Sony DCR-PC330: how to record audio from external (line) sources

Discussion in 'Sony' started by Fabio DONNA, Jun 27, 2004.

  1. Fabio DONNA

    Fabio DONNA Guest

    I've just bought a Sony DCR-PC330E and I'd like to ask if there's
    anybody who knows if it's possible to record audio with a cable
    connected to an external source and how.
    In particular I'd like to record small concerts taking audio from mixer,
    excluding (of course) internal mic.

    Unfortunately I can't find any reference on the manual or on search engines

    Thanks in advance


    Fabio DONNA, Jun 27, 2004
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  2. Fabio DONNA

    Tony Morgan Guest

    It looks a really nice camcorder.
    Use the mic input. Standard 3.5mm 3-pole stereo plug.
    You probably know that if you connect to the mic-in it cuts off the
    camcorder's internal microphone
    I'm surprised that the mic-in isn't mentioned in the manual.
    Tony Morgan, Jun 27, 2004
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  3. Fabio DONNA

    Fabio DONNA Guest

    Yes, it is. Even if I'm not a DV expert but I think it... simply does
    what it's expected to do.
    Just a "defect": I feel not comfortable with that vertically oriented
    design and handling is not that easy becaus often I don't know... where
    to put my fingers, IMHO of course.
    Can mic input be driven with higher level signals like those coming from
    a mixer without distortion?
    Yes, I know but I wasn't sure about A/V input that was the one I thought
    to be used.
    It is, but it's mentioned as... mic in and not line in.

    Thank you very much


    Fabio DONNA, Jun 27, 2004
  4. Fabio DONNA

    Tony Morgan Guest

    In message <>, Fabio DONNA
    All domestic camcorders use AGC (Automatic Gain Control) on the audio.
    In fact, AGC can cause motor noise to be heard when there is little or
    no sound coming in, since the AGC winds the gain up to max in those
    That "takes in" both analogue video and its sound. You have to select it
    using the menu system (A/V --> DV set to ON) - but when you do you not
    only cut off the mic in, you also cut off the through-the-lens picture.
    Selecting it switches both video in and audio in to be *sourced* from
    the (former) various audio/video *outputs*. All this is not very well
    described in any of the Sony manuals - I don't know if they've improved
    this for the 330.

    I might also mention that in addition to going from:
    analogue --> camcorder -- > firewire --> PC video editor

    you can also go from:

    analogue --> camcorder -- > miniDV tape in the camcorder

    in many dv-in Sony camcorders (maybe you can confirm that you can do
    this on your 330). You do this by switching the menu system's A/V --> DV
    set to ON, and also using the REC button at the same time as the little
    unmarked button next to it. You can see these buttons on the Archiving
    page of my website, or at:
    Since the input impedance of the mic input is high, you can connect
    almost anything in there - usually the AGC will handle it OK. I've even
    been known to feed in pan-pipe music from my miniDisk when shooting
    clips of the nearby Snowdonia mountains.

    More common for me, you can also feed your sound in from a Karioke
    wireless mic transmitter/receiver like that described on my Sound page.
    It might be worth noting that I've upgraded to a two-channel unit (again
    from Argos) which in addition to a microphone transmitter, provides a
    belt-clip unit into which you can connect any type of mic (I've used
    mine with a button mic for interview movie clips). Though its mono, it
    adds a whole new dimension to getting better sound and sound coverage.
    I've also found a very small 12V lead-acid leak-proof battery to run the
    receiver off (from Maplin) at about £4. I must get around to updating
    that page on my web-site :)
    Tony Morgan, Jun 27, 2004
  5. Fabio DONNA

    Fabio DONNA Guest

    I understand but it is strange an AGC which can manage signals from a
    few mV (mic) up to 1-2 V (line). It's a range of about 40-50 dB!
    I see. So enabling AV input works only when using camcorder like a VCR.
    No, it wasn't.
    You're right.
    PC330's layout is very different but
    And what about heavy metal? Can AGC handle that level of signals? :)))


    Tony, thank you for your effective and clear help and please excuse my
    poor English.


    Fabio DONNA, Jun 28, 2004
  6. Fabio DONNA

    Tony Morgan Guest

    In message <>, Fabio DONNA
    Ummm.... No. Once the menu has been set as I described it, it depends on
    the control panel buttons (REC and the unmarked one next to it - I
    assume you can find these somewhere on your camcorder - if not have a
    look on your remote [1]). If these are pressed together, it records on
    the camcorder's miniDV tape. If NOT pressed it provides the Analogue
    (video+sound) --> firewire --> PC video editor (sometimes called
    'Analogue pass-through'). The VCR/OFF/CAMERA selector switch must be in
    the VCR position (the menu setting must be made with the selector switch
    at 'VCR' also).

    Sounds a little complicated but it isn't really.

    [1] There seems to be a trend on today's tiny camcorders to move
    some control functions to the remote because they can't find the
    room on the camcorder.
    I'm not surprised :) Though I am surprised that Sony (as well as most
    camcorder manufacturers) cannot do a better job on their manuals - when
    they're writing for maybe 20,000 units at anything between £400 to
    £1000. Since the cost of printing in quantity is so small, it constantly
    surprises me that they can't find a little more money out of the £10M or
    so production cost to write better manuals. I'd like to see a better
    organised and more complete manual than the one currently supplied, plus
    another "How To Do It" manual - a but like (say) my web-site's Archiving
    page. Also, much of each model's content is simply lifted from one
    model's manual to another.
    Most dv-in Sonys seem to provide this feature. I don't know about other
    makes/models. Most of my friends have (on my recommendation) gone for
    As I often say - try it and see :)
    Your English is far, far better than my Italian :)
    Tony Morgan, Jun 28, 2004
  7. Indeed. But AGC isn't designed to cope with a gross mismatch, like
    feeding a mic input (expecting a nominal 5mv or so) a line level
    signal (around 1v). Not to mention a possible impedance mismatch.

    I believe some camcorders have very versatile and forgiving circuitry
    behind the ext. mic socket. But I wouldn't rely on it :) What
    does the manual say about the mic socket?

    You'll get SOMETHING from a mixer output. You're unlikely to
    actually break anything. But you may need to convert the feed to
    something more closely resembling a microphone's output.

    Strangely, a lot of camcorder users who are quite knowledgeable and
    critical concerning picture quality seem to tolerate low quality
    sound. AGC is a nuisance. But, despite this, it's easy to get good
    sound if you know how.
    Laurence Payne, Jun 28, 2004
  8. On reflection, consumer gear often accepts microphones that use a type
    of phantom powering, and may well show to the camera as a high
    impedance source giving higher than normal "mic" level.

    If this is Greek to you, don't worry. The message is, the mismatch
    between mixer and camera may be less bad than I feared.

    But, looking at a Sony Professional Walkman and a miniature MiniDisk
    recorder lying around here, I note they both offer (powered) Mic In
    AND Line In. So they aren't considered interchangeable, at least by

    Let's have a look at the specs for Mic In in your camera's manual?
    Laurence Payne, Jun 28, 2004
  9. Fabio DONNA

    Fabio DONNA Guest

    Laurence, first let me thank you and Tony for the efforts you are
    spending to try to help me.

    Here they are:

    Minijack, 0.388 mV low impedance with DC 2.5 to 3.0 V, output impedance
    6.8 KOhm Ø 3.5mm, Stereo type

    Does this help?

    Thanks a lot


    Fabio DONNA, Jun 29, 2004
  10. Fabio DONNA

    Tony Morgan Guest

    Domestic camcorders (like most domestic audio products) have mic input
    circuits that are non-reactive. This means that "mismatches" have little
    effect on frequency response - which AFAICS is the significant factor.
    In camcorders the other significant issue (clipping) is handled by the
    AGC. Most (domestic) camcorder input circuits comprise a 1K resistor in
    the emitter, with the base connected to ground via a fat capacitor and
    the bias (derived from the AGC) applied to the base. Gone are the days
    of the transformer mic input - which was reactive and did require
    matching of the microphone.

    IIRC the lower 300 ohm impedance of the pro mics was (is) to minimise
    the capacitive effect (on frequency response) cause by longer mic leads.
    Tony Morgan, Jun 29, 2004
  11. Fabio DONNA

    Tony Morgan Guest

    Since this is quoting *output* impedance, this sounds more like the spec
    of the 3.5mm 4-pole AV in/out socket. Not the mic *in* socket.
    Tony Morgan, Jun 29, 2004
  12. Fabio DONNA

    Fabio DONNA Guest

    Hi Tony,
    it is the MIC input, I swear!

    Of course I don't ask you to do this but if you want to take a look of
    the manual you can download it from here
    Specifications are at page 125 of 136.

    Thank you very much.


    Fabio DONNA, Jun 29, 2004
  13. OK. That's a standard low impedance mic input. Quite unsuitable
    for a line level source.

    I wonder if anyone makes a compact conversion unit? You could put
    together one yourself for around £20. Maplins do the transformers
    for around £7 (last time I looked), you'd need two of them plus plugs
    and cable.
    Laurence Payne, Jun 29, 2004
  14. If it means exactly what it says, "low" refers to the mic input,
    "6.8KOhm" refers to the phantom powering.
    Laurence Payne, Jun 29, 2004
  15. Agreed, you don't see many 300 Ohm transmission lines these days.
    But it can still be a good idea to present an input with something
    VAGUELY resembling the spec. :)
    Laurence Payne, Jun 29, 2004
  16. On p.97 you're told how to dub sound to an existing video. There is a
    diagram of a cable connection a Line output (2 phono plugs) to the AV

    It says you have a choice of using internal mic, external mic or AV
    input when dubbing. So it seems logical the AV input might work when
    filming? Worth a try, especially as it says the cable is included
    Laurence Payne, Jun 29, 2004
  17. Fabio DONNA

    Tony Morgan Guest

    Says something about the particular droid who wrote the manual. A
    microphone input socket is an input socket - so can have an input
    impedance. Since it is not an output socket it cannot have an output

    Still my opinion about all camcorder manuals is well known to the
    regulars here :)

    The reason I suggested that it applies to the 4-pole 3.5mm AV is that
    the audio poles do (when A/V --> DV is configured OFF in the menu)
    provide an output. In spite of what the manual says I still suspect that
    what I suggest is really the case.

    Actually now I re-read it again (and think about it further) perhaps the
    mic socket *is* used for output in the AV --> DV OFF mode since the
    video out on the S-video socket will require a separate audio out. In
    which case the spec should read [1]:

    Minijack 3.5mm, 3-pole (stereo):
    A/V --> DV OFF, mic in, 0.388mV low input impedance with DC 2.5 to 3.0V.
    A/V --> DV ON, audio line-out, output impedance 6.8Kohm.

    And the "low-impedance" (without a specific value) now makes a little
    sense, since the AGC applied to the base of the input semiconductor will
    cause the input impedance to vary (depending on the amount of AGC bias
    applied). Which perhaps gives an insight to Laurence's comment on the
    wide dynamic range of mic input levels that the camcorder seem able

    [1] I don't usually use the s-video+audio, but use the 4-pole
    socket with the jack-to-RCA phonos that came with my TRV30 - both
    for Play output and for analogue-in.

    Anyway we're drifting into tekkie stuff which I do try to avoid
    Tony Morgan, Jun 29, 2004
  18. It's an output socket for phantom power. As this will be fed through
    a limiting resistor, it could be described as having an output
    impedance. If you admit this possibility, the spec. is quite clear.
    Laurence Payne, Jun 29, 2004
  19. Fabio DONNA

    Fabio DONNA Guest

    ROTFL! :)

    No Tony,
    in case A/V --> DV OFF or ON, there's an extra connection where to plug
    the included cable
    which has 3 pin jacks (Video, Left and Right) plus an S-Video connector
    and that are the connections dedicated to AV input/output, switched by
    A/V --> DV function just like you supposed.

    My hopeness was that the line input described above was able to record
    line audio signal while recording video from ccd but unfortunatelly,
    switching A/V --> DV function on, internal ccd signal is replaced by the
    one coming from the pin jack or S-video connector.

    So I confirm your opinion about Sony's manuals writers.

    Well, don't be afraid of that because I've technical background and even
    if my job has carried me away from "semiconductors" during last years, I
    can understand 90% of what you and Laurence say.

    Thank you again!


    Fabio DONNA, Jun 30, 2004
  20. Fabio DONNA

    Tony Morgan Guest

    In message <>, Fabio DONNA
    The picture in the link above doesn't make sense (I suspect that it
    might be two - or even three cables strapped together). In fact if you
    look carefully at the looped run of the cable, you'll see that there are
    some additional ends which are almost hidden. The lower connection in
    the picture looks rather like either a miniature USB (as used on the

    Also, to carry video and audio left and right you must use a 4-pole
    3.5mm (you do need a ground pole). On the cable supplied with my
    camcorder, one end is a 4-pole 3.5mm jack, the other end has three RCAs
    (phonos) (yellow is the video). Also supplied was:

    1. S-video (rather a nice quality one too)
    2. 3-pole 3.5mm audio (same at both ends) for connecting to the
    camcorder's mic socket.
    3. USB (miniature at one end, normal size at the other)
    4. Optical cable (this is the subject of a question from me in another

    I can confirm that (1) and (2) above, together, as well as the
    4-pole-to-phono cable can be used for both input and output (depending
    on the menu
    AV --> DV setting).
    I can't see why you can't simply use the mic socket. If you should want
    to superimpose on top of the normal mic input you can use a "doubler"
    (one jack and two sockets in a small moulding).

    If it's still unclear to you, then come back and I'll summarise all in
    input/outputs for the two AV --> DV settings. I'm pretty convinced that
    you have the same connections on your 330 as I have on my camcorder, and
    I believe the functionality is the same.

    Damn these droids who write the manuals :)
    Tony Morgan, Jun 30, 2004
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