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Shopping for Camcorder for high-quality audio recordings

by innerkip / June 20, 2009 6:21 AM PDT


I have no experience with camcorders and am looking to purchase one to record classical piano recitals. The camera will usually be mounted on a tripod and given minimal attention during recording.

I already have two external mics (Br

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In my opinion...
by boya84 / June 20, 2009 10:52 AM PDT

Presuming the lighting is decent during the recitals then a Canon HV40. If we can have no such assurance, then a camcorder with larger lenses and imaging chips. You have found the standard def models (Canon XL2, Panasonic AG-DVX100, and Sony DSR 250).

Note that the Canon, Sony and JVC pro lines have no AVCHD compression models. I have not seen any real pros using the Panasonic AVCHD "pro" models. They generally gravitate to the AG-HVX200.

In the cases of the AG-HVX200 and Sony HVR-Z7U, they use P2 cards and compact flash, respectively, and record to DV/HDV/ and their respective company's DVCPROHD and DVCAM/HDCAM formats - not AVCHD. Note the lack of internal hard drive pro systems - if required, an external FireStore (or Sony) hard drive can be used with miniDV tape based camcorders - recording DV/HDV format.

I use XLR adapters on my Sony HDR-HC1 and HDR-FX1. I have a juicedLink CX231 and BeachTek DXA-6. Under low-audio conditions, the CX-231 has a better "sound floor". The example audio at is accurate, but I have no comparison to the DXA-6HD. The preamps in the CX231 are a lot larger than those in any camcorder (and the DXA-6 - I do not know enough about the DXA-6HD to comment.

The pedigree on Br

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Thanks for all the info, and another question
by innerkip / June 20, 2009 3:05 PM PDT
In reply to: In my opinion...

I'm very grateful for your response. There was one more thing I didn't mention before. Sometimes the mics will be run through a separate recording system (Presonus Preamp + Alesis Masterlink 3000) and then to the camera. Other times I would like to hook up the mics directly to the camera. Is there one adapter that could work well for both situations? (In the one case I would need the adapter simply to connect the XLR ports to the camcorder; in the other case the adapter would have to be a pre-amp and generate phantom power as well.)

Thanks again for responding so promptly!

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If you are suggesting that
by boya84 / June 21, 2009 1:00 AM PDT

your follow-up connection is

mics to Presonus Preamp to Alesis Masterlink 3000 (to record a master), I guess I would need a little more detail... and you are on the hairy edge of my experience.

First, in my opinion, the mics are mono - you know that... which is why you have two. There are several Pre-amps available from Presonus - I am pretty sure they all provide phantom power (48v), so you should be good there, but some of there pre-amps are single channel in/out and many are multi-channel in/out. Just heads up, is all.

Personally, I would insert a mixer between the pre-amp and MasterLink. This will allow for more granular audio controls and provide insertion of various other audio controller/compressor gear. Mackie and Alesis have small mixers to do this. I realize the goal is to record the performance. Another option is to go the route of a Digidesign Protools set up and add a couple of additional condenser mics to pick up ambient audience audio. The ProTools set up will allow control of the various levels during mix-down. You essentially need a portable studio, so you need more components to what you are building.

At this point, you would have some choices. You can get a board feed off the mixer using a discrete aux sends (basically, you are taking a couple of "monitor" channels and using them to feed the camcorder - this is a "board feed" that I REALLY don't like doing) or you can take the output from the ProTools set up or you can take the output from the Masterlink. In each case, these would be XLR connections, so for the camcorder feed, you still need the XLR adapter.

When the mics to Presonus Preamp to Alesis Masterlink 3000 method is used, the camcorder XLR adapter's phantom power switch would be off. When the mics are connecting to the XLR adapter and then to the camcorder, the XLR adapter's phantom power would be on.

I dislike using a board mix - my suggestion is that the camcorder be used only for video. When the Masterlink is used, import that audio to the video editor when the video is imported, sync, and mute the audio that was captured by the camcorder.

Some lower-end XLR adapters do not have phantom power capabilities, so just pay attention. Both the juicedLink CX231 and BeachTek DXA-6 (and HD) can provide phantom power. But they are portable mixers designed for camcorders... not high-end audio capture/manipulation/recording devices like the other stuff you have listed. Just setting the expectation, is all...

If you are the performer, I would strongly suggest you find an audio engineer to help you with this. There are lots of things they know that only come with experience.

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Good to know
by innerkip / June 21, 2009 4:27 PM PDT

Thanks for the additional information. I am loathe to add a mixer since I have already done audio recordings (with a recording engineer) with the setup I described (B&K mics, Presonus, Alesis) and have been very happy with the sound. So I don't want to change that around; I would just like to add a camcorder to capture video and be able to have good audio with it.

Perhaps your suggestion of simply recording the audio separately is best. I have been looking into the Canon HV40, but am concerned about having to film in low lighting. I think I might actually be leaning towards the Canon XL1 (which I've borrowed and used before) or, if I can find a used one in decent shape, the Sony DSR PD150. They're not high def, but as the primary purpose of these videos will probably be to post them on the web that might be okay for now.

I appreciate all your help!

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You will be far better off with the GL2 than the XL1.
by Desperado JC / June 21, 2009 10:50 PM PDT
In reply to: Good to know

The GL2 has substantially better video resolution than the XL1. The difference can be seen immediately if you shoot the same scene with both cameras.

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