Microphone for Camera?

CrazyTechie

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Joined
Jun 14, 2009
Location
Salt Lake City, UT
Hi all, at one of the school's I work at we're working on planning out ways to do a "virtual concert" for our performing arts classes. The plan is to record each class performing a song or two and then put it online for a period of time for parents to be able to watch.

The thing I'm trying to work out with all of that is recording the sound. We have a camera (Canon Vixia HFG20) that has the built-in stereo mic plus an inexpensive hyper-cardioid interview mic mounted on it. We did some test recordings last week and they sound...okay.... There was some slight background buzz/noise on both which might be fine for the production quality we're aiming for with how many recordings we need to do.

I'm wondering if anyone has any microphone recommendations specifically for cameras that we could look at to get a little bit better audio quality without much effort. The camera has a 3.5mm input jack for external line-in or a microphone and a mount on top that a microphone could secure to.

I'm wanting to keep this as simple as possible so adding a sound board or other gear to get a line-in mix is something we want to avoid for portability and ease of use.

Thanks!
 
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DrewE

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Mar 18, 2019
Location
Vermont
Does the camera have any way of disabling automatic volume control? If it does not, your audio is at best going to be a little better meh, but not really great. Automatic volume control is nice for informal speech, but doesn't work so well for music, particularly with any sort of dynamic contrasts.

My suggestion, though it's definitely some more work, is to get a separate portable digital audio recorder and then combine the video and audio after the fact. This also allows you to put the audio recorder in a place more suitable for good audio pickup (closer to the group, for instance, and away from any camera noises) while having the camera where you can get a good image. Many digital audio recorders do allow you to use external microphones, if you wish, but often the built-in microphones are not half bad and would probably be entirely adequate.

Others here undoubtedly have more experience, and with that maybe some better ideas, than I do.
 

CrazyTechie

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Jun 14, 2009
Location
Salt Lake City, UT
I was wondering if the automatic volume control might be the cause of the noise... I'll have to play around with that and see. The audio itself from the built-in mics isn't half bad, it's just that buzz in the background.

An external audio recorder may not be a bad idea either. I looked at a few of those the other day and some seemed to have a line out. With 20+ anticipated recordings I don't know if we really want to deal with lining up audio and video in post though.
 

TimMc

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Feb 15, 2017
Is the noise electronic/electrical in origin or is this "room tone" from HVAC and reflections from the live sources?
 
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DaveySimps

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Feb 25, 2007
Location
Macomb, MI
I love my compact little 2 channel video mixer (see link below) for situations like this. It enables me to use any mic from my collection, depending on what situation I am in. It also gives me some level control. It mounts to a standard tripod, and has the threads for a camera to mount to it, so it is very simple. Very much plug and play.

I have done several of the videos you are looking to do this fall. I found my Beyer shotgun mic was really helpful in negating a lot of the room noise, and had a nice even sound. I used it on a separate tripod stand, not on a camera mount. This gave me greater flexibility to get the best camera shot I could in each room, and to have a separate mic location to better capture the sound in the space.

I second the comments about making sure the automatic volume control is off, and the consideration of using an external recorder.


~Dave
 

macsound

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Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
Exactly what Dave says. This saramonic preamp is only $30 if I recall and allows you to use real XLR mics and plug them into the 1/8" camera input.

While it doesn't provide phantom power, other than battery powered shotguns, I'd recommend using dynamic mics anyway as they're less sensitive than condensers to subtle background noise like water dripping, PC fans and squeaky hinges.
Then just make yourself an EQ preset in your video editing software so you can quickly roll off the rumble and do any other shaping that sounds generically better for your room and mic choice. I usually listen with the included iPhone headphones and built in iPhone speaker, assuming there's a significant populous who are using those.
There's also a Mac App called Levelator that does a no adjustment leveling and volume normalization. Might seem like alot of steps the first time but just write down your technique from the first one and it should only add about 5 minutes of actual work for the subsequent but give you massively better sound than raw audio.

Get the microphones at mouth level to the performers but about 10' away so one single person isn't too loud but you're not getting 90% room. Also adding a sheet of acoustic foam helps reduce the reverberation from an empty room.

edit: background noise not noise background
 

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