HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Started May 6, 2011 | Discussions
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Gil_W Regular Member • Posts: 212
HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

I went to a punk-type concert the other night to determine how the HX9V handles loud audio, to see if it produces distorted sound. Although I hear distortion (overmodulation?) in the HX9V videos, I think the camera did better than I thought it would. It does much better than the HX5V, which also has a stereo mic. As I posted here before, I've found that Sony digicams with a stereo mic produce distorted audio (bass and drums) while the ones with a mono mic (e.g., TX5) produce non-distorted sound. Also below are videos comparing the concert audio of the HX9V with that of the TX5. I think the TX5 did better than the HX9V in the audio department. I don't hear any distortion in the TX5 videos. The vocals were captured better with both cameras when I was further away from the PAs. The videos haven't been rendered/converted (the only editing was trimming), so they're the AVCHD or MP4 files uploaded to YouTube.

I tried using the HX9V's Wind Noise Reduction (not in these videos) to see if it would reduce any sound distortion; it didn't. I found that the dedicated movie button is difficult to see in a dark concert venue, and pressing the button was hit- or-miss. In addition, unlike with the WX1 and H55, there's no attenuation issue while zooming.

I also want to add that I'm not expecting soundboard quality audio with great dynamic range, etc. when using digicams to shoot video at concerts. I just don't want distortion (bass and drums are the usual suspects) and hopefully pick up the vocals well. If I wanted perfect audio, I'd use a Sony camcorder with an external mic attached or an audio recorder like the Zoom. However, most concert venues that allow digicams don't allow camcorders (even pocket ones like the Flip; yes, some security do pat-downs before entering the venue) and audio recorders, so for me, using digicams is about working within the limitations.

On to the videos...

HX9V

Shot several feet away from the PAs, which one can see above the stage, but then I moved to right in front and below one of the PAs towards the end
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE8x5APbhv4

Shot right in front and below one of the PAs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dcdk_8x7YU

HX9V vs. TX5

Both shot in the same position, a bit further back from the PAs

HX9V: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pco_teI-PF0

TX5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-y_cwpqGtQI

Both shot in the same position, right in front and below one of the PAs

HX9V: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6G3wBLJNYTM

TX5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSwzNIAkVGE

Stefegg Regular Member • Posts: 214
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Thanks your your very useful comparison!

The TX5 seems to have a bit less distorted sound than the HX9 (and a bit less the HX5 that I ditched for exactly that reason).

Nevertheless, listening via studio monitors I still think it's very bad audio quality compared to my other Canon/Nikon compacts or 4/3 cameras.

While all the new Sonys produce fantastic video pictures (and not too good stills) I hope they will get rid rid of this problem in the next generation.

Shizzletje Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFpjqJBlRTA

HX7v , i gotta say sound was really loud there!

Jerry Stevens Senior Member • Posts: 2,522
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Thanks for posting examples, especially from different positions in the same venue. Amazing how dramatically the very character of the total sound changes with different locations of the cameras. Would seem to suggest that one element for trying to get decent concert audio is trying to get a desirable recording point from which one can get a better overall sound.
--
Jerry (Gerald L. Stevens)

Shizzletje Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

I am wondering what exactly causes the distortion.

I owned a canon Ixus 1000HS a Sony TX9 and now a HX7v. All of them cannot handle the loud volumes where as my old WX1 and Ixus 100S allways could handle the sounds.

Like TS said the last 2 models produce mono sound wich seems to be better able in handling loud sound.

So what is the problem then? Is it the stereo mics? Or is the overloading wich causes distortion caused by internal systems like automatic gain control?

An interesting theory i thought of could be cutting one of the two stereo mics so you basicly get mono sound again. With editing software you could make it stereo again and a achieve sound recording without distortion.

I do not expect super nice sound recordings, but i want audible sound recording not like the one i posted above with my HX7. With that much distortion making a video is totally useless

Jerry Stevens Senior Member • Posts: 2,522
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Shizzletje wrote:

I am wondering what exactly causes the distortion.

The auto gain has preprogrammed values and set points. You have to established a median value for the gain-up algorithm. Median value depends on an estimate of the "average situation" to be recorded. My guess would be the estimated "average situation" in the mind of the software engineers is a birthday party inside your house, or your kids playing in the park, or casual conversation over coffee at your dinette table. Family candids, in other words, not rock concerts. The gain-up would kick in at pretty low dB levels in this case, which is opposite what is needed at a rock concert. What is left over in the total headroom of the tiny little microphone is hardly anything. So the gain-up algorithm hardwired in the software code pegs out and the circuity stays overloaded having run out of headroom. On the other hand, in family candids, you get fantastic recordings of what people actually are saying, even when the conversation dies down to really low volumes, which would be great to catch all the nuances and jokes of casual conversation, the soft giggles of an infant being tickled, etc.

So what is the problem then? Is it the stereo mics? Or is the overloading wich causes distortion caused by internal systems like automatic gain control?

Not inherently the stereo mics, but stereo does present a different audio fingerprint than mono. Fairly complex when all factors are considered, but I would guess the auto gain algorithm is the culprit.

An interesting theory i thought of could be cutting one of the two stereo mics so you basicly get mono sound again. With editing software you could make it stereo again and a achieve sound recording without distortion.

Not really. Cut out one of the stereo mics, and the assumptions of the hardwired gain control algorithm are out the window. You have a serious loss of total volume, which makes the recording situation much worse. That's why you definitely want to record a session with an actual mono mic and mono settings rather than trying to use a stereo mic in which one of the channels is kaput.

I do not expect super nice sound recordings, but i want audible sound recording not like the one i posted above with my HX7. With that much distortion making a video is totally useless

Yeah, that has to be frustrating. A live rock concert is a "specialty" application with pretty extreme sound demands. My guess would be if you find any cam that does what you think is a halfway decent job on the audio, just stick with that cam for that purpose. It's almost like you need a dedicated piece of equipment for just that particular venue.
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Jerry (Gerald L. Stevens)

Shizzletje Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Well how can you explain that ALL Sony models with mono recording can handle the loud volume and do not distort? I noticed it with other devices from other brands to!

For instance, my old nokia n82 had zero problems recording in loud environment. Same goes for my Canon Ixus 100s and Sony WX1 and Kodak Zi8.

Maybe there is a part like a condensator or something else in the electric circuit behind the the mics that is overloading wich causes the distortion.

This would make sence in explaining why the mono sound models dont have the problem. Cause stereo is 2 times as much input as mono wich results in faster distortion?

Or maybe there is a huge difference between the HX7v and HX9v but i doubt it.

And it might leave some room for hardware modding

Shizzletje Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Returned my HX7v now got an Panasonic TZ20. It does the job way better. Still curious is if the HX9v is better then the HX7v though

Jerry Stevens Senior Member • Posts: 2,522
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Just curious. Is the Pany stereo or mono?
--
Jerry (Gerald L. Stevens)

Shizzletje Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Stereo. It has a good Automatic gain control. When the bass kicks in you can clearly hear the sound is compressed or something like that. This results in distortion free recording. Ill upload an example later.

Stephen McDonald
Stephen McDonald Forum Pro • Posts: 13,379
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

You're only going to get so much audio quality with tiny, built-in mikes, when the volume is so overpowering. A dedicated camcorder with an external mike input is required to record amplified music with good results. When I've recorded video of such music, I got as far away as possible from the stage and used highly-directional shotgun mikes to make up the difference. A lot of the echoes and reverberations were avoided.

Try recording some accoustical music and see how the HX9V does. Once in awhile, you will find some of that. One of the problems is that many of the younger people who attend concerts like this, have already lost half their hearing ability and the loudspeakers are turned up accordingly. The people who turn up the volume may have lost more than that. Buy stock in hearing-aid companies and your financial future is assured.
--
Steve McDonald
http://www.flickr.com/photos/22121562@N00/
http://www.vimeo.com/user458315/videos

http://video.yahoo.com/people/4019627

Shizzletje Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Agreed that the sound is very loud on concerts. I never expected pro sound quality on a PS camera. I all i want is that is does not distort.

Dedicated video cameras are not an option if you want something pocketable and its also not allowed

Shizzletje Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

So anybody out there already tested the HX9 in really loud environments?

The topicstarter compared the TX5 to the HX9.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4Sqm4Ujy6Q
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NukQYw3zOI

These are perfect examples of what i expect. These are recording from the kind of events that i visit and it is recorded with the TX5 without distortion.

Would love to see how HX9 handles this kind of events. Im afraid it simply cannot handle it without distortion since the HX7 failed on me.

Now please don't tell me its because of the recording position that the HX7 distorted. I tried all positions with the HX7 on these events and one word: FAIL, massive distortion!

Gil_W OP Regular Member • Posts: 212
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Shizzletje wrote:

The topicstarter compared the TX5 to the HX9.

I shot those HX9V vids while either really close to one of the PAs or a bit far from them, and even though the audio was a bit distorted, it was so much better than the HX5V's audio. I'd expect the HX9V audio to be better than the HX7V's audio.

Someone recently posted a link to a U2 concert vid he shot w/ the HX9V, so check that out:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1009&message=38493290

Other vids from the U2 concert can be found on that YouTube link.

Shizzletje Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Already saw that but i think hardstyle is a different story then a U2 concert. In hardstyle (thats the movies i posted above) low frequencies and basskicks are really loud and that is what is causing the distortion!

So would love to see that kind of stuff. Loud stuff with a lot of bass and kicks. Or very loud rock maybe...

Gil_W OP Regular Member • Posts: 212
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

It may take awhile for a vid specific to your concert audio needs to show up on YouTube. I think you're better off buying the HX9V and trying it out yourself. If it doesn't work out, return it. I've already posted vids from "very loud rock" shows.

silverbath New Member • Posts: 1
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Here are some videos I've found on youtube. I've been on that party in Bratislava so I know that the music was pretty loud but the HX9V seems to handle it quite well, a little distortion caused by loud bass can be heard through headphones. I'm deciding to buy the HX9V too, so hope this videos will help you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToZm3VHRFeE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpc4fiMiUgQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCDBXcpwzzw

Shizzletje Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

Thanks I also have more doubt in the hx9 now, i found other hx7 material wich also distorted... So my assumption was wrong i think.

Moef Regular Member • Posts: 158
Re: HX9V - Loud concert audio tests

I would choose the HX9V over the TX5 any time, if it all depends on sound quality. It's easy to hear, that the TX5 doesn't have any bottom end bass on it's sound. And this is where the (new microphones) HX9V shines with a full range of sound. The sound may be a little distorted from the loud sound pressure, but I would still take the HX9V, as it has bass.

-- hide signature --

Moef

Cy Cheze Senior Member • Posts: 2,028
Loud concerts a good test of audio?

It's good you don't expect "perfect sound" capture from a small camera's on-board mics. But I don't think that music events amplified to deafening levels in a public venue could ever yield what you hear in a studio-recorded CD, no matter how clever the gain controls, unless you happened to pick a sweet spot with optimum accoustical surroundings.

Moreover, I don't know if an audio pick-up optimized for amplified music events would be sensitive enough for the voice or ambient sounds one needs the audio for most of the time.

Wind noise is usually the principal blight. How effective is the noise reduction setting at mitigating that?

One thing that's pretty much constant: voice capture beyond 10' / 3m outdoors is difficult unless the speaker projects like an old-fashioned orator and the ambient sound is not overwhelming.

Another thing that never changes: mic pick-up of bi-stander cross-talk, chiding, and cat-calls: "Look at her wave to the camera, the vain b---h. What bad hair. Oh, are you shooting video????"

Meanwhile, the sight of a camera pointed at them has the power to convert gifted talkers, schmoozers, and jokesters into stammering, speechless mutes, or make them angry. People gawk at Hollywood celebrities, but few really want to be on camera. To fix that would be tough.

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