Boya BY-V01 stereo on camera microphone

Today, I’m looking at the microphone is the BOYA BY-V01 Stereo X/Y Mini Condenser Microphone.

This cheap stereo microphone is available on eBay and other locations, for about $30 Australian. I bought it wanting something cheap and low profile to sit on my camera most of the time, so I can get better sounding audio when I’m shooting, and I don’t want the bulk and clutter of the Rode Videomic.

From the outside, it looks OK. It’s a nice size, doesn’t stick out too far, and seems reasonably built.

The mic in place on my Canon 650d

The mic in place on my Canon 650d

But fairly quickly, you’ll establish that while it does work, it does have some fairly hard to ignore issues. I was hoping, being an externally powered microphone, it would a reasonable level of gain on the output of the mic, but it appears that there isn’t a whole lot of additional amplification given to the recording level.

This isn’t ideal for most DSLR cameras with microphone inputs. They are often build with budget preamps if they are luck enough to have mic inputs at all. The high noise recordings aren’t the greatest. Usually, the best thing to do is to have a microphone that has a strong output, or run an external mixer or preamp so you can turn down the inputs on the camera.

But that’s not the big issue on this microphone.

The sound recorded to camera appears to be flipped from what you would expect, With the left channel coming from the right, and vice-versa. That is a fixable issue by either flipping the channels in post, or re wiring the mic, but the point is, you shouldn’t have to do either. Also, to make matters worse, even if you do fix it, the sound image is not properly centered. If a sound is coming directly to the front of the mic, it will appear to come from one side of the mic.

I suspect the source of this problem comes from the fact that this microphone is not actually an X/Y microphone like advertised. If you pull the mic apart (like I did), It is actually appears to be a mid/side microphone.

Being  a mid/side microphone isn’t an issue (apart from the misleading labelling), I am guessing the side capsule is not performing as an accurate figure 8 microphone, and it is biasing one side just a little bit.


Boya microphone array internals

Boya microphone internals

 

My verdict on this microphone is that its probably not worth the $30. I wouldn’t buy it again. If you have a camera with on board microphones (like most, if not all you’d consider mounting this to), You will likely get audio that is as good as, if not better than this microphone. Sure, there might be some purposes that see it being useful, like using it with the little deadcat in windy environments, that would probably yield slightly better results than the internal mic. The sound quality isn’t great, I’d say close to the on camera ones on the 650D, and it has issues with the stereo reproduction. I’d think twice about buying this mic. Save your money. for a little more you can get something a little better from a name brand like Rode, or Tascam. You’ll get much better results there.

Tascam iM2 stereo microphone review

OK, so the Tascam iM2 is hardly anything new, but I just got my hands on one, so I thought I’d write a quick review

I’m testing this on my 4th generation iPod as that is the newest iDevice I own. I will make it clear that this will NOT work on a iPhone 3gs, as I’ve tried it, and the phone doesn’t detect it.

The tascam iM2 is a stereo microphone, in a Near Coincident microphone pair configuration

It is a 16 bit recorder, not 24 bit like the rode iXY, but it is a fraction of the cost. This doesn’t make it useless. 16 bit is still perfectly usable, you just need to be a little more observant of your recording levels than you would if the same device was 24bit.

 

iPod attached to iM2

iPod attached to iM2

 

Connecting the Tascam iM2 is quite easy, just it into the dock connector, and away you go. The app I’m using is Rode’s Rode Rec app. There was a Tascam one, whoever it didn’t work reliably on my ipod. It would freak out, and require a force close of the app. On going to update the app to try to fix the Tascam app, the appstore notified me that it was no longer avaliable. Rode Rec seems like a better program anyway. It does have its good and bad points, but its the best app out there I could find for this use.

Rode Rec picks the stereo mic up without a problem. The free app restricts you to 44khz which is perfectly usable, however, by updating to the pro version, it unlocks 48khz which is slightly better if your planning to use the recordings in video (The differences should be marginal, however thats technically the best way of doing things)

 

Snap and go

Snap and go

 

Back side of the microphone

Back side of the microphone

 

The main problem with using the iM2 on my iPod is that the headphone port on the iPod is on the same end as the dock connector, meaning there is no way to monitor my recordings. This is a bit of a bummer, but I guess it can be worked around, mostly by “guessing” its recording good audio. A dock connector extender might be useful here, however I don’t have one, so that isn’t tested.

So how does it sound?

I’ve uploaded a very quick comparison between the iM2 and the Zoom H4n to Soundcloud so you can listen for yourself. Its far from scientific, but it gives a clear indication of the performance of the mic.

 

What I found was that surprisingly, the Tascam has a lot less hiss than the inbuilt Zoom mics. Even when adjusting the mics to match closely in signal levels, there is a much more prominent hiss in the Zoom’s tracks.

The Zoom had a slightly better stereo image however, where the Tascam sounded slightly flatter.

 

So is it usable? I think it is. I think it should make a great recorder for impromptu recording sessions, and should be capable of great atmos tracks while tripping around. I’ll be certainly keeping this near by at all times. Which is, coincidently, an advantage of this. Its small enough that I can leave it tucked in my bag, with my ipod, and be ready to go at a moments notice. The biggest issue will be remembering to make sure the ipod’s battery is charged.

 

See the problem?

See the problem?

Stereo Recording with iSK CM-20s in ORTF

I’ve been playing around with Audio recording with my H4n, and a pair of iSK CM-20s I bought reciently from Swamp Industries

I thought the iSK microphones were interesting. There was a bit of talk online about iSK mics, but not much about the CM-20s. From what I read, the iSK microphones were pretty usable, for their price. For $65, I thought I would risk it, and have some fun. I don’t have the ears and experience do drop hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on name brand, quality mics, so these are a good price for me.

My plan for the microphones were to trial some stereo recording, teaming them up with my zoom H4n. So, I’ve been reading a bit around the interwebs on stereo recording techniques

You may say, the zoom already does stereo with its inbuild XY pair. My reading suggests that XY stereo recording doesn’t give the best stereo space in the recording, and I wanted to find out for myself.

After some reading, I decided I would start with a ORTF setup to play with. ORTF sees the microphones set 110 degrees away from each-other, with the capsules spaced 17cm apart.

ORTF mic placement, as shown on the Wikipedia page.

ORTF mic placement, as shown on the Wikipedia page.

In order to get things aligned, I’d need some way of mounting the two microphones. I had a couple of T bars kicking around, but they were too wide for an ORTF setup. One of them I got pretty close by using the center mounting hole, but then I didn’t really have anywhere good to mount it to a tripod or mic stand.

It wasn’t too hard to make a new bar thought, with a piece of aluminium bar cut to length, and some suitable holes drilled and tapped to take the 1/4 20 thread that I’m using

Unfortunately using 1/4 20 thread means I need to add several adapters to get the microphone mounts to screw on, but I was using what I had for the most part, and I had the adapters anyway.

The other issue I had was the fact that when setting the two microphones to the correct angle, and correct distance, the backs of each microphone needed to occupy the same space. To fix this solution, I had add a spacer to raise one of the microphones up about the height of one microphone, so it would then be able to pass over the top of the first microphone.

My iSK microphones, setup in ORTF, on my custom bar

My iSK microphones, setup in ORTF, on my custom bar.

One thing to note, is ensure the microphones are patched the right way around. patching them into a mixer, with the left mic panned right, and the right mic panned left will flip the sound image.

I don’t have any sample audio to post right now, But I’ll post it up here when I get a chance.

Camcorder Microphone Adapter

This is my latest project. It is a converter box that converts the 3.5mm stereo microphone input on my camcorder, into some common interfaces, Such as XLR, RCA, and dual 3.5 mono plugs.

Specifically, the driving idea was driven by the XLR inputs, and I was contemplating making a simple cable with 2 XLRs, but I decided to go with the jiffy box and extra inputs for flexiblilty

 drawing of the converter

Continue reading

2 Way audio Mixer

So I have an amp, and it has several RCA inputs. My computer is into one input. then when i got myself an XBOX 360, i plugged it into an extra input. Everything worked fine, but then i found i wanted to have the TV on my second monitor of my computer (i have a tuner card in it) or wanted to listen to music at the same time.

My solution was to pull out my Behringer mixer, that has 4x XLR inputs and 4x stereo inputs, and set that up on my desk, and it worked like a charm. The only problems being, the mixer doesn’t have any kind of power switch for it, so it was running constantly, and it has an ultra bright blue LED power light on it, and even though i don’t use the desk so much, i imagine running constantly wouldn’t help its life span much either.

So, off to google it was, and it didn’t take long to come across a scematic for a very simple 2 channel stereo mixer from ePanorama.net. ePanorama is a pretty cool site, with a lot of useful scematics and info that has helped me out in the past.

Here is the scematic from the site.

it can be found at:
http://www.epanorama.net/circuits/linemixer.html

Schematics I used to make the mixer

Schematics I used to make the mixer


This is the unit about 3/4 complete. i didn’t get any early photos, but then again, there isn’t that much to it, Much less, and its jus a pile of parts

This is the mixer half complete

This is the mixer half complete

This is a close up of the 4x 10k resistors, one for each signal. they are fairly neat. the board is a bit bigger then needed, but its already fairly small, so i don’t mind.

A close up of the massive circuit board

A close up of the massive circuit board

And finally, the finished box. Since the photo was taken, i’ve added another couple of labels to the front marking it up as XBOX and COMPUTER. the back wasn’t as neat as i had planned unfortunatly, but its ok, as its on the back anyway.

The completed mixer

The completed mixer

And there you go, one very simple, 2 way stereo mixer. I was so proud when the moment of truth came, i plugged it it, and it worked. i was a little worried it would buzz and cause all kinds of problems, but thus far, no issues have presented themselves, this little bad boy is working like a charm.

Cheers,
Matt