Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Technique › Sound › Using an audio mixer with a camcorder › If a camera has XLR inputs,
If a camera has XLR inputs, switchable from mic to line, with phantom power, then the audio in the camera is well thought through, and implanted in a way that makes it useful. If a camera has it’s only input on mini-jack, then it has basic audio, and rarely any adjustment of levels or anything remotely handy. It’s for an on camera mic. You can bodge them to work with most things. You can make pads to sort the levels, you can cope with the unbalanced audio system and even isolate external devices from the 5V usually shoved up the mic cable to operate the mic preamps (which sometimes really upsets external devices not expecting it). All in all, you will get random hums, accidental disconnects, and worse still, most cameras connect these sockets directly to the pcb, so any yanking on the socket breaks them off internally!
If you want to do better quality audio, then do as suggested right at the top – record to a zoom or similar and just sync the things together in the edit. Better quality, better signal to noises, balanced or unbalanced inputs – headphone monitoring, visual record level meters. Everything you don’t get with a minijack.
In fact, minijack type cameras usually have low performance audio too. Using an external mixer, and dropping the line level down to mic level, then boosting it again don;t do anything for signal to noise. I have not seen a mic level output on the price sensitive mixers for years – professional audio mixers for location recording are different of course – but they cost more than the camera!