There have been a few people popping up on various user groups and forums complaining of a sudden loss of audio or intermittent audio on their Sony FX6 cameras. A common cause of the loss of audio on the FX6 is a slightly loose top handle. The XLR inputs, MI Shoe and the cameras built in microphones are all part of the top handle, so if the handle is a little loose and the connection between the camera and handle isn’t perfect you can suddenly lose all your audio inputs.
As the connection between the handle and camera is a digital one you often won’t get any warning and if you are not wearing headphones you might not notice that you no longer have audio. Hint – wear headphones and monitor your audio when doing anything where the audio is even the slightest bit important 😉
So it is advisable to regularly check that the thumb screws that secure the handle are tight as if done up finger tight they do have a tendency to work lose over time. The thumbscrews have sockets for an allen key and I strongly suggest you use an allen key to tighten them up, done up this way they rarely come loose.
In this video – live streamed on June 24th 2021 I take a look at the new Hollyland Lark 150 dual channel wireless microphone system.
The Lark 150 is a compact digital wireless microphone system that is available as a single channel or dual channel kit. If you buy the single channel kit you can add an extra transmitter pack later if you wish and pairing the units is really simple.
Each kit is supplied in a storage box that acts as a drop-in charger. To pair the transmitters to the receiver simply place them all in the storage box together and they are paired automatically, it’s as simple as that.
The transmitter units have a built in microphone and come with a clip on fluffy wind gag. But in addition a plug in lavalier microphone of pretty good quality is also included in the kit, one for each transmitter pack. There is also a mute button on each transmitter unit.
The receiver outputs a mono output or stereo output via a 3.5mm TRS socket depending on you personal preferences (connecting cables for cameras or phones are included in the kit). There is also a handy “safety mode” that outputs at full level on channel 1 and at a reduced level on channel 2. This is great for filming in environments where the audio levels can suddenly change as the lower level recording helps avoid clipping or distortion if the levels suddenly increase. There are two large control knobs on the receiver that control the levels of the two channels and allow you to switch between the different operating modes. The LCD screen clearly shows how the microphone is configured along with the audio levels. There is an additional headphone output on the receiver for headphone monitoring in case your camera doesn’t have a headphone jack.
Battery life is excellent, I got around 8 hours of use from a single charge. To charge the transmitter and receiver units just put them in the carry case and the battery built into the case will charge them back up again. The case has a USB socket to charge it.
The sound quality is very good for a low cost system. As it is entirely digital there is virtually no hiss or noise. The only downside is that the range is more limited than most much more expensive professional radio mics. This system uses the licence free 2.4Ghz band so there are no licensing issues in most countries and the digital transmissions are very secure, so you don’t need to worry about people illicitly listening in.
While you can get up to 100m/300ft range from them in perfect conditions. I found that I reliably and consistently get a range of about 100ft (30m). Operate them in this distance range and they are generally rock solid. However if the presenters body or some other substantial objects gets between the transmitter and receiver there is a small decrease in range, perhaps dropping to a reliable 50ft (15m). This is still plenty for most applications.
I really like these microphones. They won’t replace my much more expensive Sony UWP-D professional microphones, but they are great when you need something compact, ultra light and really simple to use. They are perfect for a lot of blogging applications as well as for interviews etc. At a cost of around £210/$275 for the dual channel kit these are excellent value for the money.
I have designed a custom, robust, yet lightweight microphone mount for the Sony ILME-FX6 camcorder (it will also fit the FS5). It’s low cost and it replaces the existing microphone mount and provides a strong and flexible mounting solution for a wide range of microphones with very good vibration and handling noise isolation properties. It is fitted to the camera by unscrewing the two screws that attach the factory supplied mic mount and using the same screws to attach this mount in the same place (do not over tighten the screws).
This mount will take heavier microphones than the standard mount which is prone to becoming floppy and breaking over time.
There are two sets of mounting holes so you can have the microphone at two different distances from the carry handle to suit your individual needs. The microphone mount will not obstruct or block the MI Shoe as many other 3rd party mic mounts will.
This mount will take any microphone up to approx 32mm in diameter. You will need 4 “O” rings to loop over the slots in the mic holder to act as the suspension for the microphone. these should be 2 or 3mm thick with an inside diameter of between 28mm and 32mm (30mm recommended). The O rings will not be supplied by Shapeways, you must source these for yourself. These are very cheap and are normally available on ebay, from car spares stores, plumbing suppliers and DIY stores. If you can’t find the right O rings it is also possible to use elastic bands, but these don’t tend to support the microphone as well as O rings.
From time to time someone will pop up on a forum or user group with tales of fried SDI boards, dead monitors or dead audio devices. Often the reason for the death of these units seems obscure. One day it all works fine, the next time the monitor is plugged in it stops working.
A common cause of these types of issue is the use of individual power supplies for each device. Most modern power supplies use a technology called “switch mode”. Most “wall wart” power supplies are switch mode. Computers use switch mode power supplies, they are probably the most common type of power supply in use today.
The problem with these power supplies is that the voltage they produce is not tied to a common earth or ground connection. A 12 volt power supply may have an output voltage that measures 12 volts across it’s positive and negative terminals, which is great. But the negative terminal might be many volts above “ground”. Used singly this is not normally a problem but if you use a couple of different power supplies with negative terminals floating at different voltages, if you connect them together current will flow from one to the other as the establish a common base voltage.
As an example if you have a monitor powered by one power supply and a camera powered by another, when you connect the monitor to the camera current may flow down the SDI or HDMI cable from one power supply to the other causing damage to the chips that process the SDI/HDMI signals.
Even if there is no damage this current can lead to audio hum or other electrical noise.
How can you prevent this?
First use only high quality power supplies. Wherever possible try to run everything off a single power supply. Powering the camera from a high capacity power supply and then feeding any connected accessories via D-Tap or Hirose outputs on the camera is good practice. Also powering everything by batteries helps. If you must use separate power supplies then connect everything together before connecting anything to the mains and before turning anything on. This should ensure that any current runs through the shield and ground paths in the cables rather than possibly travelling down the delicate signal part of a connection as you connect things together.