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Audio Mixers for DSLR Production--UPDATED 5/20/13

External audio mixers make it easy to adapt XLR mic and line-level sources to the audio inputs on DSLRs. The juicedLink Riggy Assist series of audio mixers are intended to adapt various microphones to be used with DSLRs. They can also provide additional features like phantom power and metering. The Riggy Assist does all this and more.


A Few Concerns

After using the RA333 for some time, I've come to find a few tiny issues that hamper the mixer's usefulness. The first is the inability to isolate a channel.

In recording two people in an interview with a mic on each person, you'll get phase cancellation by listening to both mics. This makes it very hard to assess audio quality and levels. On a camcorder you would solo each mic and hear one mic in both ears. Or listen in "stereo" with each mic in only one ear of your headset.

The Riggy Assist mixers headphone outputs everything mixed to mono. When I asked juicedLink about this, they noted, "Your typical vDSLR operator doesn’t have the experience monitoring with different mics in different earcups. It can be disconcerting and difficult to set similar signal levels. Someone with more of a ‘pro’ experience would typically be using a Riggy-Micro with a camera that has headphone [outputs] which has individual right/left monitoring. There is not room for a switchable headphone on the Riggy-Assist."

Also, in a windy environment, I needed to raise the headphone level of the Riggy Assist mixer to hear the audio and found that the louder it got, the thinner the sound became. This made it hard to properly assess the quality of the audio I was recording.

Juiced Link replied, "The headphone amplifier design... does not have the same high performance objective as required by the signal chain going to the camera. The output of the headphone amplifier is a simple variable attenuator. As the attenuation becomes less and less, the relative effect of the headphone impedance on the headphones circuit becomes greater and greater. [So] some of the headphone amplifier characteristics change somewhat."

Lastly, there are copious controls on the bottom of the unit. If the Juiced Link mixers are on the bottom of your rig, care must be taken to not put the mixer down on dusty or wet surfaces. That stuff will go right in to the mixer.

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This article and accompanying (hear it for yourself) video will compare the results of capturing audio with a $20 Audio-Technica wired lavaliere mic and a $200 professional mic from Sony directly into a DSLR. Is the $200 Sony really worth the 10x cost?