Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NEW! Juicedlink CX211 XLR Adapter...

Well as some of you may or may not know, I shoot event video and use a pair of Sony FX1 cameras.
Well the manual video control on these cameras are fantastic. But the audio has a lot to be desired. As the FX1's audio can't be independently controlled for L/R audio and only accepts 1/8 mic inputs.

Well this is where accessories like XLR adapters (small box that accepts XLR inputs and has a 1/8 balanced cable that plugs into your 1/8 mic input) come into play. I currently use a Beachtek DXA-FX, which was specifically for the Sony FX1. While the box works very well, it still could be better, as the pre amps in the unit are a bit noisy and as such brings the noise floor up to create a little white noise in your audio.

Well, I was contacted by the developer of Juicedlink to test out one of his CX211 Audio Adapter against my Beachtek DXA-FX XLR adapter, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Here is a brief rundown of the unit itself. I have only been able to run some quick basic tests so far and I hope to post audio examples and pictures of the two at a later date.

The switches on the box are a little on the small side, but manageable for my fat fingers.

The pan switches are on the front side of the box and mic setup can be set to L/C/R for each channel on the rear of the unit.

There's no mono stereo setting because of the selectability of each channel. So if you are using just one mic then set that channel to center and you're set. I actually like this setup better than a simple mono/stereo switch, because you can even do a center mic with one channel to both L/R tracks as well as set the other channel for a L or R pan. So one mic goes to two tracks and the other input can go to just one.

Now for the fun part.

As I said I did a quick down and dirty test with the CX211 and a Rode NTG2 mic and my Samson Micro 32 wireless.

First off this unit when set to Medium or Low pre amps, is real quiet. And i do mean quiet.
You do have to be careful though if you are using just one mic and set your pre amp to Low, that you turn down the free channel all of the way. The reason is that the noise floor on the Low pre amp channel being used is so low, that the other channel is above the noise floor, thus creating a lot of white noise. As soon as you turn down the other unused channel all of the way, it's perfect.

The audio pots on it are small but smooth to turn and gives very even and fluid sound level adjustment.

The unit doesn't have a built in limiter on it, but it does have a 20dB output pad integrated into the box. The mixer has the flexibility to go from `+16dB gain, to full attenuation (no input signal). Whatever signal you input into the Juicedlink, you will be able to adjust it with the appropriate amount of gain/attenuation to get it in the sweet spot of the camcorder mic input.

All in all for a first quick test, I am impressed.
Right off of the bat with just headphones, the CX211, even with the CX211's pres turned up to high, was much quieter than my DXA-FX1 from Beachtek.
In the coming weeks I am going to actually record both to tape for a head to head and post for all.

Right now I would say that this box will give you better audio than if you had a Sony Z1 and used the built in XLR's. The difference is dramatic because of the pre amps (as Sony's are notoriously noisy).

BTW, the developer (Robert) has also posted a new video testing the CX231 (same as CX211 but has 48v phantom power) against two Beachtek boxes and a Mix Pre. Here's the video comparison from his website.

Also, besides the base CX211, which I tested, they also have:
CX231 (which is the same as the CX211 but with phantom power)
CX411 (which is the same as the CX211 but with 4 channels of audio)
CX431 (which is the same as the CX411 but with phantom power)
CX431 (which is the same as the CX411 but with phantom power, Per-channel low cut filters, and Audio level display)

I would highly recommend a Juicedlink box to anyone who doesn't have XLR capability on camera and would like to bring their audio quality up to a higher level.

Feel free to go to Juicedlink's website for more details and comparisons.