Sound Tip #3 – Always breakaway from your field audio work!

No, I don’t mean take a union break! In the field audio industry there is a tool that is often overlooked. The “breakaway cable” seems like a pricey extra for the working professional, but without it you can do some serious damage to your production and ultimately your career.

So what is this magic little tool? In its simplest form, a breakaway cable is two matching XLR cables and an equal length 3.5mm TRS male cable containted in the same shielding to form 1 uniform cable snake. These average around 20 to 25 feet in length. The more expensive versions sometime have a multi-pin connector in the cable to allow for quick release from your tethered camera.

How do you use it? Connect one side of your XRL cables into the outputs on your field mixer. Connect the 3.5mm jack to the monitor input of your field mixer. On the opposite end of the cable snake, connect the corresponding left and right XLR connections to the inputs of your video camera and the 3.5mm jack into the headphone jack of the camera. You are now properly tethered from your field mixer to your camera operator.

Why do this? When recording field audio directly to the camera, it is essential to monitor the true mix of what the camera is recording. It is easy to forget wether the camera is recording line or mic levels and what level the input volume is set to inside the camera. Using a breakaway cable will allow you to monitor audio directly off the camera from your field audio mixer. If you don’t monitor the camera and only listen to the mix you are sending, you may find that your entire shoots audio is either too loud or too soft. A breakaway cable is worth its weight in time, efficiency and quality. Plus a good cable with a quick release will greatly improve mobility and functionality on remote shoots where movement of a cameras location is frequent.

So in short: Sound Tip #3 “ALWAYS use a break away cable if recording field audio directly to camera.

Hope that tip helps, we will have a “BIG TIP Friday” at the end of the week so stay tuned!

-Lee Kebler

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