Zany Cheap Stuff I Love to Have in My Studio (or in the car, or in the rolling case, etc.) Part 4.

A lot of us have really cool DSLRs and mirror-free cameras that have the potential to make great video files. The niggling things that seem to push people back to traditional camcorders and more expensive, dedicated video cameras are things like built-in neutral density filters and inputs that accept XLR connectors from professional microphones. 

Since most people (myself included) tend to be careful with their cash they make the presumption that the lack of XLR connectors is just an issue of cabling interfaces so they go off and buy cables that are XLR on the end that connects with the microphones and an unbalanced 3.5 mm mini-plug on the other. They use the cable as an adapter to get the microphone signal straight into camera and then discover that there is noise, that the gain on the camera needs to be turned way up and that nothing sounds the way they thought it would. At that point they dive into the complexity of using external audio recorders for their sound, shy away from microphones connected to their
cameras and ....... suffer. 

I've been down that path. It's not as much fun as getting good, clean sound directly into your camera. That's where the device picture above comes into play. The XLR inputs go directly to two separate premium, wide bandwidth transformers that convert the input signals into signals that the cameras like. The DXA-2T is a passive device which means it doesn't need batteries, doesn't provide amplification, and won't power microphones that require phantom power. But what it also means is that the vast majority of microphones that are self-powered can be connected to your camera and their signals are fine-tuned to match the input impedance requirements of most consumer cameras. 

The DXA-2T also provides two click stopped "pots" that let you attenuate the audio separately for each channel. This is wonderful thing for DSLR/Mirror-Free users because it means you can manually set a level on your camera and then "ride" the physical controls on the Beachtek to make sure you don't get levels that push the camera meters into the red. If you are recording the sound from one channel of audio input you can select "stereo" which leaves one channel blank, or you can choose "mono" and get the same signal across both channels. In that configuration you could set one channel about 6-10 decibels down from the primary channel in order to give yourself a safety track that won't get overloaded. 

The device also has a line/mic switch which "pads" the input and drops the level of a line input down to make it manageable by the camera. Perfect if you need to feed audio from a sound board or mixer into your camera. This switch provides a buffer that give you a much better match. 

I bolt mine on the "cage" I use for the a6300 or A7rii and have the volume dials facing me. That makes it easy to do on-the-fly adjustments. 

The DXA-2T is well built and uses a metal chassis to prevent RF noise. There are some knock off copies of the original but I'm sold on the idea that the quality of transformers makes all the difference in the (audio) world and that this model/brand is a proven commodity. 

If you are using your DSLR/Mirror-free camera to make video this is exactly the device you might need in order to get great sound from your microphones. 

There is also an unbalanced 3.5mm stereo input on one side of the box for those times when you want to run the the signal from your wireless microphones into this box and have the control over volume levels that the passive controls can give you. 

I've had mine for a couple of years and it's perfect. 

1 comment:

neopavlik said...

I got an external recorder that I can put into the normal sound,use for backup, and mess around with. I feel like one of those people that bought a laptop and uses it like a desktop 99% of the time, but I'll make it worthwhile down the line.