How much do XLR to 1/8-`inch adapters degrade sound?

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    • #90728
      Space Racer

      I have a pretty nice microphone, a Sennheiser MKE600, that I run directly into my Nikon DSLR using a 12-inch XLR to 1/8 inch adapter when I’m recording dialog. It sounds very nice. But I’m always trying to up my game. So, my question is, how much audio goodness am I losing by inserting the adapter between the XLR cable and the camera? I don’t get hum or buzz as far as i can tell. So do I lose 10 percent? 20? None?

      Thanks for your insight.

    • #214159
      Kevin Mc

      Everything “in line” costs *something*. Most often, the cost is negligible. I think the easiest way to tell would be to run a multimeter on the adapter, with one lead on the tip of the 1/8th” adapter, and the other lead on the corresponding XLR pin. First, to find the corresponding tip-to-pin, set the multimeter to check for continuity. Then, and this is what you’re really testing here, check the impedance (ohms). You’re hoping for a low number – ie, less than “1”, like 0.35 (that’s an example, as I have no idea what kind of numbers you’ll actually see). Ok, now that you know the resistance (noise making capabilities) of the adapter, run the same test on the XLR cable, or better yet, other adapters you have. You should get a higher (possibly much higher) number from the cable, and relatively low numbers from other adapters. All adapters *cost* you (introduce) some resistance (ohms). If the adapter is reasonable, when compared to other adapters you have, then you can use your benchmark test to decide if it’s costing you too much resistance – or determine if it’s in line with other similar components. If you’re not getting noise in the final recording, odds are you don’t have a problem. Hope that helps!

    • #214164

      The audio goodness you’re loosing to the XLR-1/8″ adapter is far less than the extra goodness you can acquire by recording your audio on a decent separate digital audio recorder. DSLRs are designed to take good-looking pictures, not record good audio. So, if you’re going to record your audio directly in the DSLR, I wouldn’t worry to much about a single adapter in the audio chain.

    • #214172

      I agree with jleinung. Typically, DSLRs have crappy preamps, causing audio quality to be lost in the camera, not necessarily in the line. You would probably get better results from an external recorder. In my productions, I always either use an external recorder, or, if I’m going to record directly into the camera, I use an external preamp like my Beachtek DXA-SLR Ultra.

    • #214175

      Audio on a DSLR is considered to be a scratch track, i.e. not recommended for professional use.
      When I shoot with a DSLR I use my Tascam DR-70D. It’s an inexpensive 4 channel recorder that takes balanced mic or line level inputs. It has a slate burst signal generator (no hand clap needed) and a jack to send a signal to your DSLR to make syncing things up in the edit suite very easy.


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