So you’re about to embark on your video journey and you bought all the accessories you need to fill up your camera ports, a microphone, a monitor and possibly an external charging device. However there is a port still left open on your camera. This port is what I believe is one of the most important ports for any filmmaker , and that is the headphone port.
Headphone Ports On Cameras
Not all cameras have headphone ports. They are usually present in enthusiast or professional level cameras. However there are workarounds if the camera does not have a headphone port.
1. Using a monitor
90% of cameras will have some form of HDMI port and a hotshoe mount. This will allow mounting of a external compact monitor such as the Small HD Focus or the Atomos Ninja V. Both of these monitors will allow audio monitoring as it feeds the monitor through the HDMI port, and is outputted through a headphone port on the monitor. In addition there are good audio monitoring tools on these monitors, or generally will give you an easier display to watch the levels.
2. Using a audio recorder
Using an audio recorder can be a cheaper alternative to getting a monitor. Using a device such as the Zoom H1 will an external microphone to be plugged into the audio recorder and plugged into the mic port of the camera. Whilst at the same time the audio recorder will have a 3.5mm headphone jack which can be used to monitor audio at the same time.
Why Monitoring Audio Is So Important
After picking up Youtube (GeorgesCamerasTV), Josh and I realised the importance of having headphones. It not only saved our arses so many times from bad audio, but helped keep our audio quality at a consistent level. Here are some reasons why monitoring audio i
- Microphones can give out: For a long time we experienced problems with a brand new lapel microphone we were using. It seemed the cable sometimes decides to give out and give some pretty harsh static. We were able to pick it up in real time as Josh was monitoring the audio at the time. Sometimes our receivers drop out, or a battery dies and even if you are a pro at tracking the little audio level graph. You will be bound to miss it if you look away even for a microsecond.
- Avoiding wind and other interrupting factors: Mics rubbing against clothing, wind gushing through, random blips, these can all be spotted immediately through audio monitoring.
- Maintaining consistent audio levels: Before shooting and during shooting, knowing your audio levels are consistent throughout the recording is crucial.
Why Monitoring Headphones?
It is crucial that monitoring headphones are used and not just any plain pair of headphones. When Josh and I film for GeorgesCamerasTV Josh uses a pair of Sony WH1000XM2 which are active noise cancelling headphones. Josh knows that these headphones are not monitoring headphones. The sound that comes out of these headphones are tuned for general music listening which means the trebles are brighter and the lows/bass are punchier. Josh compensates for this when we’re recording and he does a bit of work in post processing to fix it.
Personally I own a pair of Audio Technica M50X headphones which are classed as monitoring headphones. It is clear as night and day the difference between the two types of headphones. The M50X have a flat sound profile which makes it perfect for video recording. It gives a truer, accurate sound whilst providing passive noise cancelling for great monitoring quality in noisy environments. In addition, outside of camera usage I use these to DJ as well. Due to the flat sound profile its really clear to hear the full sound spectrum and makes it easy to DJ live, or edit audio in post processing for video work.
Although like Josh you can monitor with regular headphones, we highly only recommend doing this in emergency situations or you don’t have access to monitoring headphones. Using monitoring headphones not only gives you an accurate live monitoring experience, it saves a lot of time in post production. We’ve listed some of our favourite monitoring headphones below. Best of all, monitoring headphones are quite affordable with good ones costing no more than $249 AUD. This is an investment that will stick with you throughout your filmmaking journey.