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Stereo Headphone Out

Published : 13th July 2004


I will be shooting a brief clip at a small radio station on mini-Dv on Thursday for my no-budget doc.

The engineer has suggested that I can grab sound for my Canon XL1 from the stereo 1/4" headphone output on his board.

Is this a line out source? I have the MA-100 on the Canon.

Should I use an XLR balanced cable adapted on either end for the RCA inputs on the camera and avoid using the MA-100?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Jim Sofranko



Jim Sofranko writes:

>The engineer has suggested that I can grab sound for my Canon XL1 >from the stereo 1/4" headphone output on his board. Is this a line out >source?

Not exactly, but it has a lower impedance than your audio input does, so it should work fine. It also has the advantage of being adjustable, so you don't overload the camera's audio inputs.

You can go directly from this headphone output into the RCA inputs on the XL1, using an appropriate cable.

Set your audio input levels on the camera to about 60%, and then adjust the board's headphone volume to give you the right level on the camera's VU meter.

If you get a buzz or hum in your audio, try grounding the chassis of the camera to the outer surface of the RCA jacks -- they may or may not be electrically connected as-is. Another option would be to run the camera on batteries to remove the power supply as a potential source of hum.

The radio engineer may also be able to help you troubleshoot if necessary. (Unfortunately, the licensing of radio board operators is a thing of the past, so don't count on the "engineer" necessarily having any actual technical knowledge.)

Will all your sound be coming from this board, or will you also be miking the room separately?

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA



Jim Sofranko wrote :

>Thursday for my no-budget doc. The engineer has suggested that I can >grab sound for my Canon XL1 from the stereo 1/4" headphone output >on his board.

Jim,

The MA-100 gadget is quite a useless thingy IMHO. Use the RCA inputs set to 'line in', set the XL1 volume controls to about 50 percent and then adjust the headphone output accordingly - max -12db on the camera, but I tend to be a bit more conservative, like -15db; it depends on what you're recording.

I'm wondering what kind of board the engineer uses - there must be also some other outputs....though chances are the above setup will work fine. I wouldn't bother with XLR adapters and just use a 1/4" stereo to RCA cable.

Karl Lohninger
Sound mixer etc,
Los Angeles



Jim Sofranko wrote:

>I will be shooting a brief clip at a small radio station on mini-Dv on >Thursday for my no-budget doc. The engineer has suggested that I can >grab sound for my Canon XL1 from the stereo 1/4" headphone output >on his board.

Jim:

Well, you might not want to get tied into the board unless all you want is program sound. Instead, call and ask if the station has a DAT recorder -- even a CD recorder -- anything digital. Have them record it to that, while you shoot conventionally and untethered.

It will be easy to sync up. I did this once with a minidisc recorder and sync held for about 40 minutes before I had to slide it one frame. No need to slate, even, as you have a reference track on the DV audio.

Then again, if you just want the radio station sound, disregard the above advice.

Jeff "best for long takes, so you don't have to keep resyncing" Kreines



>You can go directly from this headphone output into the RCA inputs on >the XL1, using an appropriate cable.

--- Pray that the engineer doesn't "get a wild hair" and press one of the solo buttons on a particular channel during the shoot.

Jeffery Haas
freelance editor, camera operator
Dallas, TX



>sound for my Canon XL1 from the stereo 1/4" headphone output on his >board. Is this a line out source?...

I'd probably use a 1/4"-mini stereo headphone plug adapter, then a stereo miniplug-to-dual-RCA adapter cable (as supplied with many portable CD players and readily available in the aftermarket), and plug straight into the Line 1 RCAs on the back of the camera, bypassing the MA-100.

If it's more than a few feet between the board and your camera, you might instead go 1/4" to dual XLRs via whatever adapters you have handy, then run XLRs to the MA-100 for the added robustness and hum immunity, but if you're close in I prefer the simpler route with fewer connections to go wrong.

There *should* be no problem coming from the headphone jack from a decent board (but don't try it from 'most any camcorder; camcorder phone amps are crap). Start with the board's 'phones volume potted down and slowly raise it, with camera record levels set at 1/4. If you get the board volume above 1/4, raise both board and recording pots in unison : ideally, you'll get good levels with both sets of controls at midpoint, but in general strive for comparable gains on both sets of controls.

Once you've got a board level that works, gaffer-tape the volume control in place (with the operator's permission, of course)! That will reduce the chances of an inadvertent change in the middle of your shot.

My 2 cents and worth every penny,

Adam Wilt / Video Geek / Menlo Park CA USA