Thursday, August 05, 2010

VideoQ&A: I want better audio, should I get a BeachTek?

I'm trying as hard as I can to get my future sports show looking as professional as possible right off the bat. […] I heard of something called a BeachTek audio adapter that can be attached to a videocamera. I wanted to know how crisp the audio is when this technology is used.

A lot of consumer cameras have only a mini-plug input for connecting external mics (if they have anything at all.) They also often have no manual gain control. The BeachTek adapter plugs into the mini-plug mic input of a videocamera and gives you XLR jacks for attaching professional mics. They can also allow you to adjust the volume of the separate audio channels, and the one for DSLR's even disables the Auto Gain Circuitry many of these cameras have. There's three or four different models, with different features.

I have an earlier model that I used to use with a video camera. It has a screw on the top that can be attached to the tripod mount at the bottom of the camera, and has it's own threaded insert on the bottom for attaching to a tripod. You can adjust the level of the two audio channels independently, and also monitor audio coming into it (though you should really monitor the audio from the camera, not the the device sending audio to the camera.)

Do you have any mics, or do you have to buy those too? My experience with these kind of adapters is that the biggest variables are the camcorder audio circuitry and the microphones, rather than the adapter itself.

While these can be very useful in some circumstances,  if you're editing the video after the fact - which I hope you are - I would look at using a dual-system recording method (i.e. record audio on a second device) and instead of the Beachtek buy something like the Tascam DR100 or the Zoom H4n. You can then use the recorder either with their internal mics, or attach external mics. This will require more work on your end (sycning the sound with the video) but a lot of the pros prefer going that route.

Recording audio on a separate device:
  • Doubles the chance of recording audio (you still have the camera mic audio)
  • Makes it easier to place mics (and cables) in the scene away from the camera
  • Allows you to monitor the audio being recorded (some DSLRs don't let you monitor audio as it's being recorded)
  • Doesn't add bulk to the camera
  • Moves the audio control away from the camera (one day - if you can - you'll get someone else to record and monitor the audio for you, and you won't want them ontop of the camera when they are doing it!)

B & H: DXA-SLR Active Audio Adapter $399.00
B & H: Beachtek DXA-2T Universal Compact Camcorder Audio Adapter $189.00
B & H: Tascam DR-100 Professional Portable Digital Audio Recorder $300
B & H: Zoom H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder $299


1200flasher said...

I've read that some prefer the JuicedLink box to BeachTek saying the JL box is quiter. Any thoughts?


Michael Murie said...

I have no experience with the JuicedLink box, so can't comment! I found this forum comment that seems to support your comment: