What is a Field Mixer & why do video-content creators need it?
Most DSLRs we use come with an internal microphone that is no good because it records stereo audio from all directions, so sometimes we’re as loud as any other source of noise is, in our filming location. And that’s why we use dedicated microphones, could be a shotgun, could be lapels. If you have one camera but have the need for recording different audio sources, you need a mixer. A device that has inputs for multiple audio sources, and can output these as a single signal for you to record in your camera. Because most DSLRs have one input source, usually a 3.5mm mic-in, multi-audio recording can’t be done internally, unless you use a mixer. If you know what a Zoom H6 is, probably you’ve come across the need & use of a Field Mixer. As much as the Zoom line is famous for being a Field Recorder for recording great quality audio, it is also known for it’s ability to let us record multiple audio sources into one convenient device.
The Saramonic SR-AX101 is not a recorder, but it is easily the most convenient sized 2 channel mixer out there. You can use it with cameras of any size & type as long as your camera has a 3.5mm microphone input. Plus it’s passive, there is no need to power it, no batteries to charge, no batteries to buy & use. It’s literally plug n’ play.
The SR-AX101 is made of hard plastic and has no delicate circuitry inside, so ruggedness is not an issue. But of course it is not weatherproof. It has a 1/4″ female tripod mount on the bottom & a 1/4″ male tripod mount on the top. So you can use it organically on any standard tripod & then mount your camera on top of it. And since it is only 191g, it doesn’t add much bulk to your setup.
The SR-AX101 has two XLR inputs. These are balanced & are really well built, the connection is secure & tight. You also get a 1/8″ or 3.5 mm Auxiliary Mini-Jack input. This is great since this opens up the possibilities of using multiple other types of input sources. Many lapel microphones are natively 3.5mm, so you won’t need external adapters like a VXLR by Rode. Or you can use this to plug-in other types of sources, like mobile phones etc.
You can control the level & signal of your input sources using two trim control knobs. Do remember, if you plug-in a 3.5mm source, it becomes the ‘right’ source. So you will have to plug-in your XLR source in to the ‘left’ channel. These knobs are clicked and so you can use them in increments in case you need to match them. They have a very nice feel to them & offer some resistance against turning automatically. But it’s not meant to be used inside a bag or pocket, so if you do, the knobs may turn if anything brushes against them, they’re not lockable.
The mixer lets you choose between Microphone level & Line level inputs for both the channels. And you can also choose to output a stereo signal, which means the left & right channel will carry the corresponding mic signal, this can give you the ability to further control the mix in post production. Or you can output a Mono signal which means both output channels will carry a mixed signal. Even though the SR-AX101 is a passive piece of equipment, which means it doesn’t need to be powered, it has a ground switch to help eliminate ground hum & noise. This can come in handy if any of your sources is introducing static hum.
|LINE：-10 – +4 dBu|
|Input Level:General Mic Levels|
|Frequency Response:10Hz to 100kHz (+/-1.5 dB)|
|Dimensions:87 (L) x 80(W) x 52(H) mm|
For usage tests & ‘how to use’, you can watch the detailed review posted below.
You can buy the Saramonic SR-AX101 from the following links:
- Amazon India (affiliate link)
- Future Forward India (I bought my unit from them)
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