Audio hiss with D600 and ME-1 microphone

Started Nov 29, 2012 | Discussions
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Jim Leask Junior Member • Posts: 40
Audio hiss with D600 and ME-1 microphone

I just bought a D600 with the external ME-1 microphone. I'm getting quite a noticeable hiss in the audio that I really don't think should be there. Is this normal or is something wrong with either the camera or mic?

Zardoz
Zardoz Senior Member • Posts: 1,249
Re: Audio hiss with D600 and ME-1 microphone

Can you try to separate the variables by testing the camera with no mic/a dummy mic connected?

Jim Leask OP Junior Member • Posts: 40
Re: Audio hiss with D600 and ME-1 microphone

I will try taking some video with just the internal mic. However, I would expect the sound to be very good (quiet background noise) using the ME-1. That is what this setup is for, or so I thought.

The problem is most noticeable when there is a pause in speaking and the room is quite quite. It seems that the system is cranking up the volume trying to get some sound, but that just generates noise.

I made this work acceptably by using a manual mic setting, however, the volume levels of what I'm recording are very different, so an auto setting would be preferred.

I have discovered how to remove the noise in post processing with external tools, but that is a workaround that I certainly didn't expect. I'll post amy results I find, but I would appreciate knowing if others are successfully recording without a noise problem.

David Garth
David Garth Regular Member • Posts: 354
Re: Audio hiss with D600 and ME-1 microphone
1

Your problem of hiss is being caused by your use of automatic gain control.  Think about it: when there is briefly no dialog the camera thinks that the background noise is the audio you want, so it turns up the gain.  The hiss you're hearing is a combination of that background noise and the noisy electronic of the camera at maximum gain.

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David Garth

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Nikon D600 Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D Samyang 14mm F2.8 IF ED MC Aspherical +5 more
The Photo Ninja Senior Member • Posts: 2,239
Re: Audio hiss with D600 and ME-1 microphone

Check out juiced link for tutorials on better sound.

Martin Grecner Contributing Member • Posts: 519
Re: Audio hiss with D600 and ME-1 microphone
1

David Garth wrote:

Your problem of hiss is being caused by your use of automatic gain control.

In other words, you need to use manual microphone sensitivity control to avoid that.

Martin

The Photo Ninja Senior Member • Posts: 2,239
NO, not in other words...

It has to do with signal to noise ratio.  There is a reason that people use preamps and xlr type microphones.  I am certainly no expert.  The JuicedLink president is, he puts out some fantastic videos, and his technical knowledge is very helpful.

Jim Leask OP Junior Member • Posts: 40
Re: Audio hiss with D600 and ME-1 microphone
1

Thanks for the reference to the juicedlink blog. It looks like it will have useful information for me to help solve this problem.

Jim Leask OP Junior Member • Posts: 40
Re: NO, not in other words...

Manual gain may be the answer (along with learning from the experts - thanks for the various links). I have also found out how to eliminate the noise with post processing, but...

I expected this video setup with auto audio levels to be at least as good as a cheap point-and-shoot camera shooting video (with auto audio), or a phone camera on auto. It doesn't seem to be though, and I'd really like to know why. Were my expectations wrong, is there a setting I'm missing, or is there in fact something wrong with the camera or mic that is causing unexpectedly high noise?

I would really like to hear from others that have used the ME-1 external mic (on any camera) to know if they are happy with the should quality, specifically the background noise.

The Photo Ninja Senior Member • Posts: 2,239
Re: Audio hiss with D600 and ME-1 microphone

I forgot I made this video.  This might help. http://youtu.be/0SWVQx34YgM

mmb123 New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Same on D3200

Jim

I fitted the ME-1 to a D3200 and got the same result. The hiss is worse on the external mic than on the camera's own mic. I intend buying a D600 but assume it will hiss as well. So not only can I not use the D600 to photo white walls, I may not be able to record silent rooms.

I did try using the manual mic setting but it only reduces the hiss.

I saw a link somewhere to a youtube clip of someone using a FiiO E3 Headphone Amplifier to cut the hiss. I don't know if this is safe for the camera or mic, the clip suggested that it worked.

Epic Light Regular Member • Posts: 231
Re: NO, not in other words...
2

Manual gain is DEFINITELY the answer.  Next time do some homework before buying camera gear.  I swear to Allah this FX board has gone to hell with new d600 owners like OP.

Jim Leask wrote:

Manual gain may be the answer (along with learning from the experts - thanks for the various links). I have also found out how to eliminate the noise with post processing, but...

I expected this video setup with auto audio levels to be at least as good as a cheap point-and-shoot camera shooting video (with auto audio), or a phone camera on auto. It doesn't seem to be though, and I'd really like to know why. Were my expectations wrong, is there a setting I'm missing, or is there in fact something wrong with the camera or mic that is causing unexpectedly high noise?

I would really like to hear from others that have used the ME-1 external mic (on any camera) to know if they are happy with the should quality, specifically the background noise.

olyflyer
olyflyer Forum Pro • Posts: 23,945
Re: Same on D3200

mmb123 wrote:

Jim

I fitted the ME-1 to a D3200 and got the same result. The hiss is worse on the external mic than on the camera's own mic. I intend buying a D600 but assume it will hiss as well. So not only can I not use the D600 to photo white walls, I may not be able to record silent rooms.

Why not? You must use manual gain, not Auto. Set to manual, use the sound monitor function and a head phone and you will be fine, you can record the silence. Just be careful, hold your breath otherwise the mic might pick that up and record it, breaking the silence.

I did try using the manual mic setting but it only reduces the hiss.

Manual level is manual level. It means it will NOT amplify the silence in trying to find sound, so there will be no hiss. Isn't that what you wanted?

I saw a link somewhere to a youtube clip of someone using a FiiO E3 Headphone Amplifier to cut the hiss. I don't know if this is safe for the camera or mic, the clip suggested that it worked.

I have NOT noticed any hiss. I use manual gain and external mic and record sound without problem, no hiss at all. So why would you use any extra hiss reducer? It may work like an auto mute, but it may also cut sound if the sound is occasionally silent. I would not want to use Auto gain since it is ALWAYS resulting in wrong levels.

digital ed
digital ed Veteran Member • Posts: 3,474
Maybe this would help the OP...
1

Using auto gain on an audio recording is like using auto ISO. When the light decreases the camera ups the ISO setting. This ups the noise level. The increased noise level in the photo is the same as the increased hiss in the audio when the detected audio level decreases. OP needs to learn audio recording fundamentals, not just fix it in post.

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Olympus E-1 Olympus E-3 Nikon 1 V2 Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED +15 more
mmb123 New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Maybe this would help the OP...

Thanks olyflyer for the reply, I do appreciate your input. Your post conflicts with the few posts I have read so far but I am encouraged to think that the issue might be sorted by fine tuning the levels. I had already tried that but in a very basic way, my results were discouraging in that with low manual sensitivity I thought I lost too much of what I want to record, above this the hiss started to come back. I will try again in different situations.

I think that you misunderstand the function of the Amplifier but I have little knowledge about it. I think it boosts the signal going to the camera so that low sensitivity levels can be used thereby dealing with the hiss while still catching detail.

Digital ed. I do need to learn audio recording fundamentals, to some extent that’s why I am here. I doubt that Nikon will give any help. I do understand the ISO analogy and what is happening here is more complex. The ME-1 mic seems to increase hiss for no gain in capture.

Epic Light. ?

The Photo Ninja Senior Member • Posts: 2,239
I can't believe the misinformation on this forum

Seriously people... its about signal to noise ratio...nothing more.  Head over to the juicedlink blog and educate yourselves.

Here is a video I shot a few days ago with the D800.  The lighting sucks.  LED and CFL don't mix well.  Still, the audio is great.  Why?

Juicedlink amplifier cranked, manual gain on d800 set to 3, and I used a lavalier microphone.  Voila...good sound!

http://youtu.be/mVtGQLyw2fE

mmb123 New Member • Posts: 7
Re: I can't believe the misinformation on this forum

Photo Ninja.  Thanks, I was hoping that the hiss could be resolved without adding an amplifier. However most of what I have read agrees with your suggestion. This seem like a fairly basic design fault for Nikon.

I had already looked at JuiceLink amps but I had not seen the blog, it is a big help.

I saw a YouTube clip suggesting fitting a FiiO E3 Headphone amp rather than a JuiceLink amp. The FiiO is a fraction the cost and weight but until two days ago I knew nothing about FiiO or JuiceLink so don’t know if the FiiO amps are suitable. Has anyone tried this? I assume that adding an amplifier could potentially damage the camera.

If the FiiO amplifier works at a cost of £8.00, why didn’t Nikon install an amplifier that does not hiss???

Does the D3200 and D800 problem with hiss apply to the D600?

Rich42 Regular Member • Posts: 236
Re: I can't believe the misinformation on this forum
2

mmb123,

(old audio engineer here)

From your description, you may have a camera that has excessively noisy audio circuits. Just as there are variations in lenses and camera bodies, there can be problems with the camera's electronics, apart from any other function in an otherwise good camera. Talk about adding complexity to these tools!

Since you are getting excessive hiss even when using manual audio at moderate gain settings, you may need Nikon to service the electronics (good luck with that!).

Your expectation that the D800 should have audio as good or better, using an external mic, than a lesser camera with video capability using its on-camera mic is right, except for this: The camera using its on-camera mic may be constantly picking up camera noise which drives it's audio sensitivity lower, reducing the chances of hiss appearing as noise in the signal. (Although there certainly is other noise mixed with the signal)

But you are correct in your expectation that if you use a high-quality, low-noise pre-amp between the mic and the camera and feed its output (with its gain control set moderately high) to your camera's input (with manual gain set low), you should get better quality audio (lower hiss) than you have been experiencing.

It's a shame that your camera is giving you too much audio noise even in manual gain mode.

Rich

The Photo Ninja Senior Member • Posts: 2,239
Re: I can't believe the misinformation on this forum
Rich42 Regular Member • Posts: 236
Re: I can't believe the misinformation on this forum

Which misinformation would that be?

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