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Thread started 03 Mar 2012 (Saturday) 17:42
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Noise/hiss with external mic only (Azden SMX-10)

 
lar55
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Mar 03, 2012 17:42 |  #1

I just got an Azden SMX-10 Stereo Microphone, to use at a 'thing' next week with my 60D. I was hoping it would be better than the internal mic, and also eliminate camera sounds from the recording. But I'm getting a lot of white noise - a hissing sound - on every recording with the Azden.

I tried both auto and manual audio level, but nothing helps. (If I drop the manual audio level, there is less hiss, but also much less signal.) The noise is absent with the internal mic, but quite noticeable with the Azden.

I'm looking for help and advice. (I know there are better ways to record audio, but that isn't an option for me.) Are there any other tests I can do? Did I get a bad mic, and should return it for another SMX-10? Maybe I bought the wrong mic, and this just can't work?




  
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mangrovedutch
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Mar 04, 2012 02:14 |  #2

G'day mate,

I believe this is a problem with the AGC in camera. I have the same problem and am looking at overcoming this. From what I have found, there are a few options -
1. Buy a Pre-Amp/Mixer - like a JuicedLink or a BeachTek
http://www.juicedlink.​com/ (external link)
http://www.beachtek.co​m/ (external link)
I don't know whether your mike is powered by a battery or from your camera. It seems that there are pre-amps that are phantom powered and others that are not, this will govern with to get.

2. Install Magic Lantern - an option that I have avoided, as the site is plastered with warnings regarding potential damage to the camera, however research suggests that there have been little or no failure of the current release. I'm not a gambling man, and need to be convinced please Alex :)
http://magiclantern.wi​kia.com/wiki/Unified (external link)

3. I've installed Audacity as a potential PP tool to fix this hissing noise. I only installed it this morning, so I haven't tested it yet, but a YouTube video on this shows great results.
http://audacity.source​forge.net/ (external link)

Let me know how you get on, it seems I'm only a couple of days ahead of you in regards to dealing with this issue, and one I would love to find a quick fix. I am more than likely going to get a Pre-Amp and use Audacity as a PP tool unless I can get a better lead. I have asked the question on a few forums, both here in Australia and also other places and read a few posts here with little result.

Regards, Dutch




  
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lar55
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Mar 04, 2012 10:31 |  #3

Hello, thanks for the reply.

Since I rarely expect to do any video, I am disinclined to buy something like a pre-amp/mixer. Also one reason I chose the SMX-10 is that it will fit in my camera bag. A pre-amp, or even something like a Rode Videomic, besides costing more, would probably not fit. (Shows how overpacked the bag is, yes.)

Azden says nothing about power from the camera, just that you need to put the battery in and turn the mic on. From various reviews of this product, I learned that with the 60D you do not need a battery and do not even need to turn the mic on, as the 60D provides "plug-in power" to the mic. I can confirm this - it works the same with the switch on or off.

Azden has a newer model, the SMX-20, which they refer to as being designed specifically for DSLRs. Is a little smaller but costs 75% more, and didn't seem worth it, but I wonder if that would have been a better choice.

There are about 7 reviews of the SMX-10 on Adorama, all positive. (This is soon to change.) B&H has about 140 reviews, including a very small number reporting these problems - weak volume and hissing noise. I don't know what to make of this. Did I just get a bad one? Is this a 60D thing? (At least one reviewer says it works well with his 60D.)

Even without the hiss (if it could be cleaned up in something like Audacity), this external mic doesn't seem to be any improvement over the internal mic.




  
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Channel ­ One
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Mar 04, 2012 15:41 |  #4

lar55 wrote in post #14020136 (external link)
Azden says nothing about power from the camera, just that you need to put the battery in and turn the mic on. From various reviews of this product, I learned that with the 60D you do not need a battery and do not even need to turn the mic on, as the 60D provides "plug-in power" to the mic. I can confirm this - it works the same with the switch on or off.



That does not sound right to me, as the 60D does not provide phantom power, and if your microphone is performing the same when it is turned on as it does when it is turned off, while connected to the camera, that points to a defective microphone.

Do you have any other recording device you can connect that microphone to, in order to test it?

Wayne


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mangrovedutch
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Mar 04, 2012 16:20 |  #5

G'day,
I agree with Wayne. If the mike requires a battery, it does not work on Phantom power as it powers itself independently, and not through the camera power source. The fact that the mike records without being turned on, suggests that either the mike is faulty or that you are still recording with the in-camera mike.
Is there a difference in audio when comparing to mike on and off?
I would suggest taking your kit to the retailer of the mike and to check it with another mike, as there should be a significant difference when using the mike.
The SMX-10 is a stereo mike which is directional and rejects noise from the sides, if you were to stand 3' away and record, there should be a discernable difference as compared to the in-camera microphone.
The hissing noise comes from the AGC (Audio Gain Control), which are amps built into the camera. The hissing happens when there is low noise, like spaces between sentences, and the AGC boosts the recording power to pick up any sound. From my understanding, there is no means of turning the AGC off through the camera menus, and needs to be over-ridden by external means like ML or something like this, which is fairly cheap, the Juicedlink DS214 http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …SLR_Camera_Head​phone.html (external link) , though I'm sceptical about the quality and from my research, people still install ML. This unit works by recording on the left channel and the unit has a constant 20Khz noise (don't quote me) on the right channel, in effect recording mono. Have a look at this video http://www.youtube.com​/watch?v=K3G4nfwrn6I (external link)

Regards, Dutch




  
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Channel ­ One
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Mar 04, 2012 16:40 |  #6

mangrovedutch wrote in post #14022153 (external link)
From my understanding, there is no means of turning the AGC off through the camera menus, Regards, Dutch

With the 60D, Canon finally pulled their collective heads out of their behinds and allowed manual control of the gain via a menu selection.

Also with Canon, they really never had automatic gain control (AGC), which is a system that monitors the input levels and if needed increases gain to compensate for a input level that is too low, what they did was totally backward from the norm of AGC and implemented a system which lowered the gain if the input levels where too high, this is akin to having a board operator noticing his VU meters clicking against the right hand stops and thinking, oops I need to crank this chit down a little, which with analog might be a bit forgiving (check out some the old Led Zeppelin songs), but with digital ripped the audio a new one.

Wayne


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lar55
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Mar 04, 2012 17:21 |  #7

From what I learned (mostly on Canon's site), phantom power and plug-in power are different things. The 60D is compatible with plug-in power, but not with phantom power. Azden does not say whether or not this mic supports plug-in power, but at least one review I read says it does. For me, it works the same (badly) with or without battery, on or off. I can use the Sound Recording menu on the 60D to see the levels, and it behaves the same on or off. It is definitely this mic being used (not the built-in) - just blow on it and watch the bars jump.

Good idea, unfortunately I can't think of anything to connect it to for testing.

I have been reading more and getting more confused. Some people report this mic works great with their 60D, 7D, or 5DII. Others say it (and the Rode too) are really "hissy" on all of these, because with an external mic the cameras use an internal pre-amp. Supposedly, the only way to get around this is to use a mic (or external pre-amp, I guess) that 'juice' the signal going into the camera.




  
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mangrovedutch
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Mar 04, 2012 17:34 |  #8

If you put batteries in the mike, it is plug in power. Try ML
I'm going to try it, as it gives lots of other features that are useful, other than reducing that most annoying hiss due to AGC

Dutch




  
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lar55
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Mar 04, 2012 20:53 |  #9

Doesn't plug-in power mean the mic gets power over the plug from the camera? That's what I thought it means. The battery would be for when connecting the mic to a device that does not supply plug-in power.

I would be interested to know if Magic Lantern helps. Assuming the problem isn't AGC (since AGC is apparently off when in manual audio level mode), but with the pre-amp itself, if ML turns the pre-amp off, I don't think this mic would provide a strong enough signal to the camera.




  
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mangrovedutch
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Mar 04, 2012 23:36 |  #10

You can't turn the AGC off in camera. Phantom power means it draws power from another device. ML overides the AGC from my understanding.

Dutch




  
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mangrovedutch
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Mar 05, 2012 06:34 |  #11

I shot a fair bit of footage tonight for my internet TV show. I used my gripped Canon 550D, Sigma 18-50 F2.8 on a tripod, RODE SVM with 5 metre extension cord on a small tripod about 4-5 ft away and below me and some lighting. No ML, no pre-amp or mixer, just straight out of the camera - I'm impressed. No hint of any hissing, but I was very aware of it, so I played music in the background to have a constant noise source to ensure that the AGC did not go hunting by kicking up the amps. I will share a link after the first show premiers on Wednesday 6PM our time (Australia Eastern Standard Time), and you'll see what I think is pretty good quality for a first use.

Dutch




  
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DFoxinator
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Mar 07, 2012 22:55 |  #12

I have a Canon 60D too. I ordered an Azden SMX-10 for it a few days ago and I received it today. I took it out of the box, plugged it into my camera, and experienced the exact same issue you did. The audio with the external mic was simply unusable without post-processing.

So, I decided to try give Magic Lantern a try. To my delight, it has seemed to fix the noise/hiss issue completely. The audio out of the camera is nearly perfect now and is more than usable. Definitely give it a try.

Edit: Just to note, I found the install of Magic Lantern really easy, but I did have to "update" the 60D firmware to version 1.1.0 even though the camera said it already was running that version. Not sure why this was, but once I did this, the Magic Lantern install worked great. Also, one last comment, I don't know if Magic Lantern is turning off the pre-amp, but I think the volume is good enough even though I haven't done any extensive testing with it. I'd be very curious to hear what you come up with since we seem to be in the same boat with the same equipment.




  
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ChasWG
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Mar 07, 2012 23:16 |  #13

Has anyone here thought that maybe this is just not a good mic? Generally Azden is considered bottom of the heap quality wise. To me this sounds like it's just a bad piece of gear.
Again and again, others as well as myself have said here that quality audio gear cost money. You're not going to get high quality gear by only paying consumer prices. There is a reason why high end, pro gear costs a lot of money. It doesn't have the issues generally.


Chas Gordon
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DFoxinator
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Mar 07, 2012 23:22 |  #14

ChasWG wrote in post #14047475 (external link)
Has anyone here thought that maybe this is just not a good mic? Generally Azden is considered bottom of the heap quality wise. To me this sounds like it's just a bad piece of gear.

That was my first thought, but I think we've established it's not the microphone. Read my above post. Using Magic Lantern, the audio outputted from the mic is very good IMO. With the standard 60D firmware, I found the audio to be unusable because of the hiss/background noise.




  
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mangrovedutch
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Mar 08, 2012 13:29 |  #15

This is using a RODE SVM SOOC on a 550D, I'm very happy with it and I'm not using ML.
http://www.youtube.com​/watch?v=odquZQugAhk (external link)

Dutch




  
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