Hiss When Recording Vocals Even When Mic is Off

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Unregistered, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    I'll be honest, I'm not particularly well-versed when it comes to this stuff so even though I'm going to try and be as specific as possible, I'm sure I'll probably leave out a ton of necessary info. Here's my problem...

    There's a very annoying hiss present in every single thing I record. Doesn't matter which mic I use or where I'm recording to. I first noticed it with an Audix shotgun mic and a Canon HG20 camcorder. I heard that Canon's have notoriously noisy pre-amps and thought that might be the problem. Then I had to use an Olympus VN-6200 recorder to do some interviews and had the same mic plugged into it. Same problem. I tried using a Rode Video Mic on both the camcorder and the Olympus and the results were the same.

    Recently, a friend of mine asked if I could help them put together a very low-tech podcast just to test the waters. The major road block is this darn hiss. I hooked up the Audix and Rode shotgun mics to a Toshiba laptop and a Netbook and used Audacity to record with. Same old hiss.

    What really sent up a red flag though was that the hiss is there before the mics are even turned on. If Audacity is recording, the hiss is audible in the headphones. Same goes for the VN-6200. All the devices have new batteries. I've tried different cables. I've tried different headphones. It doesn't matter.

    I'm going out of my mind here. Any ideas on what the problem might be? To me, it sounds like the mics are still working properly - there's just this whole other layer of interference (or whatever it is) already there.

    Again, I'm sure additional info will probably be required and I'm happy to provide it.
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    Assuming you have the AGC (AVC) disabled, I think you are running into the problem of trying to feed professional microphones into the sub-standard audio circuitry found in the cameras, voice recorder and computer soundcards. Good sound for video needs good sound equipment, and this usually means using something better than the low-cost built-in microphone inputs.

    If you need battery operation for outdoor video shoots, you should look at getting an external battery-powered pre-amplifier of a type that will feed a good signal level to your camera. In that way, you do not need the camera gain control set so high that noise is a problem. There are many of these pre-amps available, so if you come back with a budget figure and things like number of channels and range of camera inputs expected, we can give you some pointers. If this is studio work, then mains-powered gear can be used, and the choice is even wider.
  3. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, there is no manual gain control on the HG20. Sounds like that would be helpful. Someone recommended using a Zoom H2 to capture the audio separately, but I'm not about to use that as a replacement for a shotgun mic. It has a 3.5mm input for external mics, but I've read a lot of complaints about that being noisy as well - which is too bad, because that almost seemed like the answer to both of my problems.

    I have no familiarity with external pre-amps. If it's battery powered, would I just run the mic into the pre-amp and then the pre-amp into the camcorder? The HG20 only has a 3.5mm input. Would this even be possible?

    Honestly, my budget is next to nothing. Is there a low-cost one that would get the job done? My expectations are pretty realistic I think, so I'm not looking for perfection. Just something acceptable.

    Here's what bugs me, though... Canon HG20 & Rode Video Mic Test. - YouTube. That's a video of someone using the same camcorder and mic I have and getting way better results. Maybe I should have a video repair place take a look at it? Maybe there's something wrong with my camcorder's preamp after all?

    My concern with an external preamp is with the convenience. Attaching a shotgun mic to the camcorder means I can monitor audio and video at the same time. I don't know if introducing another piece of equipment into the mix is going to be too much to handle?
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    Try something like this [URL="link removed[/URL] unit. It fits between the tripod and the camera mount and gives you two XLR inputs for professional mics and a 1/8" stereo output to the camera.
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    I'm sorry, but I found it hard to believe Canon would not have a way to bypass the auto record levels, so I went and found the manual.

    Do you have access to the printed manual, or online Owners Manual for the HG20?

    It looks like it tells you everything you need to know to manually adjust the audio record level on Pages 53 - 54. In addition to a built-in attenuator you can engage (Page 95) if the incoming signal is way too hot. If you can't get satisfactory results with properly set record levels, it's possible you have a faulty camera or mic.

    [ Although I am a fan of the BeachTek and similar devices as have been suggested by Sir Boswell ] I personally don't think you need anything other than some time with the manual.

    Best of luck!
  6. dinog

    dinog Active Member

    "a built-in attenuator you can engage" Ah Ha! I'd be checking to see if that sucker was turned on before I spent a dime. Compensating for an attenuator could put some serious hiss into your signal.
    Barring that, I guarantee a little proper gain setting (staging) will usually quiet things down considerably. Take gain early they say. You never want to amplify an amplifier. Once the proper level is attained, the down stream amplifiers should only have to maintain unity. And for goodness sake; read your manual!! And thank Mr DVDHawk for doing your homework for you.
    If nothing seems to help we have a little mystery to solve. Cool.
    Old Uncle Dino

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