The New Beachtek DXA-SLR PRO: Audio Solutions Built for HDSLR Video

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One way to improve the quality of your in-camera audio when shooting video with an HDSLR camera is to utilize an external adapter box (called a Camcorder XLR Adapter). These gizmos attach to the base of your camera and enable you to connect multiple XLR microphones to your camera’s lowly mini-plug mic input. However, one major drawback is that your ergonomically comfy camera body will now have a pointy metal box affixed to its bottom. Thankfully, the designers at Beachtek have addressed this situation with their new DXA-SLR PRO, which features a form-fitting chassis with rounded edges, a rubberized grip and an overall “born to be attached to a DSLR” design. In addition to these improvements, there are many new features that will help you achieve superior sound.

For more information on the ins and outs of Camcorder XLR Adapters, be sure to check out this B&H InDepth Buying Guide.

Recording clean audio on any kind of video shoot is a challenge, and the audio limitations of HDSLR cameras make it even more difficult. Most HDSLRs lack a headphone output and audio meters, so you can’t monitor the sound. To make matters worse, many cameras have a feature called Automatic Gain Control (AGC), which adjusts the audio recording levels for you. In some shooting situations, AGC really helps, but there are many situations where it makes your audio worse. AGC is similar to the “autofocus” function on a video camera. If you’re trying to shoot a professional-looking interview video and the autofocus suddenly starts “hunting” for focus in the middle of a take, your work is going to look amateurish. AGC does the same thing to audio levels.

The new DXA-SLR Pro offers solutions to all of these problems and empowers you with a few extra tools to really sharpen your sound. It’s kind of like a “greatest hits” album of Beachtek’s most popular songs, with a few new chart-topping tunes thrown in. Like any good Camcorder XLR Adapter, the new DXA-SLR PRO features two XLR inputs with phantom power that you can switch to accept mic or line-level signals. The ability to switch to line level makes it possible to connect your HDSLR to a mixing board at a live event or a wedding reception. Similar to the Beachtek DXA-SLR, the new DXA-SLR PRO has a 3.5mm headphone output with a dedicated volume knob, and the ability to disable a camera’s AGC. Like the Beachtek DXA-5DA, the new DXA-SLR PRO features VU meters to easily check for proper recording levels. Similarities aside, this new Beachtek has a few additional tweaks that give it an edge. Both XLR inputs feature fast-acting limiters that prevent clipping and distortion from overly loud sounds. The limiters aren’t necessary for every situation, and can be turned on and off with dedicated switches. Its XLR inputs are also transformer balanced, which offers greater isolation and enhanced circuit protection. The DXA-SLR PRO has a new, DLSR-friendly chassis, with cutaways that allow easy access to its thumb wheel (which is used to affix it to the tripod thread on the base of a camera). Like all Camcorder XLR Adapters, the DXA-SLR PRO also features a tripod thread at its base, so you can still attach your camera rig to a tripod.

Some microphones require no power at all, while others just need a little charge, and some demand a full 48 volts. That’s why the new DXA-SLR PRO lets you switch between zero, 12 or 48 volts of phantom power (if you’re not familiar with phantom power, it’s clearly explained in the B&H InDepth Camcorder XLR Adapter Buying Guide). If you’re using a hypercardioid microphone to record interior dialog and your microphone only needs 9 volts of phantom power to operate, you can switch the DXA-SLR PRO to 12V, to conserve battery power (a single 9 volt battery is required for operation). Another energy-saving touch is that the phantom power can be turned on and off individually for each channel.

The DXA-SLR PRO features a “loop back” ability which enables you to listen to the audio from the camera, but only when you’re playing back video clips that have already been recorded. It’s a useful feature that can really help you determine how good your audio sounds in the field. Without the loop back feature, the only way you can hear the audio during playback on most HDSLRs is through the camera’s tinny built-in speaker. You connect your camera’s A/V output cable to the 3.5mm “MONITOR IN” jack on the DXA-SLR PRO. When you play back a video clip on your camera, you can flip the “MONITOR Switch” on the DXA-SLR PRO to the PLAY position, enabling you to hear the sound from your recoded video clip through your headphones.

Out of the box, the new DXA-SLR PRO is completely compatible with Canon HDSLR cameras. If you’re using a Panasonic Lumix GH1 or GH2 camera, you can use a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter to connect the included 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable to the camera’s sub-mini mic input. Lumix users can also purchase the separately available Beachtek SC25 cable, which was made for this purpose.

The mic input on many Nikon HDSLR cameras is more sensitive than other kinds of cameras, and therefore an additional attenuation cable may be necessary. You can use a Sescom LN2MIC-ZOOMH4N cable in the place of the included 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable. The Sescom cable simply lowers the level of the audio by 25 dB. The Whirlwind WHH4NL3.5 cable is another option that does the same thing and features a right-angle connector.

The new DXA-SLR PRO has lots of little touches that make it an excellent companion to your HDLSR of choice. Its preamplifiers were designed for low-noise performance, so you can capture audio into your camera with ample dynamic range. There are High and Low gain switches for each channel, which can really help you get a proper level with microphones of varying sensitivities. The power LED glows green with a good battery, turns red when the battery is running out of juice, and the battery door was designed for easy access. Behind the many rubber bumpers of the DXA-SLR PRO is a tough yet lightweight aluminum enclosure. At the end of the day, your picture is only as good as your sound. Get it right with the DXA-SLR PRO. 

Inputs 2 x XLR, 1 x 3.5mm monitor input
Outputs 1 x 3.5 mm camera output, 1 x 3.5 mm headphone output
Maximum Input Levels Mic: -3 dBu, Line: +14 dBu
Output Level Nominal mic levels
Frequency Response 20 Hz to 20 kHz (+/- 0.5 dB)
THD Less than 0.01% @ 1 kHz, -30 dBu input
S/N Ratio 85 dB @ 1 kHz, -30 dBu input
Gain Lo gain: 0 dB, Hi gain: 15 dB
Phantom Power Dual regulated 12 or 48 volt, current to 14 mA (direct short)
VU Meter -18 to +3 dB in 3 dB increments
Battery Type 1 x 9 volt alkaline or lithium battery
Battery Duration 3 hours with alkaline (no phantom), 8 hours with lithium (no phantom)
Dimensions 6 x 3.75 x 1.75" (152 x 95 x 44 mm)
Weight 18 oz (0.51 kg)

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Don't see a price?

The Beachtek DXA-SLR PRO HDSLR Audio Adapter is currently priced on our website at $449.00.

Wondering how the camcorders audio AGC is disabed?

Hello -
The AGC Disable feature reduces the hiss that normally occurs when certain HDSLRs record audio during quiet moments. This is accomplished by delivering an inaudible tone to the camera to force down the recording level consistently throughout the recording. This allows you to use the adapter's cleaner preamps for adjusting the volume of each input.

Is there a product like this for camcorders? My recent school musical have audio that was difficult to understand.

Hello -

Yes, there are several products available for camcorders.  Check out the  JuicedLink CX231 Camera Mountable Mixer / Preamplifier  or the BeachTek DXA-2T Universal Compact Camcorder Audio Adapter  (which does not supply phantom power).

I know the original Beachtech was known for a lot of noise, has anyone tried this to compare the new pre-amps to the old?

Noise is a common problem when working with DSLR's cameras. It is critical that the recording levels are set correctly - too low and you will get a poor signal to noise ratio and excessive hiss, too high and you will get clipping and distortion. This is why we have level indicators on all of our DSLR adapters. The DXA-5Da adapter uses passive circuitry which is completely noise free, however it does not provide any amplification so it is ideal for wireless mics which do not need any additional gain. The low noise preamps in our DXA-SLR and DXA-SLR PRO are much cleaner than any of the preamps in the camera so the limiting factors are the recording device and microphones that are being used.

Is this compatable with HDSLR rigs like redrock?

Hello -

Since it is designed to fit under the DSLR via the tripod socket it should be adaptable to use with most any rig including Red Rock Micro.  Depending on the rig - additional parts may be required to adjust the camera's position.  As an alternative mounting option, the adapter itself may be fixed to a plate or an arm  and function perfectly well without being situated under the camera.

Redrock has a great cage "ultraCage DSLR" but it doesn't work with any "extension" you may put underneath your camera, like the battery grip or this BeachTek product :-(

As mentioned above by Mark,  you will have to mount it on a plate/arm.

What are the pros/cons versus something like the Zoom H4n? Quality of the audio recording aside, it looks like you get more out of the H4n, assuming you use an attenuator out of the phone/line out to connect to the DSLR. With the 5D mark iii having the headphone out, you don't even need a splitter anymore.

Hello -

The Zoom H4n and other similar recorders have many features that are just not available in a DSLR ,even when using a DSLR adapter like the Beachtek described above. Just a few points to keep in mind:

The H4n features onboard true X/Y stereo microphones to pick up clear, natural sound without phase shifting. The mics can be rotated to select a 90° or 120° recording pattern for terrific versatility. The digitally-controlled preamp, combined with the high-quality microphones, allows you to capture Linear PCM audio at rates up to 24-bit/96kHz. The recorder captures audio to SD or SDHC cards with capacities up to 32GB. A USB 2.0 port allows you to quickly transfer files to a Mac or PC, or use the H4n as a live audio interface.  Other useful features of the H4n include variable playback speed, automatic and pre-record functions, a low-cut filter and limiter for improving the sound quality of recordings. It can record up to 4 channels of audio. It also has a 4-track MTR mode that provides simultaneous 4-track playback and 2-track recording for overdubbing and creating song.  The downside?  It is another piece of gear that the "run and gun" DSLR videographer may not want to deal with.

Has anyone used this new beachtek pro?

Also what would be the best top of the line xlr output mic

to have on camera hotshoe for this product?

Thanks

Hello -

This new product has been auditioned by several B&H staffers.  Recommending a mic without knowing which camera it will be mounted on or the type of shooting engaged in, is difficult at best.  Many would agree that one of the best choices for DSLR use might be the Sennheiser MKH 8060   -  Short Shotgun microphone with the optional Sennheiser MZF 8000 Filter Module which is a filter  that blocks interference caused by wind and handling noise, while still preserving acoustic detail.  If you have more questions, please e-mail us at:  askbh@bandh.com

I realize it is designed for SLR cameras, but could this be used with a Sony camcorder? Other than the size difference between the camcorder and Beachtek, would there be any problem? This unit has all the features I would like, but it is designed for SLR's- not camorders. Comments? Recommendations? Thanks much.

G-man

You can use it on a video camera as well. The main difference is that the shape and ergonomics are built for the DSLR body so it will be odd under the camcorder but the overall usage will be the same.

Have you done a battery life test? Mine seems to go very quickly.

Also, the Mono / Stereo switch was labeled incorrectly. I've been recording in stereo for the last two days when it should've been in mono. Now my interviews have clean audio mixed with the boom mic that I have mounted.

So far, not a happy camper. However, this is my first shoot with it. Maybe with a little more time on the device I'll change my mind. But right now, I'd give it a 6 out of 10.

I've just received the Beachtek DXA-SLR PRO from my employer for a project this summer. While I've been a photographer for a long time, this is my first shot with video. I'm having issues with getting clean audio free of that hissing noise... I've disabled my camera's ACG and have lowered the audio input levels in my camera as well. This did help with the hissing but of course now it's also harder to pick up what I want to record as well. Are there any other troubleshooting tips people have that I haven't explored yet? I'm shooting with a Canon T3i and a shotgun mic. I have a wireless mic as well but haven't had a chance to play around with it to see if the hissing is happening there too. Thanks!

Hi GGL -

Ryan brings up a couple of good points.  Check the Beachtek with fresh batteries and test with the mono/stereo switch in either position.  Also make sure that the switch for phantom power is selected for the corresponding value required by your microphone.  Most mics use 48 volts.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

weird question but just wondering if i could hook this up to the audio line input on a mac and use it as sort of a preamp?

Yes, it will work on the computer as well.