Manual Audio Levels Canon 60D

Canon EOS 60D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD and 18-135mm

I keep talking about the manual audio levels being a big plus for the Canon 60D right now, and I think some people are still wondering what the big deal is. Currently only the 5D Mark II has this option and hopefully there will be new firmware for the other cameras. The in camera audio for the Canon 7D and T2i use AGC - automatic gain control that can't be disabled. The camera boosts the microphone signal pretty high that it has a constant hissing noise. If you're in a loud busy environment, you won't really notice this due to all the distracting sounds, but put these cameras into a quiet environment and you'll notice the difference big time. If you think Magic Lantern will be your solution, check out the comment I left in this article:

JuicedLink DT454 4-Channel DSLR Camera Microphone Preamplifier

The workaround right now for cameras with AGC on all the time, is to use a separate audio recorder and record directly to that. Next you'll sync that audio in post. For shooting in 24p that gets a little tricky getting long audio to sync. For anyone shooting hundreds of short clips throughout the day, that also adds post processing hours trying to match everything up. If you want to shave some time on recording to a separate device, you can use devices like the JuicedLink DT454 or similar that will send a constant tone to one channel of the audio tricking the AGC. I have to say though that these Audiophile guys who build these preamp boxes weren't very happy with the Nikon DSLR's. Nikon have a different way of setting the audio and still didn't produce as nice results as the Canon's. Don't quote 'me' on that, but that's the scoop I got. We'll just have to wait and see if that's been improved on the newer Nikon DSLR's.

If you've got a few minutes to spare, great tutorials about AGC and the hissing noise can be found here:

Here's a very old example of a test I did when Magic Lantern was first released for the Canon 5D Mark II to allow manual audio levels. This should give you a better idea of what the new Manual Audio Levels in the Canon 60D are capable of. Not the best of the best, but much better quality can be captured if your camera allows you to manually set the amount of gain.

27 thoughts on “Manual Audio Levels Canon 60D

  1. Emm

    Post author

    @mushfick - You can use a Rode VideoMic Pro and it will send signals to both left and right.

  2. mushfick

    i have canon 60d. using which external mic i would have both left and right channel audio?

  3. mic question, Ive got a zoom h2 that I cant get to directly "sync"? with my canon 60d... I can record on the zoom but can't get the audio into the camera... Any ideas?

  4. I bought a Canon 60D with an external Rode video mic, which works well. I need to buy a couple of stick mics for the camera, as well. But I can't determine the impedance (in Ohms) for the camera input. I don't want to buy a mic that will somehow blow the input. The Rode has an impedance of 200 Ohms but I'm looking at some mics as high as 350 Ohms.

    I'm disappointed and amazed that the spec sheet for this camera says nothing about audio at the Canon USA website.

    Any idea about impedance for the 60D?

  5. Toby & Ruben

    The preamps in canon dSLR's are Rubbish well in my 5Dmk2 anyway you need to feed them a line level signal i.e. you need to preamp the mic first.

    I have used a Sennheiser wireless system as a kind of preamp and it works well.

    On the cheap you could look out for a old minidisk recorder some of them had good preamps or a flash based audio recorder.

    I have herd (and I am looking to buy one myself) that the Sony PCM M10 recorder has the best preamps in the cheaper end of the market.

    And to monitor the audio going into the with the camera you want to check out magic lantern project. They are working on the 60D at the moment.

    I have been using it since it first came out for the 5Dmk2 and its a great help:

  6. I also have the problem with the Sennheiser MKE-400 on the 60d – it produces a hissing background noise at all times. The built-in mic does not do this, and I had no problems with the MKE-400 on my camcorder. Does anyone have a solution for this?
    any solutions yet

  7. A few questions:

    In what way is the input of the 60d worse than the H4N? I recall I read somewhere (and cannot find anymore, dammit) that the 60d records 24bit 48k and the H4N 24bit 96k. So there's really not much quality difference in that part except maybe in the ADC

    Is the 60d input stereo or mono? I have the Rode StereoMic and mono would render it useless like Casey Schoch accurately pointed out.


  8. Toby

    I also have the problem with the Sennheiser MKE-400 on the 60d - it produces a hissing background noise at all times. The built-in mic does not do this, and I had no problems with the MKE-400 on my camcorder. Does anyone have a solution for this?

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Casey - LOL Mono Audio Garbage? I really don't know how to answer that. The popular Rode VideoMic that many people use, records in Mono. The popular Sennheiser MKE-400 shotgun microphone also records in Mono. Grab yourself a $600+ dollar wireless set with Omnicardoid LAV microphone, hook it up to the most popular Zoom H4n via XLR, and you're still recording in Mono. Mono isn't garbage. The Manual Audio level feature allows you more fine tune controls of the Audio you're trying to capture.

    Professionals often don't use the built in microphones from any camera, unless it's a built in shotgun type. You'll want to use the proper microphones for different situations, and the manual audio levels allow you greater control of that audio capture. It's a nice feature to have stereo or mono. Some microphones will just take the mono it's capturing and split it into left right channels, so not true stereo.

  10. Yeah yeah the manual audio levels are cool but I keep hearing it only shoots Mono!! Not stereo! that's garbage, do you think it really makes a difference much?

  11. Mike

    Oo juicedlink is to replace the agc? If you have to choose between rode vm vs stereo vm itself without anythin else, which one would you recommend for 7d?

  12. Emm

    Post author

    Insurance always helps, but if you're careful you don't need it. You have to keep in mind that the camera 'is the audio recorder'. The 7D doesn't do a great job getting rid of the hissing noise because of the AGC. Only the 5D Mark II and 60D have manual audio control. If you don't have those cameras, you can get a JuicedLink DT454 setup or use a completely seperate audio recorder like the Zoom H1 (which the RodeVM will plug into).

  13. Mike

    Need advice! i have an interview to do next week and i decided to borrow videomic from, site you recommended. Im confused on which one to borrow the rode stereo vm or the regular vm? Which would have the best quality for 7d? less hissing noise? does wind baffle help? Would u recommend on getting the insurance?

  14. Emm

    Post author

    The H1 has a stereo input. If the NTG has the same, and better if it's self powered, yes you can use it.

  15. I got my 60D for a few days now and love it so far. I noticed that the audio preamp produces a lot of hiss. When I put the manual gain to tick 1 and feed a hot mic signal (0db) into the cam from the sennheiser ew 100 G3 wireless system I am good. But as soon as I have to scroll up the input from the camera to get something in from the sennheiser MKE 400 I hear some very ugly noise/hiss. At least it doesn’t go up and down.
    So my conclusion is if you want to use the audio on this cam you need to preamp your signal with some wireless system or some JL adapter…


  16. Mike

    so i can record rode vm with zoom h1? Cus i was thinking using boom with it for future i want to make short stories. u think this is a good idea since i dont have lottta money to buy the ngt kit that cost like 500???

  17. Emm

    Post author

    The 60D does not, but it does have a visual display (before) you begin recording. If you want more control over the audio, you can find the JuicedLink DT454 information on this blog.

  18. marcus

    I bought a t2i recently and considering taking it back and getting the 60d instead.. my biggest frustration is the audio, mainly the level controls... but the t2i doesn't even have a headphone jack that you can monitor audio. Does anyone know if the 60d does? Bringing in a third-party recording system and synching later is way more work than I'd rather do..

  19. Emm

    Post author

    You can adjust levels on a Zoom. You can't with the 7D. The Rode videomic would sound better on the Zoom.

  20. Mike

    I have a 7d. Which one have better quality rode videomic or zoom h1?? I need one to buy for interview soon.

  21. Emm

    Post author

    No levels, no monitoring. With a DT454 you can monitor with headphones, adjust gain on individual inputs, and see some LED levels too so there's more flexibility with this.

  22. Martin

    Do you see the levels while recording, or do they go away when you press the rec button?
    I know the ML firmware is not fully finished yet, but do you think (both with manual controls) the T2i and 60D audio quality should be the same?

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