Best Audio Settings for Your Sony Mirrorless Camera

Crisp, clear audio is as essential to filmmaking as properly framed and exposed images.  If the buzzes, hums, barks, and background chatter of the world weren’t bad enough, your noisy pre-amp isn’t adding anything good to the mix either.

Unfortunately, the pre-amps in most DSLR and mirrorless cameras don’t have the best reputation for clarity.    They’re made to be compact and energy-efficient, but suffer from a high noise floor.   Most shooters would tell you to get a better external pre-amp, and set the camera to 1 above off to capture the best possible sound but if you don’t want to carry around an extra component we’ve got something to help you out.

Sidney Diongzon is here to help you clean some things up with some quick tips and tricks for the best audio settings for your Sony mirrorless camera.

Many DSLR and mirrorless shooters, who are just starting out, struggle to capture good, quality sound.  We are all so used to hearing audio with our own ears, not recording it with a machine. 

But when we hear sound in real life, our brains are actively filtering out all of the background noise, and compensating with our other senses to fill in any gaps.

Audio recorders pick up all of the fan motors, refrigerator compressors, air conditioners, dishes clanking, airplanes flying overhead, and everything else we tend to filter out.  Above all though, they record the electronic noise that is inherent with their amplifiers.

Mirrorless cameras are notorious for having small, low-quality pre-amps with terrible signal-to-noise ratios that add a lot of distortion and fuzz to your audio.

*frame grab from Sidney’s test.

Sidney Diongzon was nice enough to put together a demonstration of the noise floor of a mirrorless camera, and experiment to find the sweet spot for using his Sony camera with various microphones.  He also did a little extra digging and put together a list of settings he claims to be the best for using a Sony mirrorless camera.

Sidney’s Settings:

  • External Shotgun Mics
    • Audio Record Level: 5
  • Lavalier Mics
    • Audio Record Level: 1
  • Internal Camera Mic
    • Audio Record Level: 15

You should always set your internal pre-amps to the lowest setting possible when using an external microphone if you can; they’re just bad.  Check to see if your mic or wireless transmitter has a plus gain setting.

Microphones like the VideoMic Pro+, the Diety V-MIC D3, and the Rode Go all have buster settings for DSLR and mirrorless cameras to help cut out some of the pre-amps noise by feeding a louder signal into the camera.

If you still find some background noise in your audio recordings, remember the human voice is only at a frequency of about 85 – 255 Hz. You can EQ out most of what is left over, and run some very simple noise pattern elimination processes to get rid of the rest as a last resort.

[source: Sidney Diongzon]

Order Links:

Sony Alpha a7 III Mirrorless Digital Camera (B&HAmazon)

Sony Alpha a6600 Mirrorless Digital Camera (B&HAmazon)

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