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.
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?
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.
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.
Sound mixer etc,
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
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"
>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
freelance editor, camera operator
>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
My 2 cents and worth every penny,
Adam Wilt / Video Geek / Menlo Park CA USA