We have seen a lot of video and reviews related to using a mixer for bringing audio into cameras. The general idea is that you will have better audio if you amplify the electrical signal from the microphone before it goes into the camera. It seems that the amplifiers that are built into cameras are just not as good as those in the mixers. The videos were persuasive but we had to see for ourselves.
After reviewing our audio recording needs, and those of our customers we had worked with, we felt that we really didn’t need multiple channels that the mixers provided. A single channel pre-amplifier would be fine for us and were less expensive. Our friends at Microphone Madness happen to offer both a single channel (mono) and stereo pre-amplifier so we decided to give one a try. We tested the single channel with our MM-ML microphone and our Canon 5D3.
We began by choosing Automatic gain control in the camera and plugged in our MM-ML. After noting the amount of audio signal and the electronic noise (hiss) we switched to Manual gain control and adjusted the gain to provide the same audio levels. We noted the audio quality and electronic noise. Finally we turned the audio gain down to one step above the minimum, plugged the pre-amp into the camera, plugged the MM-ML into the pre-amp, and adjusted the gain of the pre-amp to reach the same audio levels as before. The reduction in electronic noise (hiss) was very noticeable. I was actually quite surprised at the difference.
We would recommend the Microphone Madness preamp to customers that deal with quiet situations where electronic noise, or hiss, is most noticeable. Our professional kits include an-line amplifier with either a 3.5mm TRS microphone or a XLR microphone. We really like this cost effective combination.