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I've been asked to video tape a Q/A session with a speaker, and I plan to use my HD camcorder (http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-HDC-TM700K-Camcorder-Control-Internal/dp/B0035LD0EY).

The issue is that my camcorder only has the 1/8th inch speaker cable input, and a long cable from the PA system to my camcorder could pick up a lot of noise. Wondering what my options are as to how to get the audio from the PA system into my camcorder. I thought of two options:

  1. Wirelessly transmit the audio from the PA system into the camcorder
  2. Get an XLR <--> 1/8th inch adapter for my camcorder and use an XLR cable to get the audio from the PA system.

Are there any other ways? If not, could you please recommend product options for 1 and 2. Not too expensive (around $100 if possible). This isn't professional, but I do want decent audio quality.

Thanks

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

An XLR cable used with an adapter won't give you the audio quality that an all-XLR cable will. If audio quality is really important, I'd buy or borrow an external recorder that takes XLR cables directly. If this isn't an option, pick up an XLR to 1/8" adapter cable. I suggest taping the adapter to the camcorder so it doesn't move around much.

(Mic cables do move around, particularly if you have a boom operator. However, with an interview, you may be able to use on-screen mics in stands or a single, overhead mic on a stand or hung from the ceiling.)

If you need two mics for the interview, you'll need a small mixer which you can then feed into the camera.

Wireless only really makes sense if you want to use lavalier mics on the actors; wireless systems introduce additional complexities, as they're less plug-and-play than a standard cabled mic.

Balanced versus unbalanced audio:

Any signal chain will have line noise. An unbalanced system (like an XLR cable going into an 1/8" stereo adapter would be) will have more of it. XLR cables (with three connectors) are good because they deliver balanced audio, which is another way of saying that they can do long cable runs without much noise.

A 1/8" cable has also three connectors, but usually because they carry a stereo signal, which is not the same as an unbalanced one. I assume the stereo cable jack on your camera means that the cable run is not balanced - repurposing that third prong from ground to a stereo signal is what does it.

Although I think it's technically possible to have a balanced 1/8" jack, I've never heard of one. (A stereo signal carried through XLR would neccesitate two XLR cables.)

According to Panasonic's specs, your camera uses a "stereo mini" jack, not a balanced or TRS jack. Connector quality would be even more important in that case, since you're feeding an unbalanced analog signal to the camera.

If you have a little time, perhaps getting two adapters - one high-end and one inexpensive - and doing a test may be in order.

Conclusion:

In your situation, if buying or renting an external recorder isn't an option (around $300US), a good microphone feeding into an XLR to 1/8" adapter will introduce line noise, but will also give you getter audio quality than most onboard camera mics.

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something like this: amazon.com/Hosa-XVM105-Right-Angle-3-5mm/dp/B0010CTL66/… –  Prabhu Jun 21 '12 at 18:06
    
Is the cable quality (see link above) good for what I'm trying to do? Is it more like a cable that of a 1/8th inch or is it the kind of a typical XLR cable? The latter is what I would need right, to eliminate the "hum" that would be picked up from these 1/8inch cables? –  Prabhu Jun 21 '12 at 18:11
    
@Prabhu - See my edit. (It's hard to guess at cable quality from this Amazon link.) –  Neil Fein Jun 21 '12 at 18:39
    
thanks a lot for the clear explanation. What is an "external recorder"? You mean just rent a pro-camcorder? –  Prabhu Jun 21 '12 at 18:57
    
No, it's a small box that only records audio. You plug a mic into it directly and sync up the audio later on. –  Neil Fein Jun 21 '12 at 19:00
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Answer 3:
Use XLR cables to get the audio from the PA to your camcorder. To convert the balanced PA signal to the line signal, take a passive DI-box (aka DI-unit). They are not expensive. You'll get a solid one for less than 50$ by Amazon.

More info:
DI-Units - Wikipedia
DI-Boxes - Amazon.com

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I can't really say anything else beyond what Neil said...that's great info...but I'll throw this into the mix. If you're handy with electronics (or know someone who is), try making this adapter from off-the-shelf parts at Radio Shack.

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Thanks for that info... –  Prabhu Jun 21 '12 at 19:04
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