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Sound levels
Beach Tec box
Headphone volume control


by Christina Fox

It is really easy to concentrate so hard on getting the pictures right that you end up forgetting about the sound. Remember no matter how exciting the pictures are - if there is no accompanying sound the impact will be lost.


  • The sound facilities on the camera are not ideal. In the AUTO LOCK mode the recorded sound is adjusted by the AUTOMATIC GAIN CONTROL (AGC) to a predetermined level. So if your subject is talking the level will be set by the camera, when they stop talking the camera will then raise the background sound level. This raising and lowering of the background sound every time your subject stops then starts talking is called pumping and it is at its most objectionable when the background sound is noisy e.g. a crowd at a football match or by a busy road.
  • Moving the HOLD/AUTO LOCK to the centre position enables you to override the auto settings.
  • Press the REC LEVEL button and you can adjust the incoming sound levels using the CONTROL dial and the level indicator on the right of the rear display panel.
  • When the REC LEVEL button is pressed a volume level figure appears below the level indicator.
  • This volume level also appears in the bottom left of the viewfinder (it usually comes up at about level 7)
  • There is a PEAK warning light above the level indicator which lights red when overloaded - the levels should be adjusted so that THIS LIGHT NEVER APPEARS. This does not appear in the viewfinder so you must check the display on the back of the camera.
  • Even in the manual mode there is still a limiter built into the system and sound will be compressed if you set the levels too high.
  • On the whole it is better to record slightly too low than too high.


  • There is one stereo microphone built into the camera.
  • When working outdoors on a windy day use a wind gag to reduce wind noise.
  • Only one input can be recorded directly into the camera. However, two mono microphones can be recorded on the two separate sound tracks simultaneously, if you use a Beach Tec box (see below).
  • Plugging anything into the external mic socket automatically cuts the built-in mic.
  • For information on microphones also see my buying guide.


  • Get a set of headphones and use them. It is the only way of really knowing if the sound is being recorded at the right level/any level!.
  • Get your microphone as close as possible to the sound source - this may mean the microphone will be in shot.
  • If you have time record 30 seconds of 'atmos' i.e. the natural background sounds of the location.
  • If you must record in a noisy area (e.g. beside a busy road or in a factory) make sure you have a shot of the source of the noise. Viewers will put up loud background noise if they know where the sound is coming from.

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The camera only has one microphone input. But you may want to input two microphones (e.g. when doing an interview) The Beach Video DXA-4 Audio Adapter enables you to connect professional audio equipment to the camera.

Once fitted to the camera, you can:

  • Adjust the two inputs independently
  • Connect either/or Line level sources (4dB) and Microphones (-60dB).
  • Use two microphones at the same time


Plug your microphones into the Beach Tec box and then plug the Beach Tec's 3.5mm plug into the camera. (Just behind the camera mic.)

Forgetting to plug the Beach Tec mini jack in before an interview will result in an interview recorded on the front mic which will be below broadcast quality.

Forgetting to un-plug the mini jack once your external microphones have been unplugged will result in NO SOUND being recorded at all.

The XLR jack on the left hand side of the unit records on the left channel and vice-versa. The same rules apply to the level controls on the back.

  1. Plug in the microphones using a standard microphone XLR - XLR cable
  2. Ensure the ‘Mic/Line’ switches are in the ‘Mic’ position.
  3. Switch the camera to manual sound and using the CAMERA'S control dial, raise the sound to about Level 7 (a good place to start) .
  4. Adjust each microphone in turn on the BEACH TEC BOX - using the mic level indicator, as a guide, the sound levels should increased so that they peak at about 70% of the way up.

The ‘line’ position is only used when recording high level sources. These would include a PA feed at a press conference, the output from tape machine and some radio mics. Mic level is set to take inputs of around minus 60dB. Line level takes an input of around 4dB

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Adjusting the headphone level on the camera is a bit of a faff. The volume control is actually adjusted through the menus.

  • Turn the POWER switch to CAMERA.
  • OPEN the back panel.
  • Press the MENU button. The menu will appear in the viewfinder.
  • Using the up and down buttons select HEADPHONE.
  • Press the EXECUTE button to enter HEADPHONE menu
  • Using the up and down buttons select LOW, MID or HIGH
  • Press EXECUTE button
  • Press MENU to exit menu.

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Christina Fox