Audio Input Systems Comparison Test

October 26, 2010

Video Podcast

As you may have heard me say before, audio is of the outmost importance when shooting videos. If you look at my two part article on recording audio for video, my preferred way of recording audio is to record it separately on a dedicated audio recorded such as the Zoom H4n, however there are situations when it is more efficient to record the audio straight into the camera.

Recently Canon released a firmware upgrade that allows you to adjust the audio gain control manually and providing better sound control. Additionally, there are a few products out there specifically geared towards helping you get the best sound recorded into your camera. The two most popular products in this category are the BeachTek DXA-5D and the juicedLink DT454. These units trick the AGC within the cameras and provide for much more controlled audio recording. But the also provide means to monitor your audio as well as mixing a couple of channels or audio sources.

I ran a quick and pretty simple test comparing the two units mentioned above as well as recording straight into the Canon EOS 5D MarkII, with AGC enabled and disabled. The location I picked, in front of a noise waterfountain, was deliberate to simulate locations where the AGC tends to perform the worst.

After testing these devices, my preference is still to continue recording on a dedicated audio recorder, but out of the BeachTek and juicedLink units I was most impressed and got the best sound out of the juicedLink DT454. The unit was a little complicated to set up, but once I did, the audio recorded by the camera was the cleanest. The BeachTek came in close, but the juicedLink had a distinctly better audio. Not all is rosy with the juicedLink though, the way this unit gets such clean sound is by feeding the camera a reference signal over one of the audio channels which in essence forces the camera into a constant gain level, which means all your audio is recorded on only one channel, the left channel; the right channel contains some white noise.

The juicedLink has 4 audio channel inputs, including 2 XLR all of which you can adjust the audio levels to get as clean as sound as possible. As mentioned before you can also monitor the sound, which is crucial to make sure you are capturing the right audio. So if you need to record your audio “in camera” I would HIGHLY recommend the juicedLink DT454.


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This post was written by:

- who has written 310 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Juan is a wildlife photographer who currently lives in Maine. Juan lives and breathes photography and travels around the country making images, teaching and leading photo workshops. Juan's favorite destination is Yellowstone in winter. You can follow Juan on twitter at http://twitter.com/jpons

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5 Responses to “Audio Input Systems Comparison Test”

  1. Dave Dugdale Says:

    Sorry, I giggled a few times when you said “ACG”, I make mistakes all the time in my video tutorials but if you want to fix the text above you want to go with “AGC” which stands for Automatic Gain Control”.

    Reply

  2. Alton Marsh Says:

    Terrific report. I work for AOPA Pilot –a membership magazine for pilots– and our pro photographer recently decided as you did that Juiced Link is the best. I hope there is a mod for manual control of volume for the 7D soon, as there was for the 5D. It does seem like most pros come back to the external system, as you have done. I’d like to see a comparison of your H4 Zoom with the recently introduced $99 Zoom H1 Handy, and the Olympus LS 10 and the next model up, the LS11. I thought the Zoom H2 was difficult to use and I had to crank the volume up to max nearly all the time, so I am concerned about Zoom recorders.

    Reply

  3. Carl Olson Says:

    Juan, nice comparison. I agree that dual system sound has the edge in quality. I have the older BeachTek DXA-5D and get OK results – but it’s a passive system (no preamps) and does have a tad bit of noise. I wonder how it compares with the newer BeackTek models? I haven’t tried those yet.

    Reply

  4. Ernie Atkins Says:

    Juan,

    Excellent piece – I’m glad I finally caught up on my blog reading. As usual, you have put together an excellent resource. Thanks again.

    Ernie & Rebecca
    2Hearts Photo

    Reply


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