ByMartin TurnerHALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 7 June 2013
The Beachtek DXA-2T is a passive XLR interface to connect professional microphones to consumer camcorders that have a microphone input. It adds almost no perceptible noise to the signal chain, and allows camcorder users to shoot sequences that are near-broadcast quality. This model does not include phantom power, so needs microphones with their own power supplies.
Paradoxically, the most important thing about video is the quality of the audio. Broadcasters learned years ago that as long as the audio quality is good, viewers will put up with all kinds of picture quality. Conversely, bad sound always makes video look shoddy.
The problem with camcorders -- even the 'broadcast quality' camcorders with 3 CCDs -- is that the on camera microphones pick up what is happening around the camera, not what is happening with the action. For tape based camcorders, there was always the undercurrent of the swishing sound of the cogs going round. For disk and card based camcorders, there's usually still enough handling noise, shuffling sound and wind noise, not to mention room reverberations and background noise, to make anyone on screen sound distant and muffled. Often you also get hissing. Camera top microphones only help a very little. They may be better microphones, but they are still on camera.
Beachtek's solution, which is widely used by professionals, is a breakout box which screws into the tripod mount on your camcorder. You connect a mini-phone jack to the camera's microphone input, and can then connect professional XLR-based microphones such as the SENNHEISER - EW 112P or the ME66. XLRs are a low-impedance standard, so you can have long cable runs, microphones on booms and all the other techniques used by professional camera crews. There are also good, physical volume controls and a headphone monitor.
You can run this in mono or in stereo (or dual mono, as is more usual in video recording).
This is the passive version. If you are using an ME66, then you need the K6 power unit with battery, not the phantom power-only version. Beachtek also makes an active version of this interface, with phantom power, which then gives you access to industrial grade microphones like the Sennheiser MKH 416-P48U3.
This is a brilliant piece of kit, though the styling is a bit chunky and metal-boxish. If you've been using the built-in microphone, or an on-camera extension, just a few minutes with one of these and the appropriate microphones will be enough to convince you.
This is a really useful gadget for those wishing for high quality sound to match the calibre of the latest breed of Full HD camcorders.
My personal preference is to record sound using external microphones, which I run through the BEACHTEK DXA-2T, which facilitates the use of the several professional microphones that I have in my collection, which I prefer to run through a mixer.
A particular attribute of this device is that it will place two mono tracks on a recording, which can prove to be quite time-consuming, especially when attempting to achieve this using conventional software.
It also allows two microphones to be connected to the camcorder at the same time.
It is important to mention that this particular version of the Beachtek does not provide phantom power for condenser mikes, but there are other versions that do.
It must also be mentioned that phantom power can be implemented by passing the signal through a mixer which facilitates phantom power, which is my preferred means of operating this device.
I rarely use this facility without a mixer, as I prefer some means of enabling additional control over the sound, but from my own experience would recommend it to others, especially if they have access to quality sound equipment, which they would wish to use in order to enhance the professionalism of their film-making using compact HD camcorders.