Tips: Getting the best audio from your N1 camera

Started May 15, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Simon97
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Tips: Getting the best audio from your N1 camera
May 15, 2013

I know, it is primarily a still images camera, but for more than a decade, most digital cameras can shoot video. Video quality improved greatly 6 or so years ago while in many cases, the audio was not given much attention. Many cameras used low sampling and bit rates giving audio a horrible screechy quality. I used to moan and groan on these boards about it.

Finally, audio was given the attention it deserved. Many cameras now contain stereo microphones and use higher sampling and bit rates. Some models have external microphone connectors and menu controls dedicated to audio.

When I was considering a J1 camera, I was nearly put off by some of the poor audio samples on YouTube. It seems the cameras come out of the box not setup for the best sound recording. Being an audio fanatic, I have experimented to get the most out of the camera's audio. Here are some tips:

As I recall, the camera came out of the box with the microphones set to "Auto Sensitivity" and "Wind noise filter" ON. Turn the wind filter off if you are not outside on a breezy day. The wind filter removes a lot of the mid bass frequency band, leaving the audio sounding tinny. Auto sensitivity may be fine for general use but I find it compresses the sound a lot. Quiet sounds are brought up louder and louder sounds lowered. This makes the audio sound flat without dynamics. It sounds especially bad when recording music. I never use the auto sensitivity setting anymore.

High Sensitivity This sets the microphones to record quiet sounds. There are drawbacks as it can pickup the camera's own noises and background noise/hiss. I rarely use this setting.

Medium Sensitivity This is my favorite setting. It records a bit quieter than auto does, but without all the compression. A very good general purpose setting.

Low Sensitivity If your recording in a loud environment, such as with live music, auto racing and such, you can use this setting. It gives you the dynamic headroom needed for the louder sounds.

Microphones off If you plan to capture the audio independent of the camera, turn the mics off.

The problem of live music Live music is often amplified so much and with so much bass that it tends to overwhelm the audio recording circuits even with the level set to low sensitivity. If you own a V series camera, you may be in luck. You can plug in external microphones. These can be of high quality and you may include one of the available inline processors to lower the level even more.

With external microphones, you may want to investigate proper mic placement for stereo sound recording. This is an art in itself.

I hope this helps you out. Audio recording is another nice feature of our little N1 system!

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