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quick notes on NX5 onboard mics and supplied ECM-XM1 mic / audio

February 25, 2010

Hi All

The built-in stereo mics on the front of the NX5 are manually controllable and actually very useful for recording ambient sound, especially for b-roll/cutaway footage. They are, however, very sensitive to handling and camera noise. In very quiet situations they (annoyingly) pick up subtle grinding/crackling sounds from the image stabiliser, so you’re going to want to turn that off when shooting in very quiet places and using these mics (MENU > CAMERA SET > STEADYSHOT > OFF).

They are sadly very vulnerable to wind noise, and I’ve yet to find a good commercial windshield for them (they are virtually identical to the onboard mics of the Sony HVR-Z5-series, so if anyone has found a solution for that camera, let’s hear it! Leave a comment on this post). There is a wind noise reduction option under MENU > AUDIO SET > INT MIC SET > INT MIC WIND but I’ve not used it yet as I’m generally very suspicious of the quality of these types of solutions.

They built in mics also (more strongly) pick up whining noises from the lens zoom motor, which is impossible to avoid unless you don’t zoom during a scene as the motor shifts the lens even when using the manual zoom ring on the lens barrel. The faster you zoom, the louder the whine.

This zoom motor whine is also picked up by the supplied ECM-XM1 short directional mic when clamped normally in the microphone holder (the ECM-XM1 does not, however, seem to pick up image stabiliser noises, even in very quiet situations).

Sony has thoughtfully provided a zoom speed limiter that governs the zoom rocker switch to keep this sound down. You’ll find an option to override this limiter under MENU > CAMERA SET > SPEED ZOOM; by setting SPEED ZOOM to YES you’ll increase the zoom speed when using the zoom rocker control, but the motor noise is notably higher. Zooming very fast with the manual lens ring can also cause relatively loud motor whine and the rocker speed limiter does not seem to control this — if you practice turning the manual zoom ring at moderate speed you’ll achieve more control and less whine.

Of course, if you mount the ECM-XM1 or other directional mic on a well-damped shockmount fixed into one of the coldshoes on the camera’s top surface you’ll cut down the zoom motor whine and handling noise relative to having it clamped int the microphone holder. This can get unwieldy, but it’s often worth it for great sound. I’ll write more about my solutions in another post.

Cheers

Adam

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 16, 2010 1:45 am

    I Adam,
    Great Blog. We have enjoyed our NX5 since delivery in June. You are right about the wind noise from both mics. We found as a temporary measure that the “Dead Cat” fluffy from our Rode NTG-1 fits, in a sort of kind of way. Just pull it back well and watch that it doesn’t appear in the frame. A trim does help. I may have to make something for the camera top mic because it is completely useless in anything more than a slight breeze. Overall though, great audio and audio control on this camera.

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