting audio only projects. Sigh.

And finally, we talk about a new wireless lavalier microphone I just received in for review: Sennheiser XSW-D Portable Lavalier Set. I have yet to do the review, but cover some of its features here. This is a consumer/prosumer grade wireless system that is made to be as easy to use as possible. The review should appear on my YouTube channel in the next few weeks.

Gear used/discussed in this episode:

Zoom F4 audio recorder

DaVinci Resolve - Free video editing, coloring, and audio mixing

Sennheiser XSW-D Portable Lavalier Set - Wireless microphone system for those who need wireless to be as simple as possible

RODECaster Pro - Mixer and recorder used to record this session

Golden Age Project R1 Active mkIII - Affordable ribbon microphone which I used to record this session.

Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Outro music from Artlist: Call on Me by Kick Lee. You can receive a 2 month discount on a subscription to Artlist, a subscription service for stock music you can use with your videos.

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!

RODECaster Pro Review

In this episode, we take an in-depth look at the new RODECaster Pro recorder, mixer, and audio interface designed specifically for podcasting and recording panel discussions. I have to confess that I was originally not that enthused about the RODECaster Pro, but now that I’ve use it a for a couple of weeks, WOW! I’m surprised by the quality of sound that it produces and find the effects more effective than I expected. It is much easier to use than most mixers for those that aren’t audio engineers making this a great choice for those less interested in spending lots of time learning how to get better sound for their podcasts. And even for audio nerds like me...well, I'm buying this which was originally just on loan for the review!

If you’d like to learn how to make great dialogue audio for your film and video projects, please have a look at my courses including processing dialogue audio, recording sound, how to use the Zoom F8 and F8n, and how to get the most from the Sound Devices MixPre series of recorders.

Links to gear used in this video:

RODECaster Pro

Sony MDR-7506 - My go-to headphones for when I’m recording

Audio Technica AT2005 Dynamic Microphone - I recorded this episode with this microphone. Amazing mic for its price!

Electrovoice RE20 - Classic broadcast dynamic microphone. Dani was recorded with this in our demo

Shure SM7b - another classic broadcast dynamic microphone. Almost everyone sounds awesome with this microphone

Electrovoice RE50L - A common reporter’s microphone. Emma was recorded with this in our demo

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K - I used this to record most of this episode

Panasonic 12-35mm F/2.8 OIS Lens - Used on the Pocket 4K camera

Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Music Copyright 2019 by Cary Judd. Used with permission.

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are Amazon.com or B&H Photo 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!

Headphones for Filmmakers: My Impressions of 7 Headphones

In this episode, I share my impressions of 5 different headphones which I have used for production or post production filmmaking. We start out with a discussion about open vs. closed back design and impedance and why those matter when you’re choosing a set of headphones. As a bonus, we also cover two additional sets of headphones I use when I’m not making films.

If you’d like to learn how to make great dialogue audio for your film and video projects, please have a look at my courses including processing dialogue audio, recording sound, how to use the Zoom F8 and F8n, and how to get the most from the Sound Devices MixPre series of recorders.

Links to gear used in this video:

Sony MDR-7506 - My go-to headphones for when I’m recording

Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80ohm - Also very good when recording, super durable, a little bulkier in size

Sony MDR-ZX110 - When I give a director or producer a wireless feed of the audio, they get these with the receiver

Sennheiser HD820 - The most amazing headphones I have ever owned, but expensive and reserved for post production

Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro 250ohm - A very good set of open back headphones for post production, much more reasonably priced

Meze 99 Classics - Classy looking and good sounding “Lifestyle” headphones with low impedance for listening from phones and laptops

Sennheiser PXC 550 Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones - My favorite travel and everyday headphones when I want isolation from the world

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K - I used this to record most of this episode

Panasonic 12-35mm F/2.8 OIS Lens - Used on the Pocket 4K camera

Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Music Copyright 2019 by Cary Judd. Used with permission.

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are Amazon.com or B&H Photo 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!

Sound for Video Session: Timecode Apps - Convert Audio Timecode to Metadata Timecode

When using timecode to speed up the process of syncing audio clips to separately recorded video clips, there are times when you need to use consumer cameras. These cameras usually do not have a proper timecode input so you have to record the timecode to an audio track via the camera’s microphone input. In this session, we cover a few apps which will convert that audio timecode to a format your video editing app (NLE) can use to quickly sync all your video and audio clips.

Please consider my sound for video classes.

Gear and apps used to record this episode:

DaVinci Resolve - works about 50% of the time in my experience (Version 15.4.2)

LTC Convert - Solid, straightforward option for converting audio timecode to metadata/file timecode

Tentacle Sync Studio - Included free when you buy a Tentacle Sync timecode generator

Timecode Systems Ultrasync One - Wireless timecode generator

Ambient Recording NanoLockit - Wireless timecode generator

Tentacle Sync E - Bluetooth enabled timecode generator

Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Full Frame Camera

Panasonic GH5 Camera

AKG C414 XLS large diaphragm condenser microphone - this is my new, main voice over microphone

Universal Audio Apollo x6 - Thunderbolt 3 audio interface used to take audio signal from the dbx286S channel strip, convert it to digital, and send to my computer for recording.

Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Outro music from Artlist: Sunday by Rich Young Pixies - Amazing Journey. You can receive a 2 month discount on a subscription to Artlist, a subscription service for stock music you can use with your videos. Check it out at Artlist.io

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!

Sound for Video Session: Q&A 9 Feb 2019

Its time to answer your sound for video related questions! For those new to the channel here, as part of my online school, we have question and answer sessions every few weeks. If you’d like to be notified when a new Q&A session is coming up, sign up for free at Learn Light and Sound. You can also preview several segments from my online courses on sound for film.

Here are the questions we covered this week:

00:07 Wireless hop to camera with Sennheiser G3?

01:10 Microphones for recording a concert?

02:18 Plugins for cleaning up background noise?

04:42 Room tone and sound effects? M/S Recording?

06:24 Stereo microphones for recording concerts?

07:17 Timecode from Zoom F8n to Panasonic GH4?

08:53 Remote Audio Battery distribution system and powering Panasonic GH5?

11:47 Why hasn’t the perfect recorder and microphones been developed yet?

17:07 Can I de-noise as the last step in my post workflow?

22:35 Audio, sound, film book recommendations?

28:20 If I have 2 UltraSync 1s, should I use just one or both for 1 cam shoots?

32:10 If my video will be H.264, does it matter if I use 48kHz vs 96kHz?

34:30 What are microdot cavaliers?

37:32 Person moves in and out of mic sweet spot, what do I do?

39:55 Will the new version of ARRI Alexa come with a boom holder?

40:10 What’s the difference between trim and fader?

42:58 Order of operations when processing dialogue audio?

49:12 Should I upgrade from RODE NTG2 to NTG4?

51:03 I’m getting older and my hearing is not good. How do I compensate?

57:42 Izotope RX, Logic Pro, Audition, and changing sample rates?

1:00:20 Powering a recorder. I have a 20 hour battery vest!

1:02:20 Audio repair software suggestions?

1:04:22 How would you cleanup this audio recording?

Here are a few previous sessions we references in today’s Q&A session:

Wireless Hop to Camera with Sennheiser G3 with Gregg Palmer:

Recording Live Concerts with Mike Strands:

Accusonus ERA-D Noise Reduction Demo:

Gear we discussed in today’s session:

Sound Reinforcement Handbook, 2nd Edition - Dense but very good reference for anyone serious about sound

Location Sound Bible - one of my favorites on recording sound for film. Dated info re: specific gear, but otherwise very good info.

Sound Effects Bible - good reference on recording sound effects. Dated info re: specific gear, but otherwise very good info.

Hearos - Ear protection for loud locations

Zoom F8n Audio Recorder

Zoom F4 Audio Recorder

Ambient Recording Timecode Slate

Schoeps Super CMIT Shotgun Microphone - with real-time noise reduction. Not cheap, but very effective.

Cedar DNS - hardware real-time noise reduction. Not cheap, but very effective.

Universal Audio Apollo x6 - Thunderbolt 3 audio interface which can basically replace a full rack of analogue audio processing gear

Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Outro music from Artlist: Sunday by Rich Young Pixies - Amazing Journey. You can receive a 2 month discount on a subscription to Artlist, a subscription service for stock music you can use with your videos. Check it out at Artlist.

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!

Sound for Video Session: dbx286s Demo & Settings

What is a channel strip? The dbx286s is a popular microphone preamp and processor, often called a channel strip, that is helpful in cases where you are live streaming or broadcasting. It can also be helpful when you need to save yourself some time in post by doing the processing while recording. Here we take a look at the 286s and show how to adjust the settings.

Please consider my sound for video classes.

Gear used to record this episode:

AKG C414 XLS large diaphragm condenser microphone - this is my new, main voice over microphone

dbx 286s Preamplifier and channel strip - new vocal processing channel strip. I’ve had a ton of requests for help setting this up so I had to add one to my collection so I can learn how to use it first.

Universal Audio Apollo x6 - Thunderbolt 3 audio interface used to take audio signal from the dbx286S channel strip, convert it to digital, and send to my computer for recording.

Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Outro music from Artlist: Sunday by Rich Young Pixies - Amazing Journey. You can receive a 2 month discount on a subscription to Artlist, a subscription service for stock music you can use with your videos. Check it out at https://artlist.io/artlist-70446/?artlist_aid=Curtis_Judd_99&utm_source=affiliate_p&utm_medium=Curtis_Judd_99&utm_campaign=Curtis_Judd_99

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!