Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pump Up the Volume on your Passive XLR Box

Today, the DSLR Film Noob delves deeper into a little gizmo he discovered awhile back, the Fiio E5 headphone amp. This amp can also be used as a preamp for something like a passive mixer / XLR adapter. These include models made by Sign Video, Studio1 Productions and Beachtek. Adding this amp is a great way to boost the signal from under-powered mics without relying on the cheap electronics usually found in your camera.

Deejay shows us the difference this amp makes and proves his point well. My only concern with using this in the field is battery life. The Fiio is rechargeable, but I'm not sure how long that charge lasts. To avoid disaster, I'd recommend getting two of these. One can be charging while the other is in use, so you can swap them when the need arises.

I own the Sign Video XLR-PRO and it has lasted through two different cameras. It's an excellent add-on that gives you access to a whole world of great-sounding gear. One thing I really like about this old-school model is the two inputs for unbalanced mics with 1/8" connectors. Modern models only give you one, but that second input is very handy if you want to mic two separate people and only have access to cheaper microphones.

A disadvantage of this model is that the knobs and switches will poke you in the hand if you are "strap-holding" the camera. This can become painful after awhile. Newer models have moved the switches and knobs, but you can still effectively (and painlessly) use the old version if you place it in a rig for hand-shooting instead of your hand. I do.

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